Friday, November 21, 2014

Dressed as Mexican Marines, US Justice Department Pursues Capos

Borderland Beat posted by aguiniga, republished from WSJ  By Devlin Barrett


U.S. Justice Department personnel are disguising themselves as Mexican Marines to take part in armed raids against drug suspects in Mexico, according to people familiar with the matter, an escalation of American involvement in battling drug cartels that carries significant risk to U.S. personnel. 

Both the U.S. and Mexican governments have acknowledged in the past that American law-enforcement agencies operate in Mexico providing intelligence support to Mexican military units battling the cartels. The countries have described the U.S. role as a supporting one only.

In reality, said the people familiar with the work, about four times a year the U.S. Marshals Service sends a handful of specialists into Mexico who take up local uniforms and weapons to hide their role hunting suspects, including some who aren’t on a U.S. wanted list. They said agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration play a supporting role, in similarly small numbers.

The risks became clear on July 11, when Mexican Marines and a handful of U.S. Marshals personnel dressed as Mexican Marines were fired on as they walked through a remote field in Sinaloa state. One American was shot and wounded, and in the gunfight that followed, more than a half-dozen suspected cartel soldiers were killed, according to people familiar with the incident. It is unclear whether U.S. Marshals personnel shot anyone.

The secret missions are approved by senior U.S. Marshals executives and by leaders within the Mexican Marines, the people familiar with them said. It isn’t clear who else in either government may have given authorization.

The Marshals Service referred questions to the Justice Department, of which it is a part.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said, “The U.S. Marshals have an important—and sometimes dangerous—mission of capturing fugitives and facilitating extraditions in the United States and around the world.”

One U.S. official said the missions are approved at a high level of the Mexican government.

The Mexican embassy in Washington denied that Mexico’s government gave U.S. agencies permission to go on armed raids. “Members of foreign law enforcement agencies or foreign military, including those from the U.S., are not authorized to carry weapons within the Mexican territory, and none of them are authorized either to participate in any raids or other armed law enforcement operations,’’ said a spokesman, Ariel Moutsatsos-Morales.

The missions represent a new example of risks the Justice Department is taking in pursuing Mexican cartels. A 2010 program called Fast & Furious, in which the U.S. allowed the purchase of weapons by suspected “straw” buyers in an effort to track them to cartel figures, led to a scandal when one of the guns was linked to the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent. In the aftermath, the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was forced out and others were punished or resigned. Attorney General Eric Holder has said he wasn’t aware of the plan until later.


The new disclosures are likely to strike a raw nerve in Mexico, where the presence of armed U.S. agents on its soil has long been a contentious issue. In Washington, the shootout in July sent shock waves through the select circle of law-enforcement officials aware of the operation, people familiar with the matter said.

Generally, U.S. law-enforcement agents overseas are prohibited by local laws from carrying weapons, and they have no arrest powers outside the U.S.

The State Department declined to discuss law-enforcement cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico.

The Marshals Service operations in Mexico are carried out by a small group sent for short, specific missions. The goal is to help Mexico find and capture high-value cartel targets.

One operation yielded a great success: The capture of cartel boss Joaquin Guzman Loera, known as “ El Chapo, ” earlier this year. It is unclear whether U.S. Marshals personnel were disguised as Mexican military men on the day he was caught.

Sometimes the Marshals Service targets a person Mexico would like to apprehend but who isn’t wanted by U.S. authorities, the people familiar with the work said.

Marshals personnel on the ground dress in local military garb to avoid standing out and are given weapons to defend themselves. When a mission goes badly, as on July 11, one of the people familiar with the work added, “it can turn into a flat-out kill mission.”

Some of them worry that U.S. personnel could be charged with a crime and jailed in Mexico if a mission went particularly badly or if they ran afoul of the wrong local official.

The Marshals Service works closely with the Mexican Marines because the U.S. agency has expertise at finding fugitives, in part through technology that detects cellphone signals and other digital signatures. That includes airplane flights operated by the agency carrying sophisticated devices that mimic cellphone towers, as reported last week by The Wall Street Journal. That technology works better with a ground presence.

Responding to the Journal article last week, a Justice Department official said that “any investigative techniques which the Marshals Service uses are deployed…only in furtherance of ordinary law enforcement operations, such as the apprehension of wanted individuals.”

The people familiar with the matter described the Marshals Service as a police agency affected by mission creep. More than five years ago, the Service flew small planes along the border to detect cell signals and locate suspects inside Mexico. About four years ago the flights crossed deep into Mexican airspace, the people said.

They added that, more recently, some flights have been conducted in Guatemala.

U.S. Marshals Service director Stacia Hylton, shown in 2012, emailed colleagues after a July firefight in Mexico's Sinaloa state saying that a Marshals inspector injured in the incident was in stable condition and recovering. 

The plan for the July mission in Sinaloa, hundreds of miles from the U.S. border, was typical, said those familiar with it—but quickly went wrong.

Members of the FBI, DEA and Marshals Service met with a group of Mexican Marines in preparation for a Friday raid. The goal was to apprehend a senior member of Los Mazatlecos, a gang of enforcers with ties to the Beltran Leyva drug cartel.

A handful of Marshals specialists dressed themselves as Mexican Marines and took Marines weapons. As they and the Mexican Marines set off on foot, a small plane flown by a U.S. Marshals employee kept an eye on the target site, advising colleagues on the ground who in turn guided those on foot. DEA and FBI personnel remained a mile or so away in an armored vehicle, observing and advising.

The men walked through a field toward the site. As they approached a line of bushes, hidden gunmen opened fire. A U.S. Marshals employee with the rank of inspector was shot in the arm and fell. A Mexican Marine rushed to carry him to safety and was also hit. Then another shot struck the American in the torso.

After the firefight, the wounded American was airlifted to a hospital in Culiacán, (foto at top) where he was kept under guard until he could be moved to a hospital in San Antonio.

U.S. officials scrambled to keep the incident quiet, people familiar with the operation said. One senior U.S. official in Mexico told the other law-enforcement personnel to “forget they were here,” those familiar with the matter said. The official was told that would be difficult because one person had already notified superiors in Washington of the shooting.

The U.S. Marshals pilot who provided reconnaissance was told by superiors to leave Mexico in the middle of the night, people familiar with the operation said.

Stacia Hylton, (left) director of the Marshals Service, sent colleagues an email days after the firefight saying the inspector “is in stable condition and recovering at a hospital with his family in the United States,” according to a copy reviewed by the Journal.

She added: “The laser-focus in which you accomplish the mission in your area of expertise is valued tremendously from our law enforcement partners, just as it is throughout our investigative programs domestically.”

The Marshals Service hasn’t said anything publicly about the inspector’s shooting. Spokesmen for the FBI and DEA declined to comment.

The July clash hasn’t altered the agency’s position on such raids, according to the people familiar with it. In recent weeks, the Marshals Service has been planning another covert mission in Mexico, they said.  

A previous story:


In July, Siskiyou_kid had posted this link to a story in El Debate.  It was about two men being rushed to a private Culiacan hospital with gunshot wounds.


Witnesses said it was all very mysterious.  Elements of the Mexican Navy were deployed to the hospital where they took up guard post positions at all entrances of the hospital.  Reports say that 2 foreign agents were flown in, each having suffered gunshot wounds, and were subsequently admitted to the hospital.


Reports suggested the men were DEA agents having being wounded in a confrontation.

42 comments:

  1. I'm okay with this. Good work on all sides, it sounds like

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  2. Good article. I always wondered if there were any Americans involved in the capture of cartel leaders.

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  3. The dea also had a hand in the death of el ondeado as well

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    Replies
    1. and arturo beltran, and macho prieto...the list goes on

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  4. These type of operations sound good on paper but they can really destabilize a region and increase violence if there is a grab for power when a void is created. This is typical DC mentality of addition by subtraction without a care for the culture and an understanding of a region. Their efforts may seem sincere but I find them suspect. Sinaloa like the rest of Mexico needs a better education system and capturing one or two or three drug capos isn't going to change their their drug trafficking culture or hinder others from joining it. American politicos with their hero complex think one sided and think by getting some like Chapo will result in real change.

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    1. Mexico has had narcotics cultivation/manufacturing and trafficking into the U.S. for decades. It hasn't had the absurd, outrageous levels of violence it has today for that long. The situation qualitatively changed earlier this decade. I blame it on the rise of meth (cristal) as a major product line for cartels in light of crackdowns on precursors in the U.S., which is in turn tied to the rise of the Zetas. Also, the emergence of kidnapping and extortion rings, also tied to the Zetas. Mexico needs 1. revamped gun laws that allow for the arming of auto-defensa forces across the country; 2. bring back the death penalty for those kill, rape, torture, and kidnap; 3. construction of real prisons, similar to ADX Florence, that allow real control over Mexico's prisoner population, not the joke, corrupt prisons that exist now.

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    2. "without a care for the culture" are you kidding me, Sinaloa breeds a narco-culture. I think the Mexican youth are receiving their "education" in..."if you live the narco lifestyle, you will die "fashionably" in the narco lifestyle".



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  5. Big brother and Big big brother have the computing power; the technology; and the resources to put a hurt on the cartels. Smell the coffee. It is in the interest of the law abiding and dominant culture to squash the evil, hate mongering criminal cartels. The game changer are the advances in technology while most normies and crimies have no clue. Absolutely no clue. Yea, junior ain't as tough or as sophisticated as the O.G., but this is clearly a new day. Substituting violence for cleverness and 'hard work' of yesterday will never carry the day. Kind reader

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  6. Its obviously its in the best interest of the US. They nab a capo and then bring him to the us where they confiscate large sums of money, get Intel on other key members, and lock them up for good.

    It provides Mexico with intel from technology they don't have and at least the american agents are less susceptible to corruption, basically it forces Mexico to do their job. I don't care of it creates a power struggle or the cockroach effect because that happens regardless. We need more of a US presence.

    QwikNe

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  7. They are after caro quintero maybe?

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  8. And the problem is.. Seems like it's working.

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  9. Sounds like they were going after chapo isidro and got ambushed. Jahaja el chapito tiene la escuela de arturo beltran y morira en la raya. Ya van varias y los marinos no la hacen el chapo flores tiene a puro guerrillero. Y no es que le guste emboscar pero en la guerra todo se vale.

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  10. How much is this costing American tax payers?

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    1. What does it matter how much it costs the tax payer. How does it really cost for a few US Marshals every now and then to assist the Mexican government. The bottom line is that the mission is accomplished. If that means the US Feds help the Mexican marines so be it. How much money do you think the war in Iraq and Afghanistan cost the US TAX PAYER? I'll tell you.....TRILLIONS of dollars. How much money does the do nothing US Congress and Senate cost the American people?? Billions of dollars very year but who is counting right.

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    2. Anonymous 12:05, Its not costing near as much to aid with support and manpower, as the cost for fighting it in the us, from user level to rehab and health care level.

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  11. that raid .. they were after someone big. they were so well hidden that even with all that technology the us gov didn't see them.

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  12. whoever shot them was gaurding someone ... and they did a good job they got away. I doubt they were just walking to get tacos in a open field

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  13. Better stop the guns traffic + money laundering and enforce your drug policies if is possible, it will help a lot more than 100 G.I Joes on the field in Mx!

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  14. Is that why so many big capos are going down now? Makes sense. Create a void by capturing a criminal. I guess that they should let them operate so there will not be a void. That is funny.

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  15. This isn't going to work, believe me. Sinaloa's culture needs to change before any real progress is made. It may put a small dent on operations for a while but business will continue as usual with new leaders who adjust and change their tactics. I'm sure the bad guys have intel that Americans are operating in the region. Instead of sending military the US should send teachers and professionals to help with the education, agricultural and business sectors so more jobs are created so less people are tempted to resort to illicit activities.

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    1. Hugs not Drugs.

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    2. very true...you have to change the culture if you want results...what better way than education

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    3. Expand and update our educational system. Teach everyone how to fish instead of showing them where to buy fish.....

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  16. You are a dreamer.How long for that to work.Decades? Who will protect them from the cartels?

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  17. Sounds like the plot of the next call of duty or battlefield games... gringos are experts in making regions distable. Well fuk it one day shit will back fire for the U.S (not america) America is from north(canada) to south(chile) gringos get yalls shit right.

    =)

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  18. Pinche gringos go home!!! Yankee go home! Work on getting treatment for your drug addicts. Get the demand down, that is the only way this will stop

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    Replies
    1. Its not going to stop, cause the U.S. isnt the only country they send drugs to...

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  19. They've had deep undercover cross border operations for years. Add technology that can find anyone anywhere, and narcos eventually get caught. Nothing on the Internet is private or anonymous. Not even these posts are anonymous. If they want you, they'll find you.

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  20. This is nothing new. The US has been doing this for 40 plus years. I guess it is good PR for EPN. My wife remembers gringos in Mexican uniforms in the late 70's in Chihuahua.

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  21. The U.S. has 100s of shadow cell towers in the states with fiber connections into Mexico and the rest of the world. Anything can be turned into a monitoring or learning device. Even new cars carry microchips in them that makes them traceable. This is further complicated by the fact that U.S. agencies are paying people better and more money to rat their own out. Advanced technology means that you don't need local eyes & ears on the ground to bust narcos. Narcos bust themselves.

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    1. LOL cell towers dont use fiber its an antenna that kills the purpose.too many 007 movies move it along inutil.

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    2. It takes fiber to operate & connect everything, dumb ass. You obviously don't know shit about telecom, pendejo.

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    3. Towers are connected, antennas transmit. You're wrong, estupido.

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    4. At 11:59 AM While cell towers can be placed anywhere, wireless isn't entirely wireless. It's called "fiber based backhaul services". By back hauling traffic transmitted by cell cell towers over fiber, agencies are able to house all call records in secure databases for further analysis. Physical fiber connections underground also make it easier for agencies to triangulate signals transmitted by these cell towers. You might want to read up & re-think what you know about telephony. Your knowledge is obviously limited & by criticizing a comment with your limited knowledge, you come off as a complete idiot.

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  22. Lol I've been told by Mexican maribes that U.S. agents do participate but not as frontliners. They say they just stay in the back and mostly watch everything go down they're mostly just there for backup but good job for both sides.

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    1. Im Mexican and i think it's a good thing that the Americans assisting Mexican marines because everybody knows the goverment in Mexico is working with the drug dealers and they let them know who and when they are going to go to capture them. Thr U.S. is just making sure the marines are doing their job in capturing these criminals. Im sure the U.S. got tired of Mexico telling the U.S. " we allmost had him but he got away before we got there" so the U.S. sent the D.E.A to really catch them. Mexican generals and soldiers get killed in Mexico if they catch a big fish that's why U.S. is helping Mexico. Real

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  23. Then they get caught and killed , then they start crying like little girls ! Poor ignorant White America ! USA has all the chickens but in Mexico we have the huevos !

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    1. No mames Mexico vale berga Los huevos estan en America dominamos todo el mundo

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    2. We Americans are the Chicken Hawks not the chickens don't get it twisted. What use will the huevos do for you if you have no hens or rosters to protect them because they run away in fear.

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  24. I laugh at the ignorance of the people who support the US government involved in these Mexican operations. While it is true that the Mexican government does work to some degree with narcos the USA and the CIA are the real criminals here. The CIA also works hand in hand with the cartels and more so than the Mexican Government does. It is in fact the CIA that operates as a clandestine cartel themselves masked as law enforcement.

    Once inside Mexico the CIA gather intelligence, power, and influence for nefarious purposes all masked with good intentions. Ask yourself why a CIA airplane crashed landed inside Mexico carrying a clandestine load of 4-6 tons of cocaine? http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2012/12/cia-plane-crash-lands-with-four-tons-of-coke-2-2512114.html

    then ask yourself why if the American government is so concerned why they don't spend all their time and energy taking care of the problem on their own end with increased drug programs, searches, raids, and everything else that is needed to discourage the use and consumption of the drugs at its final destination, which would end the shipments if they were no longer needed. The reason is the CIA and the American government want to create instability inside Mexico for their own selfish power grab and political agendas.

    The USA even has a super huge spy center inside Mexico as well as may offices of all sorts of American government agencies all designed to slowly cripple and take control of Mexico and their natural resources

    http://deadlinelive.info/2011/12/30/massive-u-s-spy-complex-revealed-in-mexico-re-post/

    let the fools continue to be deceived while they cheer for their masters to put the chains on them.

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    1. Until Mexico can prove to the world they can combat the cartels alone big brother will always be involved. Some of you idiots really don't understand the impact the US has in assisting Mexico in controlling the narcs. It's obvious that Mexico is asking for the help so shut your trap. If you disagree maybe you should write your president and tell him your true feelings. I'm sure he will listen to your concerns (sarcasm).

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