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Dozens of ICE agents investigated for misconduct with informants

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  • Steven Robinson
    Dozens of ICE agents have been investigated for various misdeeds with informants, AP reports By Alicia A. Caldwell The Associated Press October 25, 2009 EL
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 26, 2009
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      Dozens of ICE agents have been investigated for various misdeeds with informants, AP reports
      By  Alicia A. Caldwell
      The Associated Press
      October 25, 2009
      EL PASO — One immigration agent was accused of running an Internet pornography business and enjoying an improper relationship with an informant. Another let an informant smuggle in a group of illegal immigrants. And in a third case, an agent was investigated for soliciting sex from a witness in a marriage fraud case.
      Those troubling misdeeds are a sampling of misconduct by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel as the agency seeks to carve a bigger role in the deadly border war against Mexican drug gangs.
      According to documents obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act, ICE agents have blundered badly in their dealings with informants and other sources, covering up crimes and even interfering in a police investigation into whether one informant killed another.
      At least eight agents have been investigated for improper dealings with informants since ICE was created, in 2003, and more than three dozen others have been investigated for other wrongdoing, the records show.
      The heavily redacted documents detail how one agent failed "to report murders . . . to her supervisor" and how another failed "to properly document information received from a confidential source in violation of ICE policy and procedure."
      In the case involving an informant charged with murdering another, Jose Daniel Gonzalez Galeana, a smuggling manager for the Juarez cartel, was gunned down this spring in his upscale El Paso neighborhood. El Paso police say ICE delayed its investigation, steering detectives away from the man now charged with arranging the contract hit.
      Kelly Nantel, an ICE spokeswoman in Washington, said in an e-mailed statement that the agency "works with confidential informants in accordance with established best practices and guidelines of federal law enforcement agencies."
      The statement noted that ICE fired an agent last year for "negligence in performing his duties, misdirecting funds and submitting false documents" in relation to his work with an informant.
      Also, an agent in Miami was sentenced to two years in federal prison and resigned from ICE this year as part of a plea deal for accepting gifts from an informant.
      ICE officials in El Paso have repeatedly declined to comment on the Gonzalez case, but John Morton, Homeland Security’s assistant secretary for ICE in Washington, said, "I’m aware of that situation, and it is under review." He declined to answer other questions.
      Problems with ICE informants are not a new phenomenon.
      According to a Feb. 24, 2004, letter from the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration office in El Paso to the head of the ICE office there, a man described as "a homicidal maniac" was allowed to continue working as an ICE snitch even after he "supervised the murder" of an associate of the Juarez cartel.
      In a recent interview, the informant, Guillermo "Lalo" Ramirez Peyro, now confined to an ICE detention facility, denied participating in any homicides.
      Even when not working with informants, ICE agents have gotten in trouble.
      The documents show that agents in field offices nationwide and in several foreign posts have been investigated for offenses including drunken driving in government cars, lying to other investigators in ongoing cases and misusing their position for personal gain.
      In one case, an agent was investigation for having an inappropriate relationship with the target of an ICE investigation. Another agent was investigated for using his government position to ask questions from Texas about his mother-in-law’s eviction in New Mexico.
      Some local and federal authorities in El Paso are hesitant to work closely with ICE because of the way it operates, law enforcement officers said.
      In the 2004 DEA letter, inaction by ICE officials was blamed for "allowing at least 13 other murders to take place in Ciudad Juarez" and for endangering the lives of DEA agents and their families.
      The killing of Gonzalez is another example of concern.
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