DEA Launches Tipline for Info on El Chapo

The Drug Enforcement Administration today announced via Twitter it has launched a tipline for information on the whereabouts of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman-Loera. It provided an email address and phone number. The email address includes the description "Chapotips." The tips will be processed by the DEA San Diego office. There is a $5 million reward.

Acting DEA Chief Chuck Rosenberg said today he believes El Chapo is still in Mexico, probably in Sinaloa. He said that while there is information sharing with Mexico, it doesn't encompass the whole of Mexico's Government. [More...]

From Excelsior (via google translate)

Chuck Rosenberg told reporters that DEA agents are sharing intelligence with their Mexican counterparts, but there are "institutional problems" in the country making it difficult to gather information.

"We have sources in Mexico with whom we work closely. Not extending to the entire Government", he told journalists.

Seems like a shorthand way of saying the corruption in Mexico that was responsible for allowing El Chapo to escape is now protecting him from capture.

Getting the reward, of course, is not so easy. One informant who felt entitled to the reward offered when El Chapo was captured in 2014 says he was refused.

An informant named Jose Miguel Aguirre-Pinzon who tried to claim the reward for capturing a Colombian trafficker named Orlando Sabogal Zuluaga and was refused. He filed suit. The Government filed a motion to dismiss. In its memorandum supporting the motion, available on PACER, it wrote:

The rewards program is entirely discretionary. Neither the statute establishing the program nor the Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Manual confer any substantive or procedural rights with respect to the rewards program on individuals who furnish information to law enforcement agencies.... And individuals have no right under 22 U.S.C. § 2708 or any other provision of law to challenge the reward determination process or any particular decision made during that process.

...the statute and Foreign Affairs Manual create a discretionary and entirely internal process for proposing rewards and determining if and when any such rewards will be paid.

So, who decides? The Government writes

Once submitted, a reward proposal is evaluated by the Narcotics Rewards Program Committee, which is made up of representatives from the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as representatives of other agencies as appropriate. Id. §§ 951.3, 953.5(a).

...If the Committee declines to recommend a reward, the originating entity is advised of the> decision. Id. § 953.5(f).

If the Committee decides to recommend a reward, the recommendation is forwarded to the Secretary of State for a final decision. 2 FAM § 953.7-8. The Secretary must obtain the concurrence of the Attorney General before authorizing any reward that involves a matter over which there is federal criminal jurisdiction. 22 U.S.C. § 2708©(2).

But the bottom line is:

...“[w]hether or not a reward is to be paid in any given case, and the amount of the reward, are matters wholly within the discretion of the Secretary of State, with the concurrence of the Attorney General, as appropriate.”

There are several court opinions siding with the government and dismissing claims to the reward for lack of jurisdiction. Here's one.

The U.S. insists it does pay the rewards. The State Department says it has paid out $88 million in rewards under the Narcotics Reward Program. In 2013, it paid $5 million to four Peruvians for the capture of Shining Path leader Aretemio. The four then began lives with assumed names.

The State Department describes the procedures this way:

Proposals to pay rewards are submitted to the Department of State by the chief of mission at a U.S. embassy at the behest of a U.S. law enforcement agency. Reward proposals are carefully reviewed by an interagency committee, which makes a recommendation for a reward payment to the Secretary of State. Only the Secretary of State has the authority to determine if a reward should be paid, and, in cases where there is Federal criminal jurisdiction, the Secretary must obtain the concurrence of the Attorney General.

The State Department says "if appropriate, [it] will relocate these individuals and their families." Jorge Saucedo, the former Cali cartel member responsible for capturing the Rodriguez-Orejuela brothers, received $1.7 million (not all was from the reward program.) But he has not has it easy, having to raise his family in the U.S. under an assumed name and continue to look over his shoulder. Saucedo's story is the subject of the narco-drama En La Boca del Lobo.(Available on Netflix with English subtitles. There's also a book by the same name that tells his story.)

Here's the current list of targets for whom rewards are offered.

The money is helpful if you can live to enjoy it. Some might think it through enough to conclude that having to move to another country and change your identity isn't worth it.

The availability of drugs is as much the product of corrupt police, military and politicians in Mexico and Central America as it is El Chapo and other traffickers. How about a reward for providing information leading to their arrest and conviction?

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  • Display: Sort:
    Here's my tip... (none / 0) (#1)
    by Mr Natural on Wed Aug 05, 2015 at 09:57:30 PM EST
    Last month Billboard Magazine published a list of ten narcocorridos about El Chapo. El Primer Ministro, by Gerardo Ortiz, is pretty good.

    Much to kdog's chagrin (none / 0) (#2)
    by CoralGables on Wed Aug 05, 2015 at 10:19:48 PM EST
    I'd drop a dime for $5 mil.

    there is nothing wrong with that (none / 0) (#3)
    by nyjets on Thu Aug 06, 2015 at 12:15:57 AM EST
    There is nothing wrong in turning in dangerous criminals or reporting crimes.

    For shame CG! (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Thu Aug 06, 2015 at 09:20:50 AM EST
    Rastaman no work for the DEA...No way.
    No Scotland Yard, KGB...neither the CIA.

    Moral questions aside, your life is worth much more than that my friend.  I wouldn't drop that dime for all the grass in Colorado...I'd have my conscience and my fright keeping me up at night, talk about a double whammy.


    I wouldn't do it (none / 0) (#9)
    by CoralGables on Thu Aug 06, 2015 at 10:44:35 AM EST
    for all the grass in Colorado either, but for $5 mil I'm in. (Hell, they could have had me at a million)

    You must... (none / 0) (#10)
    by kdog on Thu Aug 06, 2015 at 10:48:19 AM EST
    like to live dangerously...I hope you don't mind but I hope you don't learn of his whereabouts...I like you too much!  Besides, odds are good the DEA would welch anyway;)

    Unless he's running (none / 0) (#11)
    by CoralGables on Thu Aug 06, 2015 at 10:55:13 AM EST
    the streets of Miami (literally) the odds of me knowing his whereabouts are far higher than 5 million to 1. Don't think we run in the same circles.

    I keep looking around our lunch truck (none / 0) (#12)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Aug 06, 2015 at 05:11:45 PM EST
    but he is not to be found.

    I Suspect Anyone that is Close Enough... (none / 0) (#8)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Aug 06, 2015 at 09:51:16 AM EST
    ...to help them, doesn't need that chump change.

    Wonder what the bounty would be on your head for turning him in, and if there is a bonus for torture ?

    What is Mexico going to do if they catch him again ?


    In other words (none / 0) (#4)
    by scribe on Thu Aug 06, 2015 at 08:46:34 AM EST
    they have no frickin' idea where he is.

    On the economics of snitching, I once handled a case where, in one of its aspects, one cellmate snitched on another because the snitch liked a nice, clean shave.  

    The snitchee had declared his intention - driven by a month of jail drying controlled substances out of his system - to hide a razor blade in his clothing and slash a guard's throat the next time the inmates received razors for their periodic opportunity to shave.  The snitch knew that, if his cellmate's plan went forward, the keepers would not let anyone have razors, i.e., shave and, well, he liked a nice, clean shave.

    Amazing (none / 0) (#6)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Aug 06, 2015 at 08:54:56 AM EST
    as far as the reward.

    Good luck to them with that.


    Narco-Journo Murdered in Mexico D.F. (none / 0) (#5)
    by Mr Natural on Thu Aug 06, 2015 at 08:49:59 AM EST
    This story has it all: Los Zetas, El Narco, a corrupt Governor, a corrupted state government, and the murder of journalists who dared to report the story.  Best of all, it's written in English.

    The highlight of Espinosa's career came after a photograph he took of Duarte ran on the cover of Proceso magazine in February 2014. Two days after Espinosa was murdered, SinEmbargo republished what it called "Ruben Espinosa's Photo that Enraged the Governor of Veracruz." The text of the article opens with this description:

    "Bloodshot eyes. A lost look. Parted lips. Ears back like a lurking dog's. Stern-faced in his glasses and a police cap. Gut hanging over his belt. The buttons threatening to explode off of his shirt embroidered with his name. Ruben Espinosa Becerril's photo of the Veracruz governor was merciless: Javier Duarte portrayed from head to toe: an authoritarian, resentful, suspicious, angry felon."

    The murder of Espinosa in Mexico City marks a new milestone in the long years of violence against the press in Mexico. Mexico City has long been a refuge for reporters under threat. Espinosa is the first known case of an internally displaced journalist being murdered in the capital. If Espinosa was assassinated, it is a crime with major implications for the freedom of the press in Mexico.

    I used to live on the edge of Parque España, twenty minutes northwest of the murder scene, when I was a little kid.