FBI Corrupted by Cartels, Say Informants

By Jed Bickman 09/23/11

The cartels' fingers reach deep into US law enforcement and politics, allege two officers involved in the drug war on the Mexican border.

Whose side are they on? Photo via

The drug cartels that continue to wage war successfully on the US-Mexico border have long had Mexican authorities on their payroll, but American law enforcement has increasingly become corrupted too. Organizations like the Juarez and the Gulf Cartels wield major political influence, using intimidation and violence to skew democracy—this summer nine poll workers were abducted from Michoachan, for example—and also by buying cops and local politicians. Such influence crosses borders. This week, two former FBI informants in the border region went public, claiming that the feds dropped their investigations after they gave them information implicating FBI agents and local DA employees working with cartels. Both the informants are low-level law enforcement officials: Greg Gonzales, a retired Doña Ana County (New Mexico) sheriff’s deputy, and Wesley Dutton, a rancher and former New Mexico livestock investigator. They allege that a US law enforcement officer sold a list of US Marshals’ cell phone numbers to a street gang with ties to the Juárez cartel, enabling them to intercept calls and learn when an arrest warrant was due. Gonzales and Dutton also say that small aircraft regularly drop drug loads on border ranches, and that some US law officers escort the deliveries to their next stop. They add that drug cartels have given large, unreported donations to US politicians, throwing big fundraiser parties attended by “a lot of important people…such as bankers, judges, and law enforcement officers.” Working as confidential sources, one or both of the informants participated in the arrest of Special FBI Agent John Shipley, who was convicted of weapons-related crimes after a gun he sold turned up in a Chihuahua firefight between Mexican soldiers and gangs. However, since making the more recent allegations, they say they've faced threats and retaliation rather than investigative cooperation from the FBI. "I lost my job for a security company at the federal courthouse in Las Cruces because I would not keep my mouth shut, and someone threatened me by holding a knife to my throat," Gonzales said. And according to Dutton, "I asked the FBI for help when I started getting threats, but the only thing that happened is that everyone starting running for cover to protect their careers."

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Jed Bickman is a journalist and copywriter living in the greater New York City area. He is the associate editor at The New Press. You can find him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.