PHOENIX (CN) - A police informant was murdered by the Arellano-Felix drug cartel because the Phoenix Police Department failed to protect and train him on the dangers he faced, the man's widow says. Jane Doe Orozco says cartel killers forced her late husband, Ymer, into an adult diaper, beat him and then suffocated him to death with a plastic bag.
Ymer Orozco was a milk-truck driver and also had been an informant for the Los Angeles Police Department, his widow claims in Maricopa County Court. She says she learned of her husband's murder from an LAPD officer, who told her, "The way things took place, you could tell there had been several mistakes."
The widow says Mexican drug traffickers tried to recruit her husband because he was a truck driver with no criminal history, who could have served their ends. She says he refused, and reported the recruitment to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
"Mr. Orozco was not a 'criminal informant,'" she says, "an individual who informs in order to obtain preferences within the criminal justice system or to advance the agenda of a criminal enterprise. Rather, he acted as an informant in order to assist the police. He was just trying to be a good citizen."
A Texas state trooper recommended him to the LAPD, the widow says. His handler at the LAPD called him "'green ... probably a little too green ... to deal with these types of suspects,'" the widow says. She says the LAPD detective told her, "It is just, to me, it's just common knowledge as a narcotic detective that he was inexperienced and his inexperience could pose a serious risk to him."
The widow says her husband informed the LAPD when he was approached in 2006 by Edgar Enriquez, who asked him to transport 35 kilos of cocaine to Philadelphia. Enriquez, a civil engineer who was once president of the Hispanic Students Engineering Society at Arizona State University, was known in drug circles as El Ingeniero, or the engineer, according to the complaint says.
According to the complaint:
On Aug. 27, 2006, Phoenix police officers pulled over Enriquez and Rudy Ochoa for making a right turn without signaling. The men were on their way to meet Orozco to drop off the cocaine.
While officers took the men to the police station for fingerprints and photographs, detectives performed a "rip-off" by breaking into the vehicle and taking the cocaine to make it look that the vehicle had been burglarized, to cause confusion within the drug ring.
After the operation, police told Orozco to leave town, which he did. When police dropped off Enriquez and Ochoa at their vehicle and they found that the cocaine was missing, Enriquez called Orozco, who refused to return to town because he did not want Enriquez to "beat him up."
That led Enriquez to suspect Orozco - who had been given little guidance from police officers on how to deal with traffickers - because he should have had no knowledge of the missing cocaine. Enriquez allegedly told officers after Orozco's murder that he also thought the traffic stop was "weird" since neither Enriquez nor Ochoa had done anything to warrant an arrest or transport to the police station.
After the cocaine was stolen, the Mexican cartel told him "that he had better be telling the truth or they would kill Enriquez and his family," according to the complaint. "Hasta el gato les vamos a matar," the cartel told him: "We will even kill your cat."
The Phoenix Police Department used Orozco for another operation on Oct. 6, 2006, unaware that the drug cartel had sent Luis Hernandez, a Mexican assassin, or sicario, "to deal with the missing cocaine" and to set a trap for Orozco, his widow says.
Hernandez and Enriquez "lured" Orozco and the police with the promise of a load of 100 kilos of cocaine; when Orozco met the two men to receive the delivery, he was told to get into their car.
Although Phoenix Police Lt. Vince Piano "indicated his desire that the operation to be halted and the traffickers arrested," the operation continued, at the request of Det. David Duron, until undercover officers lost sight of the men, the widow says.
She says her husband was taken to a stash house where he was questioned, beat and suffocated to death. His body was found the next morning.
The widow says the Phoenix Police Department promised that "they would use precautions to ensure the safety" of her husband, and if he ever "went mobile," the Police Department would "stop the operation."
She says police should have stopped the sting the moment Orozco got into the vehicle with Enriquez and Hernandez, since he did not have a recording device on him, or any means to communicate with officers.
The widow and her family filed a lawsuit against the City of Phoenix in Federal Court on Oct. 4, 2007. The judge granted judgment to the city on Nov. 25, 2009.
The widow seeks damages from the City of Phoenix for negligence and wrongful death, lost wages, burial expenses and pain and suffering. She is represented by Robbins & Curtin.
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