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Gonzalez: This all started as a threat against some agents and their families. So even if ICE didn’t want to get into the murders, they had to at least investigate the threats to the agents. The DEA flew in a supervisor from Mexico City. He was operating out of my office in El Paso. When I finally found out what was going on with the House of Death, I wrote the letter to my counterpart at ICE. The letter basically said to him: Unless you can come up with a really good explanation, you’re responsible for this whole mess. These were murders, and we had the possibility of federal agents looking the other way, knowing the murders were taking place. Allowing an informant to take part in violent crimes is a very serious matter, so I also sent a copy to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Their reaction was completely negative. The U.S. Attorney never even contacted me to discuss the matter. Instead, he complained about me directly to the Justice Department. I got a call from the number three person in the DEA, who instructed me not to talk to the media, and not to write any more letters. He told me that everyone was very upset. No one wanted to discuss the issues I had raised. They just wanted me to shut up. I think at that point they realized that this whole mess was now a matter of record. So they went after the guy who put it on the record.
reason: You’ve said you wrote the letter because you saw signs that the investigation was looking more like a cover-up than an actual investigation.
Gonzalez: DEA was doing their investigation and ICE was doing theirs. When the officials met in Washington, it became clear to me that what was being reported by ICE and what was being reported by DEA were very different. I said “bullshit.” I mean, this is murder we’re talking about here—multiple murders—and something’s got to be done.
reason: At that point, the DEA had already dropped Lalo as an informant, right?
Gonzalez Yeah. They dropped him the previous July after he was caught at the border with an unauthorized stash of marijuana.
reason: But ICE kept using him—not only after he’d been caught smuggling while working as an informant, but after they learned that he had participated in a murder while on their payroll.
reason: Why do you think they kept using him? Did they want to get more information on the cartel, or were they using him in other cases that they didn’t want to compromise?
Gonzalez: I think it was a combination of those two things. They were also using him in some huge cigarette smuggling case. And of course he was well into this cell of the Juarez cartel. As long he was there, he could provide information.
reason: So of the 12 murders at the House of Death, in how many cases did ICE agents have prior knowledge that one was about to take place?
Gonzalez: That’s the big question. That’s why they don’t want an investigation.
reason: There’s evidence that there were at least two where they had advance knowledge, correct?
Gonzalez: Lalo gave an affidavit or a declaration to the Mexican authorities where he admitted to taking part and/or being present—and it’s been a long time since I’ve read that—in five murders.
reason: If ICE had handled the situation properly after they learned of the first murder, do you believe the subsequent murders could have been prevented?