The House of Death

An interview with DEA whistleblower Sandy Gonzalez

(Page 2 of 5)

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.

Gonzalez: Correct.

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?

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  • ||

    The War on Drugs Sanity continues. Place your bets on the number of US officials who are charged with crimes over this.

    I've already got zero.

  • libertarian democrat||

    Get him! He's actually doing the job we hired him for!

  • ||

    "I think the American people would be justified in believing that their own government may be as corrupt as any of the countries our government criticizes for corruption."

    Thanks, Radley. Yet another completely fucked-up example of government abuse of power and complete disregard for the law that you found necessary to... Sorry, I have to get back to watching the Dow!

  • ||

    So if multiple levels of the federal government will allow a dozen murders to take place I wonder what they'll do if we ever get close to ending the drug war?

  • ||

    So U.S. Attorney Sutton knew about this and refused to even investigate it?

    Would this be the same U.S. Attorney Sutton who prosecuted two Border Patrol agents for shooting a Mexican drug runner in the ass and then being less than forthcoming about it?

    Gee, what a surprise.

  • ||

    "The War on Drugs Sanity continues. Place your bets on the number of US officials who are charged with crimes over this.

    I've already got zero."


    The war on some drugs is a cog in the "Culture War". I always tell people that the war on some drugs is not about people's safety or well being, it is about control and it is carte blanche for the myriad government abuses of human rights and dignity.

  • ||

    sorry about the misplaced tag in the quote. my bad

  • Ramsey||

    Radley FTW with 2 great articles.


    How are you not institutionalized with soul crushing depression? I just read the articles and they bring me down.

  • ||

    "I think the American people would be justified in believing that their own government may be as corrupt as any of the countries our government criticizes for corruption."

    Government corruption mixed in with an amount of money which one can barely grasp is a recipe for exactly what we're getting, dead bodies and a dead Constitution.

  • ||

    In January 2004, while under torture at the House of Death, one man gave his captors the address of a DEA agent assigned to the agency's office in Juarez

    See, the neocons are right! Torture does work!

    This story is fucking horrible. And no one cares.

  • dhex||

    of course not. they're mexicans, not people!

  • nonPaulogist||

    1000+ drug-related deaths and counting in Ciudad Juarez this year. I was picking up my 9 year old stepson at his school today and the Mexican army rolled by in a HummVee with a fifty caliber loaded, mounted and manned machine gun-IN A FUCKING SCHOOL ZONE!!

    Just another day in occupied Juarez.

  • ||

    of course not. they're mexicans, not people!

    Right, good point. I forgot that basic rule of US/Mexico detente.

  • Colleen McCool||

    Radley and Sandy thanks for all you do for reform! You are true patriots!

    Considering the facts: Obama and Palin admit to having used marijuana when younger, the McCain's wealth comes from alcohol drug dealing, Mrs. McCain's past prescription drug problems and America has become the most incarcerated nation in history; why isn't drug law reform for nonviolent users a top
    issue in this election year? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlxUuBBJRjI

    The Disappeared
    Seven Mexican reporters have vanished since 2005, a tally nearly unprecedented worldwide in 27 years of documentation by Committee to Protect Journalists. Many were investigating links between public officials and drug trafficers.
    http://cpj.org/Briefings/2008/Mexico2008/mexico_08.html

    "The ranks of the missing include aggressive young reporters and seasoned veterans, the owner of a tiny biweekly and a crew for a major television broadcaster. Only Russia-where seven journalists disappeared in the mid-1990s while covering an insurgent war in the republic of Chechnya-has experienced a comparable period of disappearances."

  • pab marq||

    Sorry about your "American" experience. Have you seen what America has become?! Minorities out! While whites pilage and run down the country! See what this poor latin family can expect from Federal/Missouri - POVERTY! Someone has to stop this and we will by selling our story and our US citizenship!
    www geocities com / pabmarq2000 / lawsuitstateofmissouri

    Last time speaking with lawyer that hates us is too bad, you $160,000 while the rich get cartblanche treatment, time to go back let GOD deal with these heithens.

  • ||

    pab marq, can you explain further? I'm particularly interested in white pillaging.

  • ||

    so, let me see if i understand this. ICE dropped an informant for bringing an "unauthorized stash ot marijuana" across the border? Does that mean I can call ahead to reserve passage for an authorized stash? What an odd system.

  • ||

    BigBigsLacker,

    did you check out his website? it seems the IRS and the state of Missouri have taken most/all of his money in back taxes and what have you, but he didn't actually owe them, clerical errors? Not too sure, his fragmented writing is hard to follow, and I really wish he didn't post the url to his site like that.

  • Tinian||

    If Sandalio "Sandy" Gonzalez is telling the truth, why didn't he post on Wikileaks?

  • ||

    That's so sad that someone in his position admits the futility, waste, and corruption involved with the WOD, is witness to *murders* in its name, and yet still can't bring himself to reconsider laws that would end it.

    I feel bad for the guy, and yet in the face of that willful ignorance and/or stubbornness...

  • ||

    And by "witness" I mean, didn't literally witness. Just that he found out it was happening.

    bad beer. No biscuit!

  • DJP||

    That was my reaction too dead_elvis.

    Despite all that, he can't see that legalizing is a better solution.

  • ||

    While the situation is horrific, why would the US Attorney prosecute crimes committed by a foreign national in a foreign country? Am I missing something?

    Certainly our agencies should have provided all the information to Mexican authorities.

  • Radley Balko||

    Loren --

    It is illegal for a federal agent to knowingly allow violent crimes to be committed by one of his informants.

    There's ample evidence that ICE agents knew about these murders, and did nothing to prevent them.

  • ||

    Radley,

    I get that, but the article had some note of the US attorney dropping 5 murder charges. I don't understand how the US attorney would have jurisdiction to bring charges in the first place. And perhaps that is why they were dropped.

    A small nit, I suppose, in the broader picture.

  • ||

    One only has to remember President Reagan telling Gorby to "tear down this wall." What we see next is Bushy calling for a wall to be built around the US. This, in and of itself, doesn't raise a red flag with anyone???

    Now, instead of using the National Guard to secure the southern border, as they're no longer "National," we have a combat brigade being "deployed" to US soil, against the Posse Comatatus Act.

    When will Americans wake up to whats going on with their own country. And the above hasn't even addressed the DEAth squads!

    This crap has got to STOP! Prohibition is the root cause of the crime, murders, et al, and no one seems to understand that. Brains, not bullets, are the call of the day.

    And, Radley, you're one of the elite few in the reporter pool who actually know how to "report." Thanks for not relying on "press releases" as ALL the others do. We appreciate it!!

  • ||

    Call the murderers at the DEA:

    Atlanta Division (404) 893-7000
    Boston Division (617) 557-2100
    Caribbean Division (787) 277-4700
    Chicago Division (312) 353-7875
    Dallas Division (214) 366-6900
    Denver Division (303) 705-7300
    Detroit Division (313) 234-4000
    El Paso Division (915) 832-6000
    Houston Division (713) 693-3000
    Los Angeles Division (213) 621-6700
    Miami Division (305) 994-4870
    New Jersey Division (973) 776-1100
    New Orleans Division (504) 840-1100
    New York Division (212) 337-3900
    Philadelphia Division (215) 861-3474
    Phoenix Division (602) 664-5600
    San Diego Division (858) 616-4100
    San Francisco Division (415) 436-7900
    Seattle Division (206) 553-5443
    St. Louis Division (314) 538-4600
    Washington, DC Division (202) 305-8500

    For general questions to DEA Headquarters:

    (202) 307-1000

    For Drug Registrant Information:

    Office of Diversion Control Online - http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/

    Drug Enforcement Administration
    Office of Diversion Control
    8701 Morrissette Drive, Springfield, VA 22152

    Additional Office of Diversion Control addresses

    (800) 882-9539

    For Demand Reduction & Publications:

    (202) 307-7936

    For media questions to DEA Headquarters:

    Public Affairs (202) 307-7977
    For Congressional questions to DEA Headquarters:

    Congressional Affairs (202) 307-7423
    For Contracts & Acquisitions

    For Administrative Hearing Correspondence:

    Drug Enforcement Administration
    Attn: Hearing Clerk/LJ
    8701 Morrissette Drive
    Springfield, VA 22152

    For courier and in-person deliveries only:
    Drug Enforcement Administration
    Attn: Hearing Clerk/LJ
    600 Army Navy Drive
    Arlington, VA 22202

  • ||

    Balko,
    Please get him on record saying the is not considering suicide and he is reproted as having committed suicide then it means they killed him.

    He is definitely a candidate for a Deborah Jeane Palfrey or Gary Webb type event.

  • Gabe||

    here is my letter to : garrison.k.courtney@usdoj.gov

    a rather helpful lady at the DEA said Garrison would probably know about it.

    Sandy Gonzalez(a former agent) is accussing the DEA of covering up it's role in the death of a dozen people. Even worse, he is accusing the DEA of threatening him for being honest and seeking to do the right thing.
    Does the DEA have a response?

    http://www.reason.com/news/show/128893.html

    Can I get a interview with Karen Tandy? I'd love to give her the opportunity to defend herself.

    Who else would have played a role in reprimanding Gonzalez?

  • ||

    Man, I thiought people would be all over this. Don't people see the evil Balko has uncovered!? How is this not getting any more attention?

  • Mr. Reynolds||

    It's systematic at the USDOJ http://www.daprocess.com

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