DEA: No Records on Bounty Threat 

DEA: No Records on Bounty Threat 
Posted by FoM on June 26, 2000 at 07:05:02 PT
By Joseph A. D'Agostino
Source: WorldNetDaily
Is $200,000 price on border agents' heads real or rumor?  In response to a Freedom of Information Act request from Human Events, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration claims it cannot locate a single record relating to the allegation that Mexican drug traffickers have placed a bounty on the heads of U.S. law-enforcement officers. 
This is despite the fact DEA officials were quoted, on the record, discussing such a bounty in U.S. news reports published earlier this year. At a minimum, this raises the question of whether the federal government's top drug enforcement agency has any policy at all -- or even intends to develop a policy -- to respond to what U.S. Border Patrol agents believe is a serious and credible threat to their security. "None of us can afford not to view this as credible," Joseph Dassaro, vice president of the Border Patrol union local in San Diego, told Human Events when asked about the bounty threat. "We take it very seriously. It doesn't matter if the drug lords are going to pay it or not. If people think they are going to pay it, they could try to kill us." $200,000 Per Head: On March 14, Mexican army troops crossed into U.S. territory in New Mexico and fired their weapons at U.S. Border Patrol agents. At that time, Border Patrol union officials claimed the episode was an attempt by the Mexican troops to collect on the $200,000 bounty reportedly offered by the Juarez cartel for the death of any U.S. law-enforcement officer. "The Mexican soldiers who crossed the border into the New Mexico state last week were hoping to cover the $200,000 reward put up by the Amado Carillo Juarez cartel to kill agents of our agency," Dassaro said at the time. In that incident, Border Patrol agents forced nine Mexican soldiers to surrender and detained them overnight. The next day, however, Luis Barker, the El Paso sector chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, released the Mexicans before they could be questioned by the FBI. The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration had difficulty getting information on the incident from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which oversees the Border Patrol. On Thursday, spokesman Allen Kay told Human Events that Subcommittee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, has not been able to get much more information out of the INS. "He has the official reports, so we know a little more of the details, but there are a lot of unanswered questions," said Kay. "The congressman doesn't think we're going to get any more information. There's no way of knowing what their motivation was, because [the soldiers] were released before they were questioned. They're back in Mexico now." But the DEA did not have trouble publicly discussing the bounty issue prior to the New Mexico incident. On Feb. 15, the Associated Press reported, "U.S. drug agents have been asked to take extra precautions in light of information that a Mexican drug cartel has offered a $200,000 reward for killing a federal officer, an agency spokesman said. Michael McManus, spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said agents have been put on 'heightened alert' in the past two months. Agents along the Southwest border have been asked to be more aware of their surroundings and to travel in pairs when they can. McManus said another federal law enforcement agency alerted the DEA about the bounty offer." Either this alert was made only verbally, or the DEA has failed to comply with the Freedom of Information Act in not at least notifying Human Events of the existence of the communications between the Border Patrol and the DEA on this matter. According to the Freedom of Information Act, an agency may decline to release information to the public, but it must cite its reason for doing so -- that is, national security or a pending criminal investigation. In its response to Human Events, the DEA did not admit possessing documents and claim an exemption from releasing them. Instead, it said, "DEA has located no records which are responsive to your request." According to a statement issued by the U.S. Border Patrol, informants told the agency that the bounty offer was made by the Juarez drug cartel as FBI agents were in Mexico helping Mexican authorities investigate a mass gravesite outside Juarez. The offer applied to the murder of officers from any U.S. law-enforcement agency. Vince Rice, spokesman for the DEA's San Diego office, discussed the bounty offer with USA Today on March 15. "The threats don't stop us from doing our job," said Rice. "I personally think drug dealers know that if they were to kill a federal agent, the whole force of the U.S. government would come down on them. They'd have no place to hide." On April 12, Human Events sent a request to Katherine Myrick, chief of the Freedom of Information Operations Unit of the DEA, asking for "copies of all materials -- including documents, memos, e-mails, tapes, photographs, etc. -- that relate in any way to any alleged bounties or awards offered by drug traffickers for the death, injury, or kidnap of any agents of the U.S. government in the last five years. This request includes materials relating to any response or action taken by American authorities in regard to this." Myrick answered in a May 26 letter, stipulating that the "DEA has located no records which are responsive to your request." Myrick did not return phone calls seeking clarification. No Record of Bounty Issue? When told of Myrick's response, Rice said to Human Events, "Why did she say that? Maybe there is nothing written down. The bounty offer is based only on rumors. We don't have any proof that it exists." He added that there have long been rumors of drug cartel bounties on U.S. law enforcement officers. The only thing new about this rumor was the size of the bounty. "When I got hired on about ten years ago, I heard about them," he said. "It was $100,000 then. Now it's $200,000. It's inflation, I guess." But this only raises the question of why there would be no records at all about a bounty issue that is already a decade old. Without referring to the New Mexico incident, Rice said he knew of no attempt to kill an agent to collect the bounty. He said that he could not discuss all the actions taken by the DEA in response to the new reports of a $200,000 offer. "We got our agents together and told everybody you need to be careful," he said, "take different routes home and that sort of thing. All the other things we do, I can't talk about." A DEA spokesman in Washington, D.C., said of the Freedom of Information response, "I don't know what type of documents you expect from DEA headquarters. This would be dealt with at the field office level. ... It was probably generated on the Southwest border. There may just have been conversations about it between headquarters and field offices. We get threats all the time." The request was not made to "DEA headquarters" but to the DEA as a federal agency. The spokesman also said he knew of no attempt to kill an agent in order to collect the bounty. He said the agency's response to reports of a bounty was to place agents on "a heightened alert" and try "to find out and corroborate the information." The Border Patrol has yet to respond to a similar Freedom of Information request from Human Events. Monday, June 26, 2000  2000, Inc.Related Article: DEA on Alert After Alleged Threat DEA Archives:
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Comment #3 posted by CD! on June 26, 2000 at 12:22:17 PT
What??? DEA officials may be untruthful!! I can't believe it.
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Comment #2 posted by kaptinemo on June 26, 2000 at 10:44:20 PT:
History, again.
As a way to justify his invasion of Poland, Hitler had German army troops dressed up as Polish Army troops, cross over the border from Poland, attack and hold hostage a radio station, broadcast pre-recorded Polish agitprop and blow up the station. Given the DrugWarriors propensity for shading the truth, using professional snitches (who purjure themselves with dismal regularity) lose hundreds of pounds of 'evidence' (or perhaps, as in New York, actually ahve the cops selling it), who's to say something similar didn't happen? 
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Comment #1 posted by observer on June 26, 2000 at 09:46:18 PT
Whole Cloth
In other words ... this was just made up. A publicity stunt. Something to make drug warriors feel embattled. Us against them. Then again, how smart does a DEA agent have to be to phone in an anonymous threat to a field office? But, we shouldn't hold the DEA to any standard of truth or lawfullness. After all, they're only throwing adult marijuana smokers in jail for the children, so whatever the DEA says must be right.
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