As an ICE official he invested cash in global drug deals endangered the lives of U.S. and Mexican law enforcement by selling secret U.S. Government information to Mexican Drug Cartels (MDC’s) and ran huge cocaine shipments to Spain via US ports. Feds say he joined cartel full time after he retired from ICE.
Richard Padilla Cramer, a 26-year veteran of the U.S. anti-drug complex was arrested by DEA agents last month and is behind bars in Florida awaiting the results of a Federal Grand Jury investigation. Cramer was arrested and jailed after U.S. Government officials accused him of directing a massive cocaine shipment to Spain via the United States, and selling important information in law enforcement databases to a vicious Mexican Drug Cartel.
Cramer, as a high-ranking U.S. anti-drug of ficial, held front-line posts both in the United States and in Mexico in regard to the War on Drugs. Cramer sometime later was investing in drugs and trafficking as a full partner in Mexico’s murderous drug cartels. According to records made available to the Laguna Journal, he led an office of two dozen agents in Arizona and others as the attachÃ© officer for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Guadalajara Mexico and worked with the U.S. Mexican Embassy in Mexico City and U.S. Consulate offices in Guadalajara and other Mexican cities.
According to documents obtained by this writer while employed as a high ranking U.S. law enforcement agent in Mexico, Cramer was also allegedly operating illegally by serving as a sort of secret agent and a full blown business partner of some of Mexico’s richest and most blood thirsty drug lords. According to federal investigators he was operating as a key Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agent who operated freely moving back and forth from Mexico to the U.S. He was allegedly “a secret ally of drug lords,” reported The Los Angeles Times.
A Mexican20Drug Cartel boss “convinced Cramer to retire … and begin working directly for (him) in drug trafficking and money laundering,” the complaint says. Cramer continued to sell secret documents that he obtained from active U.S. agents. This is a troubling aspect of the case still being investigated, the official said.
The charges underscore the corruptive might of the cartels, which have bought off Mexican politicians, police chiefs and military commanders. Drug lords have reached across the border with increasing ease, corrupting U.S. border inspectors and agents to help smuggle cocaine north. In 2006, the FBI chief in El Paso=2 0was convicted of charges related to having concealed his friendship with an alleged Mexican drug kingpin.
Cramer stands out because his rank and foreign post made his work especially sensitive, officials said. Stunned colleagues described him as a well-regarded investigator who spoke fluent Spanish and operated skillfully in the array of U.S. and Mexican agencies at the border when he ran the ICE office in the action-packed border zone of Nogales, Ariz., his hometown.
“It came as a complete shock,” said Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada in a telephone interview. “I have been in law enforcement at the border 42 years and I have seen some strange things, but I have never ceased to be surprised. You have to be watchful and mindful. The cartels have touched local, state and federal agencies.”
Estrada worked with Cramer at the Nogales police in 1979, and encountered him periodically as Cramer rose through the federal ranks.
About five months ago, Cramer showed up at the sheriff’s office in the small county on the border, Estrada said. He applied for a job as a county detention officer, which pays about $29,000 a year, Estrada said. In contrast, Cramer’s federal rank probably commanded a salary of between $130,000 and $150,000, plus benefits, officials say.
Estrada, surprised, told Cramer that working as a jail guard would be “quite a drop,” the sheriff recalled.
“He said he wanted to keep being active, go back to his roots, keep busy,” Estrada said. “So we put him through … polygraph, background checks. We didn’t find anything suspicious.”
“The suspected crimina l activity that Cramer has actually been charged with occurred in 2007 while he was working as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in Guadalajara, Mexico, according to a sealed criminal complaint issued on Aug. 28 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami,” noted The Arizona Star.
“Cramer’s duties as the ICE attache in Guadalajara included serving as a liaison with Mexican police,” the paper noted. “But the investigation revealed that he worked for ‘a very high-level drug lord,’ the federal official said. In a dark twist on the trend of former federal officials going into private consulting, the government veteran became a full-time adviser to traffickers after retiring from ICE in January 2007, Court documents reveal.”
Cramer allegedly advised traffickers on law enforcement tactics and pulled secret files to help them identify turncoats. He charged $2,000 for a Drug Enforcement Administration document that was sent to a suspect in Miami by e-mail in August, authorities say.
“Cramer was responsible for advising the (drug traffickers) how U.S. law enforcement works with warrants and record checks as well as how DEA conducts investigations to include ‘flipping subjects,'” or recruiting informants, according to a criminal complaint filed by a DEA agent.
DEA agents arrested the retired 56-year-old at his home in Arizona on Sept. 4.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney in Miami said Wednesday that she could not comment, but said that cases begun with complaints usually go before grand juries.
Arizona-based Green Valley News and Sun added: “He is accused of negotiating cocaine shipments from Panama to Spain while he was working for ICE out of the Guadalajara office, according to the criminal complaint filed.” The complaint also says Cramer and the smuggling organization invested about $400,000 in a 660-pound shipment of20cocaine. The cocaine was shipped from Panama and went through the U.S. en route to Spain, where it was seized in June 2007.”
The U.S. government information he allegedly sold to the MDC’s “allegedly helped the Mexican drug lord conduct an internal hunt for […] informants and so called turn coats and could have led to murders of U.S. informants and whose families were to be kidnapped in retaliation, one government official said who insisted on remaining anonymous.
The paper added: “Negotiations broke down between Cramer and the head of the trafficking organization that was looking for someone to blame for the losses in Spain. A fourth informant finally approached American law enforcement and told them he spoke with Cramer on a push-to-talk phone.
Mexican Drug Cartels and other drug traffickers use the Direct Connect for immediate communications that is offered by push-to-talk devices. The push to talk keyboard gives the MDC’s a better way to instantly communicate with friends, family and colleagues,” By combining Nextel Direct Connect with text messaging, Sprint customers have two of the most efficient ways to get business done wirelessly.”
The Java-enabled Motorola Clutch i465 meets Military Specification 810F for low pressure, high and low temperatures, dust, shock, vibration and even solar radiation, featuring VGA camera, 1.8-inch screen with 128 x 160 pixels resolution, GPS, Bluetooth, and Group Messaging that allows for instant text communications with a large group of up to 20 people.
“Motorola Clutch was designed to give serious texters and talkers multiple ways to get the word out,” said Rick Gadd, vice president for Motorola Mobile Devices. “With a full QWERTY keyboard featuring shortcut keys, IM-style texting and push-to-talk technology which works like a verbal IM, Sprint customers are able to keep in constant contact, no matter how they prefer to communicate.”
While Cramer trained at a state law enforcement academy in Tucson with considerably younger cadets, a delicate DEA investigation of a Mexican drug ring active in Miami accelerated after more than two years in the making.
Working with four informants, agents had run across evidence implicating Cramer in corruption, the complaint says. In 2007, a cartel informant showed agents documents – four from the DEA database, one from ICE, two from the state of California – supplied by an American in Mexico named “Ric hard,” according to the complaint.
Agents identified the American as Cramer.
On Aug. 19, the DEA arrested Cramer at his house in a gated community in Sahuarita.”
On Sept. 4, Cramer was extradited to Florida from Arizona to face drug trafficking charges, where he currently awaits trial.