EL PASO, Texas – Mexican Drug Cartel known member Jose Daniel Gonzalez was murdered on American soil in El Paso Texas. Gonzalez according to law enforcement was acting as an U.S. Government informant feeding important information about several Mexican Drug Cartel families. There modes of operations, drug routes and privileged inside information known only to high ranking Cartel members. Enough through Gonzalez was an active informant and was under U.S. Law enforcement protection the powerful Mexican Drug Cartels were still able to attach and kill Mr. Gonzalez.
According to Alicia A. Caldwell with the APNewsBreak reported today that the eight bullets that killed Gonzalez outside his home just doors from the El Paso City’s Police chief’s own home. The hail of automatic gun fire was fired at close range and left little doubt about their message.
Gonzalez, a Juarez cartel lieutenant shot on his quiet El Paso cul-de-sac this spring, has just come to light. According to reports Gonzalez was indeed working for U.S. officials as a confidential informant.
Sources close to the investigation has told the Laguna Journal. This maybe the first substantiated assassination carried out by Mexican Drug Cartel hit men although there have been others suspected assassinations in Phoenix, Alabama and elsewhere in the states. The feds suspect his slaying is the first time assassins from one of Mexico’s violent drug gangs have killed a ranking cartel member on American soil.
Caldwell’s report indicated that experts told her the murder represents a growing brazenness of the cartels on this side of the border that will most likely lead to more deaths.
“He got shot up close,” police chief Greg Allen said. “Whoever did it wanted to make sure it was known that it was for payback.”
Alerts send out to law enforcement last year warned that Mexican drug kingpins, including Sinaloa cartel chief Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, publicly gave hit men permission to cross the border in search of targets.
“There’s an increasing number of (cartel) leaders living in the U.S., probably either to escape law enforcement or their enemies in Mexico, so that’s one of the risks that has increased in the last few years,” said Stephen Meiners, a senior tactical analyst for Latin America at Stratfor, a global intelligence company based in Austin, Texas.
“There’s a possibility that this thing could get out of hand,” he said.
Shannon O’Neil, an expert on Latin America at the Council on Foreign Relations, said she knows of no other high-level killings in the U.S., but fears it won’t be the last.
“We have started to see more brazenness close to the border on the Mexican side and on the U.S. side,” O’Neil said. “Once you get these organizations firmly established in Mexico and the United States, you will have killings at all different levels.”
Gonzalez, a 37-year-old legal immigrant who lived with his family on a cul-de-sac in an expensive neighborhood, was shot May 15 2009 in front of his spacious home. His wife, Adriana Solis, and the couple’s two children fled not long after.
Two federal officials and one local official told The Associated Press that Gonzalez was handing over information about cartel activities to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which in recent years has taken a broader role in cross-border drug trafficking investigations. One of those officials said federal investigators were monitoring Gonzalez’s activities and whereabouts.
The officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly about the case. In a statement e-mailed to the AP, ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said, “It is ICE policy to neither discuss nor comment on issues regarding confidential informants.”
Cartel-affiliated hit men have violently, and fatally, disciplined low-level, American-based drug dealers in the U.S. But El Paso police said Gonzalez was a lieutenant in the Juarez cartel, which traffics in marijuana, cocaine and heroin. The cartel was once among the most dangerous in Mexico, but has recently lost some standing because of arrests, deaths and infighting.
The L.A. Times is reporting that the El Paso police don’t yet have an official motive in Gonzalez’s slaying, but chief Allen said detectives are working on the assumption that a cartel colleague discovered he was discussing their illegal activities with federal agents.
Allen, who lives behind Gonzalez’s house and heard the shots from his backyard, told the AP that he and other local authorities knew Gonzalez had been involved with drugs in the past but had no idea he was both a ranking Mexican gangster and federal informant. He’s angry he wasn’t briefed about a case his department now must solve as a local homicide.
Cooperation is seen as crucial to the success of the federal and state law enforcement agencies that fill El Paso, one of the country’s largest border cities and a major inland port.
The week after the killing, during a tense meeting of a multi-agency group called the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Allen said he told federal authorities that his future cooperation depended on them keeping his department informed of their activities.
“How’d you like it if this happened in your neighborhood?” Allen said he told the gathering.
The bullets that killed Gonzalez were fired at such close range that three may have traveled through his body and lodged in a neighbor’s stucco wall and a parked car. A bloodstain still marked the street where the neighbors sat to watch the kids play. Now, aside from Allen, people living in the Rancho del Sol neighborhood are too scared to speak publicly about Gonzalez or his family.
Aldo Valderrabano lives around the corner from the Gonzalez’s second home, a more modest 1,800-square-foot, two-story house they used to live in a little more than a mile away. He said the Gonzalez family moved to the $365,000, 3,300-square-foot home listed in Solis’s name, a few months after she mysteriously lost three fingers last year.
Valderrabano’s wife visited Solis in the hospital, and he said Solis would only say the fingers were lost “in an accident.” She had no other apparent injuries. The family hasn’t been seen since the shooting, although El Paso police spokesman Javier Sambrano said investigators are in contact with them. He said Solis and her children are staying at an undisclosed location, “a move they did on their own.”
Gonzalez is listed in business records as the only contact for El Nuevo Rey (“The New King” in Spanish) freight company, which shares an address with his home. Federal Express packages for the company continued to arrive daily on Gonzalez’s front porch for weeks after the shooting. Business records show the company had annual sales of about $84,000.
He is also listed as the sole contact at that address for Gonzalez Auto Parts, Letters And Colors Day Care and Transportes Gonzalez. Neighbors said they have seen no evidence of any activity related to these kinds of businesses at the house.
Valderrabano said Solis told him the family was from Villa Ahumada, Mexico, a small town south of Ciudad Juarez that has been virtually taken over by cartel fighters in recent months. She said Gonzalez manned a family-owned food stand in Juarez, a city of about 1.1 million that abuts El Paso and is now occupied by the Mexican army in the government’s battle against drug gangs.
But while in El Paso, Valderrabano said, Gonzalez and his family were very pleasant. The families’ children often played together.
“They were very quiet, we didn’t have any problems with them,” Valderrabano said.
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Michael Webster’s Syndicated Investigative Reports are read worldwide, in 100 or more U.S. outlets and in at least 136 countries and territories. He publishes articles in association with global news agencies and media information services with more than 350 news affiliates in 136 countries. Many of Mr. Webster’s articles are printed in six working languages: English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Spanish. With ten more languages planed in the near future.