In the world of law enforcement, working with confidential informants is at best a dicey business. It gives the term “high maintenance” a whole new meaning. If informants weren’t so critical in getting a case prosecuted and ultimately winning it in court, I don’t think that any rational person would deliberately choose to work with one. But that’s not the way the system works. Federal agents have got to develop informants to receive good performance reviews and good performance reviews bring chances for promotions.
Sure, managing informants is like herding cats but as long as their picture doesn’t end up on a wanted poster or a police booking sheet, what could possibly go wrong?
According to a March 12 report, Ruben Rodriguez-Dorado, El Paso, Texas, is awaiting trial on capital murder charges for the 2009 shooting of Jose Daniel Gonzales-Galeana. Rodriguez-Dorado is alleged to have hired two men to kill Gonzales-Galeana in a Mexican drug cartel skirmish that spilled over the border from Juarez, Mexico, into El Paso, Texas. Ironically, the murder took place just yards from the residence of the city’s chief of police.
Strangely enough, both men were documented DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) informants and both were under the control of the same ICE agent who has not yet been identified.
Stranger yet, it has also been alleged that the El Paso ICE agents may have been aware of the hit before it happened but did not intervene. The hit was believed to have been ordered by cartel bosses who found that Gonzales-Galeana was reportedly in the country on a special visa as being “contracted and protected by ICE.” You might say that this probably wasn’t a very good arrangement. So as far as ICE goes, what are we complaining about?
According to the El Paso Times, the news of the Gonzales-Galeana shooting got to ICE agents so fast that they arrived at the crime scene at about the same time as the El Paso police.
Since You Asked…
Those are the facts for public consumption. What is not being reported is the back story.
There is tremendous pressure within the ranks of federal law enforcement to develop informants. In high crime areas, it’s not too difficult because they’re almost coming out of the woodwork. Besides, any good stoolie knows that agents will always have access to some ready taxpayer cash and are always happy to part with it. Agents know that informants are not lilly white to start with and more than likely are up to no good but the excitement to land that next big case can make them careless.
Informants play both sides. They feed information to their controllers to keep them happy while at the same time doing the same nefarious things that got them this far. The trick is not getting caught. Meanwhile, agents have the headache of trying to keep their sources on the straight and narrow and out of trouble because covering for them with other law enforcement agencies can be a nightmare. At the end of the day, an agent is often left with trying to figure out how to dig their informants and themselves out of a hole.
The El Paso murder is another case of an informant spinning out of control and an agency scrambling not only to protect the informant spawned cases but to conduct all out damage control. The El Paso Times also reported March 1 that during a motion hearing the previous day, a furious Judge Gonzalo Garcia chastised ICE for not complying with the subpoenas (for agency records concerning the two informants) and said there is a risk of the charges being dropped against Rodriguez-Dorado. Leonard Morales, one of the attorneys for Rodriguez-Dorado, said that he couldn’t be happier. “Without ICE’s support in state court, there’s certainly going to be a difficult time prosecuting this case.”
Without ICE’s support, a lot of things have become more difficult – border security and keeping the country safe chief among them.
Not so strange – this comes as no surprise.
Brett Braaten is the author of Homeland Insecurity: Failed Politics, Policies, and a Nation at Risk. His book brings his no nonsense, insider’s account of the current state of national security to help you decide whether you, your family, and your country are truly safe. Brett’s career as a writer and speaker is informed by 30 years of experience as a federal agent with U.S. Customs and the Department of Homeland Security. Brett Braaten draws back the curtain on the vast federal law enforcement bureaucracy to give a rare glimpse of behind the scenes agency responses to politics and policies that impact national security, sovereignty and the economy. “As a former special agent with both the U.S. Customs Service and later Immigration and Customs Enforcement, I enjoyed a great career. In retrospect, it was job satisfaction that most of us spent time looking for as we did our jobs in a system that fostered more obstacles than solutions.” Contact Brett at firstname.lastname@example.org .Visit his website, at www.homeland-insecurity.com for his thoughts and analysis of current issues affecting national security and the well-being of American families.