Report: Top anti-drug official was ’secret ally of drug lords’
DEA says key ICE official sold info about informants, ran Panamanian cocaine to Spain via US ports

Share on Facebook By Stephen C. Webster
Published: September 17, 2009

Richard Padilla Cramer, a 26-year veteran anti-drug official, is behind bars, arrested after officials accused him of directing a massive cocaine shipment to Spain via the United States, and selling important information in law enforcement databases to a vicious Mexican drug cartel.

In other words, Cramer, a key Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agent who worked in Guadalajara and Nogales, Arizona, was allegedly “a secret ally of drug lords,” reported The Los Angeles Times.

“The suspected criminal activity that Richard Padilla Cramer has been charged with occurred in 2007 while he was working as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in Guadalajara, Mexico, according to a criminal complaint issued on Aug. 28 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami,” noted The Arizona Star.

“Cramer’s duties as the ICE attache in Guadalajara included serving as a liaison with Mexican police,” the paper noted. “But the investigation revealed that he worked for ‘a very high-level drug lord,’ the federal official said. In a dark twist on the trend of former federal officials going into private consulting, the 26-year government veteran became a full-time adviser to traffickers after retiring from ICE in January 2007, the complaint says.”

Arizona-based Green Valley News and Sun added: “He is accused of negotiating cocaine shipments from Panama to Spain while he was working for ICE out of the Guadalajara office, according to a criminal complaint filed against him by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami, where federal prosecutors say the majority of the acts occurred. Authorities say Cramer will be extradited to Florida.

“The complaint also says Cramer and the smuggling organization invested about $400,000 in a 660-pound shipment of cocaine. The cocaine was shipped from Panama and went through the U.S. en route to Spain, where it was seized in June 2007. He also is accused of selling confidential information from law enforcement databases to an unidentified drug cartel.”

That information, “allegedly helped the Mexican drug lord conduct an internal hunt for [...] informants, whose families would be kidnapped in retaliation, the complaint said,” noted the Times.

“He educated the cartel on how American law enforcement flips informants and the processes behind warrants and record checks,” added The Nogales International. “Sometime before he retired from ICE in 2007, a lead figure in the cartel encouraged Padilla Cramer to leave the agency and, instead, go to work for the cartel. Federal prosecutors have not identified publicly which cartel Padilla Cramer went to work for.”

The paper added: “Negotiations broke down between Padilla Cramer and the head of the trafficking organization that was looking for someone to blame for the losses in Spain. A fourth informant finally approached American law enforcement and told them he spoke with Padilla Cramer on a push-to-talk phone. On Aug. 19, the DEA arrested Padilla Cramer at his house in a gated community in Sahuarita.”

On Sept. 4, Cramer was sent to Florida to face drug trafficking charges, where he currently awaits trial.