Thursday, April 9, 2015

Former Medellin Cartel Official Has Been A DEA Informant For 27 Years. Now He Wants Out

Confidential informants are the lifeblood of the DEA, and Toro is what agents would characterize as a "good asset." He has served the DEA for 27 years. His intelligence-gathering has helped take down arms dealers, money launderers and narcotraffickers across the globe, including legendary figures such as Medellín cartel kingpin Carlos Lehder and Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. Toro testified against Noriega in federal court. And in 2010, the DEA, citing his contributions to those cases, gave him an award for lifetime achievement. He is one of the most productive DEA assets ever to come forward and tell his story.

Toro's escapades in narcotrafficking often sound fantastical. This is, after all, a man who regularly lies for a living. But Toro spoke to The Huffington Post extensively over the course of several months. He provided numerous documents to support his account, including emails, photos and DEA incident reports detailing the Madrid episode and others. The following story has been based largely on those sources. (The DEA denied repeated requests for comment and typically does not speak publicly about specific informants.)

For Toro, going public in this manner comes with obvious risks. But he feels that he has no other choice. Now 65, he has grown tired of facing down dangerous criminals. He is no longer in good health, too old to square off with would-be assassins or make quick getaways down darkened streets. He wants to retire and live out his remaining years with his family in the United States -- his wife of 35 years, Mariana; their son and daughter; a grandson. (The name of Toro's wife has been changed to protect her identity.)


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