Congressman calls for investigation on Sutton and House of Death
Mexico’s culture of corruption is synonymous with the drug dealers, Federales as well as the government. It is no secret business south of the border is handled with a greasy handshake full of money, but what’s surprising to most Americans are the major trade deals cut to benefit our neighbor to the south.
Why has America bent over backwards to create free trade and open borders with such an uncooperative neighbor? What has Mexico given up for the sake of our benefit? Still thinking? It could take awhile.
Mexico is a country filled with natural resources. There is plenty of fertile land for crops, it lays claim to a massive amount of oil and contains thousands of miles of sandy beaches for tourists to frolic on. So why does this country, so close to the successes of its North American neighbor continue to stagnate in corruption and remain an oligarchy?
For the meantime America is the sole superpower. But unlike the past, American administrations have made mistakes and those blunders translated into some bad deals for the American people.
So where did it begin to go wrong?
Beginning in 2002/03 the American government was in the business of trying to catch the bad guys in Juarez and in the midst of catching the murderous cartel members, ICE found itself involved in a dozen murders.
The murders took place in Juarez, Mexico at the now infamous ‘House of Death.’ Twelve murders should have shook Mexico awake and dealt a blow to the American law enforcement community. Strangely it did not. Mexico would hold on to that huge mistake and smartly use it to their advantage at a later date.
This would now become the first major law enforcement cover-up in the Bush “W” White House.
While 12 murders are taking place under the watchful eye of ICE, a mistake is made and it nearly cost the lives of several DEA agents assigned to the Juarez office. This would forever be known as the catalyst point. Once a senior DEA agent Sandalio Gonzalez learns of ICE’s shenanigans, he writes a letter and begins a paper trail.
When Gonzalez learned about the House of Death details he rightly knows something is afoul. He then writes his ICE counterpart and the office of U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton formally demanding accountability for the missteps that led to the U.S. knowing and allegedly participating in 12 murders.
It is worth pointing out that there is no statute of limitations for murder.
“Over the past five and a half years I found a trail that didn’t make sense regarding economic disparities and the undermining of national security. All paths led right back to the El Paso Region because everyone understood Mexico was holding something over us. The pattern was easily documented and verifiable. Ultimately it all led back to the House of Death,” says Andy Ramirez, president of the California based nonprofit Law Enforcement Officers Advocates Council, who documented a pattern of prosecutorial abuse by Justice, and misrepresentations of fact by Homeland Security.
With an internal cover-up in play, Mexico was in position to play the House of Death card in 2004 and thereafter due to the failure of the U.S. government to clean house. This would eventually somewhat play out in federal court in December 2006 where sworn testimony of Michelle Leonhart, then DEA Deputy Administrator places responsibility for the House of Death squarely on ICE.
When Leonhart was asked if ICE was responsible, she responded, “ICE was responsible, yes…ICE caused the incident.”
At this point, former U.S. Attorney Pete Nunez said, “heads should have rolled in this case.” Yet no high-ranking U.S. officials lost their jobs, nor were they prosecuted.
This simple fact, coupled with a massive cover-up and Mexico’s silence would allow Mexico to gain favorable economic and immigration related concessions while restructuring U.S. border security- with a very complicit Bush White House.
Uncovering the favors for the Mexican Government
Now that the cover-up is in full swing a pair of meetings would take place in Crawford, TX with Mexico’s President Vicente Fox and U.S. President Bush. During the first meeting in March of 2004, Mexico and the U.S. reached a critical agreement that allowed Mexicans with short-term visas to cross the border without being fingerprinted and photographed by U.S. authorities. The respective leaders also began a discussion of a “Guest Worker Plan” or amnesty.
In April of 2004 a plea agreement was reached regarding the murders in the House of Death case. The cartel leader, Heriberto Santillan pled guilty to drug trafficking while the murder charges were dropped. He accepted 25 years in a U.S. prison courtesy of Sutton. This plea deal ensured that Johnny Boy and the Bush Administration would not have to go into court where the gruesome tortures and murders, as well as the case mismanagement by Sutton’s office and ICE (the very things being covered-up) would be exposed in the light of day.
One can conclude that Sutton was placed all along in the position of gatekeeper to protect the White House. Along with his partner in crime Alberto Gonzales, who went from Special Counsel to the President to Attorney General, both would be able to protect all the Bush Administration’s policies regarding Mexico.
It was also during this time that Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, El Paso Border Patrol Agents, found themselves in a heap of trouble regarding shots fired at a known drug dealer. Sutton was the prosecuting attorney in this case, and in another case involving illegal aliens, that being Edwards County Deputy Sheriff Gilmer Hernandez.
“This case (Ramos-Compean) was a skunk. It had a terrible odor,” explains Congressman Walter B. Jones-R NC. “I always wondered why there was no investigation in this matter and why the Mexican Government had so much sway in this American case involving Border Patrol Agents.”
For Jones and a few other Senior Congressional members the story is becoming increasingly clear, referring to the House of Death. “This conspiracy, corruption and cover-up screams for immediate Congressional investigation,” Jones said matter of factly.
“Wrong is wrong, and after reading more about this case it was expected that Sutton would have shut down the House of Death case after the first murder. He did not. We need to remember we are a nation of laws,” Jones finished.
However, these favors for Mexico did not just involve the questionable prosecutions of law enforcement officers.
Marginalizing the Border Patrol
Soon after in June 2004, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge releases an internal memorandum, which prohibited race profiling as an enforcement method.
U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Temecula Border Patrol Sector were conducting interior enforcement operations in Ontario, CA, which resulted in condemnation by the Mexican government and Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus claiming race profiling. Such actions have continued to this day when it comes to immigration enforcement.
June would prove to be a busy month for the Mexican government.
A Social Security Totalization Agreement was signed with Mexico. This agreement would put millions of illegal Mexican workers into the U.S. Social Security system. It is alleged that they would collect U.S. benefits based on their U.S earnings under false or stolen Social Security numbers plus earnings in Mexico. Opponents claimed this pact would further lure illegal immigration, and remain a key component for the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America.
On July 1, 2004 David V. Aguilar became Chief of the Border Patrol after being named to the position in May 2004. The appointment of Aguilar, Chief Patrol Agent of Tucson Sector, was key as he immediately began restructuring the patrol from which many controversial internal events began to inexplicably shape.
This brings us back to Andy Ramirez who stated, “It was the appointment of David Aguilar where the Border Patrol was destroyed from within. Very quickly, I had sources consisting of active duty and retired agents telling me that Mexico was running all the sectors and stations along the southwest border. In a very short time an agency who’s motto was ‘Honor First’ became one of ‘no confidence’ where their own employees would be filled with mistrust and fear of the very government they were willing to die for defending our front lines.”
By the end of summer 2004 a “gag” order was put in place by the Department of Homeland Security ending any unauthorized discussion or statements by its’ employees with the public and media. This was needed to stop any whistle blowing within the department or comments by agents to the media regarding the outrageous policies of the Bush Administration.
It is also worth pointing out that the formation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003 was critical in bringing immigration and customs law enforcement agencies together under one umbrella and squelch any stray employees’ opposition to these types of matters.
DHS now had the Border Patrol, Customs, and ICE all within one roof. No one could step out of line under the Bush White House’s watchful eyes. Secretary Ridge and Attorney General Ashcroft would have a direct pipeline to the president, both of whom had full knowledge of the House of Death case as documented in Sandy Gonzalez’ civil suit.
Taking a cue from the 9/11 Commission Report, the Bush Administration released a new National Border Patrol Strategy, which made stopping the terrorists the top priority.
The reality was that such a strategy sounded good on paper, but accomplished very little other than giving Congress and the public a façade of smoke and mirrors to give a sense of “wow they’re doing something to control the borders.”
However, local Border Patrol sector chiefs were stripped of command and control over their kingdoms. All operations were subsequently centralized and placed under the control of headquarters and Chief Aguilar in Washington, DC. In effect, headquarters no longer served the field.
On November 16, 2004, a memorandum of understanding was completed between CBP and ICE in which ICE’ Office of Investigations was given control of key investigative responsibilities while ultimately neutering the Border Patrol by limiting enforcement to cross border traffic in “routine areas of patrol”.
Moving forward into 2005 the Congress was making a full-court press for immigration reform or amnesty.In early spring another Bush Administration meeting took place in Texas with President Fox, and Canadian Prime Minister Martin to outline the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America.
This deal would further weaken border security and interior enforcement as well as denounce U.S. civilian border observers or Minutemen groups as vigilantes, and proposed Republican Congressional legislation calling for construction of a border fence. Discussions about a new “guest worker” plan for Mexican illegal aliens that experts have called a second amnesty also began to take shape at this tri-country pow-wow.
Throughout the summer the country would begin its grumblings about the McCain/Kennedy/Bush immigration reform bill.
Curiously the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Official Website outlines all the activities by U.S. civilian groups including the Minutemen groups, and official investigations by Congressmen regarding border security and interior enforcement.
During this same time period numerous Chief Patrol Agents and other high-ranking officials in the Border Patrol suddenly began to retire early before their mandatory age-57 retirement requirement.
New Mexican President, Same Interference
In the interim, Mexican violence continued to spin out of control with the election of new President Felipe Calderon.
Meanwhile as word of the border fence made its way into the 2006 legislation it was becoming increasingly clear a fence would not be built as many Americans wanted.
“The Bush Administration was constantly dragging their feet. They wanted no part in clear language that put a mandated double fence in high traffic zones and they didn’t want a time certain for completion,” said retired Congressman Duncan L. Hunter, R-CA. “I finally just pushed for the double and triple fence in the San Diego region and left Arizona and Texas out.”
The Bush White House along with other Texas legislators would water down the required fencing in the 2006 immigration reform bill and to this day the fence has been plagued by delays, cost overruns, and bureaucratic obstruction due to immense pressure from Mexico.
However, Americans were having no part in the new amnesty talk and it would be the radio talk shows leading the charge to stop the final McCain/Kennedy/Bush legislation in its tracks.
A defeated White House and an empowered Mexican government wouldn’t end on that note.
The outgoing President Bush would get the Merida Initiative signed into law by June 30 of 2008. It provided $1.4 billion ($400 million immediately) financed through Congressional Appropriations (from U.S. taxpayers) to assist Mexico in combating transnational organized crime; Ambassador Garza and counterpart in Mexico City sign implementation agreement Dec. 3, 2008
Considering the mishandling and subsequent cover-up of the House of Death murder spree that began in El Paso and found its way to Washington, local Congressman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) oddly has never issued any statement regarding this entire mess.
When asked to comment, Vincent Perez, Reyes’ press secretary responded with, “I don’t know what this had to do with us.”
When pressed with the fact that the agencies involved were working in his district, Perez responded, “I still don't understand what this has to do with our office.”
However, in a different matter Reyes’ office contacted ICE on June 19, 2008 regarding the kidnapping of a relative in Juarez though ICE had no jurisdiction. As a result, Reyes is now under investigation by the House Ethics Committee as a complaint was filed in July 2008 questioning the improper usage of a U.S. law enforcement agency.
Betting the House
The only way this type of political play could have been pulled off was by Mexico having a chip; keeping in mind they want open borders – amnesty at minimum. They had the political chip, or blackmail, courtesy of the mishandling and cover-up of the House of Death case. But to pull it off, law enforcement starting with the Border Patrol had to be undermined and destroyed from within; the very thing Mexico has always wanted. ICE is corrupt, overwhelmed, and melting anyhow so they would be an ineffective replacement.
The long-standing relationship between Reyes and Aguilar within management at Border Patrol is equally important. Reyes was Chief Patrol Agent of McAllen Sector while Aguilar was a high-ranking subordinate under him.
Given this relationship it would be easy to communicate and restructure the Border Patrol to the agency’s detriment with Reyes shepherding it through Congress without much notice. Many Members of Congress have deferred to Reyes due to his experience as a Border Patrol high-ranking agent.
Given DHS and the Justice Department’s roles in the House of Death case, with the ‘rule of law’ eliminated, and their failure to hold people accountable in this matter, amnesty could be pushed. The American people have been left standing alone against these overwhelming odds.