Going Undercover as a Mexican Drug Lord

Uploaded by vice on Oct 2, 2012


CELERINO CASTILLO: My name is Celerino Castillo III.
I was born and raised here in South Texas.
I ended up in the law enforcement field because my
father used to be in law enforcement.
My sister, the same thing, in law enforcement.
And I decided to go to school, get my degree, and become a
law enforcement officer.
It was in Vietnam that I actually saw one of my friends
died on an overdose of heroin.
And right after a firefight, we found him with a needle
still stuck in his arm.
And basically, what I did was I picked up an AK-47 from the
enemy and double tapped him on the chest to show that he died
in a blaze of glory, as they say, instead of
going home as a junkie.
And I promised myself that if I survived that war that I
would become a federal drug agent.
I was accepted into the DEA in 1979.
Having a lot of knowledge of my Vietnam experience, I was
assigned to the jungles of Peru.
I ended up doing a lot of search and destroy missions
down there, working hand-in-hand with the
Colombians and the Peruvians.
And we had what was called a big major operation, Operation
Condor, but there was a contract put on my head, so I
ended up having to leave.
And instead of sending me back to the States, they sent me to
Salvador and Guatemala to train the anti-narcoterrorist
units, and do undercover work, and run all different kinds of
raids, and search-and-destroy missions and so forth.
Reagan, at one time, said that we needed to stop communism in
the backyard.
RONALD REAGAN: In the Communist world, we see
failure because it does such violence to the spirit.
CELERINO CASTILLO: Of course, that was not the fact because
it was really not the Communists we were fighting.
We were just running covert operations to help the CIA run
their operations.
And we ended up training--
instead of drug interdiction individuals, we were training
the death squads, which went out and slaughtered close to
250,000 people in Latin America.
I was a cop, a detective, and a DEA agent, which took me
into Mexico working drug cases and smuggling cases from
Mexico into the United States.
And at that time period, we had a task force that combined
DEA, county, and the police department.
I used to do a lot of undercover work.
And basically, what I was doing, I
played different parts.
I played being a Mexican, a drug trafficker buying large
quantities of cocaine.
We were infiltrating drug cartels.
With informants, we were introduced to different
members of the cartels.
And at that time period, you actually knew who they were.
There weren't that many of them.
You got to remember one thing, that in Mexico when you work
with a federal official, he actually
has become your informant.
And he gets paid with federal funds.
The majority of them were corrupt.
They pretty well ran the whole thing.
We were the law, as they say.
Mexican authorities were known to do the most outrageous
thing you could think of.
And basically what happened, it was my first taste of
torturing people.
I remember when my senior agents with the DEA would bust
somebody down in Mexico, and they would actually hang them
upside down and use that mineral water.
And they shake it and run it down his nose
to clear his sinuses.
And, of course, he had the same effect of waterboarding.
And they used a cattle prod up here, too.
You know, get you wet and use the cattle prod on your
private parts.
It was just torture.

I couldn't understand.
He said, well, no, this is what we do in Mexico.
And this is what we'll continue to do.
He says, we've done it for many years.
And you guys aren't going to come in here and tell
us not to do it.

It's the Rio Grande River.
In the United States it's known as the Rio Grande.
In Mexico it's known as the Rio Bravo River.
It connects all the way from El Paso down to
Brownsville, Texas.
It's used for all kinds of illegal activity coming
across to the US.
You could actually see the contraband coming across.
Hundreds and hundreds empty gallon containers of water
that are used as floaters to bring the people across, and
clothes that has been dropped there that's wet.
And they change into clean clothes, and they drop the old
clothes there.
And they continue on to the shopping areas in Hidalgo and
in McAllen, where the coyotes will actually come and pick
them up and take them to safe houses.
The safe house has also become what as known as stash houses
for the drug trade.
And basically, they're killing two birds with one stone by
having a safe house for the illegal immigrants and looks
like nobody--
you know, people live there.
I mean, you would think because of the stuff that's
outside the house, but in reality, they even have a
little storage room, which is probably for the drugs.
Well, the coyotes are individuals who actually do
the smuggling.
They're experts at what they do because they do tracking
and so forth.
And they do surveillance, countersurveillance, on the
border patrol to find out when they're in and
when they're out.
If we were to stop drug trafficking today, our banking
systems would collapse.
Just about on every corner you'll find a bank, brand-new
banks that they're shooting up.
And, of course, the economy is supposed to be down, and yet,
here are the banks.
What the cartels are doing is using a lot of emails to go
open a bank account.
And then every month they deposit
$9,000 into those banks.
And then they ask those people to go back into the ATMs and
take money out.
So basically, that's how they're doing it.
75% of the drugs that come into this country come through
the point of entry, which indicates that apparently
somebody's being paid off at the bridge of allowing all
these drugs to come in.
Drug cartels control both the Mexican
border and the US border.
To them, to America, they are more addicted to drug money
than they are to drugs.
I don't think that drug trafficking will ever stop.
It's too big of a monster now.
They created a beast, and it's going to be very difficult.
It's like they've never been able to stop the illegal
They'll never stop the drug war.
The cartels have controlled this side of the border and
the US side, because they have the money to do it.
America is more addicted to drug money than they are to
drugs because of greed, money, there is so much money.
We have a generation of individuals that are willing
to take somebody's life for $50, $100.