Happy Scribe Logo

Transcript

Proofread by 0 readers
Proofread
[00:00:00]

Hi, it's Ozair. I'd like to recommend another show, it's called Darknet Diaries, and it's sort of like a True Crime Meets Cybercrime podcast. They go into stories about hackers breaches and even government hacking, but often they interview the person behind the attack to get the firsthand story of why they did it, how they did it and what the consequences were. It's a show about how our lives online can make us unexpectedly vulnerable. Listen and subscribe to Internet diaries on the hot radio app or wherever you listen to podcasts.

[00:00:39]

Forgotten is a production of IHOP, media and unusual productions before we start, this podcast contains accounts which some listeners will find disturbing, but without them, the story can't be fully understood. Please take care while listening. Last time, unforgotten at the beginning, I thought he was a typical case of a serial killer, but it appears there was a highly organized group.

[00:01:11]

The fact that a lawyer is murdered in such a public way or shall we call it an execution, indicates that we're talking about something very big behind these murders. If you really want to know the underbelly of Juarez, you need to talk to the outlaw the Devils lawyer. Dan, tell us, Dante, very smart, decided to hide this guy, took him into prison under false charges under a different name. He would always leave me with a little tidbit.

[00:01:42]

And one of them was, this guy's alive, if you're interested.

[00:01:51]

It was 2003 and Alfredo Corchado was in Juarez with an assignment from the Dallas Morning News, find out who was killing the women and why. Alfredo been asking everyone he could think of, but no one seemed able to give him answers. Finally, E-Touch, I was kind of introduced him to Dante Amara's, the so-called devil's lawyer. And Dante did not disappoint. He had a drug dealer on the run hidden in the Juarez prison, who claimed first hand knowledge of the killings.

[00:02:23]

And the fact that you had an eyewitness was incredibly important, he alleged. And I had no reason to not believe him, but I'd like to be part of the cartel.

[00:02:34]

And it finally worked out where I was able to visit this person under what I assumed was an alias. We talked long and long and I kept asking, so why are these women being killed? Alfredo was apparently on the verge of getting the story. But just like Dante, the source didn't give up all his information at once.

[00:02:56]

And the thing that really kind of caught my eye, we said, you know, these are women who are coming from other parts of the country. Who, if they go missing for a day or two or a week, no one's going to miss them immediately. And so, you know, little things started clicking.

[00:03:14]

So he was Alfredo sitting in a jail cell in Juarez when, to his surprise, this alleged cartel member started giving him specifics. I had an eyewitness who alleged that he had been at these parties or these women would be brought into bed. I mean, they were trying to orgies or rape and eventually the women would be killed because they knew too much. Elfreda was shocked all the more so when the witness went on to explain that the women were taken off the streets to celebrate successful drug runs to the US.

[00:03:52]

So this is the first time that I'm talking to someone face to face and he's giving me an account and eyewitness account and we're like, there's no way we can report that unless we really get as much evidence as possible. Alfredo had a shocking but potentially plausible explanation for what was happening to the women in Juarez, but could he trust the information? After all, it had the account from a drug dealer who wanted to save his own skin, who he'd met through an underworld lawyer himself openly on a quest for revenge.

[00:04:32]

At times you feel like an American journalist. I you're like everybody's sort of playing you, you know.

[00:04:36]

But if it was true, it opened up all kinds of new questions. How could the men act with such brutality and impunity? Who else knew what Alfredo had just been told and who might be complicit in covering it up? I must Voloshin. And I'm Monica Ortiz Uribe. This is forgotten. The women of Juarez don't come to pull their existing. But I'm over there, she's so brave, even now she's got some, you know. So just months earlier, Monica Elfreda's in D.C. interviewing presidents and ambassadors, and now he's in a jail cell in Juarez, interviewing a drug dealer with DONTAE by his side.

[00:05:54]

How does he get here?

[00:05:55]

Something to remember here is that Alfredo ended up in this jail cell out of naivete, more so than astute planning. He's convinced that all of Mexico's problems will disappear now that it has free and fair elections.

[00:06:14]

And he's on his way to Mexico City to cover this progress. Juarez was only supposed to be a pit stop. He's now waded into the netherworld and Dontae was his link, and how do you make sense of this netherworld where Danto evidently operates and where he's afraid of?

[00:06:35]

Well, that's a big question. In Mexico, there are these two parallel universes that coexist, the one that's visible on the surface and the one that's not. And it's that invisible universe that operates completely outside the rule of law. It's the one everyone knows exists, but nobody talks about. To talk about it openly is to ask for trouble because this realm is ruled by organized crime. And this is where Alfredo's witness operates. But Alfredo's mission is to find out who is killing the women of Juarez and to answer that question, you really have no choice but to tread into the Juarez underworld as a reporter who's been relentlessly asking who's doing this, who's behind the murders, who's responsible?

[00:07:31]

What do you think Alfredo was thinking when he was hearing this testimony?

[00:07:36]

Well, I'm certain that Alfredo was feeling a mix of giddiness and fear because you're starting to tread past an invisible line where you go from the traditional reliable sources into this grayer world. And I mean, as you might imagine, he's blown away by this account, but he knows that as a good journalist, he just can't take this account and put it in the newspaper. Everyone you interview will have an agenda, probably most especially a drug trafficker. So you can't just take a witness account at face value.

[00:08:16]

You have to get confirmation from multiple sources. Alfredo had a potentially huge break about the connection between the women's murders and organized crime in Juarez, but he couldn't go to print without verifying the information was true.

[00:08:34]

In that sense, Alfredo's journey was just beginning.

[00:08:38]

Meanwhile, he wasn't the only person who was still asking questions about who was responsible for the murders of women in Juarez. By this point, Paola Flores had been trying to establish who was responsible for her daughter's murder for five years, and they've been long years. Paolo was prepared to tell the glorious story again and again to keep her memory alive and in the hope it might bring her closer to the answers she craved.

[00:09:04]

She got increasingly involved in activism with the mothers of other victims.

[00:09:09]

But back when Signoria first went missing, Paola told us her son Chewey took it very hard.

[00:09:16]

And the sisters are separated right before she disappeared. She had bought a cassette of them, Adalius, and we had a van and Aerostar that they bought between themselves in those days.

[00:09:26]

She would insist that we play the cassette in the van because she didn't know how to work it. And she would tell Joey to play the cassette player that they metalious cassette and she would say, quit being a pest.

[00:09:37]

I'll put it on in a second.

[00:09:39]

He would stall and not do it. Yeah.

[00:09:42]

Quando pathology is after she disappeared and my son would lock himself in that van with the cassette on your ear and he would play that music and just cry because it reminded him of her. Before moving to Juarez, Paola has sent letters to her husband, Hesus, asking if the city was safe for their six daughters. She'd heard about the murders there and was concerned about Charla's or gang members in the neighborhood. Hesus replied that there weren't any just a boy who hung around with his sister.

[00:10:19]

And after the family moved to Juarez, they got to know this boy. He was called Manuelito 11, which as Jessica was a boy, about 16 years old, ill.

[00:10:29]

Other than that, I actually felt sorry for him because he had no family. He had nothing here. He was abandoned by his mother when he was very young.

[00:10:37]

Marmolejo became friends with Paolo's son, Chewey, and started to spend time with the family, even sharing meals with them. I happen to know my son and he'd known us since we moved here, I assume. We always noticed that he liked Zahradil. But Manuelito was far from being a desirable suitor. He was what's known as a coyote.

[00:11:01]

We arrived here in 95. He was working smuggling people into the United States. And not only did he cross people, but he also crossed drugs and all. Powell and her family lived in loadmaster polio, which at the time was only separated from the US by a barbed wire fence. So smuggling was an appealing line of business in the area for a teenager like Manuelito. It seemed to offer better prospects than working in a factory for less than seven dollars a day.

[00:11:29]

You go diagonally, he often came to my house asking for water because he was crossing the U.S. border and never refused to give him water. While Paula was concerned about Magnolia's connections to the Juarez underworld, she also understood his circumstances. He was as poor as the Flores family and even more vulnerable because he didn't have any family of his own. So Paula helped him out where she could. A few weeks after Saguaros body was discovered, Marmolejo paid her a visit, Paola was at home grieving, tending to an altar, commemorating her daughter, flowers, letters, a Winnie the Pooh stuffed toy from the McKeyla.

[00:12:14]

And something about this visit seemed off. Maybe the only he asked me for water, I told him, go ahead, fill the gallon, and that time he saw me crying and he said, you cry too much. Stop crying for her.

[00:12:29]

These were words that did not seem appropriate to the situation. And they angered Paula, tugging at a suspicion she already felt. Yes, I.

[00:12:39]

You will be turned around and said, you know what? I'll always curse my daughter's killers because she didn't deserve to die that way. And he told me nervously to see that. And I said, yes, that's what I ask all the time.

[00:12:52]

I curse them. After a few tense moments, Manuelito left with his gallon of water and power returned to the alter. By this point, she and her family had searched frantically through the night, posting flyers and trying to track down any leads, she yelled Sicarios name desperately into the night. She'd even broken into a government meeting and begged the attorney general on her knees for help. And she prayed and prayed with each other, which I would ask God to let my daughter come to me and tell me who had harmed her, who had taken her at night in bed, I would turn my back to my husband and face the corner looking for my daughter.

[00:13:38]

You would call me if you are speaking to God. I told him I'm not good enough to see my daughter, but allow her to come to me even if it's in my dreams. Let her tell me in my dreams. But Jones says he don't know if I was asleep or awake, but I heard a voice, I was the voice talking to me softly like a young man called me Paula.

[00:14:01]

She said, Paula, when they say when she spoke without moving, not knowing if I was asleep, I asked her here to use the radio. But I see a very clear voice. She told me yes. Says, When I started dreaming of her in Durango, I wish there was a place where water trickles out of stones and we collected water to drink from there, and I saw her kneeling down, washing some clothes there while I went down to her.

[00:14:38]

And the first thing I did was caress her hair and move it off her face. And her hair was long, black and wavy. The first thing I told her was who took my daughter? Who hurt you? Who took you? Tell me who took you. She told me that it was Manuelito.

[00:15:07]

In the depths of her grief, after weeks of searching for Cigarillo with no answers and no help from the authorities, it seemed to Paola like her prayers have been answered. She had a name, and even though it came from a dream, it's implausible. Marmolejo life as a coyote brought him into contact with dangerous criminals. But he was someone who knew who Signoria had known that invited him into their home and thought of him as a friend. So the next time he showed up in search of water, Paula challenged him.

[00:15:41]

At first, Marmolejo denied all knowledge, but Paolo had a relentless conviction in her dream. And ultimately, Marmolejo confessed that he did know something about her daughter's fate.

[00:15:54]

They told me, you know what? The narcos and why you did it. I asked him what could the narcos family they have to do with my daughter. Yes, he couldn't help. But he told me when they're like a girl, they find her no matter the cost.

[00:16:11]

Paola's dreams seem to have revealed something to her that she already felt. Manuelito knew something about sicarios murder. But who were these other narcos, drug traffickers from Elvire? How were they involved? When we come back, Marmolejo appears poised to answer those questions. And I heart radio, we bring you the best podcasts from the biggest names, Ron Burgundy, Jack, Chelsea Handler, Quest. Love him, too. And the one thing these shows have in common, they all started with an idea and now we want yours.

[00:16:52]

We're looking to you for the next great podcast. Do you have an idea for a podcast? Let's hear it. Any genre, any topic we want. Your voice pitches your show for a chance to share it with fellow podcast fans across the globe and become a part of the I Heart radio podcast family. Simply go to next great podcast Dotcom to get the details and submit your pitch. In partnership with the creative platform toggle I heart radio will select up to 10 semifinalists and give them a thousand dollars to produce a pilot episode that listeners will vote on.

[00:17:25]

Their favorite to decide the next great podcast. The winning show will be made by our best in class production team and shared with listeners all around the world. Enter today at next. Great podcast, Dotcom. That's next. Great podcast, Dotcom. Why shouldn't the next great podcast come from you? Before the break, Manuelito told Paola that narcos were responsible for sicarios murder. Paola now felt she had something to go on. The authorities had been unhelpful even after her protest, before the attorney general.

[00:18:14]

But now she had new information to share with them. And so she went to the special prosecutor's office in Juarez to ask them for help. At first, Paula was treated with the usual dismissive attitude, especially when she told them that the lead began with a dream. But Paula persisted and ultimately Manuelito was arrested and he gave the authorities some more details about his part in surgery, his fate in her statement.

[00:18:42]

He names two other people in the states that he was paid 500 U.S. dollars for taking them to my daughter's workplace with her.

[00:18:49]

And also they were two coyotes. They brought him people to cross illegally, but he also crossed drugs for them.

[00:18:55]

This all seemed to be taking Paula closer and closer to the answers she craved. But then Manuelita retracted his statement and in fact, he entered new testimony before he was sentenced, saying that he had acted completely alone. Paula, Hesus and two of their children went to the sentencing hearing to challenge him. Your friend.

[00:19:16]

I faced him. I told him, tell the truth once and for all. You didn't act alone. Julie approached him and said, how many times did you stab her? And then he got scared and he said, No, no. He went quiet and said, like three enough was going to come home. I believe my daughter had six.

[00:19:39]

Marmolejo didn't even know how many times Signoria had been stabbed.

[00:19:44]

And Paola didn't believe a word he was saying in front of everyone.

[00:19:48]

She pressed him into this, really told him he used to feed you along with my daughters. You eat with my children. I said, why don't you tell us the truth at once? Who are you covering up for? They say he said that the Malonis did it, how he called the state police and he said it's just that they told me that I should just excuse myself for all of this to be over the.

[00:20:14]

Why would normally you paint himself as a murderer when, in fact, he was likely a scout? Why would he be prepared to take the fall for these other smugglers? And why would the authorities pressure him to do so? The process of scapegoating was familiar. Sharif, the so-called rebuilders gang, the bus drivers Manuelita except Manuelito, likely wasn't innocent in Saguaros disappearance.

[00:20:41]

He had initially confessed that he was an accessory to a larger crime.

[00:20:45]

And then in a sentencing hearing since 2005, he has served a 29 year sentence for I'm always told the authorities if he's getting other people involved, he didn't just make them up. They said that the emblematic case of Zahradil has been solved, that the murderer was in jail already. And all this, you know, like I've always said the opposite, that he's not the only one and that the authors of the crime are still free.

[00:21:10]

Gellman's Yoona. Who are the authors of the crime and how do they remain free? These are questions Paula is asking 20 years after her daughter's murder. But the suspicions and hints we'd heard that there was a network of scouts in Juarez identifying women to be murdered by other men was starting to seem more and more plausible. To me, hearing about Pamela's dream when she sees Cigarillo again in their hometown in Durango is one of the moments in our reporting that sticks with me the most.

[00:21:48]

But, Monica, you told me that hearing these kinds of dreams from family members. Something you've experienced before. Yes, so it was the end of a young woman who went missing in 2010, and she also describes a dream very similar to Paula's dream in which she's invoking her missing niece and imploring her to please tell her, where are you? Who did this to you? Help me solve this crime that we will stop.

[00:22:20]

Me. And I think those dreams are borne out of desperation, just the sheer desperation and impotence that these families feel, not being able to rely on the authorities whose job it is to find those responsible.

[00:22:39]

And yet, even if the authorities don't want to acknowledge it. Once you hear this story about my Maleo alongside Alfredo's story, the connection seems hard to dispute.

[00:22:50]

I mean, there's these chilling parallels between what Manuelito tells Paula and what this drug dealer witness tells Alfredo. Manuelito was just an adolescent, a young man. And really, I mean, the way these drug traffickers recruit young men like him is they say, hey, look, this is all you have to do. They make it seem very simple. Here's what you have to do and here's what we're going to pay you.

[00:23:14]

And for a lot of these immigrants in Juarez who don't necessarily have the family ties that they used to back in their hometowns in the interior of Mexico, joining a gang or the drug cartel offers that connection of family that they may have lost. But the trade off is he has to then answer to the underworld. There's no justice system in drug trafficking. If you run afoul of the cartel, that's typically a death sentence. Manuelito most certainly knew this. So when he got orders, he knew that his choice was either to follow those orders or kiss his life goodbye and all people.

[00:23:59]

It feels like Paola Flores understood this. That was something very remarkable to me, is that there is a part of her that pities him that feels sympathy for him being in this impossible situation. As of today, Marmolejo is in jail and his official confession states that he acted alone, that as a 16 year old, he abducted and killed Signoria, the daughter of the family who gave him water as he smuggled people through the desert. The authorities never followed up on his initial confession to Paola about the narcos from Elvire.

[00:24:36]

Rather than acknowledging a potential network, they preferred to blame individuals. And despite mounting evidence pointing to organization behind the murders, that was an enduring suspicion on both sides of the border that a serial killer was at work in Juarez. That's what brought Candice graphic there in the 1990s. She's a forensic criminologist at Fresno State University. I was trained by FBI profilers in Quantico, Virginia, as a psychologist.

[00:25:09]

My background is consistent with the kinds of things that the agents are learning about mental disorders, various forms of psychopathology, and how they may leave clues at crime scenes.

[00:25:22]

But basically, it was drilling down case after case, trying to identify patterns of behavior that could be reflective of the kind of person that would perpetrate that kind of crime.

[00:25:36]

Candice went to Juarez with her friend and colleague, Robert Ressler. He was a retired FBI agent who had helped create the bureau's behavioral science unit. He was one of the world's top experts on serial killers. In fact, he's credited with coining the term. CANDIS and Resler were in Juarez at the invitation of an American public safety adviser to the Juarez authorities, so Kandace got access to the case files, plus all of the homicide photographs.

[00:26:05]

I went through, all the autopsy reports and things. And without doubt in my mind, there was one serial murderer operating who was getting the little girls and the young adolescent girls in terms of patterns of behavior.

[00:26:19]

As Candace reviewed the case files, it became clear to her that there was a serial killer operating in Juarez, someone preying on very young victims, but the murders a secure area and didn't match that pattern and noted many others were stunned Candice. There was clearly something else bigger going on in the city as well, something on a scale she'd never seen before, where most of these hundreds of murders, were they attributed to serial killers?

[00:26:50]

Well, not in the traditional sense.

[00:26:53]

There was one crime scene in particular that Candice examined, which confirmed to her what was happening in Juarez was unlike anything else she'd ever encountered. And as a warning, her description is very upsetting. Well, one of the bodies was left on the outskirts of Juarez, and they had clearly driven her there because of the numbers of footprints. They had abducted her, driven her, got out of the truck and made her walk without her shoes. Into the semi desert area where presumably they raped her repeatedly and strangled her and just left her exposed.

[00:27:36]

Nude. Legs spread open. Uh, just. Just showing their their their disgust. Of her. So the first person that would walk upon the crime scene, as it were, would be met with. Her legs open. Candace was deeply shocked despite her years of experience investigating serial killing and sexual crime, in fact, even Robert Ressler was taken aback. I asked Agent Ressler about that because he has more experience in homicide and his little finger than I have in my whole body.

[00:28:27]

And I said, Bob, have you ever seen anything like this in your career, in your experience? And he said, no, I haven't. The men that I study mostly, they operate alone. I mean, I think about it, if I were intent upon killing a number of people as long as I could, I don't think I'd want anybody watching me do it. Certainly, they could turn me in. How would I know I could trust them with this?

[00:28:54]

So I started thinking, how could all of these men trust each other? Would if one of them goes to the bar and starts shooting his mouth off about their latest victim. And then I realized he's not going to be doing that because there is a pact. If it's not spoken, it's certainly unspoken that if if you start turning any of us in pointing fingers at any of us. We think you love your family. And we'll kill them first.

[00:29:30]

What Candace was describing went beyond killing for pleasure, it was killing as a bonding ritual, a new definition of serial killing, according to our analysis, one of the key reasons why so many women were murdered in Juarez was to create a code of loyalty and silence. The murders were not a side effect of cartel violence. They were a crucial part of how it worked. But if this was apparent from the crime scenes and even from the testimony of lower level cartel affiliates, why did the authorities not take more decisive action?

[00:30:07]

Well, Candice and Robert Ressler traveled to Juarez as private individuals. But not long after that trip, the FBI launched an official operation in Juarez to learn more about how the cartel operated. It was led by Frank Evans, who was assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's El Paso office from 1998. The Asghari went missing to 2000.

[00:30:35]

My name is Frank Evans and while I was in the FBI, I had the opportunity to work violent crimes, kidnappings, extortions, organized crime, of course, drug investigations or what ultimately brought me to the FBI office in El Paso.

[00:30:51]

So what interested the El Paso FBI in the Juarez cartel?

[00:30:55]

Well, at that time, obviously, the Juarez cartel was a major mover of contraband in the United States.

[00:31:01]

Any kind of drug that could be moved, marijuana, cocaine, the cartel controlled, they call it the Juarez corridor.

[00:31:09]

Juarez is positioned across the border from El Paso, made it one of the world's most sought after drug trafficking routes. And the cartel acted with extraordinary violence to protect that turf. And this violence didn't respect nationality. So in 1999, the FBI received a tip that a number of American men had been killed by the cartel in Mexico.

[00:31:32]

If they could prove these murders of American citizens, they could secure an indictment for the leader of the Juarez cartel, decentered Carrillo Fuentes.

[00:31:40]

The FBI wanted to have him arrested and extradited for trial in the U.S. and they were given unprecedented jurisdiction by the Mexican government to cross the border to recover and analyze the bodies. The mission was called Operation Plaza Sweep.

[00:31:55]

I mean, we crossed in with food, water, portable toilets, heavy machinery, forensic equipment. We actually had an entire forensic morgue in the FBI space here in El Paso. And the scale of the investigation was extremely large.

[00:32:18]

You know, the cartel didn't have taco stands waiting for us and, you know, cold drinks. And they were truly shocked that you now have 120 FBI agents with equipment coming into Mexico. How did you know there was shock on their behalf? You know, Birdie's told us listening.

[00:32:39]

You know, potentially one of Frank's goals when he arrived in Juarez was to evaluate how evidence was collected and stored.

[00:32:51]

And he discovered some fundamental problems.

[00:32:54]

Many of the crime scenes were contaminated. In some cases, the bodies were discovered. And, you know, OK, guys, when you discover one. Don't touch it, let your forensics people come in. Well, then the forensics people come in, they turn the body over and there's fresh cigarette butts under the body when you check into and you find out.

[00:33:18]

The cigarette butts belong to the detective that was there first. Wait a minute, you didn't touch the body? No, no, I didn't touch the body. Well, how did your cigarette butts get under the body? Oh, you know, the media wanted to take some pictures, so I rolled the body over and it must have happened then.

[00:33:34]

How does this occur? Well, it doesn't occur by accident, it occurs by design. If you have a contaminated crime scene, you can't tie it successfully to a subject or subjects. To Frank, it appeared the crime scenes were being purposefully disturbed by the very people whose job it was to preserve them.

[00:33:57]

When you don't follow your established protocols, you are ensuring that any evidence that is recovered is going to be almost impossible to introduce at trial.

[00:34:10]

You undermined everything. Frank was discovering that it wasn't the exception for crime scenes to be tampered with in Juarez. It was the norm and it prevented crimes from ever being solved. The killings Frank was initially concerned with were murders of men committed by the cartel. But then he had an idea. What if the FBI also offered to help the local police get to the bottom of the women's murders? When we come back, we learn what came of that offer.

[00:34:46]

Hi, I'm Heidi Murkoff, host of What to Expect, a new podcast from My Heart Radio when I first wrote What to Expect When You're Expecting. My mission was simple to help parents know what to expect every step of the way on what to expect will answer your biggest pregnancy and parenting questions about everything from preconception planning to birth plan. Newborns sleep to toddler tantrums. Motherhood is the ultimate sisterhood, but it can be overwhelming if you don't know what to expect.

[00:35:18]

Listen to what to expect on the I Heart radio app, Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcasts. Before the break, Frank Evans was describing his work to exhume bodies as part of Operation Plaster Sweep, an FBI effort to secure an indictment against the Juarez cartel leader for the murder of American citizens. In that investigation, his Mexican counterparts were from the federal police, but one in Juarez. Frank saw an opportunity to offer the FBI's resources to the local and state police to help solve the murders of women.

[00:36:07]

Part of it was selfish.

[00:36:08]

We were trying to see, can we work with anybody locally?

[00:36:11]

You know, is it possible that there's a local group that might be able to be voted into place to sweep? You know, we have resources that we will make available to you.

[00:36:21]

As you look at these homicides, we will give you the best minds the FBI has and criminal profiling to look at your case and tell you what they think. Specifically, Frank offered access to the FBI's analysts at Quantico. The men and women who'd been trained in Robert Restless approach to forensic psychology. The officials in Juarez accept it. And as they'd done with Candice, they handed over case files.

[00:36:50]

We were given 76 files, each file representing one of the deceased. The profilers took those files. They went through them just like they were a file that would be provided by a United States law enforcement entity.

[00:37:05]

And they identified 34 cases that had items of interest that they wanted to explore further. 34 of the 76 files shared by the police had common characteristics indicating to the FBI profilers that the same people may have been involved in the murders, this felt like a potentially huge break. Then something happened that told Frank everything he needed to know about his partners in Mexico. It was at that point that the authorities, the state attorney general's office of Chihuahua was like, oh, we've gotten the FBI reports and they agree with us 100 percent.

[00:37:45]

And case closed.

[00:37:47]

In fact, they claim that the FBI's reports confirmed the guilt of Abdelatif Sharif Sharif, the Egyptian chemist who stood accused of both being a serial killer and then paying a gang to commit murders on his behalf in order to prove his innocence.

[00:38:04]

They distorted what the report said in order to validate the position that they had been espousing. But why?

[00:38:13]

Why the failure after failure to resolve these crimes once and for all? We had evidence that, unfortunately, I am not at liberty to go into that. The handling of the femicide cases was not in accordance with accepted police procedure.

[00:38:30]

And the assumption is it is either then gross incompetence on the part of the police officials or it's deliberate. You know, you can only be incompetent so many times.

[00:38:42]

You can't be incompetent 300 plus times. From our perspective, it showed that there wasn't a real commitment to resolve the femicide.

[00:38:54]

Do you ever know could could you tell why? Why there was a lack? No, we speculated. What did you think? Well, our speculation was that when you don't want a crime to be solved, it's because the resolution of it is going to be extremely either embarrassing to somebody in power or it's going to come back to you. You being the law enforcement authorities. The law enforcement authorities, was it possible they weren't just failing to solve the murders of women, but actively involved in them?

[00:39:31]

Could this explain why decades of murders had gone unsolved? Well, Alfredo's reporting was also beginning to suggest this might be the case. So Alfredo ultimately did feel that he could trust what he'd heard from that drug dealer in the Juarez prison, Monica. And he went to print with a huge story. How did he get there? Well, he paired up with another colleague, and together they backed up the witnesses account with intelligence from federal law enforcement from the U.S. and Mexico.

[00:40:09]

One of the law enforcement accounts that Alfredo prints in his story is an unnamed U.S. official who cites raw intelligence. And he says, quote, All you have to do is put together a simple investigative equation of why and how. And you get to the who. Why? Because they can because there's a sense of excitement, a sense of an erotic feeling. Sicarios that is hitman fit the profile. There is no limit anymore to what they can do.

[00:40:42]

They enjoy the feeling of ecstasy, the orgies, the women are like trophies for them. They are thrill kills. These guys like the feeling of control, but they need help. And that's where the local and state police come in. I hate that quote, but I don't doubt it's true Alfredo was able to verify that the very police who were supposed to be protecting the public and investigating the crimes were actually the ones committing the crimes. When you read that first article on the front page of The Dallas Morning News, I mean, it was huge.

[00:41:28]

Alfredo's story went to print in February 2004. Later on, he reprinted the drug dealers play by play account in his book Midnight in Mexico, had it verbatim. We asked him to read it aloud. The catch was first, identify potential victims, study the routine. It wasn't hard to learn the women police who stopped them on the street as they got off work and tell them that a family member was missing or something had happened to their child. And wouldn't they please get in the back seat of the police car?

[00:42:03]

The cops were then transport them to the parties where they would be gang raped by the end. The women always knew too much and they were killed. This would explain the lackluster search for cigarillo. It would explain why when witnesses reported seeing Lee Alexander struggling, the police logbook for the night says nothing to report. This was a conspiracy and it wouldn't have been uncovered without the work of journalists like Alfredo.

[00:42:38]

This is how journalism is supposed to work. This is why we need a strong and robust press. It took the combination of these Mexican reporters who first wrote about these crimes beginning in 1993, then Diana calling attention to the systematic nature of the murders and Alfredo confirming the corruption behind it. But this isn't where the story ends. I mean, the corrupt cops are only part of the equation. Alfredo had finally corroborated what Dante's source had told him, and it exposed the involvement of certain police officers.

[00:43:21]

But if law enforcement agents were acting on behalf of the cartel, how far did the influence of organized crime reach and who else was complicit in the abduction and murder of women? On his journey to answer those questions, Alfredo paid a visit to the corridors of power in Mexico City, and he came into contact with a force that seemed far more menacing than corrupt cops.

[00:43:48]

Yeah, I mean, I'm in the heart of the fires in downtown, quite near the McCardel, near the cathedral, near the park. And I'm walking away and there's a number comes in and it's not a number. It's just unknown. It says unknown on your and not on the phone. And the person says a key voice atrocity or this face. What's that in English?

[00:44:08]

I'm right behind you on 16th of September Avenue. I was being watched. Alfredo was scared and he turned to the only person he could think of. Don't know the first time I sat down there and I thought, hey, look for me. And then finally says you have the tenacity, which means you're fucked up. I said, why? He says they're onto Latina's onto you. In the next episode, Alfredo makes a break for safety, he tries to understand what the limit is and what that role might be in the murders.

[00:44:56]

I must Voloshin. And I'm Monica Ortiz Uribe.

[00:44:59]

See you next time you see know. Forgotten, the women of Juarez is cohosted by me, Monica Ortiz Uribe and me, as Woloshin Forgotten, is executive produced by me and Mangoush had tequila. Our producers are Julia Mualla and Katrina Norvelle, sound editing by Julian Weller, Yakupov Penso and Aaron Kaufman. Lucas Riley is our story editor. Caitlin Thompson is our consulting producer, recording assistance. This episode from Alice Daniel and Miguel Perez, production support from Emily Marinus and Aaron Kaufman.

[00:46:20]

Our theme tune is The Racheli Nacimiento, as performed by Natalia Lafourcade, music by Leonardo Headlam and Akobo Lieberman.

[00:46:30]

Additional Music by Aaron Kaufman. Carla Azara is the voice actor for Paola Flores.

[00:46:44]

And I heart radio, we bring you the best podcasts from the Ron Burgundy show to the Breakfast Club to stuff you should know really all of today's biggest names. But each of these shows started with an idea and now we want yours. We're looking to you for the next great podcast. Simply go to next great podcast, Dotcom, to get the details and submit your pitch will select up to 10 semifinalists and give them a thousand dollars to produce a pilot.

[00:47:13]

Then listeners from across the world will vote on their favorite to decide the next great podcast. Enter today at next. Great podcast, Dotcom. That's next. Great podcast, Dotcom. Why shouldn't the next great podcast come from you?