The Narco News Bulletin
Name of Our Country is América"
Sector Narco-Spies Against Press Freedom
News Catches "Decision Strategies Fairfax International LLC"
in the Act of Spying On Mexican and US Journalists
Represents Corrupt Governments and Corporations, Some of Whom
PROTECT International Cocaine Trafficking
Uses Questionable Tactics and Sloppy Workmanship and Misrepresents
the True Nature of its Work
How They Got Caught
News International Five Star Chile Alert
When Mexican Journalist Mario Menéndez
Rodríguez addressed the Columbia University Law School
on March 4, 2000 in New York he explained how the war on drugs
has corrupted government and industry. And he backed his reports
with facts, photos and documents.
During the Columbia University
panel moderated by Narco News publisher Al Giordano, Menéndez
-- editor and publisher of Por
Esto!, Mexico's third-largest daily
newspaper -- explained exactly how drug war corruption reaches
to the highest levels in the US and Mexican governments. He demonstrated
how those regimes protect powerful white-collar cocaine traffickers
like BANAMEX president Roberto Hernández Ramírez,
even as they persecute lower-level traffickers in the name of
the war on drugs.
Only two weeks ago, in
a secret attempt to secure an arrest warrant against Menéndez
and three other journalists of the daily Por Esto!, the
Mexican Attorney General delivered a videotape and what it claimed
was a transcript, translated to Spanish, of the Menéndez
presentation in New York.
Narco News has obtained that transcript and
will publish it in the coming days.
Narco News has also learned that the videotape
was obtained by the Falls Church, Virginia-based international
espionage firm known as Decision Strategies Fairfax International
The espionage firm, also
known as DSFX, used dishonest methods to obtain the videotape
(in a private DSFX e-mail obtained by Narco News and published
today, a DSFX agent told a Columbia University student that the
videotape would be used for "purely for research and to
have in our drug trafficking resource library").
The Mexican Attorney General's
office also misrepresented in their legal filings how the video
was obtained, claiming that they received it from Colombia University
officials when in fact they did not.
The videotape was of a
public event: neither Por Esto! nor The Narco News
Bulletin is opposed to its wide distribution. ¡Al
contrario! The entire uncut video will be made available
to the public by Narco News in the coming days. Indeed, that
video contains the facts that the narco-spies and their clients
don't want the public to know. Facts so explosive, that they
tried late last month to imprison the messengers who investigated
and reported the truth.
This series will tell
the story of how that clandestine and illegal prosecution maneuver
was defeated by a courageous Mexican judge. We will also report
the events made possible by a network of defenders of free speech
at many levels of Civil Society who informed Por Esto! of
the secret plot as it was happening and thus provided sufficient
lead time to prevent the arrest and incarceration of its journalists.
Narco News has been on
the scene all this week on the Yucatán peninsula, from
Mérida to Cancún, investigating the case.
The story of how and by
whom the video was obtained reveals the tactics and operating
procedures of DSFX and their clients.
Mexican federal prosecutors
obtained the videotape from DSFX. The federal attorney general
then tried to distort the contents of the tape in a legal ambush
meant to neutralize and imprison investigative journalists.
This chain of events,
documented and based on facts, reveals a new threat to freedom
of the press that ought to concern authentic journalists and
freedom-of-expression organizations everywhere.
It also involved a blatant
effort to punish and intimidate free speech in an academic institution,
Columbia University, where this story begins.
As the Congresses of both
countries have forced greater accountability and rule of law
upon government spy agencies like the US Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA) and the Mexican Procuraduría General de la
República (PGR), governments and industry are increasingly
turning to private sector espionage firms like DSFX to spy upon
journalists and other citizens without being held accountable
to government rules.
Thus the role of exposing
and holding this organization and its unethical conduct accountable
falls upon the free press and upon investigators of academia
and Civil Society; the very sectors spied upon by DSFX.
We have decided to turn
the tables on the DSFX espionage company and its clients, and
in one part of our investigation we used similar tactics to investigate
them that they have used against us as journalists.
We are also sending these
reports to key members of Congress in Washington and Mexico City,
as well as major business competitors of BANAMEX -- from Banco
Bilbao Vizcaya-Bancomer, to Telmex owner Carlos Slim, to the
banks prosecuted by the US Department of Justice in the failed
"Operation Casablanca" case -- who, like other journalists
and The Narco News Bulletin, may also have been, or still
be, targets of the unethical surveillance by DSFX and its clients.
Here is the whole story:
Names, dates, documents, private e-mails and other facts obtained
by Narco News as we blow the whistle on an international
corporate espionage ring dedicated to protecting corrupt officials
and narco-industrialists from journalistic investigation and
This is the story of the
Narco-Spies who, until today, have operated under the cloak of
Private Sector Spies Like DSFX Protect the Narco
to The Narco News Bulletin by Al Giordano
Today: Parts I, II, and III
I: The Columbia
March 4, 2000;
New York City:
Warren Hall at Columbia
University Law School was brimming on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Students, professors, journalists and other members of Civil
Society had gathered to hear a panel on "The War on Drugs"
sponsored by the Latin American Law Students Association on the
The panel included retired
New York Supreme Court Justice Jerome W. Marks; former drug war
prisoner Anthony Pappa; Winifred Tate of the Washington Office
on Latin America; and was moderated by the publisher of The Narco
The fifth member of the
panel drew the major attention of the day. Internationally acclaimed journalist Mario
Renato Menéndez Rodríguez, in his first public appearance in the United
States in 40 years, stunned the audience and participants with
a hard-hitting audio-visual presentation that documented, with
photos and facts, that the international cocaine trade is protected
by the US and Mexican governments.
In the name of combatting
against drugs, Menéndez reported at Columbia University,
governments are trafficking in drugs and protecting the illicit
of cocaine trafficking
on the properties of narco-banker Roberto Hernández Ramírez
of BANAMEX -- host to President Bill Clinton and his Mexican
counterpart Ernesto Zedillo, as well as a host last July to Mexican
on the cocaine trafficking peninsula of Punta Pajaros). And just
last month, in August, Hernández of Banamex hosted US
Ambassador Jeffrey Davidow during his summer vacation.
Menéndez told the
story of how agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration
(DEA) had visited his offices and tried to scare Por Esto!
off from reporting these facts. "You'll never win,"
the DEA agents warned him.
Menéndez, in New
York, called the DEA "the largest drug cartel in the world."
Menéndez said that
the war on drugs is "a circus and a farce" with other
motives than stopping the drug trade and that, in fact, the illegal
drug trade is managed by governments and banking interests to
serve other agendas.
In the house of higher
education were academics and journalists of every tendency, all
at the edge of their seats. Never before had the case been so
clearly made and documented on US territory. Although the symposium
was scheduled for two hours beginning at 3 p.m., at 5:20 everyone
was still in the hall, listening and asking questions. This,
on the first nice Saturday afternoon of late winter 2000, when
New Yorkers traditionally enjoy the outdoors.
Those who have a vested
interest in the drug war consider Menéndez to be a dangerous
man. Impeccable in documenting the facts before he speaks or
publishes them, whole armies of government functionaries and
private sector investigators have failed to find even one error
or undocumented claim in his reports.
Indeed, in September 1999,
a supreme court justice in Mexico ruled against a complaint by
BANAMEX prosecuted by the Attorney General and stated in her
written opinion, "All of the reports in Por Esto!
were based on the facts."
A chronology dating from December 1996 when the Menéndez-published
daily Por Esto! began reporting on this story of officially-protected
cocaine trafficking has already been published here on The
Narco News Bulletin.
Indeed, even corrupt members
of the US media like former
NY Times Mexico correspondent Sam Dillon failed in their attempts to threaten and intimidate
Menéndez and other journalists, and saw their own careers discredited when their efforts were exposed.
(The final chapter on that journalistic episode is still in progress:
see the story by another Mexican journalist Carlos Ramírez,
"A Pulitzer at Stake," which reveals what the NY Times is trying
to protect with its unethical behavior in Mexico.) Needless to
say, although many New York media did cover the Menéndez
visit, the NY Times again withheld the information from
its own readers.
But the factor that has
shaken the halls of power even more than his blockbuster reports
on officially-sanctioned drug trafficking is that Menéndez,
at Columbia University, drove a stake through the heart of drug
prohibition. "DARE TO LEGALIZE," he challenged the assembled and, on that March
day of 2000, Menéndez made the Latin American argument
against prohibition coherent and comprehensible in English. And
for this, the hypocritical drug warriors from Washington to Mexico
City cannot forgive him. The persecution, as this series documents,
has continued in recent weeks.
Narco News is aware that in our defense of
the free speech of Por Esto! we have also drawn the wrath
of very powerful interests. In place of being intimidated by
this huge apparatus thrown up against us, The Narco News Bulletin
now turns the tables on the Narco Spies.
In a five-part series
published in Por Esto! in March, April and May of this
year, Menéndez reported everything that he had said at
the Columbia University symposium.
This generated, once again,
the anger of the Mexican attorney general (an office plagued
with narco-corruption at all levels), the US Ambassador to Mexico
(also a protector of important white-collar narco-traffickers)
and the president of what was still, in May, Mexico's largest
II: Enter the Narco-Spies
May 2000; Falls
The private emails
of the DSFX corporation -- Decision Strategies Fairfax International
-- that you are about to read each contain the following message
pasted in at the bottom:
"This email message
and any files transmitted with it contains confidential information
and may be subject to attorney-client privilege. It is confidential
information intended only for the person(s) to whom this email
message is addressed. If you have received this email message
in error, please notify the sender immediately by telephone or
email and destroy the original message without making a copy.
Message to DSFX: We are
printing your private emails so that the public and press in
all América shall be well informed. If your lawyers wish
to challenge our right to publish these emails of grave public
importance, we will see you in court and we look forward to the
discovery phase of the proceedings. Likewise, we also welcome
your cyber-espionage ringleader at DSFX, Stevens R. Miller, of
your "online forensics group," to expose himself to
our further investigation and that of our offshore volunteer
internet technicians: the activities of his department provide
interesting opportunities for further investigation of DSFX tactics
in the espionage business.
The Narco News Bulletin has learned that a DSFX operative
named Kay Lewis, who answers to a DSFX agent named Drew McKay,
obtained a videotape of the March 4, 2000 Columbia University
forum from a Columbia U. student, by misrepresenting her motive
for acquiring the video.
Ms. Lewis wrote in a May
2000 email to a Columbia University student:
"We would be more
than happy to reimburse you for the cost of the tape. We are
using this tape as research regarding US-Mexico policies against
the war on drugs. When do you think we would be able to receive
"Kay Lewis, Executive
Assistant to Drew McKay, DSFX, 3141 Fairview Park Drive, Suite
850, Falls Church, Virginia 22042 email@example.com"
Questioned by the university
student who replied "Forgive me, but I must inquire as to
your intended use of the recorded Latin American Law Students
Association Drug War panel," DSFX agent Kay Lewis repeated,
in another email that contained the same "confidentiality"
"I assure you that
it is purely for research and to have in our drug trafficking
"Kay Lewis, Executive
Assistant to Drew McKay, DSFX, 3141 Fairview Park Drive, Suite
850, Falls Church, Virginia 22042 firstname.lastname@example.org"
The Narco News Bulletin has also learned that DSFX agent
Evan Phillips of the company's New York office made the copy
of the videotape that was used in August by the Mexican attorney
general in seeking a secret arrest warrant against Mario Menéndez
and four other Por Esto! journalists.
Decision Strategies Fairfax
International (DSFX) is a company with 200 "investigators"
and 20 offices in eight countries. It has been referred to in
press reports as "an American firm that's work consists
of tracking dirty money and with clients that are foreign governments."
Other press reports have
DSFX officials representing the work of their firm as "hired
by foreign countries to help root out corruption."
The reality reveals a
different role played by DSFX: in the case of Mexico and BANAMEX,
the role of DSFX was
to protect and promote corruption, specifically narco-corruption, and to attack the free expression of the press as DSFX defends those corrupt
DSFX is also affiliated
with an international espionage firm named Potomac Group &
Associates (PG&A), whose own promotional materials state
that "The company is well versed in Latin and Arabic customs
DSFX resulted from the
1997 merger of two companies: Decision Strategies and Fairfax
International, both international espionage firms. The latter
had as its CEO one Bart M. Schwartz, former assistant US attorney
under then US Attorney Rudolph Giuliani, now the disgraced mayor
of New York City. (Menéndez, at Columbia U., also confronted
Giuliani's police chief Howard Safir during the Q&A session
at one of the conference sessions.)
DSFX boasts of having
as clients "foreign governments" and also "banking
institutions." The conflict-of-interest in representing
both types of clients ought to be a grave concern for the international
non-governmental organization "Transparency International."
But the CEO of DSFX, Michael Hershman (email@example.com) happens to be on the board of
directors of "Transparency International," an organization
that states as its goal "controlling corruption."
Interesting choice of
words: "controlling corruption."
A copy of this Narco
News international alert is also being sent to Transparency
International chairman Kevin Ford of Goldman Sachs in London
(firstname.lastname@example.org) and the group's secretary, a
former World Bank director named Peter Eigen (email@example.com).
is an organization which has the audacity to "rate"
governments of the world for their levels of corruption while
at the same time having a member of its board -- Michael Hershman
of DSFX -- who enjoys the lucrative conflict-of-interest of soliciting
business contracts from these same governments that "Transparency
International" is rating.
Coincidentally, as we
go to press at Narco News with this story, "Transparency
International" released its annual report on Wednesday,
September 13th, in which gave Mexico and the United States high
ratings in "combatting corruption"
president Peter Eigen said during the release of this report
that "Corruption takes many forms and is a universal cancer."
Watchdogs, watch thyselves:
How "transparent" is a company that obtains espionage
information by misrepresenting its motives to college students?
Thus, "Transparency International," providing cover
for the very cancer it claims to oppose, also moves onto the
radar screen of Narco News and we welcome all information
from our readers as to the agenda, activities and funders of
this allegeded non-governmental organization.
III: A Conversation with Kay
2000; From somewhere in a country called América: The Narco News Bulletin has previously, when interviewing
sources, identified ourselves. But in the case of DSFX, given
their own deceitful tactics for obtaining information, we thought
we would give them a dose of their own medicine.
And so on the afternoon
of Wednesday, September 13th, in a call routed through a Caribbean
Island, your correspondent contacted Kay Lewis of Decision Strategies
We were curious as to
who, exactly, was the client that ordered the espionage on the
Columbia University forum. Was it the Mexican attorney general?
DSFX boasts that it represents foreign governments. Or was it
BANAMEX? DSFX boasts that it represents banks. Or was it some
other party? Or does DSFX represent both the Mexican government
and BANAMEX in this conspiracy against freedom of the press?
This is the text of that
conversation, reported from our notes:
NARCO NEWS: Hello? Kay Lewis?
KAY LEWIS: Yes.
NARCO NEWS: I'd like to speak to whoever is
handling the BANAMEX account. I have information that would interest
KAY LEWIS: That person isn't in today. Can
I take a message?
NARCO NEWS: No, this is an anonymous tip.
Who can I give this information to?
KAY LEWIS: That would be Drew McKay.
NARCO NEWS: He is still handling the BANAMEX
KAY LEWIS: Yes.
NARCO NEWS: And he is in the office?
KAY LEWIS: Yes. Let me connect you to him...
(she puts the caller on hold and then returns) ...He is not available
right now, can I take a message?
NARCO NEWS: Well who is the person who is
not in today who is responsible for the BANAMEX account?
KAY LEWIS: That would be Drew McKay. If you
give me your number I can have him call you.
NARCO NEWS: No, Kay, you know how these things
work. I'll call again later on. Thank you very much. You've been
Note the quick change
in story by Kay Lewis. First she said that there was a person
"not in the office" who was responsible for the BANAMEX
account. Then she said that it was Drew McKay, who was in the
office, but unavailable.
Experts in counter-espionage
consulted by Narco News notified us that, in fact, DSFX
Corp. has recently opened a Mexico bureau and that the agent
in charge of that office provides a direct connection between
DSFX and the Mexican Attorney General's office, the PGR.
DSFX Mexico Bureau Agent
in Charge Gustavo González-Báez left the Mexican
Attorney General's office (PGR) last year to head up DSFX's Mexico
The last post held by
González-Baez in the Mexican government, in fact, was
as the PGR's representative in the Mexican Embassy in the United
States, and as Minister for Narcotics Affairs. According to DSFX's
own 1999 press release on González-Báez appointment,
"In these posts, he worked closely with US law enforcement
agencies planning and implementing bilateral activities to fight
fraud, illegal drug trafficking, money laundering, and organized
"A DSFX Mexico office
will prove extremely valuable to both private and public sectors,"
González-Báez was quoted as saying in the DSFX
announcement of his new job. "The globalization of our fast-moving
economy makes transparency essential in business transactions
and increases the need to investigate potential partners and
the legitimacy of funding sources."
"Though NAFTA has
transformed the way to do business in Mexico, stereotypes persist
regarding corruption and bureaucratic practices," said González-Báez.
"We can help corporations gain a transparent, objective
vision of business relationships within Mexico and Latin America."
DSFX Mexico Bureau Agent-in-Charge
Gustavo González-Báez was quoted as saying, "the
(Mexican) government will need help verifying that prospective
investors in crucial economic sectors are legitimate and not
fronts for crime entities."
Indeed, in the Columbia
University video tape obtained under false pretenses by DSFX
in May, there is plenty of information about "fronts for
crime entitites" and "legitimacy of funding sources."
But in a Kafkaesque turn
that reveals the true mission of DSFX Corporation, the video
was not used to attack the corruption, but to attack the freedom
of the press and of academia to expose that corruption.
Neither Por Esto!
nor Narco News nor Columbia University Law School are
"potential partners" of BANAMEX, the Mexican Attorney
General nor any other clients of DSFX Corp. The narcospy firm
has zero justification to be investigating journalists.
Instead of using their
information to "combat corruption" the information
was used in a secret attempt to protect the corrupt and to attack
at the very foundations of Freedom of the Press and Free Speech
at Columbia University and academic institutions throughout the
In the coming days the
story of how the videotaped obtained for DSFX's "library"
was instead used to try and ambush, kidnap and imprison five
courageous Mexican journalists.
The Narco News Bulletin investigation of DSFX and the
narco-spies has only just begun. Stay tuned in the next 48 hours
for Part IV of this story.
In the authentic battle
for transparency and against corruption...
From somewhere in a country
a Dime on the Narco-Spies!
Part IV Now on
story behind one judge's historic decision AGAINST the Narco-State
and in favor of freedom of the press
The Impunity Stops