Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

From a Mexican Kingpin to an FBI informant

Tribune Washington Bureau
The Bellingham Herald

Posted in Borderland Beat Form by WonderBread

Police and federal agents pulled the car over in a suburb north of Denver. An FBI agent showed his badge. The driver appeared not startled at all. "My friend," he said, "I have been waiting for you."
And with that, Jesus Audel Miramontes-Varela stepped out of his white 2002 BMW X5 and into the arms of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Over the next several days at his ranch in Colorado and an FBI "safe house" in Albuquerque, the Mexican cartel chieftain - who had reputedly fed one of his victims to lions in Mexico - was transformed into one of the FBI's top informants on the Southwest border.
Around a dining room table in August 2010, an FBI camera whirring above, the 34-year-old Miramontes-Varela confessed his leadership in the Juarez cartel, according to 75 pages of confidential FBI interview reports obtained by the Los Angeles Times/Tribune Washington Bureau.

He told about marijuana and cocaine routes to California, New York and the Great Lakes. He described the shooting deaths of 30 people at a horse track in Mexico, and a hidden mass grave with 20 bodies, including two U.S. residents.

He told them about his African lions, which he had acquired as circus cubs. The story about feeding one of his enemies to them was false, he claimed, but he said he had seen plenty of "violence and suffering." He told agents he was desperate to trade his knowledge for government protection. He wanted a new life for himself and for his wife and three daughters.

A week later Miramontes-Varela pleaded guilty in federal court in New Mexico to a minor felony as an undocumented illegal immigrant in possession of a firearm. Then he disappeared, almost certainly into the federal witness protection program.

FBI officials in Arizona and Washington declined to comment about Miramontes-Varela, citing bureau policy against discussing informants. But the documents tell plenty.

During the interview sessions, Miramontes-Varela "provided significant information about drug trafficking activity," the documents said, leading to several successful unnamed law enforcement operations in the U.S. and Mexico.

After Miramontes-Varela was stopped in Brighton, Colo., agents took him back to his ranch. They advised him and his wife, Mari, that he was "the subject of an FBI investigation for his involvement in drug trafficking, firearms trafficking, money laundering and the interstate transportation of stolen property."

In Spanish, they read him his Miranda rights. He called an attorney. They spoke quietly in Spanish. Miramontes-Varela hung up and turned to the agents. "Yes," he said. "He told me to do as much as I can for you."

Miramontes-Varela signed the Miranda waiver and looked up at the agents. He asked, "Where do you want to start?"

First, they said, any guns?

Miramontes-Varela mentioned a black 9 mm semiautomatic Glock pistol he said he bought after being shot at in El Paso. The agents asked to see it. "Yes, yes, no problem," he said. He walked to a floor safe in a far corner of the living room, unlocked it and handed the weapon over.

Agents drove the couple to the FBI safe house in Albuquerque. Inside, they pointed to two cameras. One was in the master bedroom, where Miramontes-Varela and his wife would stay. Agents showed that that it was unplugged and that they had covered it with a white plastic bag. "Very nice," Miramontes-Varela said.

Miramontes-Varela talked to them around the dining room table. That is where the other camera was. It stayed on.

His story poured out. He was born the third of 10 children in Terrero, Mexico, and grew up in Namiquipa, northern Mexico. He married when he was 18, his bride 15. They sneaked through Nogales, Ariz., coming to the U.S., he said, "to make money."

They settled in Denver. Miramontes-Varela installed drywall. But in the late 1990s a brother, Yovany, lost an arm in a tractor mishap, and Miramontes-Varela returned home. He grew apples and traded in cattle.

In early 2002, he said, the Juarez cartel came to Namiquipa. Pedro Sanchez, known as El Tigre, controlled things. He offered Miramontes-Varela a job collecting a monthly $35,000 "tax" from marijuana growers.

Every 15 days, growers carted 20 tons to a local warehouse. It was shipped north through El Paso, the proceeds funneled back to the cartel and the growers.

One day the military arrived and gunfire ensued. "The mayor and town treasurer were killed," Miramontes-Varela said. Later, El Tigre was arrested.

In 2008, Miramontes-Varela said, he fled with his family to El Paso. When he failed to return, the cartel burned his ranch and stole his cattle, all 120 cows. He was done with the violence, he said.
That part, according to the FBI, was not true. Miramontes-Varela shuffled between ranches in New Mexico and Colorado, they said, often in an armored car with bodyguards, and set up his own drug- and gun-smuggling operation.

When a courier was arrested with 18 kilos of cocaine, Miramontes-Varela offered the man's family the choice of one of his 16 homes in Mexico, including his "big house," according to telephone wiretaps outlined in the documents.

In March 2010, the FBI listed him as head of the "Miramontes-Varela Drug Trafficking Organization," tied to the Juarez, Sinaloa and Los Zetas cartels. From two confidential sources and two wiretaps, agents learned that his organization had stolen tractors in the U.S. and driven them to Mexico as payment for lost loads. One debt alone reached $670,000. They learned that one of Miramontes-Varela's bosses in Mexico, "Temoc," was tortured and killed by the Sinaloans.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also wanted him arrested. It had tracked $250,000 in illegal gun purchases to Miramontes-Varela and his brother through its ill-fated Fast and Furious gun-smuggling surveillance operation in Arizona.

FBI agents rigged a 24-hour pole camera outside his ranch near Santa Teresa, N.M. But Miramontes-Varela figured it out. Five of his men in two vehicles followed a surveillance agent for 90 minutes, then slashed his tire.

More ominously, the FBI learned Miramontes-Varela and his organization had bribed U.S. officials in El Paso and New Mexico. They decided it was time to bring him in.

On Aug. 18, 2010, they followed him from his Colorado farm. He briefly visited a Walgreens, then the State Patrol pulled him over. The time was 11:20 a.m. They had him.

In the safe house dining room, agents brought out maps, and Miramontes-Varela sketched in smuggling routes. He said weapons were easily acquired in this country, including .50-caliber rifles. "Good for long-range sniper fire," he said.

He filled in the cartel hierarchies too. One chieftain had arm and shoulder scars from bullet wounds. At the horse track murders, the chieftain wore a mask. Some switched sides; others died when loads went missing.

And he told them about that mass grave in Palomas, Mexico. Authorities dug up 20 decaying corpses. Miramontes-Varela, the FBI's new informant, was right.

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  1. This story does not make sense. He was well known at New Mexico's Racetracks. He is not the big player the newspaper makes him look like. And the biggest question is, why did they release this info with his name and all? Does the FBI want him dead? Thats what ICE tried to do with the informant from the House of Death in Juarez.

  2. Best story ever!

  3. And in the end they all become snitches. I wonder if Mexico offered that kind of deal to a narcoserial killer running from usa law, what the american people woul percieve that?

  4. Snitch just like da Barbie except he was a lot smarter on doing things

  5. If only,when he his wife and children dissapeared, it could have been for real. The protected witness program is well known, and is another Fast and Furious Fed Fiasco placing the public at risk paying for criminal retirement at the Taxpayers expense. There again the USA Fed Govt at work, all you progressives need to think long and hard about turning your life over to big brother.

  6. Muy chingones cuando estan haciendo dinero, vendiendo su veneno, matando gente ke debe o simplemente matando gente innocente ah pero cuando los agarran solitos empiezan a cantar como pajaritos... Todos son una bola de jotos vendidos... Vendidos porque se venden a los goviernos dandoles informacion.. El govierno al final les hace lo mismo: cantan como pajaritos y sueltan los nombres de sus informantes!!! jajaja.. TODOS LOS KE ESTAN INVOLUCRADOS CON LOS CARTELES SON UNA BOLA DE JOTOS, DEDOS, MUERTE ES LO KE SE MERECEN!!! Desde un principio saben a lo ke se estan metiendo, aguanten la bara y callense el osico!!! Muy chingones, jajajaja por favor... Tengo mas huevos yo ke soy vieja ke ellos ke se dicen hombres!!! Y el govierno tampoco vale ni un jarro de mierda...

  7. "Believe half of what you see and Nothing You Hear" that's a fact. back in the 80's I was in
    the "Tex-Mex" smuggling Game and believe only
    tiny bits of what's in this blog.! Remember
    the Source people and if you think the Fed's
    are going to put a "Real Bonifide" Informant
    out on "Front Street" then your as Stupid as
    they come. Most real Bad Ass Cartel leaders
    are truly "Dreamers,Sceamers and Fucken Lunatics
    pretending to be Real people" I know and anybody who has dealt with these people knows
    I'm right...!

    1. Things have changed a lot in "the game"since your old ass has been in it.....

  8. 50 cal. good for long range - that's the kind of intel this asshole has to give? Useless. Send him and his family off to a "safe" place and cap all of 'em. Do us a fucking favor FBI. Your witness protection program is a joke. Sammy the bull played the FBI like violin.

  9. As I have said many times. The Juarez Cartel is big in Denver

  10. A Zeta big wig was arrested in Cuba...Chivis,J que onda?

  11. Something doesn't smell right... Feds can't rat out their informants .or at least they shouldn't , Especially if they want to keep aquiring them ,which they need to do because thats where they get most their info .but what i find interesting is that they say this guy bribed us officials which btw is not so uncommon in the border areas.

  12. "the documents" ha ha ha

  13. If you're involved in a life of crime be man enough to face your consequences & outcome there of.The old days are gone when at least 75-80% kept their mouth shut.Now its more like 15%.The little bit of loyalty there was is non-existent now.You have treason & betrayal across the board,that equals bodies.The U.S of A wants Mexico to fight this war to the fullest on all fronts,yet the U.S turns around & pampers any & all cowards who are too weak to do their time.Reducing prison sentences & allowing them to keep a good part of their "ILL" gotten earnings & protecting them.Its the catch & release program at its best!!

  14. Heavy fighting in sinaloa, en la sierra, army vs z and beltran leyva. High casualties y guess some civilians locals also on the hunt. It's starting to sound and playing as a narco -insurgency, turning a civil war. It wouldn't be a surprise. Some blogs say zetas sending reinforcements. Sad :(

  15. I can tell you alot of this is correct because all this did happen in namiquipa. I remember my friend telling me about temoc being tortured by a convoy of hitman from the sinaloa cartel. Temoc was a rapist by the way every one hated him in namiquipa. The only bad thing is, namiquipa is still plaged by juarez cartel cells that still extortion the mariguana farmers in Namiquipa. As far as the ranch with the 120 cows, thats true also. They were waiting for this guy to go back to namiquipa to cut him up in pieces. Instead he bailed and told on them. Well done.... hes out of jail and alive. After doing the shit he did or ordered to do, hes alive and supported by our taxes. It doesnt get any better then this for a drug dealer.

  16. King pin?
    Funny how all the U.S. low level movers are Kingpins and all the low level Players in Mexico are related to Bin Ladin. strange world we live in!

  17. Athena: if you post the stolen gold on this the main page many would be willing to enlighten you about what we know. I have to stay as anonymous as possible due to _______. this is why i do not log on to forum but i appreciate the additional information available there.

  18. Again; don't believe all the shit you read; if you do , next thing thier gonna tell you is that
    El Lazca is alive and well and living in the same condo complex in Miami as El Chapo and they both go drinkin and whorein with the DEA..!

  19. I don't believe a word of this prefabricated holly wood script... Pure trash.. like they would roll over that easy.. come on folks..


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