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Al Giordano

Opening Statement, April 18, 2000
¡Bienvenidos en Español!
Bem Vindos em Português!

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The trademarks "Narco News," "The Narco News Bulletin," "School of Authentic Journalism," "Narco News TV" and NNTV © 2000-2011 Al Giordano



US Customs Border Corruption: "Like Gangland Chicago During Prohibition"

By Bill Conroy
Chapter 9 of a Book Published by Narco News

April 13, 2004

Steve Shelly claims that the battle to ferret out law-enforcement corruption along the U.S./Mexico border cost him his job.

Shelly, a former U.S. Customs Service agent, served as a member of a multi-agency task force called Firestorm that was created to target public corruption in Arizona.

The task force was dismantled suddenly in late December 1990. About a month and a half later, Shelly’s boss and the task-force founder, John William Juhasz, was removed from his post as the head of Internal Affairs for the U.S. Customs Service in Arizona and transferred out of state without explanation.

Some three years later, in July 1994, Shelly was out of a job—forced, he claims, into involuntary retirement after suffering years of harassment from an abusive boss.

The perpetrator of that hostile work environment, Shelly claims, was James “Breck” Ellis—the same person who oversaw the initial Customs investigation that cleared Allan Sperling of any responsibility in the death of Gary Friedli.

After Juhasz was removed from his post in early 1991, Ellis stepped in to fill his shoes as top gun for Internal Affairs in Arizona. Ellis had served previously under Juhasz as a group supervisor and as a task-force member.

Shelly alleges that he has uncovered evidence that shows Ellis committed perjury in sworn testimony in a Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) legal proceeding.

Shelly sought to get his Customs job back by bringing suit in 1995 through the MSPB, a quasi-judicial review body set up for federal employees.

In his MSPB proceedings, Shelly alleged that he was the victim of a hostile work environment and that he was retaliated against because of his whistleblowing activity—which included cooperating with a congressional investigation into the demise of the Firestorm task force.

Shelly claims his supervisor, Ellis, allegedly engaged in a pattern of abusive behavior in an effort to drive him out of his job in the wake of the task force being busted up.

Shelly’s psychologist—who testified in a workers’ compensation hearing on Shelly’s behalf—in a letter dated March 2, 1994, stated that Shelly was subjected to “constant and unrelenting disparagement and belittlement … by his supervisors.” The psychologist added that, “the criticism appeared to be deliberate for the purpose of engendering constant anxiety.

“In short, exposure to these conditions ground down Mr. Shelly’s morale and coping resources to the point where he became so significantly depressed that he could no longer function,” the psychologist’s letter concludes.

Shelly—an 11-year veteran of the Customs Service—ultimately had little choice but to resign from his job, due to the psychological duress, he says.

Customs, on the other hand, claims Shelly left his job in July 1994 of his own free will due to “personal factors,” which included concern for the health of his parents and other family-related problems. The judge in Shelly’s 1995 MSPB case agreed with Customs.

Shelly appealed, and in 1996 lost again.

“What the evidence does reveal in this case … is that at or about the time preceding (Shelly’s) resignation, he was undergoing significant personal stress,” states the judge’s ruling in Shelly’s MSPB appeal. “The evidence of record does not support any findings that any agency officials engaged in any reprisals against (Shelly) for any whistleblowing.”

However, in 2001, Shelly says he came across evidence that Ellis committed perjury during a 1996 MSPB hearing. The alleged perjury, Shelly claims, played a critical role in the judge’s ruling against him.

Prior to resigning in 1994 at the age of 45, Shelly says he attempted to get transferred out of the Office of Internal Affairs in Tucson, Ariz., which Ellis oversaw. Shelly claims Customs approved that transfer in 1991, agreeing to move him to the Office of Enforcement (OE)—which was later renamed the Office of Investigations.

In testimony from the 1996 MSPB hearing, Ellis denied, under oath, that he had knowledge of any such transfer being approved.

“I never knew that OE had … had accepted,” Ellis states in the testimony—in response to a question about Shelly’s transfer. “This sounds like an issue that never occurred.”

Shelly counters, though, that he has obtained a signed statement indicating that Ellis in fact had a conversation with a senior special agent in Customs about that very transfer.

“I recall speaking with … Ellis regarding … Shelly’s release date (for his transfer),” states senior Special Agent Louie R. Garcia in a signed statement dated March 29, 2001. “... Ellis provided me with the release date (for the transfer) ... and instructed me to call … Shelly … and confirm the suggested release date recommended by Ellis.”

Ellis stepped down unexpectedly from his Customs post in the spring of 2001, according to Shelly and other sources within Customs. Ellis could not be reached for comment.

Shelly sent off a series of letters during the last half of 2001 to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Inspector General, Customs Internal Affairs as well as to members of Congress attempting to get someone to investigate the perjury charge.

“Mr. Ashcroft, is perjury by a high level U.S. Customs manager not a crime?” states Shelly in a letter dated August 1, 2001, that was sent to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. “I am not seeking vengeance, nor am I trying to retaliate. I am simply seeking justice.

“... However, in order to protect my family and my integrity and my honor, I will not cease in my quest to right this wrong.”

No one in the government did anything about his case, Shelly says.

As a result, Shelly decided to go public with his story, to shine a light on a sordid tale of alleged law-enforcement corruption, cover-ups, drug trafficking and suspected murder.


Shelly’s story sounds like a bad rerun of history—a repeat of the rampant police corruption that wracked gangland Chicago during the height of Prohibition. This time, though, the location was the U.S./Mexican border, and the backdrop for the corruption was the so-called war on drugs.

Shelly traces his troubles to his involvement in a task force whose members were dubbed by its founder as modern-day “Untouchables.”

In Shelly’s version of the story, though, it is the G-men, not the crooks, who take it on the chin. The Customs Internal Affairs special agent in charge (SAC) who spearheaded the formation of the task force, John William Juhasz, claims that it was shut down abruptly because it got too close to the truth. The task force, called Firestorm, included members of the U.S. Customs Service, the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General, the IRS, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Firestorm, prior to being dismantled, was actively investigating some 19 cases of alleged law-enforcement corruption in Arizona, according to public records.

Juhasz asserts in a statement made under oath during a legal proceeding that all of the key players in the torpedoed Firestorm task force were subsequently targeted by the government for retaliation and had their careers ruined—including Shelly.

Shelly’s story begins in early 1990 in Arizona, with the creation of the Firestorm task force. Although rooted in history, the tale has an edge to it that cuts a direct path into the present.

Shelly claims that the type of corruption uncovered by the Tucson, Ariz.-based task force poses a real threat to our national security in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Shelly also alleges that Ellis committed the perjury as part of the effort to silence him in the wake of Firestorm’s demise in late 1990.

Documents provided by Shelly show that the Firestorm task force had unearthed evidence linking two Customs inspectors working along the Arizona border to drug traffickers. The documents also allege that a supervisor with the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General (OIG)—who was suspected of having ties to drug traffickers—worked to derail the investigation into the inspectors’ activities.

The OIG supervisor still worked for the government as of late 2001, according to Shelly and other sources. After that date, his whereabouts could not be confirmed. The two Customs inspectors were still stationed on the U.S./Mexican border as of the beginning of 2004, Shelly adds.

Also outlined in the documents are the details of the task force’s investigation into the mysterious death of a former Customs supervisor in Douglas, Ariz., who Juhasz suspected might have been “involved in a circle of corruption in Douglas,” according to an affidavit Juhasz submitted to the Department of Treasury’s OIG.

The documents include testimony, notes and records provided to the House Commerce, Consumer and Monetary Affairs Subcommittee in 1992. Other documents include workers’ compensation hearing testimony, Merit Systems Protection Board depositions, internal reports of investigation, various legal affidavits, statements and Customs Service memoranda.

The account that follows is based on those documents, which total hundreds of pages, as well as interviews with numerous former and current Customs agents.

Looking inward

Among the initial cases on the Firestorm task force’s agenda centered on one of its own: Javier Dibene, special agent in charge of Arizona for the Department of Justice’s OIG —which is charged with investigating cases of alleged mismanagement and corruption within the Justice Department’s ranks.

Dibene, who was based in the Tucson office, was being eyed due to his alleged links to drug trafficking operations.

“I suspect that … Javier Dibene … (is) involved in narcotics activities,” states Juhasz in a 1991 affidavit provided to a Treasury-OIG investigator.

The FBI had investigated Javier Dibene in 1990 and cleared him. However, the FBI agent on the case admitted, according to congressional records, that he had been given such narrow case parameters by his supervisors that the “investigation had no chance of success.”

As a result, nagging questions remained as to Dibene’s activities. Stephen McSpadden, senior counsel to the House Commerce, Consumer and Monetary Affairs Subcommittee, draws out some of those concerns in testimony he submitted to the congressional body in July 1992.

“There was another incident of Dibene quashing or not pursuing an investigation. Rudy Molina is a Douglas, Ariz., INS inspector who is suspected of money laundering and drug trafficking. Dibene takes his resignation and closes the case against Molina. This was before the (Firestorm) task force came into existence.

“... (Juhasz) suspects that Dibene was looking for an easy way to get rid of this matter, and obtaining Molina’s resignation was the way to do it. There is no further investigation of Molina until the Firestorm task force opens another case on Molina….

“The task force becomes aware that Molina had become involved with Customs Inspector (Donald) Simpson and that they are actually importing narcotics into the country. Molina was involved in trying to import and deliver 500 pounds of cocaine. Molina was eventually convicted in this new case, together with Simpson. Molina was sentenced to 30 years and Simpson to life in prison.”

Further suspicion was drawn to Dibene when tapes surfaced fingering two Customs inspectors in Nogales for allegedly allowing loads of dope to pass across the border through an arrangement with a drug trafficker.

The tapes, which were in Spanish, were provided to the DEA initially through an attorney for a defendant seeking to cut a deal for a client.

“The (two audio) tapes were made during the kidnapping by a major drug trafficker of small-time drug trafficker,” states McSpadden in 1992 congressional testimony. “Once this individual was kidnapped, the major trafficker put a gun to the kidnapee’s head, who was then ordered to tell everything he knew. He agreed to do so for obvious reasons.”

Congressional testimony from Milan Tesanovich, the assistant U.S. attorney who served as coordinator for the Firestorm task force, indicates that Dibene—who speaks Spanish—was provided with copies of the tapes for review in the fall of 1990. However, a few days later, DEA Agent Alejandro Vasquez was told that Dibene had found nothing of value on the tapes.

Vasquez, who also had listened to the tapes, became suspicious as “he realized the tapes referred to large-scale narcotics trafficking…,” congressional records state.

Several days after turning copies of the tapes over to Dibene’s office, Vasquez passed the original tapes on to Customs Agent Shelly, who also speaks Spanish. Shelly then brought the tapes to Juhasz’s attention.

“The tapes contained the unequivocal identification and implication of Customs border inspectors, by name, in corruption that involved the deliberate ‘passing’ of large (600 pounds) and numerous periodic (alleged to be weekly) loads of cocaine by the inspectors …,” Juhasz states in a letter sent to the Commissioner of Customs in 1991.

Dibene’s lack of interest in the tapes also led Juhasz to begin to suspect that Dibene was obstructing the investigation.

“To fully and properly evaluate Javier Dibene’s actions and statements in this matter, it is important to know that he was born in Mexico, moved to Douglas, Ariz., at age 10, and later moved to Nogales, Ariz., where he grew up with the Customs inspectors named in the tapes, and therefore arguably knew them intimately,” Juhasz writes in the letter. “For him to state that there was nothing of value on the tapes was at best ludicrous, and more probably criminally obstructive. I feel that Javier Dibene’s actions concerning the audio tapes serve to confirm my nagging fear that he was actively suppressing corruption investigations.”

Border politics

In the drug trafficking game, death is not a random card, explains one Customs agent who did his time on the border. In the wake of one seizure of drug-cartel assets in Arizona, the agent recalls, 18 people were murdered; 13 of the bodies were discovered at the bottom of a shaft—some with a finger missing.

“They (the drug traffickers) were trying to find the informants,” the agent explains. A missing finger is a sign of a snitch.

The investigators on the case also received death threats, the agent says. “These people play for real,” the agent stresses.

One source that claimed to have first-hand knowledge of the 13 bodies discovered at the bottom of the shaft offered the following gruesome details of the murders via an e-mail correspondence:

“First, the finger was (taken) off by torture. ...Then one of the bodies was a woman with a hole in (her) stomach. That is because she was pregnant and they cut it open and took it out, in order to get back (at) the father of the baby who snitched.”

In that context, it is not surprising that Juhasz and the Firestorm task force would cross paths with a case involving a suspicious death in 1990 in Douglas, Ariz.—the same small border town where Customs Agent Gary Friedli would be killed in a car accident some eight years later.

The case centered on Jake Price, a well-known and well-connected public figure who had lived in Douglas for more than a decade. He served as the resident agent in charge (RAC) of the U.S. Customs Office of Enforcement in Douglas before retiring in the late 1980s to become a city magistrate.

Among Price’s connections was real-estate speculator and Douglas Justice of the Peace Ronald J. (Joe) Borane, according to documents provided to the congressional subcommittee.

In February 1990, Price unexpectedly became ill. He was transported to Tucson Medical Center after falling into a coma, congressional records state.

James “Breck” Ellis, who at the time was a Customs Internal Affairs group supervisor and a member of the Firestorm task force, was dispatched by Juhasz to investigate the situation.

Ellis had worked in the Douglas Customs office with Price prior to becoming a Customs Internal Affairs agent in Tucson. Ellis would later go on to head Customs Internal Affairs office in Arizona, a post he held during the Gary Friedli accident investigation.

Ellis found Price at the hospital that winter day in 1990 under the watch of “two to three Douglas police officers” who appeared to be guarding him and who had “apparently traveled with him,” congressional records state. Price’s son, Justin “Clay” Price, also was at the hospital.

“In February 1990, the former RAC in Douglas, Az. (Jake Price) died under mysterious circumstances,” states Juhasz in his 1991 Treasury-OIG affidavit. “Jake Price was still suspected of being involved in a circle of corruption in Douglas, Az. Tucson Internal Affairs Group Supervisor Ellis met with Justin Clay Price (Jake’s son), a DEA agent from New York, at the hospital in Tucson where Jake Price was in a coma and not expected to live.

“An agreement was made between Justin Clay Price and Group Supervisor Ellis that Tucson Internal Affairs would have access to Jake Price’s personal papers at such time as Jake should die. ...”

After Price died in the Tucson hospital, things got stranger.

Even though Price’s son, Clay, allegedly promised Customs Agent Ellis access to his father’s papers, Clay later hooked up with a Douglas Customs officer, and together the two burned Jake Price’s papers in the furnace at the Douglas Port of Entry, congressional records state.

Congressional documents also indicate that those papers, “including probable bank records, would have helped expose (words blacked out) involvement in the drug trafficking and public corruption in Douglas.”

When interviewed by DEA Internal Affairs about the destroyed papers, Clay Price “reportedly told them that he just destroyed some of his father’s personal records, like checks, but nothing that was relevant to Customs,” documents submitted to the congressional subcommittee state.

The records were not the only disappearing act associated with Jake Price’s death. His body was shipped to Texas, according to congressional documents. No autopsy was performed.

The strange circumstances surrounding Jake Price’s death, though, led Juhasz to a dark conclusion.

“I believe, that the former agent in charge of the Douglas office was murdered by—by political figures in the Douglas area. ... ,” stated Juhasz when queried about Price’s death in a legal deposition related to a workers’ compensation case filed by Shelly.

Underground Economy

The trail of coincidences didn’t end with Price. About three months after Price died in February 1990, Customs investigators unearthed an underground tunnel stretching from Agua Prieta in Mexico, to Douglas, Ariz. The tunnel, it was ultimately discovered, connected a suspected drug trafficker’s house in Mexico to his warehouse in Douglas.

The land where the warehouse was located, according to Arizona Assistant Attorney General John R. Evans, was sold by Joe Borane to the suspected drug trafficker, Mexican businessman Francisco Rafael Camarena-Macias. Evans adds that Borane is the godfather of one of Camarena’s children—a fact Borane confirmed as well.

Borane also rented space to Customs for its Douglas office while Price was the resident agent in charge, according to congressional documents.

“No corruption investigation in (the) Douglas area would be able to avoid Price, former resident agent in charge of the Customs Office of Enforcement (OE) office in Douglas … who retired and was given a job as a magistrate by Joe Borane,” state notes prepared by prosecutors in the Tucson U.S. Attorney’s Office in February 1990 and submitted to the congressional subcommittee investigating Firestorm’s demise.

“Long history between Price and Borane,” the notes continue. “Price leased the OE office from Borane under questionable circumstances. Price recently died, perhaps under suspicious circumstances. When he left Customs, he (Price) took a lot of government records with him, including, it is believed, the Douglas informant registry. ... Price was buried without an autopsy.”

Borane confirmed that he knew Price, when interviewed. However, Borane said he had never heard anything about Price’s death being “mysterious.”

Borane also explained that he owns a lot of real estate in Douglas. He added that it was a real estate agency in town that actually handled the sale of the land to Camarena.

“I owned the land and leased it to a ready-mix plant, and I think they had a trailer on it,” Borane said. “Later on, the warehouse was built, if I recall.”

In addition to the land acquired in Douglas, Camarena also owned a residence in Agua Prieta. The tunnel connected his home in Mexico to the warehouse on his Douglas property. According to a statement released by Customs, Camarena is believed to have hired an architect to design the tunnel.

Sources within Customs confirm that the investigation into the drug-running tunnel was launched in November 1989. The concrete-lined, air-conditioned 200-foot-long tunnel, which was used to smuggle tons of cocaine from Mexico into the United States, was finally found and shut down in May 1990.

However, what happened after the hunt to find the tunnel was launched in late fall of 1989 plays out like an episode of the Keystone Cops—although with much darker overtones.

The resident agent in charge of the Douglas field office at the time was Stephan Mercado. Mercado’s office was the first to discover evidence of the tunnel’s existence. Mercado even contacted Customs’ Tucson office in the fall of 1989 to get information about where to find equipment that could be used to locate hidden tunnels.

The following is extracted from testimony provided to the House Commerce, Consumer and Monetary Affairs Subcommittee in July 1992 as part of hearings examining alleged misconduct and mismanagement within the Customs Service. The testimony was submitted by the subcommittee’s senior counsel, Stephen McSpadden:

“According to John Juhasz (JJ), ‘This is one of the most amazing stories of mismanagement that he has ever seen.’ On a couple of occasions, Mercado passed information to Special Agent in Charge (Tom) McDermott’s office about an alleged tunnel under the Mexican border to Douglas, Az. McDermott ignores this information and does not respond to Mercado’s request for technical equipment [sounding equipment to look for the tunnel]. So nothing happens. Then (William) Gately (resident agent in charge, or RAC, of the Phoenix Customs field office) starts passing on the same information, but it is inaccurate; it relates to the wrong location of the tunnel. Because Gatley is close with McDermott, McDermott begins to take it seriously.”

(Gately would later go on to spearhead the major money laundering sting targeting Mexican banks: Operation Casablanca—which he alleged was shut down prematurely in 1998.)

McSpadden’s testimony continues:

“Even though McDermott (in Tucson) is the Office of Enforcement (OE) special agent in charge for the entire state, (David) Hayes is the Nogales RAC for OE, and Gately is the Phoenix RAC —all with supervisory responsibilities for their own offices, which they now disregard, they take over the (tunnel) investigation. They travel to Douglas (in the spring of 1990), obtain the equipment which Mercado had requested months before, then literally physically take over the RAC offices and usurp the chain of command, and treat the rest of the (Douglas) staff very poorly.

“Mercado is unofficially demoted and made a wire-room translator in Tucson. Mercado was talented and had good people. Mercado felt that OE management in Tucson never supported his operations in Douglas. JJ believes that it was because of discrimination towards Hispanics, which Hayes had been previously investigated for [the civil rights violations]. Mercado alleged this in a complaint with the Customs EEO officer.”

(Customs Special Agent Mercado—who years later became a group supervisor in the Office of Investigation in El Centro, Calif—is also a named plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit filed by Hispanic Customs agents in May of 2002.)

House subcommittee Senior Counsel McSpadden goes on to detail in his testimony, which is based on an interview with Juhasz, how the drug traffickers behind the Douglas tunnel essentially escaped under the watch of Arizona’s top Customs cops.

More McSpadden testimony

Mercado took a downgrade and went back to his home in Yuma. ... According to sources, these individuals, McDermott, Gately and Hayes, took over the surveillance of the load vehicle leaving the tunnel warehouse in Douglas; they followed the vehicle, a large flatbed truck, in which the drugs were stored in a hidden compartment in the bed. They followed the vehicle, which was being escorted by one or two other trafficker vehicles, all the way to a Phoenix suburb. The receivers and distributors of the drugs, several people, approached the vehicle location.

The (Customs) OE sources told JJ (Juhasz) that some people at the site were ultimately arrested, but they had to be released because there was insufficient evidence to hold them. Once the vehicle was safely at the drop site, the main players—the major trafficker—is stopped by the police, asked for identification, and then allowed on instructions from McDermott to leave the area.

The main target was a Mexican national and presumably returned to Mexico. And as the major players left the area where the truck was situated, Customs moved in on the minor players, who are subsequently released. These three Customs officials are directing the investigation, and the local police are providing some support by asking for IDs.

It was highly unusual for these managers (McDermott, Gately and Hayes) to be directly involved. But they know they would get the glory. They manipulated the media to make the operation look like a real success. McDermott made the press release himself, failing to follow the instructions of his chain of command. The U.S. Attorney’s office for Arizona “regarded Operation Catacomb (as it was dubbed) as more of a media event than an investigation.” At the very least, this was gross mismanagement.

JJ’s (Juhasz’s) final comments, “Why the hell were these senior officials running this investigation?” This incident made Ralph Garcia, the Treasury Office of Inspector General official (who investigated the demise of Firestorm) very suspicious of McDermott.

More dots

In the 1991 affidavit provided by Juhasz to the Treasury OIG investigator, another familiar name surfaces: John Hensley, the same person who allegedly worked to shut down Operation Casablanca and former Customs Agent Darlene Fitzgerald’s railcar investigation. At the time of Firestorm, Hensley was the assistant commissioner for Customs’ Office of Enforcement (OE) in Washington, D.C.

“It should be noted that Hensley had McDermott transferred to OE headquarters in the fall of 1990,” Juhasz states in his affidavit. “Hensley made McDermott one of his key deputies and gave him an SES (Senior Executive Service rank). McDermott then took Hayes to Washington OE headquarters. ...”

A Customs insider, who asked not to be named, claims, though, that serious questions concerning the handling of the tunnel investigation did not surface until after McDermott was moved to headquarters.

In his Treasury OIG affidavit, Juhasz also describes a case that the Firestorm task force was working in Yuma in which most of the OE field office there, including its top gun, Rick Ashby, were under investigation for embezzling money from a fund used to pay informants. That investigation eventually imploded.

“The Yuma scandal was going to involve embezzlement and conspiracy among agents in the OE office and forgery of over a hundred informant payment documents,” states McSpadden in his congressional testimony. “Juhasz now strongly suspects that high-level Customs and Treasury management made a deliberate and calculated decision to cover up the Ashby/Yuma scandal.”

After Juhasz was removed as special agent in charge of Internal Affairs in Arizona in early 1991, according to his affidavit, he discovered Gately, McDermott, Hensley and others had been “added to the grand jury list” for the Yuma case.

“I asked the case agent, Steven Gintz, who was putting these people on the grand jury list for the Yuma case,” Juhasz states in the Treasury OIG affidavit. “He said he didn’t know. I asked him if he felt that the Office of Enforcement (OE) was trying to obstruct the Internal Affairs investigation (in the case). Gintz said yes.

“... It is now quite apparent that Customs OE has the power in Arizona to do as they wish …,” Juhasz concludes in the affidavit.

The alleged trafficking kingpin behind the Douglas tunnel, Camarena, was eventually indicted in 1995—some five years after the tunnel was discovered in the spring of 1990—but he disappeared in Mexico, according to U.S. Customs. The long arm of the law finally caught up with him in the summer of 2001, when he was turned over to U.S authorities by the Mexican government to face conspiracy and cocaine trafficking charges.

In February 2003, as part of a plea agreement, a U.S. District judge in Arizona handed down a 10-year prison sentence to Camarena. A year later, the man suspected of designing the Douglas tunnel, Felipe de Jesus Corona-Verbera, was arrested in Mexico and sent back to the United States to stand trial, according to a press report in the Arizona Daily Star.

Although law enforcement officials did investigate the property transaction between Borane and Camarena after the tunnel was discovered, no charges were ever brought against Borane, according to Arizona Assistant Attorney General Evans and other sources.

However, Borane was arrested years later, in 1999, on drug-running, money laundering and traffic-ticket-fixing charges. Evans, who coordinated that prosecution, says Borane was ultimately convicted of two felonies related to the ticket-fixing charges and served 90 days in jail.

“He (Borane) is … no longer a justice of the peace,” Evans adds.

Although Borane was forced to step down as justice of the peace in Douglas, he said in an interview that he still owns a significant amount of real estate in the area.

When asked why he was subjected to so much law-enforcement scrutiny, Borane said, “When you’re in a small community and you’re considered politically active, which I was, and you own a lot of real-estate holdings, they (the authorities) tend to look at you.”

Next in Chapter 10:

A multi-agency federal task force investigating law-enforcement corruption is disbanded after it gets too close to the truth. Task force members are retaliated against and their careers ruined. A subsequent congressional call for a special-prosecutor probe into the alleged corruption is ignored.

Read the rest of Bill Conroy’s Borderline Security:


Chapter 1 – Investigation Derailed

Chapter 2 – The Belly of the Snake

Chapter 3 – Shooting the Messenger

Chapter 4 – “The Racist Manifesto”

Chapter 5 – The Hydra

Chapter 6 – Green Quest

Chapter 7 – Quid Pro Quo

Chapter 8 – Reckless Driving

Chapter 9 – Firestorm

Chapter 10 – Swept Under the Rug

Chapter 11 – Politically Connected

Chapter 12 – From the DEA to “Homeland Security”

Chapter 13 – Airline Passengers At Risk from DEA Drug Sting Shipments

Chapter 14 – The Dysfunctional Anti-Drug Agencies

Epilogue – At the Threshold of Conscience

Bill Conroy has worked as a reporter or editor for the past eighteen years at newspapers in Wisconsin, Arizona, Minnesota and Texas. His investigative reporting over the past five years has focused on corruption and discrimination within federal law enforcement agencies.

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