“. . . . . Ebrard told Barr he wanted to see the evidence against Cienfuegos. On Barr’s orders, Robotti and other Eastern District prosecutors hurriedly assembled a file of more than 700 pages of intercepts. They had no illusions that the information would remain secret, and they did not make any mention of the new witnesses they had found, who, officials said, included at least two traffickers who told of face-to-face meetings with Cienfuegos. In a cover letter, Shea emphasized that Cienfuegos “was never a direct investigative target of the Drug Enforcement Administration.” As the intercepts showed, he said, Cienfuegos’s name had surfaced during a routine narcotics investigation.
Ebrard read the dossier over the weekend. Before he had a chance to pick apart the evidence in his next conversation with Barr, the attorney general told him he was ready to drop the case. “I made it clear that I was willing to return Cienfuegos and was taking care of the formalities necessary to do that,” Barr wrote in his memoir. “Personally, I felt that Cienfuegos’s case was not worth scuttling any prospects of broader cooperation with the Mexicans.”
According to two officials briefed on the call, Barr asked the Mexicans not to publicly disparage the D.E.A.’s evidence against Cienfuegos and expressed his hope for the capture of Rafael Caro Quintero. But he did not receive any formal agreement on either point. “He didn’t nail down any commitment from the Mexican side,” one official said. “There were no real conditions imposed on the return.” ” . . . .
DL: So William Barr and Trump set the drug war effort back 30 years, and the next question should be, why.
“GUERNSEY, Wyo. — It was a few days before New Year’s Eve 2019, and Terri VanDam, the chief of Guernsey, Wyo.’s three-person Police Department, had run out of options.
For more than a year, Ms. VanDam and her sergeant, Misty Clevenger, had tried and failed to get to the bottom of the drug and alcohol problem in Guernsey, population 1,124. Methamphetamine use was rampant, and much of it was bought and sold right at the bars, they were told, but when anyone tried to investigate, they ran into a wall of silence that went right up to City Hall.
Not long after she had first started asking questions, she said, she had found a dead bird on her front porch, with a nail driven through it. Now, as chief, she had opened a full-scale investigation, and two townspeople warned that they had overheard the mayor talk about crippling the Police Department.
Not knowing where else to turn, Ms. VanDam reached out to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, asking for a team of state investigators to come into Guernsey and help turn her suspicions into a case.
“It is becoming a huge issue and is out of control,” she wrote.
Far from bringing in a posse, the emails would prove to be the new police chief’s undoing. Two weeks later, Ms. VanDam was fired, and then Ms. Clevenger. In federal lawsuits, the women contend they were ousted because they tried to confront an insular, small-town network of powerful ranchers, business owners and politicians that was unaccustomed to questions. . . . “
David Lindsay: I sent a letter to the NYT. Letters@nyt.com:
This was an excellent piece of reporting, by Ali Watkins, How a Police Chief in Wyoming’s Ranchlands Lost Her War on Drugs, and a fascinating piece, which begs for discussion and comment. Is this a travesty of justice, or an example of the drug war going where it shouldn’t, because Americans like to buy and sell drugs? It begs for more reporting, and a serious discussion through comments. How many folks are getting hurt by this drug trafficking in this small town? Would this town’s community be improved if illegal drugs were decriminalized?