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Tag: Colombia

Opinion Column By DEA Agent: Cowardly Anonymity, False Accusations, Betrayal, Lost Leadership and Tabloid News

Richard Dobrich is the Senior Executive Service Regional Director of DEA’s Andean Region (Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela) and a former Navy SEAL. He is scheduled to retire from DEA at the end of the month. The column is in response to an Associated Press story  that reported that DEA had received an anonymous complaint alleging Dobrich directed Colombian drivers working for the U.S. Embassy in Bogota “to procure sex workers.”

Richard Dobrich (DEA photo)

By Richard Dobrich
For ticklethewire.com

Don’t confuse my situation with the current upheaval in D.C. Mine is not a battle between Red versus Blue, nor He Said versus She Said, nor Accuser versus Accused.

Mine is a story of absurd and unfounded allegations, official leaks, a leadership vacuum, and tabloid press from a supposedly responsible news organization.

I find myself as the subject of a now-debunked anonymous and maliciously false letter which was sent to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

I was accused of engaging in the Colombian sex trade, i.e., soliciting prostitutes while serving as the DEA Regional Director. More specifically, the allegation stated that I directed my local staff to assist me in this despicable conduct.

I was not accused of this phantom behavior by anyone involved in the sex trade – no victims have accused me of any such abhorrent behavior – and let me be clear here, I fully recognize that the sex industry in Colombia has nothing but victims – usually young women with severe economic hardships or deplorable histories of sexual abuse at home during their adolescence.

DEA OPR and DOJ OIG routinely receive allegations of misconduct. The unimpeachable moral conduct of DEA personnel (all U.S. government personnel) form the pillars upon which the Public Trust is built and there is zero tolerance for non-compliance – this is something I have always strongly subscribed to.

Some allegations are confirmed as accurate while others are discredited – in either case there is supposed to be a firewall of confidentiality and neutrality so that DEA OPR and/or DOJ OIG investigators can do their important jobs, in relative secrecy, of uncovering the truth of what has, or has not, happened.

False And Anonymous Letter

In my case, a copy of the totally false and anonymous letter was provided to the Associated Press (AP). The AP didn’t get hearsay from someone “in the know”; no, the AP received an actual copy of the letter from “DEA Sources” (as told to me by the AP).

The AP told me they didn’t know the identity of the anonymous author – presumably the AP knows their “DEA Sources”. Therefore, one can deduce that the AP’s “DEA Sources” are somewhere between DEA Executive “Leadership” or within DEA OPR.

So that’s the scene-setter. The AP gets a hot lead on a scandalous story – “the Senior Executive Regional Director (me) who was sent to Colombia in 2015 in the wake of a sex trade scandal just couldn’t resist the temptation”.

The “story” would have you believe that DEA in Colombia (or maybe it’s just me) can’t behave responsibly and ethically. Let me be unequivocally clear – the AP’s sensational storylines are categorically false and the AP was provided clear FACTS before going to print but they just couldn’t resist their own temptation to sell “print”.

To me, there is nothing more cowardly and pathetic than someone who would author anonymous and patently false accusations, which attack the moral character of someone else without one shred of evidence, not one victim’s voice, nothing other than absolute fiction.

As if a false allegation isn’t enough, I am sickened by the prospect that a “DEA Source” would leak an uncorroborated and wildly unbelievable story to the media before it had been appropriately and properly investigated.

Read more »

Ronald Kessler: Reform the Secret Service

Ronald Kessler is a former Washington Post reporter and the author of “The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents.”

secret service photo

By Ronald Kessler
Washington Post

When Michaele and Tareq Salahi crashed a White House state dinner five years ago, President Obama said he “could not have more confidence” in the Secret Service.

When the Secret Service sent home 11 agents from Cartagena, Colombia, for hiring prostitutes, the White House said Obama had “full confidence” in the Secret Service.

When an armed intruder penetrated the White House itself in September, a spokesman again said Obama had “full confidence” in the Secret Service.

Even now, after two senior Secret Service managers suspected of having been drinking drove their vehicle, overhead lights flashing, through security tape at the White House and hit a temporary barricade, the White House said Obama has “full confidence” in his newly appointed director, Joseph P. Clancy.

To read more click here.

Ex-DEA Informant Awarded $1.1 Million

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge has awarded $1.1 million in damages to a former undercover DEA informant who was kidnapped in Colombia and held captive for more than three months, the Legal Times reported.

The Legal Times reports that a U.S. Court of Federal Claims said the informant, identified in court papers as “The Princess,” “demonstrated that [the DEA’s] breach of contract was a substantial factor in causing the Princess’ kidnapping and captivity, and triggering her multiple sclerosis.”

The informant claimed in a suit that the DEA violated its implied-in-fact contract when it failed to prevent her from being kidnapped and held captive for more than three months, the Legal Times reported.

To read more click here.

Parker: Colombia Supreme Court Approves US Extradition of Accused Killers of DEA Special Agent Terry Watson

James Watson

 
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The Colombia Supreme Court ruled on April 3rd in favor of the US extradition request of all seven defendants charged with the murder of DEA Special Agent James “Terry” Watson in June 2013. Special Agent Watson’s career was the subject of a column last year.

Agent Watson was killed in what appeared to be a robbery attempt after he left a Bogota restaurant where he had met with friends to watch an NBA Championship game on television.

He had had an extraordinary career with DEA in which he sought out the most challenging and dangerous assignments, including three deployments in Afghanistan, as well as in Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and Panama.

The case indicates the close working relationship which has developed between Colombian and US law enforcement in recent years. Previous US extradition requests involving the murder of three other DEA agents in Colombia have been problematic.

The Colombian Supreme Court will now forward its ruling to the Colombian Ministry of Justice and then to Colombian President Juan Manual Santos Calderon for a final decision on the extradition.

Weekend Series on Crime: Taking Down Colombia’s Super Cartel

6 Colombians Charged in Kidnapping, Murder of DEA Agent in Taxi Cab

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Six Colombians accused of in the death of a DEA agent last month have been indicted by a federal grand jury for kidnapping and murder, the Associated Press reports.

DEA Agent Terry Watson was working in Colombia when he was allegedly attacked in a taxi cab in what officials say was a robbery attempt.

Watson, who was on temporary duty in Bogota, was stabbed to death and shot with a stun gun.

According to investigators, the six Colombians operated an abduction and robbery ring by luring people into taxi cabs.

Column: DEA Agent’s Death a Reminder of Courage in a Dangerous World and the Good Work of the DEA Survivors Benefit Fund

James Watson

 Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.
 
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

DEA Special Agent James “Terry” Watson had spent an enjoyable evening with friends at a Bogota restaurant watching Game 7 of the Heat-Spurs NBA Championship game. He was assigned to Cartagena but was in the Colombian capital as part of his duties.

Agent Watson knew how dangerous being in law enforcement could be but he had regularly volunteered for the most challenging assignments all over the globe. Like during one of his three deployments in Afghanistan for DEA in 2009 when he and Army Special Forces were under fire from 500 Taliban in the Farah Province. Or when he rappelled down 3,000 foot rock facings in the mountains near Pakistan to bomb heroin dens. He had also volunteered for difficult cases in Honduras, Guatemala, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and Panama.

A short distance from the Bogota restaurant Terry Watson was stabbed and ran a block before collapsing. Several assailants immediately fled the scene without taking any money or other property. He died en route to a medical clinic.

Bogota police have arrested six men for the murders, and the Justice Department has indicated its intention to seek extradition. The police have announced their conclusion that the murder was part of a random robbery, but others have doubts because of the circumstances of the assault and question whether Agent Watson’s successful investigations of high level drug traffickers in Colombia was the real motive behind murder.

At his memorial service on Wednesday at the Rayville, Louisiana, Richland Arts Center near where he had grown up in Holly Ridge, his family said, “Terry dedicated his life to serving the public and making the world a better and safer place. Terry never wasted a minute of his life and never took it for granted.”

Agent Watson had recently married Fadia Margarita de la Rosa Watson, whom he had met during his service in Colombia.

Another DEA agent who had also been assigned to Cartagena during his deployment there told me that he was constantly aware of the potential for violence during his term. No matter how careful an agent was, if he did his job, the cartels were always in the front part of his mind. Years later he remembers his time there as an ordeal that required him to always remain aware of surroundings. But he also knew that even this awareness was no guarantee that he would survive the assignment.

Earlier articles in this column have made plain my own position that responsibility for these deaths and violence, both to Americans and those in Central America, civilians and law enforcement, can be directly traced to America’s insatiable appetite for the drugs.

Read more »

Court Releases Two of Six Men Arrested in Death of DEA Agent in Colombia

 

James Watson

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Colombian court released two of six men arrested in the murder of a DEA agent, the Associated Press reports.

Defense attorneys said prosecutors failed to present sufficient evidence to hold the two suspects in the death of DEA agent James Watson, who was known as “Terry.”

Authorities said Watson, 43, was killed during an apparent robbery attempt while getting into a taxi.

The two freed men were taxi drivers and have insisted they did nothing wrong, the AP wrote.