Issue # 5 Subscribe and Be Alerted of New Reports

The Narco News Bulletin

"The Name of Our Country is América"

-- Simón Bolívar

Private Sector Narco-Spies Against Press Freedom

The DSFX Files

Narco News Catches "Decision Strategies Fairfax International LLC" in the Act of Spying On Mexican and US Journalists

DSFX Represents Corrupt Governments and Corporations, Some of Whom PROTECT International Cocaine Trafficking

DSFX Uses Questionable Tactics and Sloppy Workmanship and Misrepresents the True Nature of its Work

That's How They Got Caught

A Narco News International Five Star Chile Alert

September 14, 2000


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 LLC.

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 social responsibility.

This is the story of the Narco-Spies who, until today, have operated under the cloak of darkness.

How Private Sector Spies Like DSFX Protect the Narco

Special to The Narco News Bulletin by Al Giordano

Today: Parts I, II, and III

Part I: The Columbia University Forum

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 campus.

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 News Bulletin.

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 drug trade.

Menéndez demonstrated the photographs 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 president-elect Vicente Fox (precisely 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 bank, BANAMEX.

Part II: Enter the Narco-Spies

May 2000; Falls Church, Virginia: 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. Thank you."

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 it?"

"Kay Lewis, Executive Assistant to Drew McKay, DSFX, 3141 Fairview Park Drive, Suite 850, Falls Church, Virginia 22042"

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" clause:

"I assure you that it is purely for research and to have in our drug trafficking resource library."

"Kay Lewis, Executive Assistant to Drew McKay, DSFX, 3141 Fairview Park Drive, Suite 850, Falls Church, Virginia 22042"

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 interests.

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 and culture."

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 ( 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 ( and the group's secretary, a former World Bank director named Peter Eigen (

"Transparency International" 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"

"Transparency International" 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.

Part III: A Conversation with Kay Lewis

September 13, 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 Fairfax International.

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?


NARCO NEWS: I'd like to speak to whoever is handling the BANAMEX account. I have information that would interest BANAMEX.

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 account?


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 very helpful.

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 espionage activities.

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 crime."

"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 world.

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 called América...


Drop a Dime on the Narco-Spies!

Part IV Now on Narco News:

Part IV: What the Mexican Attorney General Did With the Videotape Supplied by DSFX

The story behind one judge's historic decision AGAINST the Narco-State and in favor of freedom of the press

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