Informants of the Federal Bureau of Investigations often are involved in murders in performance of their sworn duty. With the notoriety of the James ‘Whitey’ Bulger hearings more light is being shed on the role of selected informants by agencies of the federal government.
Guillermo Eduardo Ramirez Peyro went by the nickname Lalo, he was a government informant for the U.S. Customs Department (later known as Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE). He worked informing on Mexican drug lords and was viewed as very useful to investigations.
In previous investigations he had helped authorities crack a major international cigarette smuggling ring. Over a four year period as an informant he was paid nearly $250,000. Upon participation in a large scale investigation to bring down major drug lord Heriberto Santillan, Lalo went rogue.
He later reported to his handlers the murders that took place during the investigations and admitted to participating in more than one incident. Officials simply stated that the informant disregarded protocol and no further action was sought concerning the matter during investigative operations. He later was charged and hit with deportation proceedings.
Mani Chulpayev a Russian ex-mobster was said to be an FBI informant. Chulpayev was implicated in the 2012 murder of Melvin Vernell III, a popular rap artist in Atlanta that used the stage name Lil Phat.
Chulpayev was indicted by a grand jury on charges of murder, felony murder, street -gang criminal activity and weapons counts.
As an informant with the FBI for a number of years, Chulpayev’s indictment came as no surprise because he had avoided criminal charges in previous cases years earlier.
Civil rights martyr Viola Liuzzo was murdered while carpooling with blacks in the south by KKK members. It was later discovered that one of the killers was a FBI informant. It was said that the FBI conducted a smear campaign against Liuzzo. They released her psychiatric records in an attempt to absolve themselves of the accusation of culpability for the killing.
Robert Rodarte was working for the FBI in gang intervention investigations. He was an informant for the FBI’s Southern Colorado Safe Streets Gang Task Force. In a reported sting operation with members of a gang which included Rodarte; an orchestrated attack was devised by the members on a rival gang member’s home. The target was not home however the gang shot up the home with women in children inside. “I shot the whole family up,” Rodarte is recorded saying on a wire. Rodarte was accused of attempted murder pending the outcome of further investigations.
Many investigations start with virtuous intentions but often lose sight of the moral implications of the actions of individual team members. The motivations for capturing the bad guy coupled with the human component of adrenaline can lead to unforeseen mishaps in field operations. Handlers of informants must be responsible in investigations. Murders are often overlooked when FBI informants are involved while officials’ main focus is closing out cases.
By Thomas Barr