Are Drug Cartels Recruiting Fort Bliss Soldiers for Contract Killings?
There has been some recent speculation that drug cartels are employing American soldiers for the sole purpose of conducting contract killings. Yet, Fort Bliss officials say that this concern doesn’t appear to be an issue on their base.
“Clearly, we have a very unique situation in the Army because we’re on a border,” said Fort Bliss spokesman Maj. Joe Buccino. “Our criminal investigation division and our military police investigators work very closely on-post and off-post with local law enforcement and we’ve seen no indicators that there is an increase in gang activity or an increase in recruitment on behalf of the cartel.”
Military records indicate that over the past two years, there have been six soldier-cartel recruitment cases investigated at Fort Bliss, but only one of them proved to be valid. The other five were dismissed.
However, three years ago, Michael Apodaca, a former Fort Bliss soldier was recruited by the Juarez Cartel and compensated to the tune of $5,000 to kill another member of the cartel that had turned and was set to inform. In July of 2013, an El Paso district court judge sentenced Apodaca to life in prison.
Yet, Buccino says that while financial troubles, as with the case of Michael Apodaca, can sometimes be a clear indicator of a high risk soldier, so are many other variables, like issues with alcohol and marriage troubles.