August 2, 2001
Narco News 2001
$250,000 bribes to let Cocaine
Pass and Sec. Rubin Did Nothing
Editorial by Al
A Narco News Global Alert
The Narco News Bulletin
has obtained a copy
of a federal lawsuit filed this week
in United States Court in
San Diego, California, by former U.S. Customs agent John Carman
against the Customs Service Commissioner, the U.S. Treasury Secretary
and various federal and local police officials.
In the interests of the
public's right to know about public documents, we republish the
entire lawsuit today on Narco News:
The accusations by Officer
Carman reach to the highest levels of law-enforcement, all the
way to Washington DC, where the blame for the entrance of cocaine
and other illegal drugs into the United States is loudly heaped
upon corruption in Latin American countries, that, U.S. officials
too often insist, stands at stark contrast with their own supposedly
sincere efforts at drug enforcement.
But, according to Officer
Carman - veteran of the U.S. Agency charged with interdicting
drugs at the Mexican border - U.S. officials have known about
a well-oiled corruption machine within the Customs service for
years, in which drug traffickers are routinely charged big-money
bribes in exchange for the passage of large shipments of cocaine
into the United States at the Otay Mesa border checkpoint between
Mexico and California.
US Customs Whistle
Blower John Carman
Carman - who has been
in contact with The Narco News Bulletin since last year - blew
the whistle on officials who he has accused of complicity in
this cocaine corruption crisis within the Agency. According to
his lawsuit, Customs officials, instead of taking his evidence
seriously, instead turned against him, demoted him, fired him,
and then, in conjunction with local police officials, persecuted
him in a search operation later ruled illegal by a state judge.
One prominent civil rights
attorney to whom Narco News gave a copy of Carman's lawsuit commented:
"This lawsuit is on strong legal grounds and could succeed."
But the attorney cautioned
that the road for Officer Carman, in bringing this historic suit,
could be long and expensive "before causing the shake-up
at Customs that it should provoke" or bringing justice to
Complaint, filed on Carman's behalf
by Attorney Joel C. Golden of San Diego, alleges that Officer
Carman "has been subjected to discrimination in the terms
and conditions of his employment, unlawful termination and to
retaliation by Customs employees and specific employees named
herein, on the basis of his being a 'Whistleblower.'"
Carman began work as a Customs Agent in
1983, already a law enforcement veteran who labored the United
States Mint Police, the U.S. Secret Service and the San Diego
Police Department. In 1989 he was promoted to be Senior Custom's
Inspector. In 1997, after he had attempted to alert superiors
of the systematic bribe-taking and other narco-corruption within
the Agency, he received, according to the lawsuit, "pressure
from his superiors" to accept, under protest, a lesser position
as Import Specialist. By that time, the complaint states, he
suffered a medical condition arising from the inhalation of automobile
fumes at the San Ysidro-Tijuana Point of Entry.
The complaint alleges that the discrimination
and retaliation has been continuous against Carman even after
he was fired by the Customs Service, and that the Customs Service
violated its own policy of confidentiality for agents who report
or allege illegal behavior by officials within the agency.
"Beginning on or about June 1995,"
according to the complaint now on file at the U.S. District Court
in San Diego, Carman had "filed formal complaints with the
U.S. Treasury Department alleging discrimination based on being
a 'Whistle Blower' and retaliation for his involvement in making
'confidential disclosures' which were subsequently improperly
disclosed to members of high ranking officials that were in fact
the subject of the 'confidential disclosures' and he made further
disclosures relating to officials accepting money and other illegal
"The same 'persons' that were the
subject of the confidential disclosures, conspired to have Plaintiff
removed from his position creating a 'hostile work environment'
and subsequently Plaintiff was fired/ 'forced to resign'."
The words in quotations - Whistle Blower,
Confidential Disclosures, Hostile Work Environment, Forced to
Resign - come from explicit federal statutes, including the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 and federal statutes to protect Whistle
Blowers, upon which the lawsuit is based.
And yet, despite the rhetoric in Washington
about routing out corruption in law enforcement, officials at
the highest levels of the Customs Service and the Treasury Department
were, according to the lawsuit, negligent or complicit in illegal
acts, including a systematic system for receiving bribes to allow
cocaine shipments into the country.
of the defendants are new officials,
appointed by the Bush administration, and in fact are being sued
for the alleged sins of their immediate predecessors. The lawsuit
"Defendant Charles Winwood is the
current Commissioner of Customs having succeeded Raymond W. Kelly
who was Commissioner when the past acts alleged occurred. Paul
J. O'Neill is the current Secretary of Treasury having succeeded
Robert Rubin. Defendants Winwood and O'Neill are sued in their
official capacities. Customs is a federal agency under the auspices
of the United States Department of Treasury."
Robert Rubin (left) with Banamex directors
Alfredo Harp and
Roberto Hernández, and Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill
now a director of Citigroup, engineered
the recent deal by the world's largest financial institution
to purchase the National Bank of Mexico ("Banamex")
for $12.5 billion dollars. Rubin, as Treasury Secretary under
President Bill Clinton, had captained the Operation Casablanca
drug-money sting mission in which two Banamex employees were
arrested, officials sought to seize $3.8 million dollars in allegedly
illicit proceeds from the bank, and the Federal Reserve Board
placed a "cease and desist" order upon Banamex. Rubin's
prosecution of Operation Casablanca was so aggressive that he
received a letter of protest from then-Secretary of State Madelaine
Albright. Thus, Rubin raised eyebrows when, upon entering the
private sector, he engineered the deal to purchase a bank he
had, as a public official, pursued in the largest money-laundering
case of the century. (See the Narco
News dossier on Operation Casablanca for disclosed public
and press documents that support these opinions).
According to Officer Carman's Complaint,
then-Secretary Rubin's Treasury Department - in particular, the
Customs Service - was a cesspool of narco-corruption. And Rubin,
along with other officials, contributed to that corrupt environment
through "negligence" and also by allowing the persecution
of honest Whistle Blowers within the agency.
Carman states in his complaint that he
is "informed" and believes that "because of the
financial incentives at stake, corruption within the Customs
Service, at least in San Diego, is rampant."
In terms of the Drug War, the San Diego
office of U.S. Customs is one of the most important regional
offices, just over the border from Tijuana, home of the Arrellano
Felix Brothers organization and a major crossing-point for cocaine
and other illicit drugs.
And his complaint, now a public document, states Officer Carman's
informed belief that "customs personnel, including high
ranking personnel, have accepted bribes and engaged in other
unethical and illegal activities, including falsifying reports,
deleting suspect information from the Customs Intelligence Reporting
Computer Systems, aiding and abetting in the facilitating and
importing into the United States undocumented persons and contraband
such as narcotics. In one case alone 8,500 pounds of cocaine
was involved. In another case the entry into the United States
of one hundred and sixty-seven unauthorized persons was facilitated.
Other cases involved converting seized monies and tampering with
export shipments. High ranking officials discouraged line inspectors
from searching suspected trucks, ignoring or destroying intelligence
reports, providing preferential treatment to companies with ties
to drug trafficking, and providing what agency personnel refer
to as 'Bingo Cards' or 'Get out of Jail Free Cards' to drug dealers
and other unauthorized persons. Said cards, when presented by
the holder, entitle the recipient to 'preferential treatment'
at the United States borders."
According to Officer Carman's complaint,
then-Secretary Rubin was informed by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein
(D-California) of specific acts of narco-corruption, supported
by video evidence, but that Whistle Blowers like himself in the
agency were persecuted under Rubin's watch.
Carman's lawsuit "alleges that the
rampant corruption within the Customs Service, at least in San
Diego, has been the subject of media attention as well as concerns
raised by persons such as United States Senator Diane Feinstein.
For example, in April, 1997, CBS '60 Minutes' program ran a story
about known Mexican drug smugglers knowingly being permitted
to enter into the United States without inspection. The footage
demonstrated two tanker trucks owned by California Gas Transport
coming across the Otay Mesa Port of Entry entirely free from
inspection. Customs' own intelligence reports allegedly indicated
at the time that California Gas Transport is connected to members
of the Mexican-based Zaragosa Fuentes family who are suspected
of heavy narcotics smuggling and money laundering."
"Senator Feinstein wrote to Treasury
Secretary Robert Rubin on April 25, 1997," according to
Feinstein wrote to Rubin, "Based
on the information in Customs' own intelligence report just two
months earlier, how is it possible that California Gas Transport
could possibly be considered a 'minimum threat?'"
Senator Feinstein, according to the complaint
"also brought to the attention of Secretary Rubin that Customs
Inspectors refuse to come forward because they 'know what happens
to whistle blowers.' The above-described California Gas Transport
trucks, which were on at least two occasions the subject of a
strong alert by Customs K-9 teams, were ordered 'released' by
Customs Supervisor, Arthur D. Gilbert, one of the key persons
reported by Plaintiff to Internal Affairs. Subsequently one of
the trucks was discovered to contain 8,500 pounds of cocaine."
The lawsuit continues: "The CBS story
recounted an incident on October 3, 1990 wherein San Diego Supervisor
Gilbert tried everything in his power to prevent a hydro propane
tanker carrying four tons of cocaine from being searched, even
after a K-9 alert on the tanker. The driver of that tanker was
allowed to casually walk back across the border to Mexico."
The current Secretary of Treasury, Paul
O'Neill, is named as a defendant in the lawsuit for the actions
of Rubin and other predecessors. The lawsuit charges the office
of Treasury Secretary with negligence, among other charges, for
having presided over a Customs Service where whistleblowers like
Carman were persecuted and harrassed for bringing evidence of
wrongdoing to their superiors:
"As the head of their individual
agencies the Secretary of Treasury and Commissioner of Customs
owed a duty to its employees, including Plaintiff, to exercise
reasonable care to protect them from unlawful and retaliatory
actions taken against them by other employees and supervisors.
These Defendants breached that duty owed to Plaintiff by not
exercising diligent care to insure such actions did not occur.
As a direct and proximate result of that breach of duty Plaintiff
was retaliated against and wrongfully terminated for which these
Defendants are liable. As a direct and proximate result of these
Defendants negligence Plaintiff has suffered, emotional distress,
loss of enjoyment of life, loss of employment, loss of salary
and benefits and loss of retirement benefits."
lawsuit notes that "News reports
indicate that drug cartels have virtually routine payoff amounts
for cars, trucks and tankers carrying cocaine across the United
States borders, ranging from $50,000 for a car to $250,000 for
an 18-wheeler. Payoffs for leaking Customs air surveillance schedules
likewise generate enormous amounts of money paid as bribes to
federal officials who knowingly and unlawfully accept said payments."
And yet, according to Carman's complaint,
honest Customs Agents who tried to expose this rampant corruption
within the Treasury Department's Customs Service were ignored.
Worse, they were harrassed and persecuted, both on the job and
Officer Carman, in his lawsuit, "alleges
that Customs Inspectors who have complained about corruption
or unlawful practices are harassed, retaliated against, demoted,
transferred, discredited and/or dismissed. Few Inspectors are
willing to reveal their names as "whistleblowers" for
fear of reprisals against them, all of this in violation of public
policy and both state and federal law."
He also "alleges that anyone who
stands up and speaks out to identify unlawful conduct in the
agency is labeled a troublemaker and his or her statements are
dismissed as those of a disgruntled employee. Plaintiff was specifically
ordered by his superiors not to speak with other 'whistleblowers',"
and that "the agency has intentionally failed and refuses
and continues to fail and refuse to take the affirmative steps
necessary to properly investigate and prosecute the offenders."
Instead of combatting the alleged corruption,
Rubin's Treasury Department and Customs Service engaged, according
to the lawsuit, in a cover-up. Carman "alleges that Customs
lacks an independent investigative unit to investigate wrongdoing
within the agency. Plaintiff's complaints to Internal Affairs
fell on deaf ears and the only significant action taken by the
department was to conduct 'damage control' by 'plausible deniability'
and to cause the termination of employment and discredit employees,
and specifically the Plaintiff, who address this corruption."
"Since Plaintiff began reporting
to his superiors in Washington his beliefs about corruption in
San Diego, Plaintiff has been repeatedly retaliated against,"
Officer Carman, the plaintiff, states in his lawsuit. "While
he was an employee he was refused promotions, to which he was
entitled, has had his performance evaluations changed, has had
test scores reduced by those very persons who ordered him to
attend an Import Academy, and was further told that he was required
to 'pass' the training provided there. In further retaliation
Plaintiff was stripped of his gun and badge and told not to use
the Treasury Enforcement Computer System (TECS). Because Plaintiff
believed that he was being 'set up' for failure and based on
his physician's directive, Plaintiff declined to attend the Import
At that point, Officer Carman took his
case to the media, which is a Whistle Blower activity specifically
protected by United States and California state law: "On
June 19, 1997, after Plaintiff gave several radio interviews
about the corruption at Customs, and having, on June 5, 1997,
reported Port Director Joyce Henderson and Branch Chief Rosa
Hernandez to Commissioner Weise for 'serious mismanagement, and/or
illegal conduct,' Plaintiff was wrongfully terminated, in violation
of California's public policy, and in violation of the implied
covenant of good faith and fair dealing, on the pretext that
he failed to attend the Import Specialist Academy training which
had been previously ordered. This also followed a demand made
on June 6, 1997 by Stephanie Castro, on behalf of Port Director
Henderson, to divulge the contents of Plaintiff's confidential
report to Commissioner Weise in Washington D.C. which was sent
the day prior on June 5, 1997. Plaintiff declined to divulge
the protected material, notwithstanding significant and unwarranted
pressure to do so."
of the defendants cited in the lawsuit
is Customs Official Rudy Camacho of the San Diego office, against
whom Carman seeks "exemplary damages" for his alleged
Officer Carman "alleges that Rudy
Camacho in particular desired to terminate Plaintiff because
of negative publicity about Customs and Mr. Camacho in particular...
that Rudy Camacho acted with malice and oppression and with an
intent to harm and retaliate against Plaintiff for personal reasons
as well as to conceal from the public a host of mismanagement
errors and corruption within the San Diego Customs District.
Camacho, accuses Officer Carman, caused
a situation in which "concerned employees of the Department
of the Treasury who want nothing more than to protect their country
and to enforce the laws of the United States with the integrity
and honesty which the position requires."
And, Carman alleges that Camacho's persecution
and harrassment of him continued even after he left the Customs
Service: "Camacho and others made a concerted and intentional
effort to prohibit Plaintiff from securing a concealed weapons
permit which was necessary to Plaintiff's successfully pursuing
his livelihood of becoming a California Licensed Private Investigator.
Plaintiff's law enforcement and investigative background made
this a logical choice for his future career and due to the inherent
risks in that occupation it was necessary for Plaintiff to carry
a concealed weapon not only for his own protection but for the
protection of his clients as well."
In 1998, when the now ex-Customs Agent
John Carman applied for a concealed weapon permit from the State
of California, according to the complaint, "he was told that he qualified and all that was
needed for him to secure that license was copies of his personnel
files from United States Customs relating to his employment which
they had requested." Carman "continued to inquire of
the state as to when his permit would be granted but he continuously
received the same response that their request to Customs has
not been responded to and without those files he could not get
a permit. Upon information and belief, Plaintiff alleges that
over the past three years Defendants Camacho and others have
deliberately refused to supply California with the requested
records as a further act of unlawful retaliation against Plaintiff
designed to intentionally deprive him of his constitutional rights."
Search and Seizure
the Customs Service and Treasury Department,
according to Carman's complaint, allow tons of illegal cocaine
to pass into U.S. borders and turn a blind-eye to the rampant
acceptance of bribes by agency officials from narco-traffickers
in exchange for allowing the cocaine to enter, Customs officials,
according to Carman's lawsuit, instead busied themselves with
a search and harrassment against Carman that was later deemed
by a judge to have been illegal.
The complaint "alleges that, on or
about June 16, 1999 United States Customs Officers without basis
and/or probable cause, retaliated further against Plaintiff by
ordering and directing state law enforcement officers of the
La Mesa Police Department, Defendants herein, to stop Plaintiff's
vehicle and detain and search him and his vehicle which they
did without probable cause violating Plaintiff's right under
the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States
The complaint names some names and seeks
those of others (John and Jane Does) from the US Customs Service
and the local police department of La Mesa, California, who,
according to state police testimony, collaborated with US Customs
officials in the illegal 1999 search against Carman. "Defendant's
Alicia Fuentes, Jeanne M. Daumen, Tom P. Rybczyk, Russell F.
Hixon, David C. Wales and at the direction of Rudy M. Camacho,
and Does 1 through 15, all agents of the U.S. Customs Service,
and then Customs Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, conspired with
David Bond, T. Burgess, B. Stoney, M. Chambers, and Doe 1 an
unknown Police Officer of the City of La Mesa and Does 16 through
20, to violate the Plaintiff's rights protected by the United
States Constitution to be free from unreasonable search and seizure
and malicious criminal prosecution."
In a bizarre tale of the use of law enforcement
to harrass its critics that should shock United States citizens,
Carman's complaint states: "The Defendant Police Officers,
David Bond, T. Burgess, B. Stoney, M. Chambers, and Doe 1, an
unknown Police Officer of the City of La Mesa, without probable
cause, detained and subjected the Plaintiff to harassment and
arrest, at the direction of Defendants Alicia Fuentes, Jeanne
M. Daumen, Tom P. Rybczyk, Russell F. Hixon, David C.Wales and
at the direction of Rudy M. Camacho, all agents of the U.S. Customs
Service and Raymond W. Kelly, as retaliation and intimidation
by federal officers and state officers against the Public Policy
of protecting 'Whistleblowers'. Each conspired with the other
to violate the rights of the Plaintiff through force and fear
under the color of law."
Carman was prosecuted, and "prevailed
in the motion stage wherein a San Diego County Superior Court
Judge found that there was no probable cause for the stopping
of the Plaintiff. At that hearing the state officer admitted
that the 'pretextual stop' was directed by Defendants, U.S. Customs
Officers. United States Customs Officers, together with state
law enforcement officers, identified herein violated the Plaintiff's
right to be free from harassment, and illegal use of Law Enforcement
tactics to threaten, and intimidate and harass Plaintiff."
What's more is that some of the defendants
named in the lawsuit - the state of California police officers
- "admitted that they were coaxed and directed by the Defendants
Alicia Fuentes, Jeanne M. Daumen, Tom P. Rybczyk, Russell F.
Hixon, David C. Wales and at the direction of Rudy M. Camacho,
and Does 1 through 15, and agents of the U.S. Customs Service
and Raymond W. Kelly to violate the rights of the Plaintiff under
the color of law, because of the 'Whistleblower' status and to
harass the Plaintiff and intimidate and threaten him under the
color of law."
Service on Trial
an historic lawsuit filed by a courageous
former US Customs Agent, John Carman, now goes to Court on the
West Coast as the Drug-War-on-Trial case of Banamex vs. Narco
News is underway on the East Coast.
And in these court cases, Citigroup director
Robert Rubin's activities, in and outside of government, are
now at issue.
Here in the Narco Newsroom we'll be closely
following the progress of Officer Carman's lawsuit, in particular
its discovery process (which, being in federal court, may move
faster than the backlogged New York State Court system where
Banamex chose to bring its case for maximum delay of speedy justice),
for information useful in the Drug War on Trial Case, particularly
regarding our plan to subpoena of Citigroup director and former
Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.
John Carman, the former 15-year veteran
US Customs Agent, has launched a website for Whistle Blowers
in the Customs Service, Treasury Department and other agencies:
The Narco News Bulletin congratulates
Officer Carman and his legal counsel for standing up in the face
of injustice and official impunity and complicity with the narco-traffickers.
The Carman v. Customs lawsuit will now
become the point of an important spear that strikes at the heart
of United States drug policy: While U.S. officials try to blame
Latin America, the real drug bosses are in Washington, in "The
Potomac Cartel." And until the prohibition policy that causes
the rampant corruption inside the U.S. government is repealed,
no honest citizen or law enforcement officer is safe.
John Carman today fights to restore that
safety for all citizens. He has our solidarity and support.
From somewhere in a country called América,
The Narco News Bulletin
Soon to an América Near You:
Narco News Fall Offensive