The Narco News Bulletin
March 20, 2018 | Issue #41
narconews.com - Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America
Narco News has obtained yet more evidence supporting the maze of charges in a leaked Justice Department memo that links DEA agents in Colombia to narco-traffickers.
After Narco News exposed the Kent memo in a January report, the DEA reacted initially with great concern to the corruption allegations, but only days later an agency spokesman dismissed the charges in the memo as being "unfounded." The mainstream media followed the same script, with the Associated Press reporting that its sources claimed the Kent memo had been investigated and the probe found "no wrongdoing."
However, since that January report, Narco News has uncovered additional DEA documents that lend further support to the charges in the Kent memo.
And now, yet another document (PDF) has found its way to this publication.
One of the charges leveled in this recently uncovered document is that "narco-traffickers knew a day in advance, with coordinates, when DEA/CNP [Colombian National Police] were going to fumigate the marijuana/coca fields. Thus, they were always prepared to protect the fields."
And why did they know?
This new DEA document reveals the following:
"During the interview with the [DEA] Inspectors, the CS [a confidential informant who also was a narco-trafficker] stated that over the last few years, he/she had been able to obtain between 50 to 60 documents from the BCO [the DEA Bogotá Country Office] at will. This is not a new revelation to us ... as we met with [DEA Miami Group Supervisor] David Tinsley on January 2000; whereas GS Tinsley related to us that he had a CS that was obtaining documents from inside the BCO and showed us an original document, not a photocopy."
Previously, Narco News reported that DEA Miami Group Supervisor Tinsley attempted to blow the whistle on the leaks within the DEA office in Bogotá. For his efforts, he claims he was retaliated against and eventually fired by the agency.
However, Tinsley took his case to court and won, and was reinstated at the DEA with back pay plus interest.
Another DEA agent in Florida, Ed Fields, also attempted to expose the alleged link between narco-traffickers and certain Bogotá DEA agents. DEA sought to silence Fields as well, according to the Kent memo, and he "found himself the target of numerous OPR investigations."
Fields, who recently retired from the DEA, currently has a case pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. That case stems from a whistleblower complaint he filed that claims the DEA retaliated against him, in part, for his efforts to expose the allegedly corrupt activities in the Bogotá DEA office.
Kent also alleges that the watchdog agencies at both DEA and the Department of Justice charged with investigating the alleged corruption actually worked to cover up the evidence of the Bogotá Connection.
Specifically, Kent contends that the DEA's Office of Professional Responsibility (or OPR, essentially the agency's Internal Affairs department) and individuals in the Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) have worked to keep a lid on the corruption charges. According to Kent, these offices actually sabotaged investigations being carried out by the Florida DEA agents and by one of the OIG's own agents.
The DEA document that has now been leaked to Narco News by an anonymous source is the report on a polygraph test conducted in late February 2003 on a DEA confidential source. This confidential source, according to the Kent memo, was actually a narco-trafficker who allegedly had DEA agents in Bogotá "on his payroll."
This connection came to light, the Kent memo alleges, after a man that Fields and Miami DEA agents were wooing as a source of information on Colombian guerrilla rebels was compromised by information leaked out of the DEA's Bogotá office.
A Feb. 12, 2006, story in the Nuevo Herald, a Spanish-language affiliate of the Miami Herald, revealed that the source of information was Jose Nelson Urrego, a major player in the "North Valley Cartel" narco-trafficking organization in Colombia.
Urrego became a well-known name in political circles in Colombia in the mid-1990s when he was linked to allegedly providing drug money to Ernesto Samper's presidential election campaign. Samper survived the scandal and served as president of Colombia until August of 1998. In fact, the Colombian attorney general who made the accusation against Samper was replaced by Gomez Mendez, a Samper crony, the Nuevo Herald reported.
Urrego was compromised, the Kent memo claims, after he was faxed a document that contained internal DEA information revealing that he was snitching on the FARC (Spanish initials for Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). The FARC is the largest leftist insurgent group in that country's civil war, accused by U.S. officials of drug and arms trafficking.
In other words, whoever sent this document to Urrego was essentially threatening his life, as being pointed out as a DEA collaborator can be a death sentence in the drug underworld. Through a later wiretap, the Miami DEA agents were able to determine that a narco-trafficker had indeed obtained the internal DEA information that was used to expose Urrego.
"That person [the narco-trafficker threatening Urrego] is also a DEA informant," the Kent memo states, "and is believed to have been controlled by the Bogotá Country Office. Among other things, it was alleged that the informant [the narco-trafficker] had several agents on his payroll who provided him with classified information. The agents were believed to work in Colombia and Washington, D.C."
The Kent memo states that the narco-trafficker was later subjected to a polygraph by the DEA. That lie-detector test was conducted in Florida sometime between mid-2003 and mid-2004, sources previously told Narco News. In his memo, Kent simply writes that the narco-trafficker "passed the test."
In other words, the narco-trafficker "passed the test" because he did not "lie" about receiving confidential DEA documents.
However, the Kent memo claims, a high-level OPR official told the polygrapher not to report on the test, but rather to say "that the test never took place."
As Narco News reported on January 17, sources said that the polygrapher refused to follow that order and actually did file a report on the test results with his immediate supervisor in the DEA's polygraph program. "There is a DEA report on the results of that polygraph (on the narco-trafficker)," one source said at the time. "Someone needs to get that document."
Well, it appears someone (Narco News) has done just that.
The DEA report on the polygraph test recently obtained by Narco News indicates that the confidential source (the narco-trafficker who exposed Urrego) did admit to receiving classified information from a DEA agent in Bogotá. Portions of the polygraph report are redacted and blacked out, but Narco News, with the help of sources familiar with the case and the Kent memo, was able to fill in some of the blanks.
The report states that the DEA performed a lie detector test on the confidential source/narco-trafficker and asked how he came into possession of "a DEA classified document housed at American Embassy, DEA Bogotá Country Office... The CS stated that [a DEA agent in Bogotá] was the one that provided the document [used to expose Urrego] so there was no point in lying to it."
The DEA report also indicates that the polygraph examiner, DEA Office of Investigative Technology Staff Coordinator E. Victor Perez, did not issue an opinion on the results of the lie-detector test, due in part to a need to conduct further testing. However, according to the report, "[DEA] OPR decided not to conduct any further polygraph testing."
"... I suggested that [the way to] find out with certainty whether the DEA [agent] in CB [Colombia] was involved in any way in this situation was to conduct a specific test about him. ... However, at this point, I could not discount his [the DEA agent's] involvement in this matter..." the DEA polygraph examiner writes in the report.
The DEA report then goes on to paint the following picture of precisely how the narco-trafficker gained access to classified DEA documents and information while working as a Confidential Source.
The CS related to SC Perez the following events regarding the document in question [the leaked document outing Urrego]. The CS stated that sometime during the middle of November 2002, [REDACTED] BCO [DEA Bogotá Country Office] requested the CS's presence at the BCO's offices. The CS was escorted through the American Embassy and inside the DEA offices to [REDACTED] office. At that time, [the DEA agent] showed the CS a document containing names of other CSs, with their addresses, phone numbers, and where they were working at as sources, i.e. [REDACTED] The CS told [the agent] that he/she was not acquainted with any of those names in the list. Then, [the agent] retrieved the document from the CS and took it, along with other papers, to a back office.
This back office was large, well appointed and with the pictures of President G.W. Bush and others. The CS said that the document was never left unattended. The CS stated that he/she had been to the DEA offices in many instances sometimes alone and sometimes with [REDACTED] a CNP captain, and a member of the Sensitive Investigative Unit (SIU). The CS knew the layout of the office very well...
Around 8th of January 2003, the CS met with [REDACTED] (one of the CS's sub-sources) at ... house and discussed the above-mentioned document and its importance. Three to five days later, they met again, at a café near the Unicentro Commercial shopping center located at 122/19th Street in Bogotá. At this time, [REDACTED] showed the CS the document but did not give it to him/her. The CS paid ... 200,000 Colombian pesos (around $200 USD) for general expenses, but not for obtaining the document.
Now, if, as DEA claims, the allegations in the Kent memo are "unfounded," then how do we explain these latest revelations in this DEA polygraph report?
Why does the report itself indicate that DEA OPR declined to pursue further testing of the confidential informant/narco-trafficker to determine conclusively where the leak was in the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá? Someone certainly had access to the classified DEA information that was used to out Urrego. That's what prompted the polygraph test, right?
And why, as the Kent memo claims, was this DEA polygraph examiner asked to bury the results of his test? Was that request made in order to hide the fact that the narco-trafficker/informant had confessed to receiving classified documents from DEA personnel in Bogotá? Is the fact that this polygraph report has been in the possession of the DEA for years, with no apparent follow-up, evidence of Kent's contention that a major cover-up has been orchestrated within the Justice Department and DEA with respect to the Kent memo?
What else has been buried for the convenience of the government and at the expense of justice and human life?
The Bogotá Connection continues to unravel...