By Jeff Balke
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Guillory did as requested. He also learned about shipments of marijuana and coke headed to the Houston area. DEA officials apparently were impressed with the information, as Guillory claims he was officially signed up as a registered informant. He went into the DEA office and had his mug shot and fingerprints taken. But from the beginning, he had a bad feeling about the arrangement.
"It kind of put me off," says Guillory, "because it was as if I was a criminal about to be put in jail."
After becoming a full-fledged informant in October, Guillory went to work gathering information about planned drug transactions and shipments in Houston. Guillory says he was instructed to report to agents Brian Brockman and Dan Neal, and he began having meetings with the two men at the Jack in the Box on San Felipe at the West Loop. Over a period of several weeks, Guillory told the agents about various deals -- some involving cocaine, some marijuana -- but his DEA contacts didn't move on the tips. In early December Guillory heard about a load of pot headed from Houston to Tennessee that seemed to interest Brockman, but he says the agent later blew it off, opting for a long weekend instead.
Finally, about a week later, Guillory told the agents that some of the eastside people he knew were looking to do business in Louisiana -- a place where, Guillory contends, many drug dealers fear to tread because of an active interstate interdiction program. This time the DEA was immediately interested, and Guillory was instructed to set up a 200-pound marijuana buy, putting his eastside source in touch with a DEA agent posing as a pot dealer in Louisiana. Guillory agreed, but on the condition that no arrests would be made, so that the targets wouldn't know he had set them up.
"Because if you arrest anybody, I'm dead," Guillory says he told the agents. "No ifs, ands or buts about it. I'm dead."
Guillory says the agents assured him that no arrests would be made, that two or three buys would go down before anyone was busted. But it didn't play out that way.
On December 13 members of the Harris County Organized Crime and Narcotics Task Force converged on the parking lot of the Wal-Mart, where they seized an undetermined amount of marijuana. They also arrested three of Guillory's alleged eastside associates. Charged with possession of marijuana were 25-year-old Ruben Benavides, 21-year-old Petra Muñez and 42-year-old Diana Barrera, all of Houston. The charges against Muñez eventually were dropped. Additionally, charges of possession of 2,000 pounds of marijuana were filed against 22-year-old Mexico native Raymundo Gonzales, most recently of Rio Grande City, Texas, while Jose Maria Galvan, 19, of Roma, Texas, was charged with delivery of marijuana. Of the five, the Press was able to reach only Barrera, who acknowledged being arrested but denied knowing anyone by the name of Ben Guillory.
A couple of days after the bust, Guillory says, he again met at the Jack in the Box with Brockman and Neal, who gave him $750 as compensation for his role in the takedown. Guillory was horrified to find out that arrests had been made. He wasn't especially pleased to get $750 for his trouble, either.
"They said, 'This is a lot of money,' " recalls Guillory, who begged to differ. The agents also allegedly told him not to worry about being identified as a snitch -- that he should just go right back among his friends and act as if nothing had happened. But almost immediately he began to receive threats on his life. The threats, he says, were relayed to him through Hum's male friend, the person who had first introduced Guillory to the drug dealers. That contact was concerned for his own safety as well as Guillory's. Guillory was told that the people arrested knew that he had fingered them and that they were going to get revenge.
Guillory went into a panic. To be identified as a snitch is an informant's worst nightmare, and one from which the informant sometimes does not wake. As reported in the Miami New Times, the Press's sister paper, in the early 1990s during a Miami cocaine conspiracy trial, both prosecutors and defense attorneys presented evidence that clearly showed that Bernardo Gonzalez was the man who had turned on his friends and tipped law enforcement officials to a suspect's hideout. The next day, both Gonzalez and his brother were killed in what was described by police as a professional hit. What Guillory fears is indeed real; it doesn't just happen in movies.
When Guillory reported his problem to the agents, he says, they were less than sympathetic. So he turned to defense attorney DeGuerin for help. Unfortunately for Guillory, DeGuerin told him there's little he can do for anyone who decides to lie down with the DEA.
"I could tell when he first came in that the guy was scared," says DeGuerin. "And what concerns me, not only about him personally, because I am concerned about him, [is that] he could have very easily been dealt with by DEA in such a manner that his story never would have surfaced. But I'm also worried that there must be a number of other people like him that they just throw away like so much used toilet paper."