The arrest of Richard Cramer earlier this month is very disturbing news for many reasons.  Personally disturbing to me, not only because I am a former ICE Special Agent and Supervisor, but also because of the damage incidents like this have on inter-agency cooperation, and in this case, international cooperation.  It should remind all agents, officers, prosecutors, analysts, and staff of the importance and necessity to “compartmentalize” any and all information relating to sensitive investigations and law enforcement activities.  It reinforces the necessity of operational security and the policy of controlling access to “on a need to know basis”.

Cramer was arrested by DEA on September 4th for his participation in a conspiracy to provide members of a Mexican drug cartel with information and background on U.S. narcotics enforcement activities.  According to the criminal complaint filed by DEA, “Cramer was responsible for advising the drug traffickers how U.S. law enforcement works with warrants and record checks as well as how DEA conducts investigations to include “flipping” subjects or recruiting informants”.  Cramer allegedly pulled files to help identify confidential sources, charging as much as $2000. for one document sent to a suspect in Miami.

Cramer was a ranking federal law enforcement official with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) until he retired in January 2007. During his career he was employed in many very sensitive positions including a supervisory position in Nogales, Arizona, and as the ICE Attache in Guadalajara, Mexico.  Cramer’s duties in Mexico included serving as liaison with the Mexican police, assisting investigations and collecting intelligence.

Cramer’s behavior is what we have come to associate with Mexico where the drug cartels have compromised Mexican politicians, police chiefs, judges and military components.  We have not come to associate it with high-ranking members of U.S. anti-drug law enforcement agencies.

I do not personally know Richard Cramer but I am sure he is unable to justify this betrayal.  It is a significant affront to all involved in the war on drugs on a daily basis.  The damage done may never be measured, but if it reminds the personnel waging this “drug war” of the absolute necessity for operational security, it will a small positive in this very disturbing news.