Drug Lord Snitches: US Stiffed Us on Reward Money

'Snitches' tell the 'Guardian' they're still waiting for cash
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2014 12:59 PM CST
Drug Lord Snitches: US Stiffed Us on Reward Money
This Sept. 10, 2007 file photo shows Colombian drug trafficker, Diego Montoya Sanchez, at the military base in Bogota, Colombia.   (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara, file)

In 2004, Diego León Montoya Sánchez, at the time the leader of Colombia's most powerful drug cartel, was second only to Osama bin Laden on the list of America's most wanted. Three years later, a member of his inner circle who goes by "Tito" decided to give Sánchez up, figuring he could live off the $5 million reward. Sánchez was captured and is serving 45 years, but more than six years later, Tito has yet to see any money from the US government, he tells the Guardian. Other informants who helped to capture or kill drug lords say they, too, are still waiting for their rewards from the US' Narcotics Reward Program.

  • One says he's still waiting for a $1.7 million reward after assisting in the capture of a cartel member in 2006; he actually filed a lawsuit against the State Department, which was ultimately dismissed, but not before the department revealed that the rewards are considered "discretionary" and that rewards don't have to be paid out according to any particular timeframe.
  • Another says he is considering his own lawsuit since he's been waiting since 2010 for a reward. But his lawyer fears there is no binding contract, and thus no basis for a lawsuit: Among other reasons, the reward promised in that case was "up to $5 million," which technically includes ... $0.
As for Tito, a retired immigration agent agrees with him, and says the US has yet to make good on its promise of a reward. But in a separate interview in August, the assistant secretary of state claimed the Narcotics Reward Program has a 100% payout record. Full piece here. (More informant stories.)

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