Dirty or Duped?

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In November, DeLaPaz filed for bankruptcy, which raised the possibility of money as motive. He and his wife had been living above their means, servicing $62,000 of credit card debt, $41,000 of car loans and a $224,000 mortgage. But bankruptcy brings the government into your finances. Why draw that kind of attention to yourself unless it's a calculated ruse to throw investigators off track? Why would somebody who was dealing in cash or drugs, stealing large shipments of cocaine, have credit card debt in the first place?

On January 15, Bolton placed DeLaPaz and Herrera on paid administrative leave pending the results of DPD's internal investigation. An outside investigation, however, would avoid the appearance of impropriety that results when the police investigate themselves. And with front-page headlines and scandalous revelations stoking public interest, Bolton put his own investigation on hold after Bill Hill asked the FBI to intervene.

Lawyers for DeLaPaz, however, claim the FBI hasn't bothered to approach them. "The police put my client on administrative leave; he gets beaten about the head and shoulders by the media; he even passes a polygraph proving he knew nothing about fake drugs," says attorney Bob Baskett. "And I still can't get the FBI to tell me what they say he did."

The FBI seemed more concerned with interviewing the several informants in the fake-drug cases, particularly Enrique Martinez-Alonso, who not only claimed the drugs in his busts were real, but also that someone was trying to kill him. He filed two police reports--on January 10 and January 21--claiming on each occasion that an unidentified driver had shot up his Lincoln and sped away. He even had the bullet holes to prove it. "He said it was Jose Luis [the alleged Mexican drug dealer who had lost his shipment in the Jack in the Box bust]," says a source close to DeLaPaz. "He had come to his friend's shop on Fort Worth Avenue and was looking to kill him...But he [Alonso] might have made up the whole thing."

Although Alonso wanted to sue WFAA for displaying his image on television, he quickly became something of a media darling, speaking on the condition of anonymity and granting interviews with broadcast and print media alike. He claimed the police still owed him money, that snitching was more enjoyable than drug dealing, that he only made good cases. He continued to grant interviews even after the FBI jailed him for fraudulently obtaining a Social Security card. He also began to do what informants do best: inform.

According to a source close to Alonso, he told the FBI that he hadn't done all the deals that the police claimed he had done. Many he knew nothing about, some he had subcontracted out: a few to his brother Luis "Daniel" Alonso, whom DeLaPaz had signed up as an informant, others to his friend Roberto Gonzalez, who had too many federal problems for DeLaPaz to work. Alonso used him anyway, even though subcontracting would be a flagrant violation of proper narcotics procedure. Based on information Alonso provided, federal authorities arrested Roberto Gonzalez on February 25 and charged him with illegal re-entry into the United States.

It was now Gonzalez's turn to roll over on Alonso. According to a source close to Alonso, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rose Romero phoned Alonso's attorney John Key and told him she thought his client was lying. She said another informant (Gonzalez) admitted setting people up with fake drugs and implicated Alonso. "She indicated that the fake drugs weren't Sheetrock at all but pool-hall chalk," the source says. "It came in big 4-inch cylinders that were shaved down to look like kilos."

Much of this would later be confirmed by Gonzalez's attorney Karl Rupp in interviews he gave to WFAA and the Morning News in mid-April. Based on his client's cooperation, the FBI had confiscated billiard chalk cones from the home of Jose Ruiz--the man with speed tucked down his pants who was arrested with Alonso. Investigators also discovered invoices for large amounts of chalk from Billiards and Bar Stools, a Lewisville billiards supply store. The cones, used by players to dust their hands, contained gypsum, the same substance found in the fake-drug cases. The store's invoices reflected that someone who represented himself as "Luis Alonso"--the name of Enrique's brother and a paid informant--purchased 234 pounds of chalk on three different occasions over the summer. One purchase was the day before Ramirez and Licea were arrested at Jack in the Box; another was the day before Emigdio Esparza was arrested after meeting Enrique and DeLaPaz at 7-Eleven. Luis Alonso would later deny he purchased the billiard chalk.

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Mark Donald
Contact: Mark Donald