"House of Death" Informant Faces Deportation Hearing on Tuesday

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I just learned yesterday that on Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit will consider whether or not to deport a longtime federal drug informant back to Mexico. If they decide to do so, the informant will almost certainly be killed. But Guillermo Ramirez Peyro isn't just any informant. He's the key witness in the "House of Death" scandal, in which U.S. federal agents turned their backs on a dozen murders in Juarez, Mexico.

Last fall, I interviewed Sandy Gonzalez, the 30-year DEA agent who blew the whistle on the case.

A brief summary: Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) received knowledge that Peyro (also known as "Lalo") had participated in a murder in the course of infiltrating a faction of the Juarez drug cartel. The murder took place at what would later become known as the House of Death. Instead of calling off their investigation after learning of Lalo's participation, ICE agents did nothing, choosing instead to preserve their drug and cigarette smuggling cases. There would be 11 more tortures and murders at the House of Death. Lalo would later admit to having participated in at least five of them. Thus far, the federal government has refused to conduct a thorough investigation. When Agent Gonzalez sent a letter calling for one, he was disciplined and scolded by officials at the DEA, Homeland Security, and the office of then-U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton. Gonzalez was subsequently given the first negative performance review of his career, causing him to take an early retirement. He later won a $385,000 settlement.

If there ever were a thorough investigation, Lalo would be a key witness. Only he knows the extent to which ICE agents allowed these murders to happen. And that may be why the U.S. government wants to deport him, effectively a death sentence.

From my interview with Agent Gonzalez:

reason: The Department of Homeland Security is now trying to deport Lalo back to Mexico, where he'll almost certainly be murdered. Two questions. First, what is their stated reason for deporting him? And the more obvious question—do you think they're trying to deport him because he's likely to be killed?

Gonzalez: There's no doubt in my mind that they're trying to deport him because they know he'll be killed. It gets rid of the main witness against the government should someone ever look into this.

I don't know the stated or official reason they're trying to deport him. I would guess that it's because he's an illegal alien, or something like that.

I mean, they want him dead. There's no question about it.

reason: He has asked that if he is deported, it be to someplace other than Mexico. The government is arguing against that, too.

Gonzalez: I wasn't aware of that, but it wouldn't surprise me. All I know is that they are trying to get rid of him so he can get killed. Once he's out of the picture, there's no way this case can be revived, because all the other witnesses are government agents.

The federal government has paid Lalo more than $200,000 over the years. His tips have led to at least 50 convictions. He is without a doubt a shady character. He's a former Mexican police officer turned drug dealer turned federal informant who participated in tortures and murders. But he's also holding information about U.S. government complicity in a series of a dozen murders, including the murder of a legal U.S. resident.

Lalo was initially granted asylum by an immigration judge. But the government appealed that decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), which overruled the judge and ordered Lalo deported. He's now appealing to the Eighth Circuit. The Obama administration has apparently decided to push ahead with his deportation.

It may be that Obama's DOJ appointees aren't aware of the story behind Lalo's deportation. I have a phone call out requesting comment from the BIA.

NEXT: Marion Barry Gets Set Up with a Kidney

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  1. The US government is responsible for a lot of bad things, however it is not the US government responsibility to what happens in a foreign country when done by foreigners. If you do think it’s the US government responsibility then stand by for all sorts of things all over the world that require US government and its taxpayer dollars to correct.

  2. It’s certainly the U.S. government’s responsibility when an informant on the government’s payroll participates in a murder, the government learns of the murder and does nothing about it, and then he goes on to commit at least four more murders, some of which the government may also have known about.

  3. And why do I want a foreigner you claim to be a murderer to stay in the USA? Sounds like he should be deported so he can stand trial in Mexico for these accused crimes.

  4. This makes me sick every time I read about. Thanks for keeping up with it, Radley.

    What the government is doing here is appalling. I hope this story gets a lot more attention- that might make it harder for Homeland Security to make this guy disappear.

    DJF,

    BECAUSE HE WAS WORKING FOR THE US GOVERNMENT WHEN HE KILLED PEOPLE, DUMBASS, AND THE GOVERNMENT KNEW ABOUT IT. THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?

  5. “BECAUSE HE WAS WORKING FOR THE US GOVERNMENT WHEN HE KILLED PEOPLE, DUMBASS, AND THE GOVERNMENT KNEW ABOUT IT. THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?”

    No, he had two jobs, one working as informant for the US government and the other appears to be his working for a drug cartel as a murderer. Since the employer who was paying him to murder was in Mexico, the murders are in Mexico and the murdered are Mexican it appears to me that it’s a Mexican problem.

    Unless of course you want to expand the US government so that it is now responsible for what Mexicans do to Mexicans in Mexico, but then don’t complain about the size of government.

  6. The US government is responsible for a lot of bad things, however it is not the US government responsibility to what happens in a foreign country when done by foreigners. If you do think it’s the US government responsibility then stand by for all sorts of things all over the world that require US government and its taxpayer dollars to correct.

    As they say on Fark..

    RTFA and STFU

  7. No, he had two jobs, one working as informant for the US government and the other appears to be his working for a drug cartel as a murderer. Since the employer who was paying him to murder was in Mexico, the murders are in Mexico and the murdered are Mexican it appears to me that it’s a Mexican problem.

    That would be true, except for the fact that it isn’t.

    A brief summary: Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) received advance knowledge that Peyro (also known as “Lalo”) committed a murder as part in the course of infiltrating a faction of the Juarez drug cartel. The murder took place at what would later become known as the House of Death. Instead of calling off their investigation after learning of Lalo’s participation, ICE agents did nothing, choosing instead to preserve their drug and cigarette smuggling cases. There would be 11 more tortures and murders at the House of Death. Lalo would later admit to having participated in at least five of them. Thus far, the federal government has refused to conduct a thorough investigation. When Agent Gonzalez sent a letter calling for one, he was disciplined and scolded by officials at the DEA, Homeland Security, and the office of then-U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton. Gonzalez was subsequently given the first negative performance review of his career, causing him to take an early retirement. He later won a $385,000 settlement.

    They knew what was going on, including the murders, yet they refused to step in and stop things because they wanted to protect their precious drug investigation. They allowed people to die, knowingly, because of that.

    The fact that they’re fighting so hard for his deportation and absolutely refusing to do an investigation says a lot.

  8. RTFA and STFU”

    Once again the usual high quality response expected at a magazine called “Reason”.

  9. Unless of course you want to expand the US government so that it is now responsible for what Mexicans do to Mexicans in Mexico, but then don’t complain about the size of government.

    Just to clarify what should be the baseline here…

    If drugs were not illegal, there would be no DEA paying informants to investigate Mexican drug cartels, both because there would be no DEA and because there would be no drug cartels.

    You go to drug war with the government you have, not the government you might want or wish to have at a later time. If agents of that government are accessories to major crimes, they should be held to account regardless of their or their informants’ citizenship, residence, or place of crime.

  10. “brief summary: Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) received advance knowledge that Peyro (also known as “Lalo”) committed a murder as part in the course of infiltrating a faction of the Juarez drug cartel.”

    This does not even make sense, how can you have advanced knowledge of a murder that already took place?

  11. “If agents of that government are accessories to major crimes, they should be held to account regardless of their or their informants’ citizenship, residence, or place of crime.”

    And what about the accused murderer who wants to avoid going to Mexico where he can be prosecuted for the actual murder. Why is so many people here wanting to protect this accused murderer from being sent back to justice? Instead they are standing in the way of the accused murderer getting sent back to the jurisdiction where the actual murders took place.

  12. Why is so many people here wanting to protect this accused murderer from being sent back to justice?

    Because, like you, they are more interested in justice being done in the US. They want the DEA agents who knowingly allowed murders to take place without informing the proper authorities — i.e., were accessories to murder — to be investigated and prosecuted for those crimes.

  13. It may be that Obama’s DOJ appointees aren’t aware of the story behind Lalo’s deportation.

    And it may be true that they are aware.
    —————————————-
    Once again the usual high quality response expected at a magazine called “Reason”.

    Drink!

  14. Silly Lalo, everyone knows that to get away with murder, you need to be employed by the CIA, not the DEA.

  15. This story reads like something from ‘The Shield’

  16. This does not even make sense, how can you have advanced knowledge of a murder that already took place?

    It only happens in special cases where a journalist uses poor wording.

    Fixed.

  17. “Because, like you, they are more interested in justice being done in the US. They want the DEA agents who knowingly allowed murders to take place without informing the proper authorities — i.e., were accessories to murder — to be investigated and prosecuted for those crimes.”

    What justice in the US? As far as I know there was no crime done in the US since the murders took place in Mexico. That is where justice must happen. If while in Mexico the accused murderer wants to make a statement accusing the DEA of something he is free to do so.

    You and your fellows on the other hand want the accused murderer to stay in the US where he has committed no crime and where he will be released so that the US will have another murderer walking the streets. We already have enough home grown murderers so I see no reason why we need to import any.

  18. The US government is evil.

    I don’t understand how people can work for them.

  19. DJF,

    Are you willfully ignoring the alleged crimes committed by US federal agents, or are you only accidentally missing the point?

    Let’s say a plain old American citizen paid a Mexican hitman to kill his wife in Cancun. Is your position the same? Let’s say his wife is a Mexican citizen. Is your position the same? Let’s say he is a DEA agent and knows the hitman through his job. Is your position the same? Let’s say his DEA coworkers knew about it. Is your position the same? Let’s say it wasn’t his wife. Is your position the same? Let’s say he didn’t pay the hitman, but simply employed him as an informant but knew that he murdered people in order to remain in a position to be paid.

    Where did you go from caring about prosecuting the American to not caring about prosecuting the American?

  20. Let’s say a plain old American citizen paid a Mexican hitman to kill his wife in Cancun.

    The analogy would be a plain old Mexican citizen hired a mexican hitman to kill his mexican wife in mexico (or alternatively, did it himself). But all the time he was also being paid for by the American government who are alleged to have knowledge of his malfeasance – and kept him on the payroll even then.

    There are in fact two competing interests. One is the interest of the state to apply justice for the crime of murder. The other is to find and eliminate corruption in the govt of a state.

    It is patently obvious that agents of the US goverment are trying to send Lalo back to Mexico as part of a coverup. But it is also nonetheless true that keeping Lalo in the US and probably cutting another deal is a tradeoff. One that will delay and may preclude entirely undergoing whatever process of justice is in place for crimes comitted in sovereign Mexican territory.

  21. Simple solution…

    allow Lalo to remain in the US until the investigation is over. If enough evidence is provided against the agents, they along with Lalo will be returned to Mexico for trial and exicution.

  22. I mean Execution. Dang typing to fast before I can think

  23. Johnny Sutton said he did a complete investigation on Ramos and Copean, that they were dirty and got 10 years. He gave Aldrete Avila a visa to come and go between Juarez and El Paso. Lalo had a visa to come and go between Juarez and El Paso whenever he wanted. That made him an “invited guest of our federal government like Avila. Figure it out from there amigos.

  24. If paying a foreign bad guy to do something of our interst while behaving badly is a crime, the only living president that wouldn’t be in prison is the current one, and it wouldn’t be long before he joined the rest.

    If we were paying him to murder people, then I would agree. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Sounds like the murders were purely in the Mexican domain. But I do think the U.S. was very, very unethical.

    I think sending him back sends a bad message to any other Mexican we want to recruit in the drug war. We’ll use you, then send you out with the trash. For those of us who hate the drug war, that might not really be a bad message.

    It’s more evidence of how dishonorable the drug war really is.

  25. preserve their drug and cigarette smuggling cases.

    Cigarette smuggling? Why on earth would anyone smuggle cigarettes?

    *bait dangled*

  26. The ICE and DEA allow a series of murders to take place, because they don’t want to prematurely end a smuggling investigation.

    Think about that for a minute.

    And- where do you suppose law-and-order hardliner “DJF” comes down on the case of Ramos and Compean?

  27. “And- where do you suppose law-and-order hardliner “DJF” comes down on the case of Ramos and Compean?”

    Wow, actually wanting a accused mass murder to be sent back to the jurisdiction where the crimes occurred for trial is now “law and order hardliner”.

    Or should we keep this guy in the US where he can do a deal and then allow him into some witness protection system where he can move next to you.

    So who here is volunteering to have an ex dirty cop informant mass murder living next to you? Maybe you can invite him over for your next barbeque.

  28. Paul, in the 1950’s, taxes on smokes were much higher in Canada than in the US – so my grandfather – who lived right near the border- would buy a fair amount and “import” them through some old logging roads.

    He knew a Mountie, (I don’t know if he paid him), and the guy tipped off grandma after the Mounties got wise. She had to walk through eight miles of snow to warn him. Then they stashed the smokes in a snow drift. When the Mounties busted them, all they had was a bunch of firewood in the sleigh (yes, a sleigh). Later, they went back and got the cigs.

    Also – to any Mounties reading this – grandpa died in 1975, and grandma in 1999. So don’t bother coming after them.

  29. Lalo is now almost in that grey area similar to the Guantanamo Bay enemy combatants. Send them back to their country, they get killed or go back to being a suicide bomber. Release them in our country and they later kill some of us.

  30. “”””Wow, actually wanting a accused mass murder to be sent back to the jurisdiction where the crimes occurred for trial is now “law and order hardliner”. “””

    What trial? The cartel might kill him. The government of Mexico might ingore a few murders and hire him to fight against the cartels.

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