ICE importing cartel members?
José Daniel González was living the sweet life in America. He bought the $365,000 two-story Mediterranean with the tile roof and swimming pool. He started a trucking company, was raising a family. But on a Friday night in May, he was executed in his front yard -- eight shots, tight pattern, close range.ICE's refusal to explain its actions probably raises more suspicions with local police. It will probably also have a negative effect on public perception of the agency at a time when it needs all the support it can find. Many people will have concerns about an agency that is supposed to fight illegal immigration importing illegals.
According to police detectives, González knew the man who ordered his killing. He also knew the man who stood on his lawn and watched him die. These things are often personal, especially among high-level drug traffickers.
A gangland-style slaying is no big news across the river in Ciudad Juarez, the bloodiest city in Mexico, where more than 1,300 people have been killed in 2009, and only a handful of cases have been solved despite the presence of 10,000 soldiers and federal police officers in President Felipe Calderón's war on drug cartels.
But in El Paso, where local leaders boast how safe their city is and the 12 homicides this year have almost all been solved, the González slaying was as disturbing as it was sensational. For people here, the blood splashed on a pretty American street was a jarring sign that Mexico's drug violence is spilling across the border into U.S. suburbia.
Most unsettling for many, especially El Paso police officials, was that both González and the man accused of ordering his killing turned out to be ranking drug traffickers from the notorious Juarez cartel, as well as informers for the U.S. government.
"So this is how these people end up in our country," said El Paso police Lt. Alfred Lowe, the lead homicide detective and 29-year veteran whose team made the arrests in the González case. "We bring them here."
As a spectacular wave of drug violence washes over Mexico, the Obama administration, the U.S. Congress and leaders in the southwest states are spending billions of dollars and massing thousands of agents to keep the chaos from crossing the border. But in order to fight the drug traffickers, federal anti-narcotics agents have brought Mexican cartel members north of the border, to use them to gather intelligence and build cases.
That has also led to friction between U.S. law enforcement agencies. El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen, who lives close to the González home and heard the shots the night of the slaying, said he has complained to federal counterparts about a lack of cooperation and information sharing. Allen told reporters he raised those complaints in meetings with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE, which, according to police and charging documents, arranged for González's visa to live in the United States.
Lowe said ICE agents were uncooperative during the investigation, misleading El Paso officers by failing to provide accurate names, photographs of suspects and timely intelligence that might have helped solve the homicide more quickly.
Perhaps they are getting information on the Mexican criminal insurgency's rat lines into the US, but so far I have seen little evidence that such information is leading to detection and arrests of those involved, but perhaps that is what the shooting was all about.