It started seven long years ago with Lalo selling his cartel knowledge to the U.S. government. The Mexican national would give America important details regarding the inner workings of drug cartels in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
It was good information.
Guillermo Eduardo Ramirez Peyro or ‘Lalo’s’ results-orientated methods earned him recognition with his Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) handlers. His work ethic garnered him 60 plus convictions and millions in money and drugs for the prized El Paso ICE office. Lalo’s information was so ironclad, criminals plead guilty and saved the taxpayers the expense of courtroom trials.
Looking back to the days leading up to the January 2004 showdown with ICE and DEA, Lalo began his exit from the dark underworld of drug cartel bosses and the murder that often accompanied the Mexican mafia.
To be honest, Lalo says he was glad to escape with his life. Once the House of Death and 12 murders unraveled; the U.S. knew the jig was up, Lalo began his exit strategy and hoped he’d return to his life in central Mexico.
It didn’t happen.
The U.S. government wanted one more favor from Lalo; they wanted him to lure Santillan, a high-ranking member of the Juarez cartel, into America. Lalo was reluctant because he knew the cartel leaders would figure out that he was a snitch and luring a high-profile drug boss would prevent him from ever returning to his home country.
Lalo reluctantly agreed to lure Santillan and a trap was set in place. Not only did Lalo get the ruthless cartel member to cross the U.S. border, but also he drove him around El Paso as he spilled the beans about the day-to-day operations of the cartel.
After years of undercover work for ICE Lalo’s dangerous cartel job was about to come to an end.
However, the nightmare wasn’t over. He thought he would return to his duties as a father and even began work as a contractor, but Lalo’s world came crashing down when the U.S. government took him into “protective custody.”
“They stole my life,” Lalo explains. “When they (U.S. government) took me into custody they told me it was for my protection, they lied.”
Lalo would spend the next six years in solitary confinement for his supposed protection. “When I went to jail my kids, were kids. Now they are teenagers,” Lalo tearfully describes after being reunited with his children for the first time in six long years.
“The government kidnapped me from my life,” he says.
There is no doubt that the House of Death in Juarez, Mexico remains a black eye in American federal law enforcement history. It was under the watchful eye of the U.S. that a dozen murders were committed and bodies buried in the backyard of the infamous house on 3633 Calle Parsioneros, Juarez, Mexico. The non-descript house is located in a middle-class neighborhood in the most violent city in Mexico.
There were many times when Lalo and his immediate ICE handlers wanted out. Each time they were denied by supervisors who thought the case would make careers – it didn’t.
“It seems like a distant memory now. Had I knew what was in store for me I would have taken my chances in Mexico,” Lalo confesses.
Now that the nightmare is coming to an end Lalo will begin a new life in America. He admits to fears most parents have when it comes to their children. “I just want to take care of them, Maria (the mother of his children) has worked 12 hour days to just get by. I need to begin to make amends to her and the kids,” Lalo says. “I am just happy to finally see my kids.”
Freedom does come with strings in Lalo’s case. He must wear an ankle bracelet and report to immigration officials. His heart is still heavy with stress, as the world has evolved in the past six years.
Lalo’s attorney Jodi Goodwin said she is glad the six-year legal battle has come to a bittersweet ending.
“I guess I’m lucky to have my life and kids who have stayed out of trouble,” he explains.
Like most teenagers Lalo’s kids have acclimated to life in America and have all the latest electronic gadgets that drive most parents crazy. “When I talk to my family now, I can see them on the computer,” Lalo describes his new freedom with computers. “In prison I didn’t have access to television or computers.”
Looking to the future Lalo sees a brighter outlook, one he must prove himself as a father and as a person. “I’ll get back little by little,” he says. “I have to adjust to many things like my son being bigger and taller than myself. He is a young man now.”
“I realize that my kids have their own life now, with school, friends and sports, but I’m hopeful they will have time for their dad.”
The little things most take for granted will now replace Lalo’s mindset. Americans think about eating out as a treat, Lalo looks forward to home-cooked meals, friendly banter with his kids and thinking about what lies ahead. Adjusting to life in America will have its challenges, but Lalo is confident his newfound freedom will lead to a life filled with happiness.
“I will always miss Mexico, it’s my country,” he explains. “Outside the city violence it really is a magical relaxing country. I know I can never return, but I’ll always have my memories.”