Required Reading – The Origin of the DEA – Part 3

Excerpt from A New Heroin Conspiracy?

by Dana Beal (1982)

Bayer Heroin

Bayer Heroin

In a development that is scarcely surprising to veteran observers of the U.S. drug scene, DEA Director Director Peter Bensinger has concurred in an internal evaluation report [that very few] big heroin busts were performed by its Northeastern Office during 1980. Arrest figures for the Northeast Region, which is headquartered in New York but stretches from Maine to Delaware and include such main heroin centers as Newark, Boston, and Philly, have been lagging suspiciously behind the national trend-especially for heroin arrests-despite a ‘disproportionate’ commitment of resources and ‘inordinately high’ operating expenses.

 

For DEA critics, who predicted a big upsurge of heroin and other hard drugs when the DEA commenced its crackdown on marijuana two years ago, these statistics have significance far beyond confirmation of the critics claim that every time enforcement is diverted into a ‘War on Marijuana’, there is a heroin epidemic. The way gross statistical analysis showed a suspicious drop in heroin seizures specifically during an ‘epidemic’ has fueled suspicions concerning preliminary reports that New York Regional DEA Director John W. Fallon is also being investigated by the FBI on charges that he arranged to “expedite the entry of numerous private citizens into the country through JFK airport”. Are those the first hints of another high-level heroin conspiracy on the order of the classic Arnold Rothstein-Custom Service scandal of 1927? Of course nothing ever happens the same way twice, but once again New York finds itself inundated with smack.

Smack Scandals of 1927

high_society_heroin_in_a_jar_and_prohibition_poster

To get beyond banalities about today’s ‘heroin epidemic’ it might be enlightening to consider what happened (and happened many times again) in the 1920’s, the decade heroin was prohibited.

The 20’s is more commonly thought of as the decade of Alcohal Prohibition, but most people don’t realize that Prohibition-just as it hand unintended effects of glamorizing booze and promoting organized crime-made it possible for one man to monopolize smack during those years, and for a small group of officials in the Treasury Department to become rich.

Arnold Rothstein - The original Mr. Big

Arnold Rothstein – The original Mr. Big

Today, Arnold Rothstein is remembered as “the man who fixed the 1919 World Series” and inspired Meyer Lansky, but his real claim to fame is that with the help of insiders in the Treasury Department, he protected a monopoly controlling 85% of all smack in the U.S. by skillfully diverting enforcement efforts into Alcohal Prohibition. Trunk-loads of pure heroin were forwarded to Rothstein by cooperative Customs Officials under the protection of the higher ups from Washington, while machine gun wielding G-men routinely executed ‘wets’ apprehending beer brewers in their basements. The whistle was eventually blown, not in D.C., but when a U.S. Grand Jury in New York became suspicious and Arnold Rothstein was shot before he could testify. Before the uproar died down, the papers found out Rothstein had retained a lawyer (to defend himself against Income Tax Evasion) who happened to be the nephew of Colonel McNutt, Chief of Narcotic and Prohibition Enforcement for the Northeastern Region.

Harry J Anslinger

Harry J Anslinger

The resulting furor, as ordinary people realized that the Common Man’s booze was being persecuted to protect dope fiends, marked the turning point in attitudes towards Prohibition. But more immediately, it caused the breakup of the Treasury’s enforcement operations into separate alcohol and narcotics divisions, and the elevation of the son-in-law of then Treasury Secretary Mellon, Harry J. Anslinger, from bureaucratic obscurity to new U.S. Chief Narc. With these ‘reforms’ and the end of Alcohol Prohibition, you might expect that concentrated enforcement would’ve finished off heroin in America. But Anslinger’s particular contribution was to push for marijuana prohibition, and by criminalizing each and every instance of the use of marijuana, instead of just manufacture or sales, to insure that marijuana prohibition would be so labor intensive that it absorbed the energies of all 3,000 agents slated for layoff with the Repeal of Alcohal Prohibition.

Meyer Lansky

Meyer Lansky

As for barring further extra-curricular profits by Treasury Department higher-ups who had collaborated with Rothstein, the U.S. Grand Jury in New York was left to complain in 1929 that none of their recommendations had been implemented, and none of the agents who they had suggested be transferred or dismissed were actually dismissed. Rothstein’s scam was soon taken over by a couple of young [upstarts] named Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano. Control of U.S. heroin-and following 1947, International Heroin-stayed in their hands or their successor’s hands up to this day, with inestimable historical effect.

 Reign of the French Connection

French-Connection (1)

The “War on Drugs” is a revamped strategy for calculated right wing rule of America involving:

  • Creation of a massive, Right Wing political cadre;
  • Virtual control over the policies of a federal police agency;
  • A coherent attack utilizing a gap in public regard for civil liberties to apply secret police-like terror to a scapegoat groups sufficiently large enough to have a chilling effect on society as a whole.

Only in the past few months has it become clear that the “War on Drugs” was deliberately fabricated in conjunction with top level Nixon-era Narcs and an ex-Nazi heroin and arms smuggling network stretching from Miami and Central Europe to La Paz and Bangkok.

birch_4

Heroin Fascism [Narcostatism], though less well-known than the Nazi Phalangist or Italian varieties, is a definite historical variant first explored in the book The Politics of Heroin in South East Asia. This study, published in 1972 by Alfred McCoy, suggests that fascism, despite 40 years of ups and downs in France, failed to crystalize into the classic mass totalitarian movement of Spain, Italy or Germany, precisely because of the role of heroin. The Corsican underworld that dealt it, acted as shock troops of reaction in place of the black shirted Fascists and storm troopers. Not only did the gangster taint keep the Fascists from winning elections, the shock troops were dependent upon the bourgeoisie politicians for power and racket protection. If [Narcostatism] precluded the emergence of Nazi-style Phalange, at the cross roads of fascism in Southern France, its less specialized, more traditional, gangster style enabled it to survive 1945 to continue its “anti-communist” work with the post-war sponsorship of the CIA.

The Marseilles Syndicate

The Marseilles Syndicate

For during the war, operatives of the Office of Strategic Services, forerunner of the CIA, had worked successfully with heroin kingpin Lucky Luciano in the invasion of Sicily. Not all Corsican mobsters aided the Gestapo, a significant group had emerged on the side of the French Resistance and the Socialists. It was the Socialists and the ex-Fascists with their gangland connections that the CIA turned to in 1947 to break the Communist unions in Marseilles. It was with the Mafia customers, international CIA sponsorship and political protection, first from the Socialists and then the Gaullists that the ‘French Connection’ came to control heroin manufacture and traffic until the late 1960’s. Then Vietnam and the ascension of Richard Nixon produced, according to McCoy, a revolution in International Heroin, although he and others like EJ Epstein (Agency of Fear) left us unsatisfactorily in the dark as to who came out on top for the rest of the 1970s. Late last year, a freelance Danish journalist named Henrik Kruger published The Great Heroin Coup and largely filled in the blanks.

Conein

Conein

What Kruger found was that the far right’s return to power was facilitated by the CIA in alignment with the Mafia:

The alliance was comprised of the China Lobby, OSS China Hands, ex-Jedbergh Team Members, Cuban Exiles, the Lanksy Syndicate, and CIA hawks pushing for all out involvement in Indochina and against Castro’s Cuba. It coalesced between 1961 and 1963, and its members had three things in common: a right wing political outlook, an interest in Asian opium, and thirst for political power. This last factor led to a common denominator in which the alliance invested heavily: Richard Nixon”

OSS China

OSS China

The instrument of the great heroin coup was Nixon’s creation, the DEA; but it was this larger coalescence of right wingers who already dominated poppy growing and stateside sales that considered further Corsican control over the traffic intolerable. Whether it was nationalist Cubans, Chinese or Italian Mafiosi veterans of the late 1940’s with vendettas against Sicilian Communists, they collectively viewed the politics of the Corsicans as unforgivably soft on Communism, especially with Castro.

Chiang Kai-Shek

Chiang Kai-Shek

Starting with money from the Chinese Nationalist Party (The Kuomintang) In Taiwan, gleaned from enforcing a heroin “cure” on 20 million Chinese opium addicts before Mao’s takeover, the group formed the World Anti-Communist League (WACL) in 1966 as a counter-force to Castro Tri-Continental Congress on Third World revolutionaries. Later that same year Aginter Press was created in Lisbon as a front for Portuguese and Spanish secret police, the CIA, and the anti-Gaullist French OAS (Organization Armee Secrete). Together, they redoubled efforts to wipe out whole infrastructure of French Intelligence and the Corsican gangsters who ran the heroin trade. For full satisfaction, the World Anti-Communist League, and its subgroups had to wait until DeGaulle was out and Nixon was in. Kruger implied that Pompidou never would have traded off his Corsican capabilities for better relations with the U.S. if he’d known how much it would curtail the capacity of French Espionage to swap guns and drugs for information without it appearing in the budget. The fall of the French Connection was utter and complete by 1973. Kruger’s accomplishment is to have documented its replacement in every operational theater of Europe, Asia, and South America by ex-Right Wingers connected to the World Anti-Communist League.

World Anti Communist League

World Anti Communist League

What he omits is the importance of the Iranian SAVAK and the War on Marijuana in diverting heat from Cuban/CIA heroin dealing nexus – operating in areas where the French Connection never operated or in aspects completely lost to European investigators. Far more crucial in his insights, is that the individuals who took over the heroin trade were not just anti-communist but ideologically Right Wing. The inevitable trends in the business of heroin, the ultimate neo-colonial commodity, has been to generate outright police state consciousness. The DEA soldiers of fortune that Nixon left in power, the Cuban smugglers carefully crafting their web of couriers, both had come to see the wisdom of eliminating all political risk of being shut down. But it had to be sanitized. To operate politically, they would need special organizations to mobilize the right wing base.

The International Right Wing Web

Nixon

Nixon

The CIA had been acutely embarrassed by the discovery that good portion of those being arrested in Operation Eagle in 1970 (the last real Justice Department operation against the International Heroin Network) were all Bay of Pigs veterans. Indeed keeping enforcement focused on marijuana from 1978 has provided a magic margin of safety for the smack dealings of Mitch Werbell’s protégés. Werbell being the former #3 Narc under Nixon. From the standpoint of building up mass right-wing cadre in this country capable of shifting and directing events, development of the War on Drugs organization solved a number of problems presented by earlier Corsican [Narcostatism].

  1. Compartmentalization – Having to use actual gangsters to battle it out with Leftists (ie. Marseilles in the 1930’s) means a constant threat that exposure of their racketeering will compromise the right-wing leadership among the very middle class they seek to attract. [Narcostatism] requires that political [groups] managing the liquidation of the Pro-Marijuana counterculture be buffered from contact with operating levels [to prevent public disillusionment].
  2. Keeping the Cuban Exile drugs-for-guns network distinct from the War On Drugs decision makers (via ex-CIA and ex-military) means that the Federal agencies, including DEA) can respond to the dominant public pressure group without having to risk political embarrassment.
  3. Growth of a right-wing [Pro-Prohibition] cadre gives the right-wing a highly disciplined group of shock troops with basic right wing attitudes already conditioned and reinforced by their ‘pogrom’ against ‘potheads’ and their collaboration with federal agencies like the DEA. These cadres are designed to recruit Klansmen, right-wing brawlers, street punks, criminals and radicals.
Otto Skorzeny

Otto Skorzeny

[The Consortium] is the outgrowth of many years of planning in Madrid by the late ex-Nazi Col. Otto Skorzeny, who worked for the CIA in his fifties. It’s membership consists of former SS agents, OAS terrorists, Argentine and Italian right-winger’s, Cuban exiles, French and British intelligence and organized crime, and both current and former CIA agents, especially with experience in Operation 40 and the coups in Guatemala, Brazil and Argentina. Col. Skorzeny, formerly of the Nazi SS, was leader of the Paladin Mercenary Group until his death in 1975. Dr. Gerhard Hartmut von Schubert, formerly of Joseph Goebbel’s propaganda ministry, was Paladin’s operating manager. The Group was headquartered in Albufera, Spain; using import-export officers owned by Skorzeny, Spanish Intelligence under Col. Eduardo Blanco and the CIA as cover. The relationship between Spanish right-wing operatives with US and Spanish intelligence is highlighted by Spain’s purchase of silenced M10 machine pistols from Mitch Werbell in 1975, soon after the same M10 turned up in the hands of Spanish and Italian right-wing terrorists. It was rumored that Skorzeny effectively controlled Spanish intelligence for many years.

The Consortium

The Consortium

[The Consortium] was crucial towards fulfilling the dreams of not only Skorzeny, but other Madrid exiles like Jose Lopez Rega, Juan Peron’s right hand, and Prince Justo Valerio Borghese, the Italian ex-Fascist money man who been rescued from execution in Italy by OSS agent James Angleton. They, and other right-wing powers throughout North America, Europe and Latin America, envisioned a new world order built on the drug and arms trade.

1978: Genesis of a Heroin Epidemic

Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter

The U.S. drug policy hardliners, who in the 40 years since, have never been able to shutdown Mob heroin operations, have instead protected their bureaucratic turf by obscuring the central truth about heroin: like a cold virus, it is always present in the body politic. Someone is always trying to bring it in, because it’s so profitable. This is why the history of [heroin] busts are full of police or intelligence agents caught red-handed dealing it themselves. A heroin epidemic occurs when society’s immune-system – enforcement – is weakened or diverted from the heroin virus (by, say, a frivolous witch hunt against “Wets” or marijuana connoisseurs). Unchecked the virus multiplies in the cellular protoplasm (profits) until the growth medium itself is used up or destroyed…or the body politic reacts in time, and manufactures fresh antibodies.

images (1)

People get sick of smack and its effects. Early in the Carter Administration, a general reassessment seemed to offer possibilities of abandoning [marijuana prohibition] and producing an even more rational treatment of heroin based on the British model. Presidential Drug Advisor Dr. Peter Bourne felt cocaine could be controlled by making it “too expensive for the Middle Class”. But by December of 1977, the conference of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) – even before the loss of influence by Dr. Bourne and the NORML liberals – it became clear that a hardline Washington consensus was shaping up against smoking in general. Tough-talking HEW Secretary Califano decided that further marijuana liberalization was inconsistent with efforts to tighten up tobacco regulation, and the way was opened for Peter Bensinger and the DEA hardliners to crack down on Weed. ‘Bournegate’ in 1978 ended the liberals cozy arrangement with the centrist ‘drug rehab professionals’ (hired by the government to get kids off of marijuana and on to Thorazine) had the unforeseen result of strengthening right wing elements that NORML erroneously dismissed as ‘lunatic fringe’ even as they shared with Bourne the coke that lost him his job.

Nixon w/Shah of Iran

Nixon w/Shah of Iran

The ‘War on Drugs’ front organization, soon to be launched by the US Labor Party with cooperation from Black Muslim groups, was blessed by a singular international development which was to make them partners with US Drug Enforcement for reasons of state. The overthrow of the Shah of Iran in January of 1979, besides affecting oil supplies, completely disrupted business as usual in heroin. As authority disintegrated in Iran, the one guarantee against turbulence for the peasants was to plant some poppies. During the waning months of 1978, while the Shah teetered, another better-heeled class frantically converted their wealth into easily portable opiates.

In the U.S., where no less than the New York Post had described the Shah’s sister, Princess Ashraf, as the ‘Dragon Lady’ of doge. She ran a large network outside of Iran of her secret police, the SAVAK, who were already in place to peddle millions of dollars’ worth of smack necessary to reinstate the Peacock Throne. Cheap, pure stuff flooded New York, overdose death’s skyrocketed. Marijuana was out, coke was passe. The New Wave was infatuated in Soho Salons, lines of pure Persian replaced lines of Peruvian flake. Meanwhile, unregenerate U.S. ruling class interests of the Kissinger/Rockefellar stripe moved to confer legitimacy to an anti-marijuana hysteria deliberately designed to divert attention from SAVAK’s fund raising efforts. In June of 1979, facilities at NYU were made available to “prestigious medical conferences” on “new findings about the health hazards of marijuana”. The cream of anti-marijuana pseudoscience gathered with DEA sponsorship to hear reports on half-baked experiments and research, much of it 10 years old and previously discredited.

war-on-drugs

Figures released by HEW show that for the first time, marijuana use is down slightly among high school students; news reports about the “health hazards of marijuana” were cited as the reason by students who decided to quit. But alas for HEW, use of cocaine, was up among the same students, perhaps in sympathy with the more liberal views on the health hazards of white powders established under Carter.

  • The Green Chazzan
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Required Reading: The Origin of the DEA – Part 2

Excerpts from The Great Heroin Coup

by Henrik Kruger (1981)

Drugs Intelligence & International Fascism

Santo Trafficante

Santo Trafficante

Quote from The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia:

Heroin Kingpin Santo Trafficante Jr. boarded a jet in the summer of 1968 to seek his new fortune. Trafficante liked what he saw in his Southeast Asian tour. With enough trained chemists, his Mob could be supplied with heroin at fraction of what was then paying out to the Corsicans. But first the smuggling networks had to be worked out and the Corsicans had to be eliminated. That was a job for President Nixon and his White House staff, the BNDD, a White House death squad, and the Central Intelligence Agency.”

The Role of Nixon

Nixon

Nixon

Control of this effort was placed in the hands of a relative unknown, a young and inexperienced Egil Krogh, a newcomer. Krogh was less than satisfied with existing narcotics efforts, especially those of the CIA, whose intelligence reports, according to Federal Narcotics head Ingersoll, were decisive for the work of the BNDD (Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs). Krogh wanted the White House instead to handle the BNDD’s intelligence work. Nixon’s staff would then decide which drug traffickers to pursue. Krogh’s dissatisfaction was expressed to E. Howard Hunt, who immediately proposed an Office of National Narcotics Intelligence (ONNI) where all narcotics intelligence reports would be analyzed and follow up actions decided.

Conein in Vietnam

Conein in Vietnam

Hunt told Krogh he could enlist for the office experienced CIA figures, starting with Lucien Conein as its head. Nixon, however, chose William C. Sullivan instead. Once second to J. Edgar Hoover in the FBI, Sullivan had managed Division 5, which investigated espionage, sabotage and subversion. He also directed Operation CoIntelPro, the bureau’s vendetta against dissident political and cultural groups like the Black Panthers, and had been Nixon’s choice to direct the Huston Plan’s elaborate surveillance of U.S. citizens. Hunt nevertheless found a niche for his friend. Conein was assigned to the BNDD as a “strategic intelligence officer” and came to control overseas narcotics intelligence, originally the domain of ONNI, while Sullivan concentrated on domestic affairs.

The White House now controlled narcotics intelligence at home and abroad, but that still wasn’t enough. Nixon’s staff also sought to control enforcement itself, and that required effective strike forces. In January 1972, the White House set up the Office for Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE) according to a plan conceived by G. Gordon Liddy. It became the domestic strike force under Mile Ambrose – whose government career ended with news of his pleasure trip to the ranch of a Texan indicted for narcotics and gun running. ODALE soon became notorious for its record illegal raids, no-knock entries into private homes and beatings of innocent people. Many called them the American Gestapo.

G Gordan Liddy

G Gordan Liddy

U.S. Narcs proceeded to wipe out the Corsican’s Turkey-Marseilles-U.S.A. pipeline, especially in South America ignoring Southeast Asia completely. In Vietnam, meanwhile from 1969 to 1970, pot sniffing dogs banished grass from the barracks and 90% pure heroin suddenly became available. 14-year old girls stuffed it in GI’s pockets for peanuts. By 1971, Congress found that 15% of all GI’s returning from Vietnam were addicted. Thus, when agents of French Intelligence were compromised bringing in loads welded into Mercedes bodies, and New York’s finest bragged of bagging the French Connection. The only heroin shortage came from there being 4 times more junkies on Election Day of 1971 than when Nixon was inaugurated.

That Nixon might have been involved is lent credence by the following quote from Dan Moldea:  “a former Nixon aide, not privy to the Haig investigation, says that one his associates in the White House mentioned to him sometime during the impeachment summer, that someone high up, maybe General Alexander Haig, was interested in Nixon’s possible ‘organized crime involvements’. That conversation involved a massive payoff from those in the Army Service Club scandals in Vietnam during 1969 and 1970, The aide says that the service club scandal ripoffs involved the Mafia and millions of dollars and that the main focus of ‘someone high up’ in the White House was on whether ‘the top mafia guy’ who ran ‘all these things in Southeast Asia’ had made payoffs to Nixon. The crime figure, he says, was ‘the one who was apparently known as the so-called mastermind or architect of the Southeast Asian drug trade, and was a very powerful and very well known as a mob leader. According to the government narcotics experts, the central figure in the Indochina Golden Triangle narcotics traffic was Santo Trafficante.”

Chief of OSS China - Paul Helliwell

Chief of OSS China – Paul Helliwell

In my opinion, the central manipulator in the whole narcotics scheme was the CIA or rather a faction within it. It is erroneous to treat the Agency as a monolith. Various lobby groups have their own agents in the company, generating internal power struggles that reflect political polarizations external to the CIA. Equally certain is the fact that one should take the agency’s new benign face with a grain of salt. Within the agency there remains powerful groups promoting continued support of ‘old friends’ in Latin America and Southeast Asia. The China/Cuba Lobby has traditionally been one of the most influential within the CIA and there is little reason to believe the situation has seriously changed. In addition to the CIA’s new official policy there is also an unofficial one. It manifests itself in such matters as the manipulation of the DEA to perform what previously had been CIA dirty work, and in toleration, if not encouragement of a large, apparently independent army of Cuban exile terrorists, available for action in Latin America at the request of the presiding dictators.

The evidence suggests that the forces behind the unofficial policy were able to place many of their loyal CIA agents in the DEA, and in such private intelligence agency covers as Intertel and Wackenhut, where they continue their tasks while letting the agency wash its hands. Intelligence is still gathered by the CIA, but some of the dirtiest operations are now performed by ‘former’ agents. We cannot of course, discount the possibility that the unofficial policy is in fact executed by former agents who had either been purged from the agency or left in protest against its new moderate political line. However that implies that a renegade CIA faction now runs an independent service, aided by lobby interests ie. Not Intertel but as an even more powerful third force. If that is so, I can come up with only one lobby group with the relevant motives as well as the power to back them – The World Anti-Communist League (WACL). The League can mobilize CIA agents closely associated with the China/Cuba/Chile Lobby, especially the large contingent of former agents from the Nazi Gehlen organization, Hitler’s intelligence agency which became the BND, the West German equivalent of the CIA.

 CIA ‘Old Boys’ Work DEA Scam

E Howard Hunt

E Howard Hunt

E Howard Hunt and Lucien Conein pulled off the great heroin coup. Hunt secured Cuban exiles including Barker and Manuel Artime to kidnap and assassinate the independent French Narcotics-for-guns traffickers in Paraguay and the rest of South America, while Conein focused White House attentions exclusively on the Corsicans, with whom he had previous experience as a member of Operation Jedbergh.

Creation of the DEA was intended not consolidate but to obfuscate. To quote Customs Official Ron Rosenbaum:

BNDD and Customs are finally getting somewhere, they break up the French Connection, and they’re getting big conspiracy cases. Suddenly they [the White House] step in and there is this big shake up, and by the time people get back to work the Mexican Connection is set up, protected and doing big business. What does this say to you?”

The Mexican Connection

The Mexican Connection

Mexican heroin included not just the brown mud locally produced to provide cheap stuff for new users in the States; it included regular transshipments of No. 4 China White from Southeast Asia for the veins of the most discriminating users. The emergence of the DEA was the next to last phase, Hunt and Conein’s CIA agents moved into DEA intelligence and operations. Conein located 12 Latino CIA agents in his Special Operations Group alone. His forces were directed mostly against small time independents, the biggest Cuban network led by Santo Trafficante remained untouched.

That brings us to the last, political phase of the heroin coup, which began with the DEA’s 1974 takeover of the CIA’s Latin American torture apparatus and ended with the formation of CORU, a terrorist army. The brutalities financed by the heroin coup continue. The DEA protects major narcotics dealers. The latter support – financially through gun running – anti-Communist paramilitary groups which work hand in hand with Latin American police and military forces, whose death squads and torturers are supervised by agents of the DEA. There is reason to believe that there are 2 ‘wings’ of the DEA – one of them ‘clean’ and out to bust the other, crooked one – and the split is dated right from the formation of the Agency under Nixon.

Final Consolidation of the DEA

DEA

DEA

In July of 1973, Nixon’s narcotics forces were essentially consolidated according to Reorganization Plan No. 2 worked out by former CIA agent Walter Minnick and Egil Krogh. The DEA formed from the ranks of BNDD, ODALE, ONNI and Customs Intelligence. 4,000 operatives including 50 CIA agents (among them Cubans from the ODALE hardcore), 500 customs agents and most of the BNDD staff made the DEA a powerful new agency. No bureau has been as plagued by scandal as the DEA has in 7 years of existence. The exposes and charges run the gamut from trafficking in drugs, teamwork with the Mob, and protection of major traffickers, to thievery, gunrunning, torture and assassination of drug traffickers.

When Lucien Conein became the head of the DEA’s Special Operations Branch he allegedly carried out an assassination program after setting up the DEA’s Special Operations Group (DEASOG) under cover of the B. R. Fox Company housed on Connecticut Avenue in Washington DC. DEASOG shared its Washington office with an old friend and colleague of Hunt and Conein’s from OSS China, the weapons dealing soldier of fortune and specialist in assassination, Mitch Werbel III. Werbell had been a business partner of Conein’s as late as 1974 and they had worked together on providing the DEA with assassination devices. Among Werbell’s other associates were Frank Sturgis, the leaders of the Cuban Exile and Robert Vesco, who, like Werbell, has been charged with bankrolling narcotics smuggling.

Mitch Werbell III

Mitch Werbell III

Assassination, it can be argued became a modus operandi under Richard Nixon. The CIA carried out extermination campaigns in Vietnam, Guatemala, Argentina and Brazil – aided in Latin America by local military death squads. The White House appears to have sponsored a secret assassination program under the cover of drug enforcement. It was continued by the DEA, which seemingly overlapped with the CIA in the political arena. Until 1974 the training of torturers and members of Latin American death squads came under the auspices of the CIA and USAID’s Office of Public Safety. Some 100,000 Brazilian policemen, for example, were trained and 523 of them were chosen for courses in the USA. They were trained at the International Police Academy in Georgetown and at a secret CIA center in the same city on R street, under cover of International Police Services Inc. When school was out the prize pupils returned home to moonlight with the death squads.

After Tupemaros guerillas kidnapped and killed the U.S. police advisor Dan Mitrione in Uruguay, Washington’s schools for foreign police came into the limelight and Congress cut off their funding. Nonetheless, training programs and direct assurance through supervision continued. A 1976 investigation authorized by Senator James Abourezk revealed that the U.S. torture academies had not been in fact completely closed down. According to Jack Anderson, Abourezk found such a school had been in operation since 1974 in Los Fresnos, Texas at the site of a former bomb school. Another journalist, William Hoffman, later confirmed the existence of the school for torture at the same site and that it had since moved to Georgia, where it was known as the Law Enforcement Training Center. Interestingly, Conein’s friend Werbell runs his own large training center in Georgia called The Farm. It’s used for, among other things, the training of law enforcement officials.

Lopez Rega

Lopez Rega

Much of the old police support apparatus was simply transferred to AID’s International Narcotics Control Program (INC) which was controlled by the DEA. In 1974, the DEA utilized 400 agents in Latin America or roughly the number of advisors recalled from the OPS program. INC’s budget for technical equipment abroad jumped from $2.2 million in 1973 to $12.4 million in 1974.The politics of the new drug effort was exposed in 1974 when the man behind Argentina’s notorious death squad, the Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance (AAA), Social Minister Lopez Rega, appeared on TV with U.S. Ambassador Robert C. Hill to publicize the two nation’s anti-narcotics collaboration with the words “The Guerillas are the main users of drugs in Argentina. Therefore the anti-drug campaign will automatically be an anti-guerilla campaign as well”.

It’s striking how close the various extermination and repression campaigns have been to the narcotics traffic. The Meo Army deployed by the CIA in Laos smuggled large quantities of opium. Lopez Rega and his Argentine AAA henchmen were eventually exposed as keys to a cocaine ring. One of the chief AAA hatchet men, Francois Chiappe, was a lieutenant in the Ricord-David heroin network. He had excellent connections in Peronist circles. A former OAS Commando Delta member in Algeria, he remained in touch with other OAS figures assembled in the Paladin Group, a fascist terrorist combine founded in Spain by the Nazi war criminal Col. Otto Skorzeny. It was among the organizations to which Juan Peron’s grey eminence. Jose Lopez Rega, formed the dreaded AAA terror death squad.

Otto Skorzeny

Otto Skorzeny

When the Peronist Hector Campora became President of Argentina in May 1973, Chiappe was released and immediately recruited back into the AAA. When Peron himself returned a month later from 18 years of exile in Spain, an enormous crowd gathered at Ezeisa airport on June 20 to greet him. Among them was a large contingent of Monteneros and other Leftists, security police were well aware of their presence. Police and AAA terrorists led by Col. Jorge Osinde attacked the demonstrators with machine guns and hand grenades. 100 were killed and 300 were badly wounded. The AAA’s prisoners were dragged to the airport parking lot and tortured. Two of the more zealous hatchet men were Chiappe and former OAS Colonel Jean Gardes.

Many of the Corsicans booted from SAC fled to Spain to join the Paladin Group where they learned to work side by side with former OAS agents. Paraguay’s most ruthless officers were exposed as heroin profiteers, and finally as we go to press we learn that dictator, Pinochet, assumed control of Chile’s cocaine trade, then turned it over to his secret police, the DINA, who work with the Cuban Exile group operating under the DEA.

Mitch Werbell and The Mexican Connection

Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo

Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo

Alberto Sicilia Falcone, “The Mexican Connection” who was not even Mexican but a Cuban Bay of Pigs veteran, turned up in Mexico in 1973 at the hub of a gigantic heroin and marijuana establishment. He was arrested when it was discovered that he was trading China White for guns to destabilize the Mexican government under Echevarria. On July 2 1975 Sicilia-Falcone was arrested. Under heavy interrogation he claimed to be an agent of the CIA and that the drug ring had been set up on orders from and with the support of the agency. Part of his profits were to go toward the purchase of weapons and ammunition for distribution throughout Central America for the destabilization of ‘undesirable governments’. If true, the U.S. heroin addicts were again footing the bill for clandestine paramilitary operations and Anti-Communist terror campaigns. Sicilia-Falcone and his Syndicate associates were not short of funds, police found two Swiss bank account books in his possession to the tune of $260 million. In the Sicilia-Falcone case the CIA and DEA struggled bitterly against one another. It was sympathetic of the split within the DEA’s own ranks, a split rooted in the effective control of its narcotics division by transplanted agents of the CIA. Since the DEA’s emergence, many agents have resigned in disgust.

Mitch Werbell, as former Number 3 White House Narc under E. Howard Hunt, Conein and Nixon was permitted to operate with impunity. In August of 1976 Lucien Conein’s chum Mitch Werbell (whose BR Fox Company served as cover for Conein’s Special Operations Group) was brought before a Miami federal court on charges of conspiracy to smuggle 50,000 pounds of marijuana a month from Colombia to the United States. Werbell was found innocent and released, just like the Thai opium smuggler and CIA agent, Puttaporn Khramkhruan before him in 1973. He went home to Georgia to pursue his weapons business and law enforcement training camp. According to writer, Hank Messick, 1978 he was involved in Far Right politics with the likes of Major General John K. Singlaub (who was relieved of command after outspoken criticism of President Carter) and members of the American Security Council – the key US link to the Far Right’s national umbrella organization, the World Anti-Communist League (WACL). As reported recently in the New York Times, the beneficiaries of his anti-terrorist training have included members of the Far Right and Anti-Semitic U.S. Labor Party.

General John K. Singlaub

General John K. Singlaub

Werbell owns 8 companies, most of them dealing in firearms used by law enforcement and intelligence units. One of the firms, Studies in the Operational Negation of Insurgents and Counter-Subversion (SIONICS), specializes in the production of M10 and M11 silenced machine pistols. The latter 2 weapons, designed by Gordon Ingram and Werbell, are about the ultimate weapons for terror and extermination. Their sales agent was Werbell’s Military Armament Corporation. Together with the Anti-Castro Cuban arms dealers Anselmo Allegro and the mercenary, Gerry Hemming, Werbell founded the Parabellum Corporation in 1971 in Miami. Parabellum was licensed by the government to sell arms to South America. It was also the firm from which Frank Sturgis planned to obtain weapons for Cuban Exiles who were going to disrupt the Miami 1972 conventions.

In 1974 Werbell – according to a motion filed by his own lawyer when Werbell, his son and his company Defense Services Inc. were charged with illicit weapons sales – was involved ‘in a conspiracy among the CIA, Robert Vesco, and various corporations to finance clandestine guerilla activities in Latin America.” Vesco wanted to purchase Werbell’s stock of 2,000 silenced M10 machine pistols. When Werbell failed to secure an export license, he devised a plan to smuggle the weapons to Vesco. The two later negotiated the construction of a factory in Costa Rica which would be licensed to fabricate pistols. Intriguingly in the same period someone was negotiating with a U.S. firm for rights to fabricate in Mexico, fully automatic weapons for clandestine activities in Latin America. That individual was Mexico’s Cuban Exile Heroin Czar, Alberto Sicilia-Falcon, and among the weapons he purchased were the Ingram M10 and 9mm Parabellum.

Although the M10 and M11 could be acquired through special US permission, large numbers of silenced M10’s turned up in the hands of European right wing terrorists from 1975 to 1977. Pierluigi Concutelli, leader of the Italian terrorist group Ordine Nuovo, was arrested in Rome in 1977, police found a silenced M10 in his apartment, which he had used to murder the Roman magistrate Vittorio Occorsio. The magistrate had been shot on the streets of Rome in July 1976 after announcing he would expose the close collaboration between Right Wing groups and the Mafia. However, it was among Spanish terrorists in particular that Werbell’s machine pistols appeared in quantity. Most notably, a sizeable consignment of M10’s sent to Spain under license from US authorities had been purchased by the Spanish Intelligence Agency DGS, who had allegedly coordinated the terrorist attacks.

Robert Vesco

Robert Vesco

The fugitive billionaire Vesco employed a large contingent of trained Cubans to run his Costa Rican operation. His weapons negotiations coincided with the efforts of the fanatic Anti-Castro leader Orlando Bosch who assembled many of the Cuban cells into the terror group CORU, that would later carry out wet work assassinations for several Latin American regimes. During Bosch’s 1975 drive, a wave of murder struck Miami’s Cuban exile haven. Most victims were opposed to Bosch, and with them removed CORU was firmly established in June of 1976.

Vesco also once employed narcotics agents, in 1972 two bugging specialists from BNDD flew from Los Angeles to New Jersey to sweep Vesco’s house and office of surveillance devices. The sweeping tour had been arranged by an admitted friend of Vesco’s who had also been involved in supplying the fugitive with 2,000 machine guns and helping him establish a weapons factory in Costa Rica.

Heroin and The Strategy of Tension

Mussolini

Mussolini

The great innovative leap beyond the Corsican’s they displaced is that they are fully prepared to utilize the heroin traffic, not just to make money but to promote a strategy of tension. The ‘strategy of tension’ was a concept invented by Benito Mussolini as a way of turning around the Marxist idea of class struggle. Mussolini preached collaboration between workers and capitalists, but in capturing power he welcomed class struggle because the strategy of tension would exploit turmoil and chaos to win over weary middle elements who just wanted peace. When his black shirted Fascisti attacked the communists, it only created more demand for severe law and order measures from the police that he controlled.

It took Mussolini about 6 years to come to power. In his final days of government consolidation he turned against liberal newspapers and other voices of dissent. Locking them up became a moderate alternative to the continued violence of the extreme Fascisti whom Mussolini claimed he had to pacify. This would not be politically possible today, yet by maintaining the plausible deniability of complicity between the three working parts of the War on Drugs politicians (The Big 5 Bloc: Tobacco, Alcohal, Prisons, CIA/Police and Pharma), narcotics agencies and drug cartels, today’s far right wing rising to power on a tide of violence. The beauty of it is while 85% of drug busts continue to be for weed, none of the heat for diverting enforcement from heroin backfire on the narcotics agencies.

WaronDrugs

All 3 levels exploit the air current together. The top – War on Drugs Bloc – (**Editor: The Consortium**) directs the next level down – DEA and Narcotics Officials – against petty groups, individuals and non-conformist states, while keeping outside factors like the press from focusing on the bottom level, which was formed with the trained commando groups – Cuban Exiles, Ex-Iranian and South American intelligence assets, and trained members of various crime syndicates to distribute the heroin and influence the entertainment and media world.

war-on-drugs

Instead of compromising right wing reputations or upsetting their strategy, the very smack traffic they’re protecting fosters the street crime which new right wing politicians can, in turn, use to get elected or re-elected, by calling for more police, more prisons, more foreign operations and more law & order.

George Bush w/ Crack Bag

George Bush w/ Crack Bag

Heroin Fascism (**aka Narcostatism**), which was supposed to be far away or ‘over there’, confined to Iran, Afghanistan or the Golden Triangle of Burma, has come home to New York’s Lower East Side with a sense of vengeful economic super exploitation and increasingly cavalier repression of the populace. Not only does it eliminate non-conformists and undesirables, the whole combine sets up sympathetic vibes in widely separated scenes, so that normal people with common sense who wouldn’t listen to the War on Drugs Bloc, and maybe even disparage the DEA, end up being conditioned into surprisingly right wing attitudes in order to ‘get ahead’ within the system.

bush-salute

 

When we look at the flood of heroin now coming in from the Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan Golden Crescent, it is said to be ten times more than the early ‘70s flow from the Golden Triangle, and a hundred times more than the Corsican flow from Turkey. The situation has passed its breaking point, how long can the great heroin scandals of 1981 continue to be obfuscated and covered up depends on the sincerity of the investigator and reporters who are supposed to print the truth.

Activists Ptotest Crackdown On Medical Marijuana In San Francisco

 

The Green Chazzan

 

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The CIA Torture Report

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Required Viewing

Lord of The Golden Triangle (8 min each)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

The CIA’s Secret War in Laos (1960-1970) Best Film Archives

The Secret Government (Bill Moyers PBS 1987)

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Required Reading: The Origin of the DEA – Part 1

*EDITOR’S NOTE:  This article was written during the beginning of the Church Committee investigating illegal activities by the CIA. This article contains Col. Lucien Conein’s statements to members of that investigation committee.

Excerpt From “DEA Shopped For Assassination Gear” by AJ Weberman (1978)

Images of Conein Are Rare

Images of Conein Are Rare

…Lucien Conein at age 17 fled his hometown in Kansas to join the French Foreign Legion during World War II. He would be recruited into the OSS in France where he lived and fought with the Corsican Mafia as part of The Resistance. The Corsican Brotherhood is an underworld organization deeply involved in the international drug trade which proved to be sometimes more dangerous than their Sicilian counterparts.

After the liberation, Conein parachuted into Vietnam to join the OSS Team fighting the Japanese alongside Ho Chi Minh and General Giap. In 1954, he was back in Vietnam fighting his old allies as one of General Edward Lansdale’s Special Forces Team. He helped President Diem consolidate power in Vietnam, but in 1963  he was Henry Cabot Lodges’ liaison at the US Embassy along with the cabal of generals who murdered him. Although Conein married a Vietnamese woman, and was on intimate terms with most of the Vietnamese high command, he was sent back to Washington as most in the CIA considered him ‘unstable’.

Daniel Ellsberg

Daniel Ellsberg

He soon returned to Vietnam as part of an elite counterinsurgency team which included Daniel Ellsberg. It was this association which brought him to the attention of E. Howard Hunt at the Nixon White House, who knew Conein from OSS and Operation Jedburgh. Hunt consulted with Conein regarding forged telegrams he had produced implicating that Kennedy had ordered the assassination of Diem. For his complicity, Conein was rewarded with a high ranking position at the Drug Enforcement Agency as its liaison to the CIA. He would eventually be promoted to Head of Special Operations of the Strategic Intelligence Section of the DEA.

Conein, when questioned about his activities, was called upon a remark made about the BR Fox Catalog of military assassination equipment indicating that the company was owned by Mitch Werbell…Conein went on to claim that BR Fox was legally licensed and doing work for the US government. In reality, BR Fox was part of the government, an appendage of CIA agent Bernard Spindel, who had worked closely with Jimmy Hoffa. In 1974, the BR Fox Company shared an office with Mitch Werbell in the La Salle Building on Connecticut Avenue in Washington DC. This was during the period that Werbell was negotiating an arms deal with Robert Vesco, a fugitive in Costa Rica. Werbell sold Vesco 2,000 silenced machine pistols but was unable to secure an export license, instead agreeing to build an arms factory in Costa Rica. Werbell reportedly transferred the arms shipment to 12 CIA agents who were used by Conein to conduct paramilitary operations against ‘drug smugglers’.

Mitch Werbell III

Mitch Werbell III

Conein denied attempting to appropriate assassination equipment from Werbell despite being a known CIA/DEA assassin in South America. Peer da Silva, former Saigon Station Chief commented: “You have to start out with the premise that Lou Conein is crazy. He worked with me in Vietnam, if work is the word, in CIA we have all kinds of villains and rogues involved as well as heroes, and within reason if you keep them all under control, then people like him can do things that other people cannot do and that is how they survive”. Conein once told journalist George Crile III that the DEA “had no cover as far as breaking laws  and after the damn Church Committee we will have even less. You can’t do it because 12 or 13 years later you might have to stand up there with your balls exposed.”

Document #1

MEMORANDUM: PETE KINSEY (SEN. WEICKER)
SUBJECT: INTERVIEW WITH COL. LUCIEN CONEIN

On January 21, 1975 Senator Weicker and I interviewed Col. Lucien Conein who is currently the head of special operations of the strategic intelligence section of the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Conein said that he retired from the CIA in 1968. In 1969, he went to South Vietnam on his own where he tried to make some money through his connections. Being ‘unsuccessful’ he returned to the US in early 1971. He went to France with his wife for six weeks and returned in April of 1971. Upon his return, he was contacted by the White House regarding his knowledge of opium in Southeast Asia. Egil Krogh was the first person to talk to Conein about this, he asked him about the drug situation and what he would do if he had the responsibility to run counter-operations. Conein prepared a paper in response, outlining his actions and ideas to Krogh.

Krogh asked Conein to set up a drug intelligence organization, explaining that while the White House was receiving input from Customs and the Bureau of Narcotics (BNDD) that he wanted an outsider. Conein wrote a second brief stating that trafficking organizations had to be penetrated using the same clandestine means employed by the CIA in Southeast Asia. Conein then received a call to discuss issues further with E. Howard Hunt in early July of 1971. Hunt guaranteed that Conein’s orders would come directly from the President and be under the legal protection of Executive Privilege. Hunt interviewed Conein at the White House and asked him about Daniel Ellsberg who had worked with him in Vietnam was creating a stir with the Pentagon Papers. Conein said that Ellsberg was thought very highly of, so much so, that he was recruited into Ambassador Porter’s staff.

Conein said that he was surprised when camera crews arrived at his house following the release of the Pentagon Papers. Conein said Bill Gill of ABC handed him a copy of the New York Times and had underlined Conein’s name in numerous places. Conein told Gill that he could not speak with him because of the security requirements placed upon him by the CIA. Gill then told Conein that he would contact the CIA to obtain permission for Conein to talk. The CIA told Gill that Conein’s information was classified.

Conein denied direct contact with Kissinger although he admitted to frequent contact with his aides. He said that he knew Haig from Vietnam and knew John Lehman as well but that others ‘he couldn’t remember or recall’. Conein admitted that Hunt called to verify the conversation with the press and that the CIA had arranged to meet him for debriefing at a local bowling alley. Conein alleged that he was given an envelope with $500 inside with $20 denominations. He scoffed at the amount and reportedly mailed back the envelope with the money to Langley signed ‘Luigi’.

Conein claimed he was contacted by the media again for an NBC white paper being developed on the Diem coup. Conein was told by the White House that they were interested in seeing him interviewed, in particular to relay the prepared information by Hunt as to how they wanted to put Diem’s death on Kennedy. Conein refused, stating that his only interest in the story was to illustrate what the CIA had done to prevent the assassination and that he believed that his interview in December of 1971 did not come out the way he thought it should have.

Conein stated that he was invited to the White House by Krogh in January of 1972, to receive an offer for paid intelligence work. It involved papers and advisement relating to international drug trafficking. Krogh told him after the work was concluded that he could not be kept at the White House but could be transferred into Customs or BNDD. He became a consultant for BNDD Intelligence in June of 1972 until he received a permanent position in December of that year. Conein denied meeting Charles Colson or John Scalin. He said he had learned of Colson posing as ‘Fred Charles’ as a result of the Watergate testimony.

Conein never denied seeing the forged cables produced by Hunt that implicated Kennedy. He said that all cables had been classified Top Secret and could not read all of them because of his security clearance. Conein saw the rest of the cables when approached by them with Steve Lambert from Life Magazine. He said after reading those cables he ‘realized he had been played for a patsy by Henry Cabot Lodge’. Conein said that after he saw that he went home and called Colby at CIA on a secure phone, told him about the cables and what they implied. Colby said that he had never seen the cables either. Conein said the cable showed complicity of the White House in instructions to Lodge to have Diem assassinated but that they may not have been ordered by the President; Conein cited that Lodge’s communique at 6 am was unlikely as Lodge was never awake at 6 am.

Conein said that the BNDD-CIA agreement was terminated in July of 1973 and that he never met Ehrlichman. He stated that after Nixon’s big meeting on narcotics in 1972, the CIA formed a narcotics unit to coordinate intelligence activities. He said that, for example, the CIA in Laos in 1971 were not concerned about drug trafficking and that action was required when Nixon stepped up efforts on international trafficking. Coordination was required so that the President’s initiatives wouldn’t catch the CIA off guard. Krogh was the coordinator at the White House and chaired the oversight committee responsible for overseeing the operations.

At BNDD (now DEA) Conein worked in strategic intelligence. His job was to start assembling the necessary information to develop patterns for drug trafficking organizations. At DEA he now heads up the special operations section which involves training individuals to go into a country to gather intelligence on drug trafficking operations. Conein said the DEA man will establish the operation, the host country will approve and that they will go in-country to train the host countries authorities. Conein said that this involves recruiting in-country nationals and supplying and training them in the use of advanced weapons, electronic bugging and surveillance equipment. Conein specified that he had three men on his staff and 14 individuals in various stages of training.

When Sen. Weicker showed Conein the BR Fox Company catalogue, Conein made an outright comment about Mitch Werbell. He mentioned using bugging devices from Werbell overseas. He stated that Mike Morrissey of BR Fox made such equipment and that he often showed Conein his surveillance and assassination equipment for sale. Conein denied knowing Bernard Spindel but admitted to knowing his wife, he denied ever purchasing anything from Spindel or Werbell. Weicker stated that he believed Morrissey was making the equipment directly for Conein, of which Conein denied and said he would swear under oath. Conein denied ordering the ASTRO series from Werbell, Morrissey or Spindel but that in April of 1974, he ordered bugging and surveillance equipment for use overseas, including 6 modified telephones. He claimed that he never used any of the equipment despite its purchase. He admitted that he first met Morrissey in 1973 and that Morrissey wanted to sell weapons to the Justice Department, Conein stated he was more interested in surveillance equipment. He denied meeting Morrissey on more than four or five occasions. He said that DEA ordered the equipment for him but that they did not use Werbell after that because delivery had been late.

 

Conein admitted that he knew Mitch Werbell previously from working together at OSS China. He said that Werbell was an arms manufacturer and that he had been to his training camps in Georgia. He said Werbell was a big ‘wheeler dealer’ and had wanted Conein to go to London to discuss importing ‘scrap’ from Vietnam. Conein said Werbell had thousands of weapons and that he specialized in making silencers for various machine guns. Conein then denied that Morrissey had showed him the assassination equipment, implying Werbell and that the equipment was superior because it was electronic. Conein commented that Werbell was ‘once CIA, always CIA’.

Conein then explained to Senator Weicker that he should ask for an FBI investigation and he would voluntarily take a polygraph. He said that Werbell’s company wanted to sell him the equipment because they thought he was still deeply tied into the CIA. Weicker then asked Conein why he did not launch an inquiry after seeing the assassination equipment; Conein replied that BR Fox was legally licensed and doing work for the government. Conein said the only agency that would be interested in the ASTRO line was the CIA. Conein said that he warned Werbell to not allow the equipment to be sold to organized crime as ‘they would have a field day’. Conein also mentioned that Frank Searle from DEA had attended the meeting.

I called Frank at his office at DEA and asked him to join us for a meeting. Searle gave the same story as Conein, stating that he had taken an ‘academic interest’ in the equipment simply because he had never seen anything like it. He said that the ASTRO equipment was demonstrated out of professional pride and that he ‘could not recall’ whether or not Morrissey had sold weapons to Conein or any agency, but he did confirm suspicions that BR Fox was under the CIA. He stated that DEA never approved the operation in which the equipment was intended for use and that as a result of recent Supreme Court decisions on wiretapping that the wiretaps could not be used overseas….”

 

 

 

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REQUIRED READING – A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CIA’S INVOLVEMENT WITH DRUG SMUGGLING – PART 2

The CIA’s Involvement with Drug Smuggling

by Dark Politics (Post 2008) – Part 2 

Map_of_Communist_Base_Areas,_as_used_in_Operation_Menu

The Pegasus Program

The Pegasus program, initiated by President Harry Truman to spy on other CIA units, revealed numerous illegal activities within the agency. Since the time of its inception, the role of Pegasus substantially changed. Pegasus became an integral part of a drug trafficking operation.

Gene “Chip” Tatum was initially recruited as a member of the top secret Pegasus unit during the Vietnam War. He and 13 others were assigned to Operation Rock, a covert action to secretly enter Phnom Penh, Cambodia in January 1971. The unit received its briefings from various CIA operatives as well as from General Alexander Haig and CIA Saigon Chief William Colby. The objective of Pegasus was to destabilize the Cambodian government by sabotaging the city’s airport. They captured and murdered some unarmed North Vietnamese military personnel. Tatum claimed that he and the other 13 members of Operation Red Rock were also to be killed by Montagnard tribesmen under orders of the CIA. Then their bodies were to be “disappeared.” Thus, American involvement in Cambodia could be denied. However, this CIA plot was not carried out, and the members of Operation Red Rock survived.

CIA Director William Colby

CIA Director William Colby

A copy of the “Pegasus files” was given to Congressman Larry McDonald, a member of the Joint Armed Services Committee between 1976 and 1982. McDonald stated that he would reveal startling evidence about the CIA, but ironically, he was killed when KAL 007 was shot down over the Sakhalin Islands.Tatum continued to serve as a CIA operative for the next 20 years. He continued as a member of Pegasus, becoming a deep-cover CIA pilot involved in covert operations, trafficking cocaine during the contra war. Between the early 1980s and 1990 Tatum became directly involved in the drugs-for-arms scam. He claimed that the marked-up arms, which were sold to Iran, were traded for cocaine which was flown back to American bases, especially to Arkansas, Ohio and Colorado.

As a CIA pilot, he was told that he would be contacted by “a man called North.” Col.  Oliver North, who covertly helped to arm the Contras as well as being one of the principle conduits for drug trafficking. Tatum claimed that North’s operation not only involved the Colombian cartels, but it also involved the shipments of cocaine into the United States. In 1985 Tatum flew out of Palmerola Air Base in Honduras. On one flight in February, he was instructed to contact Felix Rodriguez who was a pivotal player in Iran-Contra. Rodriguez informed Tatum that he was to support covert Pegasus missions.

Col Oliver North

Col Oliver North

When Tatum returned to his home base, he contacted North to advise him of the cocaine. North replied that it was “a trophy of war” and that it was not the Contras — but the “Sandinistas … selling it to fund the military.” North added by stating that “the cocaine was bound for the world courts as evidence” against the Sandinistas. Two years earlier, Tatum had flown similar containers, which were labeled “Medical Supplies,” into Little Rock Air Force Base, and the crates were picked up by Dan Lasater, a close friend of the Governor Clinton. Tatum admitted that he flew several missions out of the American base in Honduras and picked up cocaine containers regularly, sometimes violating Nicaraguan airspace. At this time Tatum began to document all Pegasus trips on the back of his flight logs.

Not long after his association with North, Tatum was transferred to New York to set up a money-laundering operation for funds from the Iran-Contra cocaine pipeline. He was named president of three proprietary construction companies: American National Home Builders, American Constructors, and American Homes.In addition to North and Rodriguez, Tatum was to take orders from Amiram Nir, a former Mossad agent and advisor to Vice President Bush. Tatum was ordered to fly a 200 pound sealed cooler, marked “Vaccine,” to a Contra camp on the Honduran border. When the cooler was being transferred to an Air Force C-130 transport plane, it accidentally broke and 100 bags of cocaine were exposed. Not surprised by this discovery, Tatum stated that he had suspected that the CIA was involved in trafficking cocaine two years earlier.

George Bush Sr.

George Bush Sr.

Pegasus also involved the “neutralizing” of pivotal government leaders during the Contra war. For example, a struggle for power emerged among some Contra leaders. The United States supported Adolfo Calero, while Enrique Bermudez also sought a prominent position in the Contra hierarchy. When Bermudez threatened to expose the role of Vice President Bush in drug trafficking, Tatum claimed that Bush ordered Bermudez assassinated. Another assassination was carried out by Pegasus against Honduran General Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. When Alvarez demanded a bigger split of the cocaine profits, he was murdered in 1989. Tatum also admitted his involvement in the assassination of Amiram Nir, a former Israeli Mossad agent. After Nir was called to testify before a Senate subcommittee, his plane was shot down by missiles from Tatum’s helicopter.

Chamorro

Chamorro

Another Pegasus operation occurred soon after the 1990 Nicaraguan elections. President Bush hand-picked Violetta Chamorro to be the new “president,” and it took a 15 party coalition and $12 million from the Bush administration to defeat Sandinista president Daniel Ortega. After Chamorro’s victory, Tatum stated that another Contra leader, whom he would not name, requested that Bush give him a key position in the new government. By refusing to place him in the Chamorro government, Bush put himself in a vulnerable position. This Contra leader could expose Bush’s involvement in drug trafficking. Thus, a Pegasus unit was assigned to disgrace him in early 1990. Pegasus used the odorless and tasteless drug scopolaphine, which would prevents one from recalling anything which occurred while under its spell. Tatum stated that the former Contra leader was invited to a luxury hotel as a guest of Bush. After the CIA administered the drug, the Contra leader was introduced to an attractive “blonde,” and the two went into a bedroom where a hidden video camera recorded their sexual activity. It turned out that the “blonde” was a male prostitute from New York, and he was later killed that evening. According to Tatum, the scopolaphine worked. Weeks later, the Contra leader was given a copy of the video tape which revealed his homosexual acts.

Tatum claimed that in 1992 Bush instructed him to “neutralize,” presidential contender Ross Perot, but he refused to do so. Tatum turned over a copy of an incriminating tape to Bush, explaining that it would not be publicized as long as the plot was not carried out. As recently as 1994, Tatum was contacted by North, Felix Rodriquez, and CIA director William Colby and was told to surrender all documents and tapes. Tatum refused to do so. Tatum had turned whistle blower. The next year, he was charged with treason. At his trial his attorney refused to call even one of the 80 witnesses Tatum had requested. Later, the attorney admitted that he had been pressured by the Department of Defense. The charge of treason was subsequently changed to that of fraud. Tatum was found guilty and was sentenced to serve a 15 month sentence. In March 1996, an additional charge – conspiring to embezzle – was brought against him. Found guilty once again, Tatum was sentenced to a 27 month concurrent sentence.

THE CIA-CONTRA COCAINE TRAIN

CIA Chief Ted Shackley

CIA Chief Ted Shackley

After George Bush succeeded William Colby as the head of the CIA under President Ford, Bush appointed Shackley to be his “Chief of Covert Operations Worldwide.” As the Vietnam War was ending Shackley left Southeast Asia in 1972 to head CIA activities in the Western Hemisphere. One of Shackley’s first assignments was to sent Ed Wilson and Manuel Artime to meet with right-wing dictator Anastasio Somoza of Nicaragua. However, Somoza’s totalitarian regime lasted only another seven years before being overthrown by the Sandinistas.

Guatemala Narco Routes

Guatemala Narco Routes

In the 1980s, 150 tons of cocaine a year were flowing through Latin America. That generated a business of $29 billion a year and was 12 to 13 times more than America’s largest corporations. Prior to the creation of the Contra drug pipeline, the first to profit from drug trafficking were Bolivia’s “cocaine coup” government of 1980-82. They werte followed by the Medellin cartel, the Panamanian government, the Honduran military and Miami-based anti-Castro Cubans. Two months after Reagan’s inauguration in 1981 the CIA launched its secret war in an attempt to overthrow the Sandinista government. Soon thereafter, the arms-drug caper began. The drug of choice in the 1960s and 1970s was heroin — imported from Southeast Asia. Then in the 1980s, the primary addicting drug became cocaine, and its source was Latin America, the new hub of CIA activities.

Richard Armitage - Bush Crony

Richard Armitage – Bush Crony

In December 1981, Vice President Bush met with the National Security Planning Group in the White House. They discussed and approved a $19 million expenditure to Argentina for the creation of a 500 man anti-Sandinista Contra force. In April 1982, Bush met with Australian Labor leader Hayden to discuss the CIA’s involvement with the Nugan Hand Bank in Australia. Nugan Hand was a money-laundering machine for the Southeast Asia heroin operation that began during the Vietnam War. Defense Department spokesman Richard Armitage acted as bagman, carrying cash from Bangkok, Thailand, to Australia.

The first publicly known case of contra cocaine shipments appeared in government files in an October 22, 1982 cable from the CIA’s Directorate of Operations. The cable passed on word that American law enforcement agencies were aware of “links between (a United States religious organization) and two Nicaraguan counter-revolutionary groups (which) involve an exchange in (the United States) of narcotics for arms.” The material in parentheses was inserted by the CIA as part of its declassification of the cable. The name of the religious group remained secret. Over the next several years of the Reagan administration, the CIA learned of other suspected links between the Contras and drug trafficking. Ironically, “the war on drugs” became an important part of Reagan’s domestic agenda. While the United States sent military aid southward to its surrogates fighting the Sandinista government, the rate of cocaine being transported northward into the states quickly escalated. The CIA was involved in a variety of ways — by air, land, and sea — in bringing cocaine into the United States.

George Bush w/ Crack Bag

George Bush w/ Crack Bag

CIA operative Gunther Russbacher, who was highly opposed to drug capers, stated that he was at high level meetings which involved drug dealers in Colombia. Russbacher stated that drug kingpins divided their territory into two large groups, the Cali and Medellin cartels. Operation Snow Cone was the CIA’s primary trafficking operation in Latin America. Under this umbrella, Operation Watch Tower was formed. This consisted of low frequency radio beacons which allowed aircraft, loaded with cocaine, to navigate undetected at low altitudes between Colombia and Panama. The CIA used both Boeing 727s and C-130s which were flown by CIA or commercial pilots. According to Russbacher, two captains from United Airlines and one Pan American pilot supplemented their base salaries by flying drugs into the United States.

In 1984, CIA Inspector General Richard Hitz reported that the CIA even intervened with the Justice Department to block a criminal investigation into a suspected Contra role in a San Francisco-based drug ring. In December 1985, Robert Parry and Brian Barger wrote the first news article disclosing that virtually every Nicaraguan contra group had links to drug trafficking. In that Associated Press dispatch they noted that the CIA knew of at least one case of cocaine profits filtering into the Contra war effort, but that DEA officials in Washington claimed they had never been told of any Contra tie-in. After the AP story was released, the Reagan administration attacked it as unfounded and the article was largely ignored by the rest of the Washington press corps. However, it did help spark an investigation by Kerry. Years later in 1995 the Clinton administration quietly rescinded Casey’s narcotics exemption.

THE CONGRESSIONAL SELECT COMMITTEES.

kerry

In 1987, a year after the Iran-Contra scandal broke, two committees convened on Capitol Hill. In February John Kerry of Massachusetts persuaded the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of which he was a member, to launch an official investigation under the auspices of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations which came to be known as the Kerry committee. Kerry also was able to expand the probe to include the possible role of foreign governments in drug trafficking.

In addition the Senate Select Committee, chaired by Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, also investigated alleged illegalities during the Contra War. The committee called very few witnesses, and those who were called were usually asked superficial questions. American military personnel, business people, and mercenaries kept the Contras supplied while the Boland Amendment forbade military assistance after 1984. However, many of these important players never testified before the Iran-Contra committee. According to Florida federal public defender John Mattes, who investigated the resupply network, the Iran-Contra committee made a mistake in questioning only the high officials and did not talk to the lower echelon personnel who aided in the resupply effort. Mattes said that the Congressional committees went to the conspirators North and Poindexter and merely asked if they did anything wrong or if they were guilty of a crime. They never interviewed any mercenaries to question them whom they worked for.

THE COSTA RICA CONNECTION

Sandanistas

Sandanistas

The arms-for-drugs operation also thrived in Costa Rica. When the Southern Front against the Sandinista government was established in 1983, Costa Rica was ill equipped to deal with the threat posed by the Colombian drug cartels. Costa Rica had no military and its law enforcement remained limited. Its radar system was so poor that contra planes could fly in and out undetected. The government of Costa Rica only employed civil guards who were underpaid and easily bought. By 1985, Associated Press was running stories which stated that the CIA and contras were involved in drug trafficking. Two years later in 1987, CIA chief for Central America, Alan Fiers, testified that numerous people were involved in drug trafficking. Fiers was largely responsible for cutting off CIA aid to Eden Pastora in 1984 when it appeared impossible that he would fall in with the rest of the contras. Fiers testified before a Congressional committee in 1991 that other higher up military and White House personnel were well aware of drug trafficking by the Contras. Fiers testified: “With respect to (drug trafficking) by the Resistance Forces. … It is not a couple of people. It is a lot of people.”

Costa Rica Narco Routes

Costa Rica Narco Routes

The 144-page report included a litany of drug operations out of various Latin American countries. Most of the narcotic traffic was directed by Contra and CIA officials. Morales testified before the Kerry committee that Gary Betzner, his best pilot, flew arms to the Contras from the Fort Lauderdale Airport to Costa Rica. Morales stated that his planes returned frequently loaded with “about 400 or so kilograms of cocaine.” Morales rewarded the Contras with $400,000 in cash and checks in October 1984. By the end of 1985, he swore that cash contributions to the Contras were $4 million to $5 million. When Kerry asked about the origin of the cash, Morales said that “about 100 percent” was drug money. The Kerry report concluded: “There was substantial evidence of drug smuggling through war zones on the part of the Contras, Contra suppliers, Contra pilots, mercenaries who worked for the Contras, and Contra supporters throughout the region.”

El Salvador Civil War

El Salvador Civil War

A number of Costa Ricans also became drug traffickers for the Contras. Jaime “Pillique” Guerra owned a crop dusting service as well as an aircraft business in northern Costa Rica. He refueled and repaired planes which originated in Panama and were carrying weapons to the El Salvador regime in its civil war against the FMLN. These planes carried narcotics as well as weapons. Werner Lotz, one of the pilots, was subsequently convicted of drug smuggling. He explained that the drug traffickers were competing over their share of the profits. He stated that the government guards could be easily bought off. Another Costa Rican pilot was Gerardo Duran, who flew a number of missions for the Contras’ Southern Front. However, the United States eventually severed ties with him after he was indicted for narcotics trafficking. In 1987 he was convicted and imprisoned in Costa Rica.

At a 1986 Costa Rican drug trial, CBS News reported that the United States government presented wiretapped telephone conversations with contra leader Huachen Gonzalez. He discussed the large amounts of cocaine which the contras were sending from Costa Rica to the United States. Also in 1986 the Costa Rican government arrested a Cuban exile carrying 204 kilograms of cocaine from an airstrip. He denied any role in these operations but stated that the Contras had asked him to smuggle in arms.

THE JOHN HULL CONNECTION

Contra War - 1980s

Contra War – 1980s

Hull’s 8,000 acre ranch, located in northern Costa Rica and just south of the Nicaraguan border, was a refueling and storing place for cocaine which originated from the Medellin and Cali cartels in Colombia. Hull was given a $375,000 “loan” to a build a lumber mill on his ranch. He owned six airstrips which served as a base for the shipment of narcotics. He kept the Contras fed and housed. He also claimed that he could account for the Contra money which was handed down by Contra leader Adolfo Calero. In July 1983, Hull traveled to Washington, D.C. to convince members of Congress that Pastora could not be trusted since he was a front for the FDN. One of the offices which he visited was that of Senator Dan Quayle of Indiana He was introduced to Quayle’s assistant, Robert Owen, and to North. Subsequently, Owen resigned from his position with Quayle and started the United Nicaraguan Opposition (UNO).

Contra War

Contra War

One of Pastora’s former pilots, Geraldo Duran, told the Kerry committee that he had been arrested in 1986 in Costa Rica for flying drugs to the United States. When the CIA dropped Pastora in 1984, it had to find another source through which to work. That turned out to be Jorge Morales who conspired with an American, John Hull, who owned a multi-acre farm in northern Costa Rica. A leadership struggle within the FDN developed early in the Contra war. Eventually Pastora, leader of the southern front operating out of Costa Rica, broke ranks with Adolfo Calero who was the White House’s choice to run the Contras. As a result of a leadership struggle in the FDN, Pastora soon fell out of good grace with the umbrella Contra organization which operated out of Honduras.

Honduras Narco Routes

Honduras Narco Routes

Hull was also aided by two Americans, William Crone and Ian Kniloch, the chief of the Contra’s air logistics. Both worked with a paramilitary group known as Huerta Norte. Another Hull neighbor was Bruce Jones who owned a 55-acre ranch next door. Jones testified that Hull received 5,000 rifles, 5 million rounds of ammunition, hand grenades, mines, and mortars from the contras. Jones was a liaison between the CIA and Contras for whom he was supplying millions of dollars in arms. He testified that between May 1982 and May 1984 approximately 100 deliveries of arms and supplies were coordinated by him and Hull. These supplies were kept on Hull’s ranch. Jones maintained that when the planes arrived, he would help unload the drugs and arms in five or ten minutes.

Gen. Richard V Secord

Gen. Richard V Secord

In the 1960s, Ronald Martin worked for the CIA in Miami along with James McCoy, another ex-attaché to Nicaragua. When Contra aid was legally cut by the Boland Amendment in 1984, Martin began organizing North’s role in raising arms for the Contras. However, Martin was shut off when North began to use Richard Secord as the arms broker. According to Calero, Martin and McCoy received $2,095,000 for arms from North. Martin’s attorney stated that the amount was closer to $15 million or $20 million. At least five witnesses testified to the Kerry committee that cocaine was loaded onto planes at John Hull’s ranch. The committee also was told that Hull received $10,000 a month as a courtesy from Oliver North. Yet the Justice Department took no action against Hull for either obstruction of justice or for drug trafficking. In 1989 Hull was arrested in Costa Rica, but the charges against him for trafficking 2,500 kilograms of cocaine were dropped. He was declared a persona non grata and moved to Miami. After 1988 the Justice Department reluctantly indicted some people working for Hull, but soon afterwards these too were dropped.

Felipe Vidal - Cuban Assassin

Felipe Vidal – JM Wave Cuban Assassin

Felipe Vidal and Rene Corvo were Cuban-Americans involved in transporting arms to Hull’s ranch in return for drugs. Revenue from the cocaine was used to purchase military equipment, ammunition, and explosives for the Contras. Corvo testified to the Justice Department that paramilitary supplies were stored in the home of Frank Chanes in Miami and in the garage of Corvo. However, no charges were ever brought against Corvo. Witnesses testified that Corvo stored loaded guns on his premises and that he told friends that he flew clothing and medical supplies to refugees in El Salvador.

Ex-CIA agent Jose Fernandez testified to the Kerry committee that Vidal and Corvo were agency operants. He stated that both were involved in the illicit drug business and that the CIA’s duty was to protect them. Vidal was called a CIA contract agent who had been arrested numerous times in Miami on narcotics and weapons charges. All this evidence gave the Kerry committee adequate evidence to implicate Vidal, Corvo, North, and others as being part of an arms-for-drugs conspiracy. Between 1983 and 1986, numerous pilots made flights out of Hull’s ranch and returned to the United States with millions of dollars in drugs. Many flights landed at Ilopango Air base in El Salvador and at Hull’s ranch. A convicted drug smuggler admitted flying 500 kilograms of cocaine from Hull’s ranch to the United States. “It was arms down, cocaine back . . . with full knowledge of the CIA and DEA.”

John Hull

John Hull

According to the Kerry report, the main front set up by the CIA that operated out of Florida was SETCO Air. This was a CIA-operated company which ran arms down to Honduras and returned with cocaine. The Kerry report stated that SETCO was the principal company used by the contras to transport supplies and personnel to the FDN, carrying at least a million rounds of ammunition, food, supplies, uniforms, and other military supplies for the Contras from 1983 through 1985. Peter Glibbery, a mercenary hired by Hull to train contras on his ranch, told a Costa Rican court that he was arrested after Hull asked him to set up a Contra training camp on his ranch. He was convicted and imprisoned for violating Costa Rican neutrality laws and illegal possession of explosives. Glibbery said that Hull informed him of a proposed bombing plot at the American embassy in San Jose. According to Glibbery, Hull claimed that mines were needed to do the job. However, Glibbery’s account of his experience on the Hull ranch changed. During a trial in a suit brought by Hull against the two American journalists Avirgan and Honey, Glibbery refused to discuss Hull’s involvement in the assassination plot. Glibbery told a Costa Rican court that he had met Hull and Posey in March 1985. The next day, Glibbery said that he flew to Costa Rica with Hull and the mercenaries. He said Hull identified himself as the liaison officer between the CIA and the FDN. Glibbery told Honey and Avirgan that in April 1987 that Hull had threatened to kill him if he did not repudiate the evidence which he had given to the United States federal investigators.

In May 1987, an Iran-Contra select committee team went to San Jose, Costa Rica but failed to interview Hull. It turned out that they merely called him on the telephone from San Jose, just 30 miles from his ranch. Hull never testified to either congressional committee. However, he could have told the congressional committee who ran the operation and who authorized it. Hull could also have responded to allegations that those running the supply lines through his ranch were engaged in drug trafficking. Hull received $10,000 a month from Contra leader Calero, according to public testimony by Owen. Hull also received $800 a month from the CIA to pay for bodyguards during a time the agency was prohibited from using funds to supply the Contras. Thus, no legitimate congressional investigation was ever launched.

CELERINO CASTILLO

Celerino Castillo III - Former DEA Agent

Celerino Castillo III – Former DEA Agent

In 1979, Castillo was hired by the DEA, and after a successful conviction, he was transferred to Central America. After Reagan launched his war against the Sandinistas two years later, Castillo immediately became involved with numerous drug dealers, most of whom were also hired to run arms to the Contras. Castillo’s first encounter was with Socrates Amaury Sofi-Perez, a former Bay of Pigs veteran, who operated a shrimp business in Guatemala City. He smuggled drugs packed in frozen shrimp into Florida and laundered the profits for the Contras. Castillo also had ties to Gerard Latchinian, an international arms dealer. In 1984 Latchinian was arrested for using proceeds from a $10 million cocaine deal to help finance the assassination of Honduran President Roberto Suarez Cordoba. Latchinian’s partner was General Jose Bueso Rosa who helped train Contra soldiers in Honduras.

Luis Posada Carriles

Luis Posada Carriles

Another associate was Luis Posada Carriles who was arrested in the 1970s for carrying out murders while he was an agent for Venezuela’s DISIP or secret police. After bribing himself out of prison in 1985, Posada was flown by the CIA to El Salvador and paid $3,000 a month by the agency. Posada arranged for pilots to fly weapons to Contra bases in El Salvador and Costa Rica as well to bring drugs on their return trips into the United States. Posada also worked with Luis Rodriquez who operated Costa Rica’s Frigoficos de Puntarenas, a shrimp business which was used as a front to provide $260,000 in aid to the Contras.

El Salvador Narco Routes

El Salvador Narco Routes

Hugo Martinez was yet another one of Castillo’s friends who helped to develop flight plans for contra resupply missions. He informed Castillo that most of the pilots bringing weapons into Ilopango as well as to Contra camps in Honduras and Costa Rica were involved in smuggling drugs back to the United States. One such pilot was Carlos Alberto Amador who had a long record of drug trafficking. Another was Carlos Cabezas whose drug runs had been published in the CIA Inspector General’s report which was published in January 1998. At a December 1981 meeting with members of the inspector general’s staff in San Jose, Costa Rica, Cabeza explained how he raised cocaine money for the contras. Present at that meeting was Julio Zavala, involved in the San Francisco “frogman” case where 430 pounds of cocaine were seized near the Golden Gate Bridge. Zavala asked Castillo to be a middle man in collwecting money from San Francisco drug dealers and flying it back to Central America. Cabezas also set up a network of Contra “mules,” such as airline stewardesses, to bring small quantities of cocaine into the United States. Another drug dealer attendung the December 1981 meeting in San Jose, was Troilo Sanchez who instructed Cabezas to deliver drug money to help feed Contra troops and to support their families.

El Salvador

El Salvador

Castillo met with Vice President Bush at a Guatemalan embassy reception in January 1986. Bush asked what his business was in Central America, and he replied that he was investigating cocaine trafficking. He informed Bush that drug trafficking was occurring at Ilopango in El Salvador. Bush responded by smiling as he shook his hand, and then he walked away. In a February 1989 memo to his DEA superior in Guatemala, Castillo detailed how known traffickers with DEA files used two hangars at the American military installation and how they obtained United States visas despite their backgrounds. According to Castillo, the CIA owned one hangar and the NSC ran the other. In 1994 Castillo said that large quantities of cocaine were being brought into the United States to support the Contras. We claimed that he witnessed cocaine shipments and boxes full of money. Castillo maintained that he knew the names of traffickers as well as their destinations, flight paths, tail numbers, and the date and time of each flight. According to the Kerry report a March 1987 memorandum stated that a number of people, who supported the Contras and who participated in contra activity in Texas, Louisiana, California, and Florida, as well as in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, claimed that cocaine was being smuggled into the United States. They stated that it was part of the same infrastructure which procurred and transported weapons for the Contras.

THE GEORGE MORALES CONNECTION

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In the early 1980s, Morales was a well known contra drug trafficking, transporting cocaine and marijuana from Latin America northward into the United States. In May 1986, Morales was to meet with Vice President Bush to discuss a secret operation. However, the appointment was canceled when the Iran-Contra scandal was about to leak to the public. Morales was dismissed from the CIA and was later was indicted. Morales testified before the Kerry committee that he was well known to Colombian drug traffickers and that his ranch was the key base of an operation which sent cocaine to Miami in exchange for contras arms. Morales also testified that he had delivered 40 M-79 grenade launchers which were flown from Miami to Ilopango Air Base in El Salvador.

Morales also told the Kerry committee that he sent approximately $4 million in drug money to the contras. Morales’ story is corroborated by his pilots such as Gary Betzner who made several runs in 1984 from Florida to airstrips in Costa Rica. On one occasion, Betzner unloaded weapons for Pastora’s Contras and proceeded to load his plane with “seventeen duffle bags and five or six two-foot-square boxes filled with cocaine.” Additionally, pilots Geraldo Duran and Marcos Aquado flew arms missions into Costa Rica between 1982 and 1985 and both cited examples of Morales’ drug connections. In 1986 Duran was arrested in Costa Rica for exporting drugs to the United States. Another pilot who was recruited by Morales was Fabio Ernesto Carrasco who was subpoenaed to testify in a drug trial in Oklahoma City in 1990. Carrasco said that between 1984 and 1985, he flew over five drug missions for Morales and that he carried between 300 and 400 kilos of cocaine into the United States on each flight. Carrasco also testified that he and Betzner flew down weapons for the Contras from Florida and that they returned from Costa Rica loaded with cocaine which had been purchased by Contra leaders Octaviano Cesar and Mario Calero. Many of these missions from the United States ended at the Costa Rican ranch of Hull who Morales said was heavily involved in drug smuggling. Carrasco also said that Morales gave millions of dollars in drug money on 30 to 40 different occasions to Contra leader Adolfo “Popo” Chamorro, the nephew of Violetta Chamorro who was later elected president of Nicaragua. Morales also testified that he gave airplanes and cash to the Contras because Popo Chamorro promised to help him with his legal bills in the United States. Morales offered Popo Chamorro an old DC-3 to carry food, arms, boots, and uniforms to Pastora’s Contra soldiers who were isolated in Costa Rica and needed air support to receive supplies. Pastora was desperate, since Calero and White House had severed relations with him in his struggle for power within the FDN. In 1986, Morales was convicted in prison and died five years later.

THE FELIX RODRIQUEZ CONNECTION

Felix Rodriguez

Felix Rodriguez

Rodriquez began his CIA career in the late 1950s in Florida. After the aborted Bay of Pigs invasion, he was moved to Vietnam where he worked for Gregg and Shackley. Rodriquez returned to the Western Hemisphere in the early 1980s when Reagan launched his covert war in Nicaragua. He was assigned to oversee the Contra supply effort in El Salvador from 1982 to 1986.

In November 1982, Ramon Milan Rodriquez, involved with the Colombian cocaine cartels, made a $3,690,000 payment to the Contras at the request of Felix Rodriguez, in exchange for protection from prosecution. The next year, Gustave Villolda received a letter of recommendation from Gregg as “combat advisor” to the Contras. Villolda worked along side Rodriguez during the Bay of Pigs invasion and the CIA track down and execution of Che Guevara in Bolivia. In 1984 Gerald Latchinian, co-director with Rodriguez of Giro Aviation, a CIA proprietary airline, was arrested for smuggling $10.3 million in cocaine to finance the assassination of Honduran President Roberto Suazo Cordova. Latchinian contended that this was a CIA operation.

RAMON MILIAN RODRIQUEZ

Ramon Milian Rodriguez

Ramon Milian Rodriguez

Rodriquez was a Cuban exile and was the principal accountant for the Medellin cartel, handling $200 million a month in drug profits. His business took him from Colombia to Panama and Florida. He claimed that in the 1972 he carried $200,000 in cash from CIA operant Manuel Artime to some of the burglars arrested at the Watergate Hotel. In 1982 he was recruited by Felix Rodriquez to join the contra network for which he contributed approximately $10 million between 1982 and 1985. When Milian Rodriquez was arrested in 1985, his financial papers were seized. In a column under the heading of “CIA,” Rodriquez had recorded $3.69 million in expenditures. Rodriquez used his Ocean Hunter frozen shrimp company, based in Florida, but owned exclusively by his Costa Rican Frigorificos de Puntanenas firm, to move around about $200,000 in this time frame.

THE SANCHEZ FAMILY CONNECTION AND THE SAN FRANCISCO “FROGMAN”

The Sanchez family first involvement in drug trafficking dated back to the San Francisco “frogman” case in 1983. This operation netted 430 pounds of cocaine from a freighter outside of San Francisco Bay. Its crew admitted that it was running drugs from the Contras in Costa Rica. One was an ex-Somoza air force officer who stated that the profits belonged to the Contras. Another stated that he had given thousands of dollars from the drug smuggling to Costa Rican Contra groups and helped to arrange for the shipment of arms to a small Contra group headed by Fernando Chamorro. The United States returned $36,020, which was seized as drug money, after one of the defendants, Zavala, submitted letters from Contra leaders claiming that the funds were really their property.

The Kerry committee found that two of those arrested had ties to the Contras and had received the cocaine from Colombian sources. The committee report implicated higher up Contra leaders who were involved in narcotics traffic. Several members of the Sanchez family were indicted. Court records showed that the cocaine ring’s source of supply included one of the family members, Troilo Sanchez. He was a relative of Aristides, a member of the FDN directorate who earlier had been caught trafficking cocaine. The “frogman” case resulted in the demise of the Sanchez family.

THE HONDURAS CONNECTION

Area of accused DEA murders

Area of accused DEA murders

 

Honduras had been the classic example of a banana republic. Most of its economy was controlled by United Fruit and Standard Fruit. New Orleans ran its economy, and soon banana trade routes became drug routes. In 1975, Honduran president General Oswaldo Lopez Arellano received $1.5 million in bribes from the American multinational companies, and in return never paid export taxes amounting to $7.5 million.In the 1980s, Honduras accounted for approximately 20 percent of the cocaine imported by the United States. Costa Rica supplied about 10 percent of America’s cocaine. Between 1982 and 1987, the Reagan administration pumped in $335 million in military aid and $836 million in “economic” aid to Honduras. A Christian Democrat in Honduras’ congress stated that Washington would merely ignore any questions about drug trafficking.

Honduras Narco Routes

Honduras Narco Routes

Reagan administration officials interceded on behalf of Jos Bueso Rosa, a Honduran general who was heavily involved with the CIA’s Contra operations and faced trial for his role in a massive drug shipment to the United States. In 1984, Bueso and co-conspirators plotted to assassinate Honduran President Roberto Suazo Cordoba This was to be financed with a $40 million cocaine shipment to the United States, which the FBI intercepted in Florida. According to declassified e-mail messages North led an effort to seek leniency for Bueso. The messages indicated the efforts of American officials to “cabal quietly” to get Bueso a “pardon, clemency, deportation, (or) reduced sentence.” Eventually they succeeded in getting Bueso a short sentence in “Club Fed,” a white collar prison in Florida. The Kerry committee report reviewed the case and noted that Bueso was involved in a conspiracy that the Justice Department deemed the most significant case of narco-terrorism ever discovered.

THE MATTA-SETCO-CALERO CONNECTION

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This arms for drugs caper emerged in 1983 when Calero was placed in charge of the contras operating out of Honduras. It was at this time that Eden Pastora in Costa Rica was cut off the CIA payroll. Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros was a well-known drug dealer who spent part of the 1970s in a Colombian prison. He returned to Honduras in 1986 after bribing his way out of jail with $2 million. The DEA knew about Matta by 1978 when he was arrested at Dulles airport with 54 pounds of cocaine. However, by 1983 SETCO Matta’s air freight company was used by the Contras to run arms to the Contras in Honduras. According to the Kerry report SETCO was being used as the Contras’ main supplier of weapons in 1984. For these services, Matta was paid by North. The Kerry report also stated: “One of the pilots selected to fly Contra mission for the FDN (Contras) for SETCO was Frank Moss, who was under investigation as an alleged drug trafficker since 1979.” Two years after Iran-Contra broke in the United States the Justice Department extradited Matta who was a suspect in the murder of DEA agent Enrique Camarena in Mexico.

In July 1985, Michael Tolliver, a convicted American drug smuggler who was at a Georgia halfway house, was contacted by Barry Seal. Seal had contacts with the CIA and was released from prison early. He was told that he would receive $75,000 a trip if he were to fly arms from Miami’s airport into Honduras. According to Tolliver, Seal had 28,000 pounds of marijuana when he arrived at Homestead Air Base in Florida. Upon returning from Central America, Seal met “Hernandez” at the Fountainbleau Hotel and was paid $75,000. In October, FBI agents seized 763 pounds of cocaine with a wholesale value of $10 million in southern Florida. Among those arrested was Honduras’ former chief of staff of the army, General Bueso Rosa. In 1987, United States officials confiscated two shipments of cocaine weighing 6.7 tons. United States government investigators stated that it went directly to the doorstep of the Honduran military. The cocaine originated from the Cali cartel with whom Matta dealt directly. In 1987, the DEA had information which linked five top Honduran military officers with drug trafficking but was persuaded not to act since it may have endangered Honduran cooperation in the Contra war. By 1987, it was estimated that Honduras accounted for 20 to 50 percent of all cocaine which entered the United States from Latin America.

THE CUBAN-AMERICAN CONNECTION.

Bay of Pigs

Bay of Pigs

Several groups of Miami-based Cuban-Americans provided direct or indirect support to the Contras when it was prohibited by the Boland Amendment. Rene Corbo was one who provided supplies and training with funds in part from drug money. Two other Cuban exiles, Mario Rejas Lavas and Ubaldo Hernandez Perez, were captured by Sandinistas in 1986. They were reportedly members of UNO/FARN which was headed by Fernando “El Nego” Chamorro. When the Kerry committee requested information on these Cuban-Americans, the Justice Department refused to provide any information on the grounds that the committee was merely carelessly rambling through its open investigations. The Justice Department advised this committee that the matter had been fully investigated and that the committee’s allegations were untrue. In May 1986, members of the Kerry committee met with CIA officials who categorically denied that weapons had been shipped to the Contras on planes involving Corvo. Yet the FBI had learned that Cuban-American supporters had shipped weapons from south Florida to Ilopango Air Base in Honduras as well as to John Hull’s ranch in Costa Rica.

THE DAN QUAYLE-ROBERT OWEN CONNECTION

Dan Quayle

Dan Quayle

Hull came to the United States in 1983 to convince Congress that Pastora should not be supported since he had allied himself with the Sandinista government. Hull met with Senator Quayle and Owen, his legislative aide. A year later Owen switched jobs and began to work for the Washington D.C. lobbying firm of Gray and Company. He was approached by Contra leader Calero who asked him to take on the task of raising money in the United States through non-profit organizations and companies for the Contras.Owen researched the financial and military needs of the Contras and passed the information on to North. Owen reported that between $1 million and $1.5 million was required on a monthly basis to keep the Contras equipped. In July 1984 purchased weapons from South Africa and returned to the United States where he met with Hull and Calero. Owen promised to provide Calero with $2,500 a month and Hull with $10,000 a month.

Owen also worked primarily with Neil Livingstone, who was responsible to Ed Wilson of the CIA. Additionally, he was North’s liaison, delivering Swiss bank account numbers to Taiwanese government officials who in turn made contributions to the Contras. In April 1985 Owen warned North that Costa Rican-based Contra leader Jose Robelo had the “potential involvement in drug running” and that another Contra, Sebastian Gonzalez, was “involved in drug running out of Panama.” In August 1985 North told Owen that the “DC-6 which is being used for runs out of New Orleans is probably being used for drug runs into the United States.” In February 1986 Owen informed North that another Contra DC-4 was “used at one time to run drugs, and part of the crew had criminal records. Nice group the Boys (the CIA) chose.” Frank Castro, an ex-Cuban and Bay of Pigs veteran, was indicted in the 1970s for smuggling more than a million pounds of marijuana to the United States. Owen stated that Castro was heavily into drugs and that he had furnished Pastora with a DC-3 plane. Castro also hade visited Hull’s ranch in Costa Rica. The Kerry report also corroborated the allegations linking together North and Castro as part of a conspiracy to both gunrunning and drug trafficking.

THE EL SALVADOR CONNECTION

Col. James Steele

Col. James Steele

Colonel James Steele was the chief American military adviser in El Salvador and senior officer in charge of United States military operations which provided the Contras with weapons out of Ilopango airport. In December 1984, National Security adviser Gregg met with Felix Rodriguez and was given a position in El Salvador as a contra military advisor. The next month Rodriguez met with Bush to discuss the Contra job. In the summer of 1985 Rodriguez flew to Washington D.C. to meet with Gregg and Steele. According to Rodriquez’s testimony before the Kerry committee in 1987, Steele was in contact with Rodriguez from September 1985 through summer 1986. A North memorandum stated that Steele made Rodriguez his deputy and allowed him to use a military car as well as a KL-43 encrption device for secure telephone conversations. In March 1986, Steele met in Honduras with Rob Owen, North’s associate directing the Contra resupply operation from bases in Costa Rica. In a memo to North after the meeting, Owen suggested stockpiling weapons for the contras in Costa Rica at “Cincinnati,” a code word for the United States air base at Ilopango, El Salvador, where Steele was the American commander.

According to a crew member aboard a flight dropping supplies to the Contras in April 1986, Steele helped guide the mission. Nine days later after approximately 10 flights dropped arms and equipment to the southern front, Steele met with North, Secord and retired Colonel Richard Gadd in El Salvador. Gadd stated that Steele’s role suggested that higher officials in the Pentagon may have known and participated in the resupply effort. Mattes claimed that Steele could have testified as to whose authority that he operated in assisting the Contras during a time when the Boland Amendment was in place. Attorneys for the select committees deposed Steele in April 1987, but he was not called to the witness table.

THE PANAMA CONNECTION

Noriega in Call of Duty

Noriega in Call of Duty

Before he seized power as head of state, Manuel Noriega was first recruited by the United States Defense Intelligence Agency in 1959 while studying in Peru. By 1967 he was placed on the CIA payroll. At this time, he worked in conjunction with the United States military, which used Panama as a listening post in Latin America. After a failed coup in 1971 General Omar Torillos, who later became dictator, fled to Miami where he stated that Noriega had “operational control” of the narcotics trade through Panama.The Justice Department dropped the idea to attempt to indict Noriega. In 1976 Noriega was placed on the CIA payroll again, this time at $110,000 a year. When Carter was elected, Noriega was again dropped from the CIA. Carter’s major objective was to pass the Panama Canal Treaty, so all allegations against Noriega were suppressed. However, once the treaty was ratified by the Senate, the Panamanians got the word that America was open for drug trade. In 1980 Noriega was given full control over a special Panamanian intelligence unit. Noriega supplied at least seven pilots to run arms down from Florida. The pilots returned with cocaine.

The real Noriega

The real Noriega

Panama Narco Routes

Panama Narco Routes

When Reagan took office in 1981, Noriega was immediately brought back by the CIA. His salary was increased, and his salary jumped to $185,000 a year, and by 1985 it reached $200,000. The CIA deposited Noriega’s illegal payoffs in the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), whose name made front page news in the summer of 1991 for laundering money. CIA Director Casey began meeting with Noriega in 1981. Noriega was paid $100,000 for the use of Panama as a middle country to run drugs from Colombia to the United States. His personal pilot, Floyd Carlton, stated that he received $400 per kilogram to run cocaine from Colombia into Panama. However, things turned sour for Carlton in 1985 when $3 million in cocaine was missing on flights into Costa Rica.Noriega supplied pilots and urged Pastora to unite with the Contra organization in Honduras. By 1985, Noriega promised to train Contras in Panama. Noriega met with North in London to discuss plans to set up training for booby trapping, night operations, and sabotage activities against Nicaraguan targets. Noriega stated that he would try to obtain Israeli commandos to work with the Contras. The Kerry report stated: “Noriega put his pilots to work flying weapons from Panama to Costa Rica for the Contras. …Many of the pilots moved mixed cargoes of guns and drugs to bases in Costa Rica, dropped off the guns and flew on to the United States with drugs.”

Invasion of Panama

Invasion of Panama

In 1986 the Iran-Contra scandal broke, now making Noriega expendable. The next year his personal pilot, Carlton, was extradited to the United States. In 1988 Noriega himself was indicted by the Justice Department and was linked to drug trafficking for the first time. The following year the United States invaded Panama, and Noriega was kidnapped and taken to Miami for his trial. The CIA never turned his files over to the Justice Department. After Noriega was brought to the United States, the Bush administration placed Guillermo Endara in power. Endara was director and secretary of Banco Interoceanico which had been targeted by the DEA and FBI, and he named Carlton as a major person who laundered money through that bank from the Medellin and Cali cartels. The CIA also used Banco de Ibereoamerica as a front through which to launder money in Panama. Through this dummy company, North purchased arms from a Syrian drug and arms dealer, Manzer al-Kasser, who had ties to the Medellin cartel.

Bush and Noriega

Bush and Noriega

THE VENEZUELA CONNECTION

Davila

Davila

In 1988, the CIA hired General Ramon Guillen Davila to investigate Venezuela’s drug enterprises, primarily the Cali cartel. With the help of the CIA, Guillen set up a drug smuggling operation which involved Venezuelan National Guardsmen. They purchased cocaine from the Cali cartel in Colombia, imported it to Venezuela, and stored it in warehouses which were run by Guillen and funded by the CIA. One CIA agent said “let the dope walk;” that is, to ship it northward into the United States. Another agent, Mark McFarlin, testified in Miami federal court in 1989 that he had informed the Caracas CIA agent chief that 3,000 pounds of cocaine had just been shipped to the United States. When the agent chief was informed that the DEA was unaware of the operation, he responded by telling McFarlane, “Let’s keep it that way.”

map-drug-traffic-624

Between 1989 and 1992, 22 tons of cocaine flowed from the Guillen network into the Miami. In 1990, DEA agents in Caracas were informed of the illicit activity and made no attempt to intervene. Finally in 1992, United States Customs in Miami terminated the operation when they seized an 800 pound cocaine shipment. One of Guillen’s dealers, Adolfo Romero, was arrested and convicted on drug conspiracy charges. No action was taken against Guillen’s organization, and he simply dropped out of contact with the CIA. In November 1996, the Justice Department indicted Guillen on charges of importing cocaine into the United States. Guillen headed Venezuela’s anti-drug unit while smuggling over 22 tons of Cali and Bogata cartel cocaine into the United States and Europe. After he learned of his indictment, he went into seclusion in Caracas where he received a federal pardon. Guillen contended that Venezuelan cocaine shipments to the United States were authorized by the CIA. He said, “Some drugs were lost and neither the CIA nor the DEA want to accept any responsibility for it.”

EUGENE HASENFUS

Eugene Hasenfus

Eugene Hasenfus

CIA operant Hasenfus was a “kicker” on a C-123 cargo plane which ran shipments to the Contras over Nicaragua. He would “kick out” the cargo which then parachuted down to the Contras in the field. When the plane was shot down by a hand-held surface-to-air missile, Hasenfus was able to parachute out. The plane’s crew also consisted of a Contra radio operator, American pilot Bill Cooper, and copilot Wallace “Buzz” Sawyer. Sawyer had in his possession the White House phone number of Vice President Bush. Telephone logs from the phone company in El Salvador for the “safe houses” used by the plane crew showed many calls to North’s White House office. Bush’s office was the first place notified after the C-123 crashed. Hasenfus claimed that this was done with the knowledge and approval of Bush. Telephone logs from the phone company in El Salvador used by the plane crew showed many calls to North’s White House office.

It was discovered that the plane was the same C-123 which had been used by Seal to run drugs into the United States. Earlier in 1983, Harry Doan had sold the C-123 to Seal who flew it to Rickenbacker Air Force Base in Ohio. It was there that it was outfitted with hidden cameras by the CIA. Seal then piloted the aircraft to Nicaragua and returned with 1,472 pounds of cocaine. The cameras filmed Federico Vaughan, who was an employee of the Nicaraguan Interior Ministry, helping load cocaine into the plane. Also, the plane’s logs indicated it had flown out of Colombia, home to the Medellin and Cali drug cartels. Flight logs in the plane indicated that it had made trips between Barranquilla, Colombia and Florida in 1985.

Only days after the downing of the aircraft Hasenfus told Nicaraguan authorities that “there were two Cuban nationalized Americans that worked for the CIA that did most of the coordination of the flights and overseeing all operation projects, transportation… also refueling and…flight plans.” Hasenfus identified the two as Felix Rodriguez and Ramon Medina. After Hasenfus was released by the Sandinistas several weeks later, he returned to the United States and testified that he worked for the CIA and that he reported to Gomez (alias Felix Rodriguez) and Medina (alias Luis Posada Carriles) with the knowledge and approval of Bush.

A Reagan administration official, who was familiar with contra activities, claimed that the crew of the C-123 was flying supply missions for the State Department’s Nicaraguan Humanitarian Assistance Office, which was responsible for providing $27 million in nonlethal aid to the Contras earlier in 1985.The Kerry committee learned that Southern Air Transport of Miami had provided the plane. Southern Air denied any knowledge, and no charges were brought against this front. The CIA denied any knowledge of Hasenfus and also stated that he was working outside the jurisdiction of the federal government. After several weeks, Hasenfus was released and returned to the United States where he subsequently received no aid or support by the government.

- The Green Chazzan 

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Required Reading – A Brief History of The CIA’s Involvement With Drug Smuggling – Part 1

**EDITOR: This piece starts to bring the whole room together. As one can see, it was OSS China that initiated the global narcotics trade after World War II and sustained it for decades to come using their influence over CIA covert action and US foreign policy.

The CIA’s Involvement with Drug Smuggling by Dark Politics (Post 2008) – Part 1 

Opium Finds Its Way To Asia

Chinese Opium Den

Chinese Opium Den

The origin of opium can be traced back to the Middle East region of Mesopotamia circa 3100 B.C. Centuries later Alexander the Great exported the narcotic eastward to India in 330 B.C. By 400 A.D. it became a large market in China where it was introduced by Arab traders.

Southeast Asia got its first dose of opium in 1500 when Portuguese, while trading along the East China Sea, initiated the smoking of opium. Within two centuries the Dutch were exporting shipments of Indian opium to China and the islands of Southeast Asia. In 1729, Chinese emperor Yung Cheng issued an edict which prohibited the smoking of opium and its domestic sale, except under license for use as medicine. Nevertheless, the use of opium increased, and by 1750 the British East India Company assumed control of Bengal and Bihar, the opium-growing districts of India. British shipping dominated the opium trade out of Calcutta to China. By 1767, opium exports by the British East India Company to China reached a staggering two thousand chests of opium per year. In 1793, the British East India Company established a monopoly on the opium trade. All poppy growers in India were forbidden to sell opium to competitor trading companies.

In 1799, Chinese emperor Kia King banned opium completely, making trade and poppy cultivation illegal. Foreign merchants then turned to smuggling. Charles Cabot, a smuggler from Boston, Massachusetts, attempted to purchase opium from the British and then smuggle it into China under the auspices of British smugglers. Another American, John Cushing, acquired his wealth from smuggling Turkish opium to Canton. For example, John Jacob Astor of New York City and owner of the American Fur Company purchased ten tons of Turkish opium which he shipped on to Canton.

The First Opium War

The First Opium War

In 1839, the first Opium War broke out, and the Chinese ordered all foreign traders to surrender their opium. The British responded by sending warships to China. Two years later, the Chinese were defeated by the British which demanded heavy reparations, including the cession of Hong Kong to Great Britain The Second Opium War erupted in 1856, and the British again demanded indemnities from China, forcing the emperor to legalize opium. By the turn of the century and after 150 years of failed attempts to rid the country of opium, the Chinese finally convinced the British to dismantle the India-China opium trade. In the 1850s, British merchants began importing Indian opium to Burma and selling it through a government-controlled monopoly. In 1886, the British acquired Burma’s northeast region, Shan state. Production and smuggling of opium along the lower region of Burma thrived despite British efforts to maintain a strict monopoly on the opium trade.

By the turn of the century, the French joined the British in monopolizing opium in Southeast Asia. In the 1940s, the ‘Golden Triangle’ — Burma, Laos, and Thailand — became a major player in the profitable opium trade. During the early years of World War II, opium trade routes were blocked and the flow of opium from India and Persia was cut off. Fearful of losing their opium monopoly, the French encouraged Hmong farmers to expand their opium production. After Burma gained its independence from Britain in the 1940s, opium cultivation and trade flourished in the Shan states.

Early Complicity in Drug Trafficking

oss-office-of-strategic-services-78641357

The “multinational” business of drug trafficking can be traced back to the 1940s, even before the CIA was created following World War II. Before the creation of the CIA in 1947, Allen Dulles assembled the Flying Tigers, an inner clique within the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Dulles had close ties with Eastern billionaire families, and he was able to run clandestine operations out of the White House. The OSS-mafia alliance emerged soon after the agency was formed. The OSS was first headed by Earl Brennan who helped plan the Allied invasion of Sicily and Italy in World War II. During the war, He had close ties with the head of the Vatican’s Vessel Operation, Monsignor Giovanni Batista Montini who was also an aid to Pope Pius XII. Montini suggested that Brennan recruit Italian exiles such as Masons business leaders, and mafia members to corroborate with the Allies in their invasion. In 1963, Montini become Pope Paul VI.

Colonel Paul Hellwell of the OSS began to smuggle heroin from Burma and sold it in ghettos in the United States. Grown in Burma and processed in Shanghai, OSS agents ran across this bonanza while attempting to bolster the right wing regime of Chiang Kai-shek and to prevent Mao Tse Tung from ascending to power. Flying Tigers were OSS mercenaries who were financed with secret funds. Hellwell observed how Chiang sold opium to Chinese addicts and used the revenue to purchase weapons for his troops. Hellwell created Sea Supply, an OSS proprietary company, out of Miami and used it to carry guns across the ocean to China. The opium was grown in Burma, so Hellwell moved on to Southeast Asia in order to consolidate his operation.

Chief of OSS China - Paul Helliwell

Chief of OSS China – Paul Helliwell

In the late 1940s, Hellwell was named the Burmese consulate in Miami and was able to secure a monopoly on opium in Burma. From there, opium was processed in Shanghai, and then it was exported to the United States on Sea Supply boats. In return, Hellwell shipped guns back to China. The OSS used the mob to distribute heroin in big cities throughout the United States. Another OSS connection was the German Gestapo. Dozens of leading Gestapo figures and SS spies were used. Their spy networks and personal war records could be used to survey and control the Soviet Union. After these Nazis arrived in Georgetown, they were used by the newly created CIA in a drug running role. They were educated at Fort Benning and then used extensively in Latin America by local militaries. They were partially funded by the revenue generated from Burmese heroin exported to China for refining, and then exported to ghettos in the United States. After Mao solidified his power in 1949 revolution, drug trafficking in China began to diminish, partially because the death penalty was carried out against convicted dealers.

The OSS did not confine itself only to the Far East. While the bulk of American heroin originated in Asia, smaller amounts were produced in Marseille by the Corsican syndicates in the 1940s. Drug trafficking was certainly not at a premium during World War II. Transoceanic shipping was disrupted during the war years as a result of submarine warfare. Consequently, the power of Marseilles’ Corsican syndicates was weakened. In addition, Sicily’s mafia was smashed by two decades of Mussolini’s repressive regime.

The Marseilles Syndicate

The Marseilles Syndicate

After World War II, the OSS created a situation which helped revive the Sicilian-American mafia and the Corsican underworld. The alliance with the mafia was maintained by the CIA in order to check the growing strength of the Italian Communist Party. For example, the Corsicans in Marseilles smuggled raw opium from Turkey and refined it into high grade heroin for export to the United States. Marseilles relied on a handful of expert chemists who were able to produce high grade number four heroin. After the transformation of the OSS into the CIA, Marseille’s Corsicans fell under the protection of the French intelligence service which allowed heroin trafficking to operate for another 20 years. By 1965, Marseilles syndicates were able to double their production and operated between 20 and 25 laboratories which produced 50 to 150 kilograms of heroin each month. It was estimated that 4.8 tons of pure heroin was exported to the United States in 1965 alone.

The American government was concerned that both the French and Italian communist parties would rise to power in free elections in their respective countries. On the homefront, the government was concerned of the rising strength of the New York longshoremen’s union and a series of strikes which threatening to erupt a year after World War II ended. To counter the communist parties’ influence in France and Italy as well as to stamp out the longshoremen’s power in New York, the newly formed CIA turned to the mafia’s drug traffickers. The mafia connection assured the CIA the resources which they critically needed: hit-men to help carry out their illicit operations and additional funds to help finance their activities.

Santo Trafficante

Santo Trafficante

After spending 10 years of a 30-to-50 year sentence in prison for drug trafficking, New York’s mafia leader Lucky Luciano given clemency and released from Albany’s Great Meadows Prison in 1946. In exchange, he promised to cooperate with American authorities. He returned to Italy and was able to build a black market which had been abandoned by the Genovese family. He then expanded his operations by forging close ties with the Marseilles syndicate. He imported raw opium from the Middle East and processed it in laboratories in Italy. Luciano’s top deputy was Meyer Lansky who had first contacted Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Luciano initially purchased 200 kilos of heroin and shipped it on to Cuba. Lansky was given a monopoly on Cuba’s gambling operations plus assurances that Sicilian heroin could be shipped from Marseilles to Havana and on to the United States. In return Batista and his assistants received half the profits from the casinos. Lansky and Luciano chose Sicilian-born Santos Trafficante of Florida to run the Cuban gambling and drug business. Luciano made sure that Havana’s prostitutes were addicted to heroin and paid them with diluted forms of the drugs as well.

Meyer Lansky

Meyer Lansky

The CIA armed and funded the Corsican syndicates to break up longshoremen’s strikes in 1947 and 1950. Harry Bridges had been known for his leadership in general strikes in San Francisco in 1934, and he moved on to New York City where he worked to unionize dock workers. The CIA paid the mafia to assault and harass union leaders and workers. Some were even murdered. The CIA also used psychological warfare against the unions. Anti-union pamphlets, radio broadcasts, and posters discouraged workers from continuing the strike. Meanwhile in Europe, the CIA continued to work with drug traffickers in its war to thwart the election of communists in democratic elections. By the late 1940s, Marseilles had become the postwar heroin capital of the Western world. And Italy’s mafia still maintained its strength as the most powerful component in Europe.

The CIA’s protection of the Corsican syndicate continued into the 1970s. Frank Matthews, one of the East Coast’s prime heroin dealers, brought in $130 million annually. In 1973, he was finally arrested for drug trafficking in Las Vegas. Matthews was released on $325,000 bail and returned to New York with $20 million in cash. According to the Justice Department charges against nine of his suppliers were dropped at the insistence of the CIA which contended that prosecutions would jeopardize national security interests.

From Florida to Asia

Allen Dulles

Allen Dulles

The Italian mafia continued to maintain a stronghold in the United States. In the 1950s, the CIA once again turned to the mafia to foil communism — this time in Cuba. The very year that the right wing Batista government was overthrown, Operation 40 was organized as an assassination unit to kill Fidel Castro. Organized crime leaders Santo Trafficante and John Roselli, with the knowledge of Vice President Nixon, were heavily involved in importing drugs from Laos. After the failure at the Bay of Pigs two years later, Operation 40 was replaced by Operation Mongoose, a larger scale paramilitary organization. Its purpose was also to overthrow the Castro regime. The CIA officials who directed Operation Mongoose were Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines. Felix Rodriguez, a Cuban refugee, was hired to be a member of a special assassination team. Rodriguez worked under Shackley in Miami, Florida. After the Bay of Pigs fiasco, dozens of anti-Castro sympathizers were indicted for drug trafficking.

CIA Chief Ted Shackley

CIA Chief Ted Shackley

After the defeat of the French at Dienbienphu in 1954, the United States quickly moved to fill the void. In that decade, over a thousand tons of opium was being cultivated in the Golden Triangle — Laos, Burma, and Thailand. This amounted to 70 percent of the entire world’s illicit opium supply. In addition, this marked the first time that number three heroin (three to six percent pure) was being refined. As a result, the Thai government launched an opium suppression campaign which compelled most of the planters to switch to heroin. In the 1960s large quantities of number three heroin were being refined in Bangkok and northern Thailand. It was during this decade that both Shackley and Clines were transferred from Florida to run CIA operations in the heart of Southeast Asia as well as in the heart of the world’s largest heroin region.

During the Vietnam War, the White House drug team was headed by Lucien Conein who once had ties to Corsican drug dealers in Southeast Asia and Marseilles. The CIA urged Conein and the White House to accept a plan to carry out a series of assassinations against drug kingpins. According to a White House memo, “With 150 key assassinations the entire heroin-refining industry can be thrown into chaos.” However, the CIA’s list included a hand-full of names of drug dealers in Southeast Asia, and none of them were the principal players. Additionally, the White House decided to concentrate in Turkey where less than 5 percent of the world’s opium supply was grown.

The Golden Triangle

Opium in the Golden Triangle

Opium in the Golden Triangle

During the heated cold war in Southeast Asia in the 1950s, large scale decisions were made by the CIA in its Langley, Virginia headquarters. The agency’s operants were given a large scale of autonomy in the field. The agency did not ask questions as long as those on the payroll produced results. One of the major objectives of these factions was to gain control of opium trade in their regions. A large amount of duplicity, which included tortures and murders, occurred among various groups: CIA headquarters, its operatives in the field, and drug lords.

After World War II the French returned to Indo-China and became directly involved in drug trade with the Hmong tribesmen in the highlands of Laos. At first, the French attempted to eliminate opium addiction in 1946. However, desperately short on funds, French intelligence and paramilitary organizations became involved in opium trafficking in order to finance their covert operations against Ho Chi Minh in the north. By 1951, French intelligence controlled most of the opium trade in the region. The French started top secret Operation X which resulted in a steady supply of Hmong opium into the dens of cities such as Saigon and Danang.

In 1950 President Truman implemented the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) which approved a CIA invasion into southern China. This meant that CIA operants need to infiltrate various local tribal units particularly in the Golden Triangle — Burma, Laos, and Thailand. The CIA recruited agents such as William Colby who years later was elevated to CIA director. When CIA operants moved into the Shan states in the Golden Triangle region of northern Burma, opium growers operated only randomly. However, the region soon was transformed into one of the largest growing opium regions in the world. The CIA needed an alliance with the KMT, which had just been driven out of China by Mao Tse-tung a year before, and the Thai police in order to bolster its position in the region.

CIA Director William Colby

CIA Director William Colby

The KMT exported their opium harvests usually by mule train across the mountains or by unmarked American C-47 transportation planes to Thailand for processing. Some was flown on to Taiwan. In 1950 the CIA purchased bankrupt Civil Air Transport (CAT) for $950,000 and used their fleet of planes to run weapons to KMT General Li Mi in Shan province, and the planes returned to Bangkok filled with opium. Shortly afterwards, CAT was renamed Air America. General Phao Siyanan, head of the Thai police since a CIA orchestrated coup overthrew General Phin Choohannan in 1948, purchased most of this opium. Thus, the KMT became a pivotal force in opium trade in Southeast Asia. With CIA support, the KMT remained in northern Burma until 1961 when the Burmese army finally drove the right wing army into Laos and Thailand.

In 1951, Operation Paperclip, a joint CIA-KMT effort to reconquer China’s Yunnan province, was approved. The CIA’s first objective was to accomplish an intelligence-gathering mission inside China. In addition, the CIA trained and funded 10,000 KMT forces. Unmarked C-46 and C-47 transport planes began making supply drops into northern Burma. The next year KMT troops and some CIA operants crossed 60 miles into China but were forced to turn back after facing fierce resistance. The CIA also realized the importance of funding other smaller factions in the Shan states, so that no one element could consolidate absolute power in that region. Maintaining instability in the Golden Triangle prevented any one group from controlling and regulating opium trade.

General Khun Sa

General Khun Sa

However, American aid to the KMT soon dropped off significantly when drug lord Khun Sa began to extend his influence in the mountainous region of the Shan states just south of China. Khun Sa began his military career with the KMT when he was 18 years old and was trained in both arms and opium by the CIA-supported army. As Khun Sa extended his influence into the Shan states, the CIA was slowly edged out along the Burma-China border, and were no longer able to use that area too stage subsequent attacks into Yunnan province.

In the 1960s, thousands of KMT mercenaries made their way across the mountains of the Golden Triangle to eastern Burma. Khun Sa’s army was defeated by KMT General Ouane Rattikone in the 1967 Opium War, and his troops fled into central Laos. Khun Sa was arrested and released at a later date, but by that time the size of his army had dwindled to about one thousand. Khun Sa not only lost major casualties among his troops, but he also lost his monopoly on opium trade in the Shan states.The Opium War left Rattikone and the KMT in control of 80 percent of the opium trade in Burma. During the duration of the KMT’s dominance in northern Burma — from the end of World War II to 1960s — his CIA subsidized army increased opium production by nearly 500 percent from 80 tons to 500 tons annually. The Golden Triangle provided approximately 33 percent of the world’s illicit opium trade.

The severe drought of 1978-80 took a heavy toll on illicit drug trafficking in the Golden Triangle. However, by the 1980s, opium trade became the most prosperous ever in that region. Even though Thai and Burmese military operations increased, heroin laboratories in the mountains in the two countries managed to operate without serious incidents. The Shan leaders became more splintered, and the Burmese Communist Party (BCP) collapsed. This opened the door for Khun Sa to return to the Shan states.

General Lo Hsing Han of Burma

General Lo Hsing Han of Burma

By the early 1970s, he recovered his lost territory in the central Shan states, but the BCP quickly moved into the mountain areas just south of the China border, posing a large threat to Khun Sa expansionist policy. Three factions began to position themselves: Khun Sa, Chinese warlord Lo Hsing-han, and the Shan State Army (SSA). Like Khun Sa, Lo Hsing-han began his army career in the KMT and emerged as one of the principle opium dealers in Shan province. In 1972, the Nixon administration branded him the “kingpin of the heroin traffic in Southeast Asia.” After Khun Sa was defeated in the 1967 Opium War, Lo Hsing-han became the largest single opium merchant in the province. The SSA was founded in 1958 and was political in nature. Its chief concern was to regain Ragoon and to abolish Shan authority in that region. It was not directly involved in opium trade. The size of its army was 2,700 and the troops were armed with American weapons which were purchased on the black market.

TOR-Routes-chinoises-et-indiennes

Golden Triangle – North

 

In 1973, the Burmese government disbanded its militia groups in Shan province. In an effort to consolidate his power in the region, Lo Hsing-han turned to moderate elements in the SSA for support in controlling. The two groups proposed that officials at the American embassy in Bangkok be informed that they intended to sell 400 tons of Shan opium for $20 million. The two groups also requested American support for the purchase of all opium controlled by smaller Shan factions in the Golden Triangle at a fixed price. They insisted that this would eliminate all heroin trade in the area. However, Lo Hsing-han was arrested in 1973 by Burmese officials and charged him with — not drug trafficking — but high treason and rebellion. The following year, the Burmese government released Khun Sa, who had spent five years in solitary confinement, and returned him to his troops in Shan province. Now Khun Sa easily replaced Lo Hsing-han as the drug kingpin in the Golden Triangle.

TOR-Routes-Nord-Thaïlande

Golden Triangle Center

 

Khun Sa forged ahead by forming an alliance with the conservative factions of the SSA and was involved in skirmishes with the revitalized KKT. Khun Sa once again he proposed that he purchase the entire Shan province opium crop. This request was rejected by the State Department after Congressional hearings took place in 1975. In 1975, the SSA broke into two factions. The larger and more moderate group broke away from the conservative faction and joined the BCP. The other faction joined forces with fragments of the KMT and formed the Tai-Land Revolutionary Council. Furthermore, to complicate issues, several rightist independent armies combined to form the National Democratic Front (NDF), an anti-communist coalition which was made up of 13 groups.

Golden Triangle

Golden Triangle

In 1977, an agreement regarding the division of opium trade in the Golden Triangle was reached between Khun Sa and the leader of the revitalized KMT. Khun Sa was allowed to maintain a base inside Thailand, and this served as his headquarters for control of 40 percent of Burma’s opium exports and the annual collection of $850,000 in transit fees from others who crossed through the region. Between 1976 and 1978, the Burmese government, using American helicopters, began a series of military operations aimed at destroying the Shan armies and their opium operations. Government forces were able to destroy some poppy fields, but they did not enter BCP-controlled regions. The BCP controlled one-third of the area, and even though they were not involved in opium trade, they did allow private dealers to cultivate opium.

TOR-Routes-Sud-Thaïlande

Golden Triangle South

 

Opium production plummeted after 1975. After the United States withdrew from Vietnam, black market operations dwindled, making it difficult for Shan rebels to purchase weapons. In addition, between 1978 and 1980 the Golden Triangle was hit with two droughts. This was followed by two seasons of intense monsoon rains, reducing the region’s opium production to a record low. The usual 600 ton opium harvests were cut to 160 tons in 1978 and 240 tons in 1979. Recovering from this two year failure, the region began to produce a bumper crop in the 1980s.

Richard Armitage - Bush Crony

Richard Armitage – Bush Crony

Khun Sa stated that Richard Armitage, at that time an envoy in the American embassy, financed drug smuggling in Vietnam and Bangkok from 1975 to 1979. CIA agents Daniel Arnold and Jerry Daniel trafficked weapons and drugs with Khun Sa. The operation was believed to be at its peak in 1975 and 1976 under George Bush. In a letter to George Bush, Gritz maintained that Khun Sa claimed that he had once engaged in narcotics transactions with Richard Armitage, who later became the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Shackley, as well as other American officials. Bush was head of the CIA in 1976 when Khun Sa said that he was selling drugs to top CIA officials. Gritz says that, strangely, nobody in the American government was interested in an investigation. Gritz later testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s International Narcotics Control Task Force.

By 1983, Khun Sa strengthened his forces, and opium production was on the rebound. With Hong Kong chemists and over ten refineries, Khun Sa increased his holdings, controlling 75 percent of Golden Triangle opium production. Khun Sa was able to defeat KMT forces, and he destroyed numerous heroin facilities. With a virtual monopoly on opium trade in the Golden Triangle, Khun Sa was only briefly attacked by Thai and Burmese government forces which were able to secure a small area. Khun Sa was forced to evacuate some of his heroin laboratories, but he merely moved them into Laos.

Khun Sa had eliminated all his rebel rivals, and by 1986 he was refining 80 percent of the opium harvest in the Golden Triangle. The king of opium trade, Khun Sa had risen to become the world’s largest single heroin trafficker by controlling 60 percent of the world’s illicit opium supply.

2000px-US-DrugEnforcementAdministration-Seal.svg

In 1986, Bo Gritz went to Burma with White House approval to meet with Khun Sa who supposedly had information on American MIAs. Khun Sa said that he wanted to end the opium and heroin traffic in his territory and to expose American officials involved in the drug smuggling. Gritz claimed that he took this message to the United States government and was told by Tom Harvey of the National Security Council that “there is no interest here” in the Khun Sa overture. Gritz had in his possession 40 hours of video tape of Khun Sa who “charged American officials, both past and present, with being the chief buyers of drugs produced in that part of the world.” He also claimed that he wanted to stop drug trafficking, but that the United States government would not let him. Khun Sa said that the CIA were some of his best customers. He offered support to the DEA to alert them of drug movements, but this was rejected at the headquarters level. In 1988, the government of Burma fell into the hands of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). Its goal was to bolster the nation’s economy by doubling opium exports, and within two years 60 percent of the world’s heroin — valued at $40 billion a year — was exported from Burma.

Also in 1988, the single largest heroin seizure was made in Bangkok. The 2,400-pound shipment of heroin, en route to New York City, originated from Khun Sa in the Golden Triangle. Two years later in a meaningless gesture an American court indicted Khun Sa in absentia on heroin trafficking. He was charged with importing 3,500 pounds of heroin into New York City over the course of 18 months, as well as holding him responsible for the source of the heroin seized in Bangkok. Specifically, he was charged with being the owner of a 2,400 pound shipment which was intercepted in Bangkok en route to New York City in 1988. This was the largest single heroin seizure ever. In 1990, Lo Hsing-han was released from prison and was welcomed back by the same factions which had driven him out. He met with Burmese government officials and soon thereafter opened 17 new heroin factories in the Golden Triangle.

By 1995, the Golden Triangle region of Southeast Asia remained the leader in opium production, yielding 2,500 tons annually. According to American drug experts, new drug trafficking routes from Burma through Laos, to southern China, Cambodia and Vietnam were drawn up. In 1996, the SLORC cut a deal with Khun Sa. He had been indicted by the United States Justice Department six years before, but SLORC refused to extradite him. Instead, he was given the Burma-to-Thailand taxi concession and a 44 acre ranch where his son plans to build a gambling and shopping complex. The agreement also reportedly included a deal allowing him to retain control of his opium trade in exchange for ending his 30 year old war against the government. Underground activist groups, operating along the Indo-Burma border, have continued to purchase arms and ammunition from Khun Sa’s soldiers.

Laos

Col. Lucien Conein (rear)

Col. Lucien Conein (rear)

In Laos the CIA’s complicity in drug trafficking resulted from its alliance with the Hmong tribes who, since the 1950s, had been used by the French to fight Vietnamese leftists. As early as 1959, CIA operative Lucien Conein stated that eight teams were training Hmong tribesmen on the Plain of Jars. In 1960 the CIA began recruiting units to patrol the border with China and even to send Yao and Lahu tribesmen into Yunnan province to monitor traffic and to tap telephone lines. Operating out of Vientiane, the CIA also sent recruits to the patrol the Vietnam border as well as to send Green Beret commando units into North Vietnam to sabotage the Ho Chi Minh Trail. By far the largest goal of the CIA was to wage its secret war against the Pathet Lao in northern Laos. From 1960 to 1974, the CIA maintained a secret army of approximately 30,000 tribesmen in the mountains of northern Laos. This originated with Vientiane CIA station chief Shackley and his Clines, his assistant.

The first mission of the CIA was to place a puppet in power. The CIA needed to forge alliances with tribes and warlords inhabiting the northern Laos. In order to maintain its relationship with the warlords while continuing to fund the struggle against nationalistic Marxist movements in Laos and North Vietnam, the CIA first had to choose a career military official. The agency decided upon a career military leader, Lieutenant Vang Pao. Next, the CIA used several tactics to gain respect and support among the Hmong. Immediately elevated to a general, Vang Pao’s power had to be solidified in order for him to gain political support among the tribesmen in Laos’ scattered villages. First, the agency found a way for Vang Pao’s son and daughter to marry the children of Touby Lyfoung, a prominent and popular Hmong cabinet member. Second, the CIA usually chose a popular Hmong leader, with whom the agency could work, for every tribal area as its commander.

Gen. Vang Pao

Gen. Vang Pao

To gain support from the Hmong, the CIA supplied the tribesmen with rice. This enabled them to concentrate on growing the cash crop of opium. The Hmong relied on support from Air America for their rice supplies. Thus, the air power became the essential factor which allowed the CIA to keep Vang Pao in power. After Vang Pao was able to consolidate his power, the CIA helped him to sustain an army of 30,000 men from a tribe of only 250,000 people. The CIA relied on the villagers to supply the manpower to continue to replace the wounded and killed. By the early 1970s 30 percent of the Hmong recruits were 14 years old; another 30 percent were 15 and 16; and the remaining 40 percent were over 45.

Opium Traffic in Asia

Opium Traffic in Asia

In return for providing recruits, the Hmong opium growers received CIA support and their economy flourished. Also, Vang Pao’s control over the opium industry gave him more authority, especially when he needed to recruit young soldiers. Thus, the CIA relied on Vang Pao to supply soldiers in its secret war, and the CIA supplied his tribesmen with rice while opium was grown and frequently flown on CIA planes.CIA operant Tony Poe was assigned as the chief adviser to Vang Pao and to supervise his secret army’s operations. Poe promised Hmong soldiers one dollar for a Pathet Lao’s ear and ten dollars for a severed head. On the one hand, Poe frequently refused to allow opium to be transported on Air American planes. On the other hand, he ignored the prospering heroin factories and never stopped any of Vang Pao’s officers from using American facilities to manage illicit drugs.

CIA Chief Ted Shackley

CIA Chief Ted Shackley

Another CIA operant, Edgar Buell, was assigned to the Plain of Jars where a large portion of the secret army was trained. Buell became in charge of dispatching Air America planes to drop rice and other necessities to the Hmong. In addition Buell used his expertise in agriculture to improve the Hmongs’ skills in the cultivation and production of opium. While the United States was at its peak involvement in the Vietnam War, morphine base was being processed in the Golden Triangle and then exported to Hong Kong and Europe. In 1968 Shackley met in Saigon with Trafficante, Clines, and warlord Vang Pao, setting up a heroin smuggling ring to the United States. A Green Beret official speaking to Green Beret officers stated that “Shackley had been responsible for 250 political killings in Laos.”

None of the opium refineries mastered the technique to produce high-grade number four heroin which is 90 to 99 percent pure. By 1969 expert chemists from Hong Kong were imported into the Golden Triangle region, and they produced limited amounts of high grade heroin for tens of thousands of American GIs in South Vietnam. By 1970 the amount of heroin available to Americans was unlimited. The opium harvests were transported by Vang Pao’s officers and then flown on Air America UH-1H helicopters to processing plants in Vientiane and Long Tieng.

Nixon

Nixon

However, with the beginning of Nixon’s Vietnamization policy in the months to follow, the market for heroin drastically dropped. Then Chinese, Corsican, and American syndicates began sending large shipments of number four heroin directly to the United States. As a result of these massive exports to the United States, the wholesale price for a kilogram of number four heroin in the processing plants in the Golden Triangle actually increased by 44 percent — from $1,240 to $1,780 — in less than one year. At the same time, the price of raw opium in the villages jumped from $24 to $45 per kilogram. In 1970 the number of heroin addicts in the United States reached 750,000. More than a thousand tons of opium was being raised in the Golden Triangle.

By 1973, the United States was losing in Vietnam and in Laos as well. The CIA was forced to import approximately 20,000 Thai mercenaries in order to replenish the exhausted Hmong troops who could not provide additional recruits. That yea,r the Laotian government signed a truce with the Pathet Lao, ostensibly ending the CIA’s secret war. Slowly, the CIA abandoned over 300 landing strips and turned over its aircraft to the Laotian government. In 1974 on orders from the Laotian government, Air America abandoned its facilities. As Pathet Lao soldiers increased their presence in Laos, Vang Pao’s military and dwindled to 6,000 troops. Usually, Vang Pao retreated rather than to fight, and eventually the Pathet Lao marched into Vientiane. Vang Pao finally agreed to flee to Thailand, and the CIA provided transportation for him and his top officers.

Afghanistan and Pakistan

opium-poppies-afghanistan

After World War II, very little opium was being produced in Afghanistan. However, right wing dictatorships in neighboring countries thrived on opium production. In neighboring Iran, the powerful American and Anglo oil companies and drug dealers shared many of the country’s resources. Intelligence agencies estimated that Iran was producing 600 tons of opium a year and had 1.3 million opium addicts. When Mohammed Mossadegh was elected prime minister and the shah was forced to flee, the new populist government moved to suppress opium trade. However, after a CIA coup placed the shah back on the throne, drug trafficking once again prospered until 1979 when an Islamic revolution brought Ayatollah Khomeini into power.

Opium Traffic Afghanistan

Golden Crescent East

In Pakistan under King Mohammed Zahir, feudal estates scattered throughout the country maintained small opium fields. However, after a 1978 coup Mohammed Daoud seized power, and opium traffic began to expand rapidly. He was followed by Noor Mohammed Taraki, a reformer who worked to phase out the poppy fields and replace them with consumption crops. Opium production began to plummet, but Taraki was killed in a military coup in 1979. General Zia ul-Haq ascended to power, and he created the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) to oversee intelligence on the Afghan-Pakistani border.

Afghan_Opium_Production_2005_2007

The ISI pressured the CIA into accepting Zia’s policies with the Mujaheddin across his border in Afghanistan. The ISI brokered a deal which brought about an alliance between the CIA and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of a small guerrilla unit in Afghanistan with close ties to the Pakistani government. In the next ten years half of American aid to Afghanistan went to this group. Hekmatyar eventually proved himself brutal and corrupt, becoming one of the premier drug dealers in that region.

Golden Crescent South

Islamabad CIA station chief John Reagan met with Hekmatyar in May 1979, seven months before the Soviets moved into Kabul, and agreed to make the first of many shipments of arms to the rebel army. Over the next two years, CIA covert aid increased tremendously. Islamabad soon became the largest foreign CIA station to run a covert war. Within ten years the United States had funneled in $3 billion in aid to the Mujaheddin, and the CIA had provided the rebels with $2 billion in covert aid. Sixty percent of those funds were given directly to Hekmatyar who purchased weapons in order to protect his opium fields. Pakistani General Fazle Huq was assigned to overlook military operations near the Afghan border. Huq ensured that Hekmatyar received the bulk of CIA arms shipments, and he also protected his 200 heroin laboratories. In 1982 Interpol identified Huq as a principal catalyst in Afghan-Pakistani opium trade.

Very little heroin was refined in Pakistan before the rise of the Mujaheddin emerged in 1979. Then the guerrillas began to expand their opium production and shipped the raw drug to Pakistan border refineries for processing into heroin. They sold it to Pakistani refiners who operated under the protection of General Fazle Hug, the governor of the province near the Khyber Pass and adjacent to Afghanistan. Trucks from the Pakistan arm’s National Logistics Cell (NLC) arrived with CIA arms from Karachi and returned loaded with heroin. They were protected by the ISI and therefore protected from vehicle searches.

Zia al-Haq

Zia al-Haq

The Reagan and Bush administrations frequently placed the blame for opium trade on the Soviets. However, it was the Mujaheddin and Pakistanis who were directly involved in trafficking drugs. Zia’s personal physician, Dr. Hisayoshi Maruyama, was arrested in Holland with 17.5 kilos of high grade heroin. Haji Ayub Afridi, one of Zia’s associates who had served in the Pakistani General Assembly, purchased large quantities of opium from the Mujaheddin. Another Zia ally, Hamid Hasnain, vice president of one of Pakistan’s largest banks, also ran a drug ring.

By the 1980s, American aid to Afghan rebels declined, so their leaders expanded opium production in order to maintain their armies. In southern Afghanistan, Nasim Akhundzada controlled the most fertile and irrigated areas. He became known as the “King of Heroin” and controlled most of the 250 tons of opium in his province. Meanwhile, Pakistan became one of the world’s largest addict populations in the 1980s.

Gulbadeen Hekmatyar

Gulbadeen Hekmatyar

When the Mujaheddin first emerged in Afghanistan in 1979, there were about 200,000 drug addicts in the United States. As poppy fields quickly expanded in the areas which they controlled, that number had jumped to 450,000 by 1981. In 1989 Afghanistan and Pakistan produced and shipped 50 percent of all the heroin in the world. Between one-third and one-half of the heroin used by addicts in the United States was imported from heroin growers in Mujaheddin controlled areas. The annual consumption of these Afghan narcotics amounted to roughly three tons, and it was valued in the billions of dollars. Hekmatyar’s chief rival in the opium business was a fellow Mujaheddin, Mullah Nassim. In 1989, Hekmatyar successfully plotted his assassination and consolidated his position as the principal Afghan drug lord.

Golden Crescent North

Golden Crescent North

In 1990 Time magazine ran a story claiming that the United States “was embarrassed by the widely bruited connections between the drug trade and the elements of the insurgents, including such fundamentalist Islamic groups as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar Hezbi-I Islami.” Then the Washington Post printed a story charging that American officials had refused to investigate charges against Hekmatyar and Pakistan’s ISI. Yet the CIA ignored the allegations since it would have diminished their effectiveness in running covert operations in the region.

Mullah Omar

Mullah Omar

Civil war has raged since the 1989 withdrawal of Soviet forces. Although the United States government withdrew military support for the Mujaheddin, various Afghan ethnic and political factions have competed for power. In 1994 the extreme fundamentalist Sunni sect known as Taliban emigrated from Pakistan and settled in Afghanistan’s outlying mountains around Kabul. Supported by the United States, Taliban captured the capitol and declared Afghanistan an Islamic state in September 1996. The Taliban sect under Mullah Omar immediately imposed a campaign of tyranny in the areas under its control. The Taliban continued to thrive on the opium business which amounted to twice the size of the government’s budget.

In addition to Taliban’s influence in Afghanistan, large areas of the north were controlled by another warlord, Abdurashid Dostum. In May 1997, a coup within Dostum’s forces led by General Abdul Malik led to Dostum fleeing the country. They immediately announced a peace agreement had been reached to reunify Afghanistan under Taliban control, and a delegation of 60 Taliban leaders arrived to sign a peace treaty. The Taliban victory was celebrated by Pakistan. In addition, corrupt factions within Pakistan’s security forces benefitted by the opium trade which increased under Taliban rule. Taliban has been hostile to Russia, Shiite Muslim Iran, the moderate Sunni Islamic republics of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, and Turkey.

Golden Crescent West

Golden Crescent West

The Australia Connection

140px-Air_America_wings.svg

In the 1970,s drug profits from the secret war in Laos were funneled into the Nugan Hand Bank. Shackley denied that he maintained a secret account in this Australia-based bank, which was founded Michael John Hand and four officials from CIA-owned Air America. In Chiang Mai Thailand’s branch office, the director of the bank claimed that he handled $2.6 million in drug revenues in less than six months. He maintained that the money was laundered for Laotian Meo tribesman and other heroin dealers. According to the Australian Royal Commission, Nugan Hand was the principle conduit for laundering the money for major narcotics transactions from the Golden Triangle and importing heroin into Australia in the 1970s. The Nugan Hand bank also moved money globally for the CIA. In 1980 the Nugan Hand Bank collapsed, $5 billion in debt.

Helio_U-10D_Air_America_Laos_1970

The Nugan Hand Bank had several branches in Saudi Arabia, Europe, Thailand, and South America. Several of the bank’s officials had CIA connections. The larger Bangkok office was run by the former CIA chief of that city. In Sydney it was a CIA bank in all but name. Among its officers were a network of United States generals, admirals and CIA employees, including former CIA Director William Colby, who served as one of its attorneys. Some of its branch managers included Air Force General LeRoy Manor, who later corroborated with Air Force General Richard Secord and Colonel Oliver North on covert actions to liberate the 52 American hostages taken in Iran in 1979. In addition Patry Loomis, a CIA operative who worked under CIA station chief Shackley in Saigon, was a close associate of Nugan Hand’s representative to Saudi Arabia, Bernie Houghton. Loomis also helped Ed Wilson, later to be implicated in Iran-Contra, recruit Green Berets to train Libyans. Wilson was also an associate of Houghton. In the mid-1970s Wilson used the Nugan Hand Bank and worked with Houghton to supply 3,000 weapons and 10 million rounds of ammunition to the CIA-backed rebels in Angola.

Civil War in Angola

Civil War in Angola

In 1975, Wilson went to work for Task Force 157 was set up to attempt to topple the left-leaning Labour government of Gough Whitlam. Task Force 157 was set up by Henry Kissinger as a mini-CIA. It was actually separate from the CIA and probably was set up by Kissinger so he could deny any connection between what the Task Force 157 was doing and the CIA. The personnel of Task Force 157 included Wilson with his numerous connections to Nugan Hand Bank officials and Shackley. Michael Hand, an ex-American Green Beret, went on from the Green Berets to work in intelligence work for the United States government.The concept of Task Force 157 were two-fold: first, to set up operations against the Whitlam government. Second, to go ahead with using Australia as a base for certain clandestine United States operations such as arms dealing and smuggling of contraband goods and using the Nugan Hand Bank as the cover.

Australian PM Tony Abbot

Australian PM Tony Abbot

On two occasions Admiral Bobby Inman, former deputy director of the National Security Agency and deputy director of the CIA, said on that he expressed deep concern that investigations of Nugan-Hand would lead to disclosure of a range of dirty tricks played against the Whitlam government. CIA operant Christopher Boyce said: “If you think what the agency did in Chile was bad, in which they spent 80 million dollars overturning the government of Chile there, the Allende government, you should see what they are doing in Australia.”

In April 1982, Bush met with Australian Labor leader Hayden to discuss the CIA’s role in the Nugan Hand Bank. Many Australians could not understand why the CIA wanted to bring down the government of a loyal ally, whose Labour party was striving to make social reforms, especially since it was the war-time Labour administrations which had built up the special relationship with America.

To be continued…

The Green Chazzan 

 

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The Bay of Pigs & Operation J/M-Wave – Part 2

The Bay of Pigs & Operation J/M-Wave        

The Bay of Pigs and The Kennedy Assassination by Dr. Webster Tarpley (1992)

Presidential Portrait of JFK

Presidential Portrait of JFK

“…JM/WAVE …proliferated across [Florida] in preparation for the Bay of Pigs invasion. A subculture of fronts, proprietaries, suppliers, transfer agents, conduits, dummy corporations, blind drops, detective agencies, law firms, electronic firms, shopping centers, airlines, radio stations, the mob and the church and the banks: a false and secret nervous system twitching to stimuli supplied by the cortex in Clandestine Services in Langley. After defeat on the beach in Cuba, JM/WAVE became a continuing and extended Miami Station, CIA’s largest in the continental United States. A large sign in front of the […] building complex reads: US GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS PROHIBIT DISCUSSION OF THIS ORGANIZATION OR FACILITY.

Donald Freed, Death in Washington (Westport, Connecticut, 1980), p. 141.

The review offered so far of George Bush’s activities during the late 1950′s and early 1960′s is almost certainly incomplete in very important respects. There is good reason to believe that Bush was engaged in something more than just the oil business during those years. Starting about the time of the Bay of Pigs invasion in the spring of 1961, we have the first hints that Bush, in addition to working for Zapata Offshore, may also have been a participant in certain covert operations of the US intelligence community.

Bush Sr.

Bush Sr.

Such participation would certainly be coherent with George’s role in the Prescott Bush, Skull and Bones, and Brown Brothers, Harriman networks. During the twentieth century, the Skull and Bones/Harriman circles have always maintained a sizable and often decisive presence inside the intelligence organizations of the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Office of Naval Intelligence, the Office of Strategic Services, and the Central Intelligence Agency. Indeed, the Harriman and related Anglophile financier factions of Wall Street have generally regarded those parts of the state apparatus dealing with intelligence and covert operations as their own very special property, property which had to be kept seeded with control networks in order to be effectively steered from above. For George Bush to interface with the intelligence community while ostensibly engaged in his business career would be coherent with that well-established pattern.

A body of leads has been assembled which suggests that George Bush may have been associated with the CIA at some time before the autumn of 1963. According to Joseph McBride of The Nation, “a source with close connections to the intelligence community confirms that Bush started working for the agency in 1960 or 1961, using his oil business as a cover for clandestine activities.” 1 By the time of the Kennedy assassination, we have an official FBI document which refers to “Mr. George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency,” and despite official disclaimers there is every reason to think that this is indeed the man in the White House today. The mystery of George Bush as a possible covert operator hinges on four points, each one of which represents one of the great political and espionage scandals of postwar American history.

These four cardinal points are:

  1. The abortive Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, launched on April 16-17, 1961, prepared with the assistance of the CIA’s “Miami Station” (also known under the code name JM/WAVE). After the failure of the amphibious landings of Brigade 2506, Miami station, under the leadership of Theodore Shackley, became the focus for Operation Mongoose, a series of covert operations directed against Castro, Cuba, and possibly other targets.
  2. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963, and the coverup of those responsible for this crime.
  3. The Watergate scandal, beginning with an April, 1971 visit to Miami, Florida by E. Howard Hunt on the tenth anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion to recruit operatives for the White House Special Investigations Unit (the “Plumbers” and later Watergate burglars) from among Cuban-American Bay of Pigs veterans.
  4. The Iran-contra affair, which became a public scandal during October-November 1986, several of whose central figures, such as Felix Rodriguez, were also veterans of the Bay of Pigs.

BayofPigs (1)

George Bush’s role in both Watergate and the October surprise/Iran-contra complex will be treated in detail at later points in this book. Right now it is important to see that thirty years of covert operations, in many respects, form a single continuous whole. This is especially true in regard to the dramatis personae. Georgie Anne Geyer points to the obvious in a recent book: “…an entire new Cuban cadre now emerged from the Bay of Pigs. The names Howard Hunt, Bernard Barker, Rolando Martinez, Felix Rodriguez and Eugenio Martinez would, in the next quarter century, pop up, often decisively, over and over again in the most dangerous American foreign policy crises. There were Cubans flying missions for the CIA in the Congo and even for the Portuguese in Africa; Cubans were the burglars of Watergate; Cubans played key roles in Nicaragua, in Irangate, in the American move into the Persian Gulf.”  Felix Rodriguez tells us that he was infiltrated into Cuba with the other members of the “Grey Team” in conjunction with the Bay of Pigs landings; this is the same man we will find directing the contra supply effort in central American during the 1980′s, working under the direct supervision of Don Gregg and George Bush.  Theodore Shackley, the JM/WAVE station chief, will later show up in Bush’s 1979-80 presidential campaign.

CIA Chief Ted Shackley

CIA Chief Ted Shackley

To a very large degree, such covert operations (and the great political scandals attendant upon them) have drawn upon the same pool of personnel. They are a significant extent the handiwork of the same crowd. It is therefore revealing to extrapolate forward and backward in time the individuals and groups of individuals who appear as the cast of characters in one scandal and compare them with the cast of characters for the other scandals, including the secondary ones that have not been enumerated here. Howard Hunt, for example, shows up as a confirmed part of the overthrow of the Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz in 1954, as an important part of the chain of command in the Bay of Pigs, as a person repeatedly accused of having been in Dallas on the day Kennedy was shot, and as one of the central figures of Watergate. (One wonders what secrets, after all, were contained in Howard Hunt’s safe, the contents of which were so conventiently “deep sixed” by FBI Director Patrick Gray.)

E Howard Hunt

E Howard Hunt

George Bush is demonstrably one of the most important protagonists of the Watergate scandal, and was the overall director of Iran-contra. Since he appears especially in Iran-contra in close proximity to Bay of Pigs holdovers, it is surely legitimate to wonder when his association with those Bay of Pigs Cubans might have started.

1959 was the year that Bush started operating out of his Zapata Offshore headquarters in Houston; it was also the year that Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba. Officially, as we have seen, George was now a businessman whose work took him at times to Louisiana, where Zapata had offshore drilling operations. George must have been a frequent visitor to New Orleans. Because of his family’s estate on Jupiter Island, he would also have been a frequent visitor to the Hobe Sound area. And then, there were Zapata Offshore drilling operations in the Florida Strait. On all of these activities, the official “red Studebaker” biographical material and the Zapata Offshore annual reports are extremely cryptic.

Prescott Bush

Prescott Bush

The Jupiter Island connection and father Prescott’s Brown Brothers, Harriman/Skull and Bones networks are doubtless the key. Jupiter Island meant Averell Harriman, Robert Lovett, C. Douglas Dillon and other Anglophile financiers who had directed the US intelligence community long before there had been a CIA at all. And, in the back yard of the Jupiter Island Olympians, and under their direction, a powerful covert operations base was now being assembled, in which George Bush would have been present at the creation as a matter of birthright.

During 1959-60, Allen Dulles and the Eisenhower Administration began to assemble in south Florida the infrastructure for covert action against Cuba. This was the JM/WAVE capability, later formally constituted as the CIA Miami station. JM/WAVE was an operational center for the Eisenhower regime’s project of staging an invasion of Cuba using a secret army of anti-Castro Cuban exiles organized, armed, trained, transported, and directed by the CIA. The Cubans, called Brigade 2506, were trained in secret camps in Guatemala, and they had air support from B-26 bombers based in Nicaragua. This invasion was crushed by Castro’s defending forces in less than three days.

Allen Dulles

Allen Dulles

Before going along with the plan so eagerly touted by Allen Dulles, Kennedy had established the pre-condition that under no circumstances whatsoever would there be direct intervention by US military forces against Cuba. On the one hand, Dulles had assured Kennedy that the news of the invasion would trigger an insurrection which would sweep Castro and his regime away. On the other, Kennedy had to be concerned about provoking a global thermonuclear confrontation with the USSR, in the eventuality that N.S. Khrushchev decided to respond to a US Cuban gambit by, for example, cutting off US access to Berlin.

According to some accounts, the code name for the Bay of Pigs was Operation Pluto. 4 But Bay of Pigs veteran Howard Hunt scornfully denies that this was the code name used by JM/WAVE personnel; Hunt writes: “So perhaps the Pentagon referred to the Brigade invasion as PLUTO. CIA did not.” But Hunt does not tell us what the CIA code name was, and the contents of Hunt’s Watergate era White House safe, which might have told us the answer, were of course “deep-sixed” by FBI Director Patrick Gray. One code name frequently used by CIA Miami Station personnel appears to have been “Don Eduardo,” roughly the Spanish equivalent of “Mr. Edward” or perhaps “Mr. Ed.” According to reliable sources and published accounts, the CIA code name for the Bay of Pigs invasion was Operation Zapata, and the plan was so referred to by Richard Bissell of the CIA, one of the plan’s promoters, in a briefing to President Kennedy in the Cabinet Room on March 29, 1961.  Does Operation Zapata have anything to do with Zapata Offshore?

Formerly Zapata

Formerly Zapata

More on Zapata & George Bush : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harbinger_Group

Then there is the question of the Brigade 2506 landing fleet, which was composed of five older freighters bought or chartered from the Garcia Steamship Lines, bearing the names of HoustonRio EsondidoCaribeAtlantic, and Lake Charles. In addition to these vessels, which were outfitted as transport ships, there were two somewhat better armed fire support ships, the Blagar and the Barbara. (In some sources Barbara J.) 8 The Barbara was originally an LCI (Landing Craft Infantry) of earlier vintage. Our attention is attracted at once to the Barbara and the Houston, in the first case because we have seen George Bush’s habit of naming his combat aircraft after his wife, and, in the second case, because Bush was at this time a resident, booster, and Republican activist of Houston, Texas. But of course, the appearance of names like “Zapata,” Barbara, and Houston can by itself only arouse suspicion, and proves nothing.

After the ignominious defeat of the Bay of Pigs invasion, there was great animosity against Kennedy among the survivors of Brigade 2506, some of whom eventually made their way back to Miami after being released from Castro’s prisoner of war camps. There was also great animosity against Kennedy on the part of the JM/WAVE personnel.

David Atlee Phillips

David Atlee Phillips

During the early 1950′s, E. Howard Hunt had been the CIA station chief in Mexico City. As David Atlee Phillips (another embittered JM/WAVE veteran) tells us in his autobiographical account, The Night Watch, Howard Hunt had been the immediate superior of a young CIA recruit named William F. Buckley, the Yale graduate and Skull and Bones member who later founded the National Review. In his autobiographical account written during the days of the Watergate scandal, Hunt includes the following tirade about the Bay of Pigs: “No event since the communization of China in 1949 has had such a profound effect on the United States and its allies as the defeat of the US-trained Cuban invasion brigade at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961.”

OSS China

OSS China

Out of that humiliation grew the Berlin Wall, the missile crisis, guerrilla warfare throughout Latin American and Africa, and our Dominican Republic intervention. Castros’ beachhead triumph opened a bottomless Pandora’s box of difficulties that affected not only the United States, but most of its allies in the Free World. These bloody and subversive events would not have taken place had Castro been toppled. Instead of standing firm, our government pyramided crucially wrong decisions and allowed Brigade 2506 to be destroyed. The Kennedy administration yielded Castro all the excuse he needed to gain a tighter grip on the island of Jose Marti, then moved shamefacedly into the shadows and hoped the Cuban issue would simply melt away.9

Hunt was typical of the opinion that the debacle had been Kennedy’s fault, and not the responsibility of men like Allen Dulles and Richard Bissell, who had designed it and recommended it. After the embarrassing failure of the invasion, which never evoked the hoped-for spontaneous anti-Castro insurrection, Kennedy fired Allen Dulles, his Harrimanite deputy Bissell, and CIA deputy Director Charles Cabell (whose brother was the mayor of Dallas at the time Kennedy was shot).

During the days after the Bay of Pigs debacle, Kennedy was deeply suspicious of the intelligence community and of proposals for military escalation in general, including in places like South Vietnam. Kennedy sought to procure an outside, expert opinion on military matters. For this he turned to the former commander in chief of the Southwest Pacific Theatre during World War II, General Douglas MacArthur. Almost ten years ago, a reliable source shared with one of the authors an account of a meeting between Kennedy and MacArthur in which the veteran general warned the young president that there were elements inside the US government who emphatically did not share his patriotic motives, and who were seeking to destroy his administration from within. MacArthur’s warned that the forces bent on destroying Kennedy were centered in the Wall Street financial community and its various tentacles in the intelligence community.

General Douglas MacArthur

General Douglas MacArthur

It is a matter of public record that Kennedy met with MacArthur in the latter part of April, 1961, after the Bay of Pigs. According to Kennedy aide Theodore Sorenson, MacArthur told Kennedy, “The chickens are coming home to roost, and you happen to have just moved into the chicken house.” 10 At the same meeting, according to Sorenson, MacArthur “warned [Kennedy] against the committment of American foot soldiers on the Asian mainland, and the President never forgot this advice.” 11 This point is grudgingly confirmed by Arthur M. Schlesinger, a Kennedy aide who had a vested interest in vilifying MacArthur, who wrote that “MacArthur expressed his old view that anyone wanting to commit American ground forces to the mainland [of Asia] should have his head examined.” 12 MacArthur restated this advice during a second meeting with Kennedy when the General returned from his last trip to the Far East in July, 1961.

Kennedy valued MacArthur’s professional military opinion highly, and used it to keep at arms length those advisers who were arguing for escalation in Laos, Vietnam, and elsewhere. He repeatedly invited those who proposed to send land forces to Asia to convince MacArthur that this would as good idea. If they could convince MacArthur, then he, Kennedy, might also go along. At this time, the group proposing escalation in Vietnam (as well as preparing the assassination of President Diem) had a heavy Brown Brothers, Harriman/Skull and Bones overtone: the hawks of 1961-63 were Harriman, McGeorge Bundy, William Bundy, Henry Cabot Lodge, and some key London oligarchs and theoreticians of counterinsurgency wars. And of course, George Bush during these years was calling for escalation in Vietnam and challenging Kennedy to “muster the courage” to try a second invasion of Cuba. In the meantime, the JM/WAVE-Miami station complex was growing rapidly to become the largest of Langley’s many satellites. Its center was at the former Richmond Naval Air Station south of Miami, which had been a base for antisubmarine blimps during World War II. During the years after the failure of the Bay of Pigs, this complex had as many as 3,000 Cuban agents and subagents, with a small army of case officers to direct and look after each one. According to one account, there were at least 55 dummy corporations to provide employment, cover, and commercial disguise for all these operatives. There were detective bureaus, gun stores, real estate brokerages, boat repair shops, and party boats for fishing and other entertainments. There was the clandestine Radio Swan, later renamed Radio Americas. There were fleets of specially modified boats based at Homestead Marina, and at other marinas throughout the Florida Keys. Agents were assigned to the University of Miami and other educational institutions.

Henry Cabot Lodge - Ambassador to Vietnam

Henry Cabot Lodge – Ambassador to Vietnam

The raison d’être of the massive capability commanded by Theodore Shackley was now Operation Mongoose, a program for sabotage raids and assassinations to be conducted on Cuban territory, with a special effort to eliminate Fidel Castro personally. In order to run these operations from US territory, flagrant and extensive violation of federal and state laws was the order of the day. Documents regarding the incorporation of businesses were falsified. Income tax returns were faked. FAA regulations were violated by planes taking off for Cuba or for forward bases in the Bahamas and elsewhere. Explosives moved across highways that were full of civilian traffic. The Munitions Act, the Neutrality Act, the customs and immigrations laws were routinely flaunted. 13 Above all, the drug laws were massively violated as the gallant anti-communist fighters filled their planes and boats with illegal narcotics to be smuggled back into the US when they returned from their missions. By 1963, the drug-running activities of the covert operatives were beginning to attract attention. JM/WAVE, in sum, accelerated the slide of south Florida towards the status of drug and murder capital of the United States it achieved during the 1980′s, when it became as notorious as Chicago during Prohibition.

It cannot be the task of this study to even begin to treat the reasons for which certain leading elements of the Anglo-American financial oligarchy, perhaps acting with certain kinds of support from continental European aristocratic and neofascist networks, ordered the murder of John F. Kennedy. The British and the Harrimanites wanted escalation in Vietnam; by the time of his assassination Kennedy was committed to a pullout of US forces. Kennedy, as shown by his American University speech of 1963, was also interested in seeking a more stable path of war avoidance with the Soviets, using the US military superiority demonstrated during the Cuban missile crisis to convince Moscow to accept a policy of world peace through economic development. Kennedy was interested in the possibilities of anti-missile strategic defense to put an end to that nightmare of mutually assured destruction which appealed to Henry Kissinger, a disgruntled former employee of the Kennedy administration whom the president had denounced as a madman. Kennedy was considering moves to limit or perhaps abolish the usurpation of authority over the national currency by the Wall Street and London interests controlling the Federal Reserve System. If re-elected to a second term, Kennedy was likely to have re-asserted presidential control, as distinct from Wall Street control, over the intelligence community. There is good reason to believe that Kennedy would have ousted J. Edgar Hoover from his self-appointed life tenure at the FBI, subjecting that agency to presidential control for the first time in many years. Kennedy was committed to a vigorous expansion of the space program, the cultural impact of which was beginning to alarm the finance oligarchs. Above all, Kennedy was acting like a man who thought he was president of the United States, violating the collegiality of oligarchical trusteeship of that office that had been in force since the final days of Roosevelt. Kennedy furthermore had two younger brothers who might succeed him, putting a strong presidency beyond the control of the Eastern Anglophile Liberal Establishment for decades. George Bush joined in the Harrimanite opposition to Kennedy on all of these points.

JFK

JFK

After Kennedy was killed in Dallas on November 22, 1963, it was alleged that E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis had both been present, possibly together, in Dallas on the day of the shooting, although the truth of these allegations has never been finally established. Both Hunt and Sturgis were of course Bay of Pigs veterans who would later appear center stage in Watergate. There were also allegations that Hunt and Sturgis were among a group of six to eight derelicts who were found in boxcars sitting on the railroad tracks behind the grassy knoll near Dealey Plaza, and who were rounded up and taken in for questioning by the Dallas police on the day of the assassination. Some suspected that Hunt and Sturgis had participated in the assassination. Some of these allegations were at the center of the celebrated 1985 defamation case of Hunt v. Liberty Lobby, in which a Florida federal jury found against Hunt. But, since the Dallas Police Department and County Sheriff never photographed or fingerprinted the “derelicts” in question, it has so far proven impossible definitively to resolve this question. But these allegations and theories about the possible presence and activities of Hunt and Sturgis in Dallas were sufficiently widespread so as to compel the Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States (the Rockefeller Commission) to attempt to refute them in its 1975 report. 14

According to George Bush’s official biography, he was during 1963 a well-to-do businessman residing in Houston, the busy president of Zapata Offshore and the chairman of the Harris County Republican Organization, supporting Barry Goldwater as the GOP’s likely 1964 presidential candidate, while at the same time actively preparing his own 1964 bid for the US Senate. But during that same period of time, Bush may have shared some common acquaintances with Lee Harvey Oswald.

Republican Super-Racist - Barry Goldwater

Republican Super-Racist – Barry Goldwater

Between October, 1962 and April, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald and his Russian wife Marina were in frequent contact with a Russian emigré couple living in Dallas: these were George de Mohrenschildt and his wife Jeanne. During the Warren Commission investigation of the Kennedy assassination, de Mohrenschildt was interviewed at length about his contacts with Oswald. When, in the spring of 1977, the discrediting of the Warren Commission report as a blatant coverup had made public pressure for a new investigation of the Kennedy assassination irresistible, the House Assassinations Committee planned to interview de Mohrenschildt once again. But in March, 1977, just before de Mohrenschildt was scheduled to be interviewed by Gaeton Fonzi of the House committee’s staff, he was found dead in Palm Beach, Florida. His death was quickly ruled a suicide. One of the last people to see him alive was Edward Jay Epstein, who was also interviewing de Mohrenschildt about the Kennedy assassination for an upcoming book. Epstein is one of the writers on the Kennedy assassination who enjoyed excellent relations with the late James Angleton of the CIA. If de Mohrenschildt were alive today, he might be able to enlighten us about his relations with George Bush, and perhaps afford us some insight into Bush’s activities during this epoch.

George de Mohrenschildt

George de Mohrenschildt

Jeanne de Mohrenschildt rejected the finding of suicide in her husband’s death. “He was eliminated before he got to that committee,” the widow told a journalist in 1978, “because someone did not want him to get to it.” She also maintained that George de Mohrenschildt had been surreptitiously injected with mind-altering drugs. 15 After de Mohrenschildt’s death, his personal address book was located, and it contained this entry: “Bush, George H.W. (Poppy) 1412 W. Ohio also Zapata Petroleum Midland.” There is of course the problem of dating this reference. George Bush had moved his office and home from Midland to Houston in 1959, when Zapata Offshore was constituted, so perhaps this reference goes back to some time before 1959. There is also the number: “4-6355.” There are, of course, numerous other entries, including one W.F. Buckley of the Buckley brothers of New York City, William S. Paley of CBS, plus many oil men, stock brokers, and the like. 16

In 1957, de Mohrenschildt was approved by the CIA Office of Security to be hired as a US government geologist for a mission to Yugoslavia. Upon his return he was interviewed by one J. Walter Moore of the CIA’s Domestic Contact Service, with whom he remained in contact. During 1958, de Morhenschildt visited Ghana, Togo, Dahomey; during 1959 he visited Africa again and returned by way of Poland. In 1959 he married Jeanne, his fourth wife, a former ballet dancer and dress designer who had been born in Manchuria, where her father had been one of the directors of the Chinese Eastern Railroad. During the summer of 1960, George and Jeanne de Mohrenschildt told their friends that they were going to embark on a walking tour of 11,000 miles along Indian trails from Mexico to Central America. One of their principal destinations was Guatemala City, where they were staying at the time of the Bay of Pigs invasion in April, 1961, after which they made their way home by way of Panama and Haiti. After two months in Haiti, the Mohrenschildts returned to Dallas, where they came into contact with Lee Harvey Oswald, who had come back to the United States from his sojourn in the Soviet Union in June, 1962. By this time de Mohrenschildt was also frequenting Admiral Henry C. Bruton and his wife, to whom he introduced the Oswalds. Admiral Bruton was the former director of naval communications, and had superintended a comprehensive modernization and reorganization of the navy’s means of keeping in touch with ships, planes, missiles, submarines, and the like.

Oswald

Oswald

It is established that between October, 1962 and late April, 1963, de Mohrenschildt was a very important figure in the life of Oswald and his Russian wife. Despite Oswald’s lack of social graces, de Mohrenschildt introduced him into Dallas society, took him to parties, assisted him in finding employment, and much more. It was through de Mohrenschildt that Oswald met a certain Volkmar Schmidt, a young German geologist who had studied with Professor Wilhelm Kuetemeyer, an expert in psychosomatic medicine and religious philosophy at the University of Heidelberg, who compiled a detailed psychological profile of Oswald. Jeanne and George helped Marina move her belongings during one of her many estrangements from Oswald. According to some accounts, de Mohrenschildt’s influence on Oswald was so great during this period that he could virtually dictate important decisions to the young ex-marine simply by making suggestions. Oswald was in awe of de Mohrenschildt, according to some.

According to some versions, de Mohrenschildt was aware of Oswald’s alleged April 10, 1963 attempt to assassinate the well-known right-wing General Edwin Walker. According to Marina, de Mohrenschildt once asked Oswald, “Lee, how did you miss General Walker?” On April 19, George and Jeanne de Mohrenschildt went to New York City, and on April 29 the CIA Office of Security found that it had no objection to de Mohrenschildt’s acceptance of a contract with the Duvalier regime of Haiti in the field of natural resource development. De Mohrenschildt appears to have departed for Haiti on May 1, 1963. In the meantime Oswald had left Dallas and traveled to New Orleans. According to Mark Lane, “there is evidence that de Mohrenschildt served as a CIA control officer who directed Oswald’s actions.” Much of the extensive published literature on de Mohrenschildt converges on the idea that he was a baby sitter, handler, case officer, or control agent for Oswald on behalf of some intelligence agency.  De Mohrenschildt’s pedigree evokes haunting parallels to the typical figures of the PERMINDEX networks of Georges Mandel, Ferenc Nagy, Max Hagerman, Max Seligman, Carlo d’Amelio, Lewis Mortimer Bloomfield, and Clay Shaw, to which public attention was called during the investigations of New Orleans district attorney James Garrison. It is therefore highly interesting that George Bush’s name turned up in the personal address book of George de Mohrenschildt. The Warren Commission went to absurd lengths to cover up the fact that George de Mohrenschildt was a denizen of the world of the intelligence agencies. This included ignoring the well-developed paper trial on de Mohrenschildt as Nazi and communist sympathizer, and later as a US asset abroad.

Photo of Bush at CIA

Photo of Bush at CIA

 

The Warren Commission concluded:

The Commission’s investigation has developed no signs of subversive or disloyal conduct on the part of either of the de Mohrenschildts. Neither the FBI, CIA, nor any witnesses contacted by the Commission has provided any information linking the de Mohrenschildts to subversive or extremist organizations. Nor has there been any evidence linking them in any way with the assassination of President Kennedy.

On the day of the Kennedy assassination, FBI records show George Bush as reporting a right-wing member of the Houston Young Republicans for making threatening comments about President Kennedy. According to FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act and related FBI documentation, Bush received a highly sensitive, high-level briefing from the Bureau:

Date: November 29, 1963
To: Director Bush

Bureau of Intelligence and Research
Department of State
From: John Edgar Hoover, Director
Subject: ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY NOVEMBER 22, 1963

Our Miami, Florida, Office on November 23, 1963 advised that the Office of Coordinator of Cuban Affairs in Miami advised that the Department of State feels some misguided anti-Castro group might capitalize on the present situation and undertake an unauthorized raid against Cuba, believing that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy might herald a change in US policy, which is not true.

Our sources and informants familiar with Cuban matters in the Miami area advise that the general feeling in the anti-Castro Cuban community is one of stunned disbelief and, even among those who did not entirely agree with the President’s policy concerning Cuba, the feeling is that the President’s death represents a great loss not only to the US but to all Latin America. These sources know of no plans for unauthorized action against Cuba.

An informant who has furnished reliable information in the past and who is close to a small pro-Castro group in Miami has advised that those individuals are afraid that the assassination of the President may result in strong repressive measures being taken against them and, although pro-Castro in their feelings, regret the assassination.”

Castro

Castro

 

This FBI document identifying George Bush as a CIA agent in November, 1963 was first published by Joseph McBride in The Nation in July, 1988, just before Bush received the Republican nomination for president. McBride’s source observed: “I know [Bush] was involved in the Caribbean. I know he was involved in the suppression of things after the Kennedy assassination. There was a very definite worry that some Cuban groups were going to move against Castro and attempt to blame it on the CIA.” 20 When pressed for confirmation or denial, Bush’s spokesman Stephen Hart commented: “Must be another George Bush.” Within a short time the CIA itself would peddle the same damage control line. On July 19, 1988 in the wake of wide public attention to the report published in The Nation, CIA spokeswoman Sharron Basso departed from the normal CIA policy of refusing to confirm or deny reports that any person is or was a CIA employee. CIA spokeswoman Basso told the Associated Press that the CIA believed that “the record should be clarified.” For the CIA to volunteer the name of one of its former employees to the press was a shocking violation of traditional methods, which are supposedly designed to keep such names a closely guarded secret.

This revelation may have constituted a violation of federal law. But no exertions were too great when it came to damage control for George Bush. It makes perfect sense for George Bush to be called in on a matter involving the Cuban community in Miami, since that is a place where George has traditionally had a constituency. George inherited it from his father, Prescott Bush of Jupiter Island, and later passed it on to his own son, Jeb.

Bush and Noriega

Bush and Noriega

The Green Chazzan 

 

 

 

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Required Reading – The Bay of Pigs & Operation J/M-Wave – Part 1

The Bay of Pigs & Operation J/M-Wave        

Inside the CIA’s Miami Training Camps by Jorge Varona (1977)

Bay of Pigs - Captured Agents

Bay of Pigs – Captured Agents

All four of the former agents I talked to had joined the CIA either before or during the Bay of Pigs training period. Two were in the invasion; and two were in the Cuban underground. One of them said: “I don’t know when they will need me again”.

When Cuban exiles began arriving in the United States in 1959 many thought the best way to go back to their country was a war in which a powerful ally was needed. The ally was there in the form of a sympathetic United States government which sponsored the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion – an invasion which had an end result, the consolidation of the government of Prime Minister Fidel Castro.

Cubans in general have had a dichotomous attitude toward the United States: traditionally Cubans have distrusted the “Colossus of the North” while expressing great admiration for American political stability and know-how. The failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion was easily blamed by many on the inexperience and ‘lack of guts’ of the late President John F. Kennedy; the disgruntled exiles, however, kept alive their hopes of getting control of their homeland by joining up with an arm of the government which was sympathetic and powerful: The Central Intelligence Agency.

Not all Cubans who fought against Castro were CIA followers, but those days in the camps in Guatemala had seen strong friends grow between the trainees and the CIA instructors. When the invaders came back, many gravitated to the US Army and others stayed close to the intelligence community in the Miami Area.

Carlos Prio Socarras

Carlos Prio Socarras

CIA recruitment of operatives and agents began even before Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista was overthrown. Watergate burglar Frank Sturgis has admitted he was recruited to work for the CIA while he was ferrying weapons to Cuban rebels under the direction of former Cuban president Carlos Prio Socarras. The CIA maintained a large network of operatives on the island nation up to the 1961 U.S. sponsored invasion, when most of them were arrested and neutralized by the Cuban secret police (known as G-2). Those agents who were not caught had to go into hiding, and were, for the most part, neutralized.  Only a small hardy group survived and still may be working today.

But it is the Miami based CIA groups, the ones functioning in Miami that grew and were used by American intelligence to form an intelligence network which extended through Latin America and Europe in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Following the Bay of Pigs invasion, the CIA began a recruitment drive in Miami among Cuban exiles and trained many of them in the commando raid tactics which were used in the 18-month period between the invasion and the October 1962 missile crisis.

bay-of-pigs

Following the crisis, CIA Cuba activities became more covert, since the ‘understanding’ reached by American President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev precluded any direct invasion of Cuba. To gather the information in this article; four former CIA agents were interviewed; two of these were Principal Agents who acted under direct orders from the CIA. CIA headquarters were located at the J/M-WAVE, a number of offices buildings and warehouses located at the University of Miami’s south campus. J/M-WAVE operated under the guise of Zenith Technological Services, an electronics firm which was supposed to have been engaged in doing weapons research for the Department of Defense. Even though The Company has denied it, Sturgis confirmed he was involved in assassination plots against Castro and other Latin leaders, many of these operations were hatched from J/M-WAVE.

All agents interviewed had first come in contact with the CIA either before or during the Bay of Pigs training period. Two participated in the invasion and two were members of the Cuban underground. They will be known only by their first names since they do not wish to compromise their lives. One of them said “I do not know when they will need me again”.William R. Amlong described the CIA Miami operation in the March 9, 1975 Miami Herald as “the largest anywhere in the world outside of the Langley Headquarters in Virginia”. During the height of the CIA Cuban operation over 400 officers of the CIA connected with propaganda, paramilitary and infiltration operations worked out of there. At this headquarters, the activities of more than 1,500 Cuban Exile operatives were coordinated. These operatives according to ‘Rolando’, one of the agents, operated freely in Miami, Venezuela, Colombia, Chile, Spain, France, West Germany and Italy.

assassination-targets

With the conclusion of the missile crisis and the return of the Bay of Pigs invaders to American soil, the CIA operation began to enter the infiltration and harassment of Cuba phase in which small teams went to Cuba to deliver radios, explosives, and weapons to underground elements. This was the apogee of the Cuban operation, which lasted with official sanction until early 1965, when Lyndon Johnson brought his own political clout to the White House.

The recruitment of Cuban Exiles was described by the agents as follows: Immigration and Naturalization Service authorities screening exiles would tip off the CIA as to whom they though could be an effective agent. Local exiles already working for the CIA would in turn go to visit them and invite the new arrivals to visit one of the many safe-houses that “La Compania” had in Miami. One of these was the Old Revolutionary Council house just north of downtown Miami. The CIA tried to recruit farmers and fisherman who knew the coast and who could help the infiltration teams get into Cuba without being seen. Training began with classes in Miami, where the recruits began learning about tactics and weapons. These classes were usually held at the house of the Principal Agents. Most of the time the CIA tried to have the Cuban PA’s very visible in from of the Cuban recruits in order to gain their confidence.

Those recruits who would actually become agents and not just operatives would be sent up for further training at Eglin Air Force Base in Pensacola, Florida (where, perhaps not coincidentally, the Watergate burglars would be imprisoned in 1974). Some of the training in guerilla warfare took place in the Okeefenokee Swamp in the Florida panhandle and southern Georgia. The recruits stayed for one month at this base. From here the recruits went to several bases near the CIA headquarters in Virginia, where they received further training in commando tactics, raids and weapons. Training at these bases lasted for a month.

J/M-Wave, Florida

J/M-Wave, Florida

According to ‘Roland’: “From here we were taken in closed planes to another base. We did not know where this base is. There we took training in explosives and demolition”. This type of training was held regularly until at least 1968.

At least two of the agents confirmed about 300 men received training in demolitions. The training varied while some were taught demolition on dry land, others learned all about underwater charges. This phase of operation ceased in large scale right after Lyndon Johnson took over in 1965. The 1965-1968 period saw an increase in the infiltrations for the purpose of gathering intelligence and rescuing agents inside Cuba. It is also believed that in this period some more of the assassination plots against Castro were hatched in Miami. While official U.S. policy at the time was one of ‘hands off’ Cuba, local authorities often looked the other way when Cuban Exiles, especially CIA agents or operatives, were caught breaking the neutrality laws.

“I remember when we caught one of these guys who had a lot of explosives and weapons in his house” said a former Dade County policeman who is now self-employed. “The Feds came in and took everything we had, saying that they were going to draw up federal charges against this man. They took everything, the weapons, the explosives, everything. We told them that we needed something so that we could bring our own charges against the man (who was active in anti-Castro activities) and federal agents left the State Attorney a case of hand grenades. Well, as it turned out, there was no regulation in Dade or Miami covering possession of hand grenades, so we had to let him go.”

Since Cuba could not be the object of a massive CIA operation, the Cia began using the recruited exiles to check on pro-Castro activity in Europe and Latin America. Already well known is the manhunt of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara in Bolivia, in which at least 2 of the agents interviewed participated in minor roles. Exiles also participated in the covert propaganda work in Chile which helped to defeat Salvador Allende in 1964.

Salvadore Allende

Salvadore Allende

The CIA operation in Miami was divided into ubiquitous cells. Normally, one cell did not know what the other was doing, in case one of the groups was caught in Cuba. There was also another reason for this: usually members of one cell were political enemies of another cell. There were cells of people connected with former President Prio, other cells consisted of former allies of Batista, and other cells were comprised of former members of Castro’s revolutionary army. Men who would normally not be able to work together because of irreconcilable political conflicts worked this way together. This way, with Machiavellian precision, the CIA did for exiles what they could never do: band together to fight Castro.

The same political division was used by the CIA to keep any of the groups from reaching a position of relative strength. A good example of this was the campaign of vituperation against Manolo Ray, a liberal center-left former Castro minister who headed a powerful and popular exile group. Ray was accused of being a ‘Fidelista sin Fidel’ or one who liked the revolution but hated Castro, and his campaign lost much influence over the affair.

Nixon

Nixon

The CIA usually kept informants as members of most groups and managed to control even the most fanatical nationalists. As the anti-Castro activity began to be more closely controlled with the election of Richard Nixon in 1968, the CIA kept on its payroll a ‘secret police’ in Miami, which numbered anywhere from 200 to 300 Cuban Exiles. Men like Watergate burglar Eugenio Rolando ‘Muscalito’ Martinez belonged to this group. The CIA and some of the agents claim the group was officially disbanded in 1972, though most of the men remained on retainer as ‘consultants’. Martinez was still collecting $100-a-month from the CIA when he was caught in the Democratic National Headquarters. Members of this group trained at the J/M-WAVE facility. Others took training courses at the ‘School of the Americas’ in Fort Gulick at the Panama Canal Zone.

In Miami the cloak-and-dagger activities of the CIA quickly became mixed up in the narcotics traffic since many of the operatives were dealing heroin and marijuana. These dealers had what amounted to official protection because of the work they did. Part of the official protection the CIA had in Miami extended to the Miami Police Departments and also to the Dade County Sheriff’s office. Former Miami Police Chief Bernard Garmire provided some of the official protection the CIA operatives needed. This extended to having the CIA operatives keep a close eye on independent Anti-Castro groups; they usually busted their members when it appeared they were about to execute freelance raids on Cuba. During the 1972 Republican and Democratic National Conventions in Miami Beach, CIA operatives infiltrated most anti-Castro groups and often set them off against each other or against left-wing groups protesting the convention.

The CIA also sponsored front companies which served as support for the Company. An example of this is the Hialeah Egg Factory in which many of these operatives worked, among them Jose Antonio Prat, who mysteriously ‘killed himself’ in Miami in early February of 1976. One of the front men of the factory is a retired CIA agent known as Richard ‘El Americano’ who spent 12 years in Castro’s dungeons for espionage.

Up to 60 of these front companies grew around Miami; often they had names similar to real companies and would even sell similar products. Unsuspecting calls to them would invariably bring excuses about ‘not having the material available’. The receptionists would lie about the whereabouts of salesmen and even to credit ex-employees confirming former employment and salaries. Many of these corporations were not officially registered with the state of Florida but were seldom ever prosecuted or brought to the public’s attention.

The same is true of a number of used car lots which opened up in Miami and were run by some of the Cuban Exiles in the 1960s. U.S. Representative William Lehman, a used car dealer in North Miami, told the Rockefellar Commission that he believed there was some unfair competition from the CIA because their dealerships undersold the market. Cuban Exiles who normally worked other jobs preferred to work this way and were paid directly, to seldom sell a few cars while plotting Anti-Castro activities in air conditioned offices.

Cuban Exiles in Miami

Cuban Exiles in Miami

Although the CIA activities slowed down in 1972, along with the agents claim that recruitment has stopped altogether, a legacy has remained in Miami. The trainees did not quite stop working after the CIA cooled them down. Many set up their own training schools and as late as 1973, they kept training other exiles in the use of weapons and explosives. A paramilitary Parachute Club, the ‘Golden Falcons’ was the place where Humberto Lopez Jr., the convicted terrorist and Rolando Otero Hernandez, another terrorist now in Chile, first joined together and learned about bomb making under the CIA.

At a small office near SW I Street on 22 Avenue, CIA operatives trained in explosives and booby traps by the special forces taught young Cubans how to handle most weapons in the American military as well as Russian and Eastern European weapons. Training in booby-traps and grenades were held under the direction of Conrado Rodriguez. Usually the classes were well illustrated with weapons and taught by four expert marksmen. Even though many agents have claimed to stop these activities, men like Max Gorman Gonzalez are still reluctant to speak with reporters, afraid of compromising their business relationship with the CIA. It is interesting to note that while Frank Sturgis claims to have stopped the CIA activities, he was seen training the Exiles on how to recruit among their own for forces in Angola.

“When Bernard Barker, one of the Miami Watergate burglars, entered federal prison, he encountered an old Bay of Pigs comrade jailed for violating US neutrality laws in a freelance raid against Cuba. Chico, as he was nicknamed complained that America wasn’t what it used to be…”

In Hialeah, the Egg Factory is still working and the Power Chemical and Paper Corporation still operates with salesmen doubling as agents. At 1800 NW River Drive, CIA operatives are still recruiting forces to fight in Angola as early as the Spring of 1976.

A man crosses the Central Intelligence A

The Green Chazzan

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Required Reading – The Merchants of Death

EDITOR: This excerpt details the history of the Bush family and how they rose to prominence within the American upper class during World War I and World War II. Senator Prescott Bush, a notorious anti-Roosevelt Republican and convicted traitor in World War II, would set the stage for his son, George HW Bush to one day emerge as leader of the Consortium and President of the United States.

The Merchants of Death

Excerpts from ‘George Bush’ by Dr. Webster Tarpley (1992)

Prescott Goes to War

Prescott Bush

Prescott Bush

 

President George Herbert Walker Bush was born in 1924, the son of Prescott S. Bush and Dorothy Walker Bush. We will begin the George Bush story about a decade before his birth, on the eve of World War I. We will follow the career of his father, Prescott Bush, through his marriage with Dorothy Walker, on the path to fortune, elegance and power.

Prescott Bush entered Yale University in 1913. A native of Columbus, Ohio, Prescott had spent the last five years before college in St. George’s Episcopal preparatory school in Newport, Rhode Island.Prescott Bush’s first college year, 1913, was also the freshman year at Yale for E. Roland ( “Bunny” ) Harriman, whose older brother (Wm.) Averell Harriman had just graduated from Yale. This is the Averell Harriman who went on to fame as the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union during World War II, as a governor of New York State, and as a presidential advisor who was greatly responsible for starting the Vietnam War.

The Harrimans would become the sponsors of the Bushes, to lift them onto the stage of world history. In the spring of 1916, Prescott Bush and “Bunny” Harriman were chosen for membership in an elite Yale senior-year secret society known as Skull and Bones. This unusually morbid, death-celebrating group helped Wall Street financiers find active young men of “good birth” to form a kind of imitation British aristocracy in America.

Averall Harriman

Averall Harriman

World War I was then raging in Europe. With the prospect that the U.S.A. would soon join the war, two Skull and Bones “Patriarchs” , Averell Harriman (class of 1913) and Percy A. Rockefeller (class of 1900), paid special attention to Prescott’s class of 1917. They wanted reliable cadres to help them play the Great Game, in the lucrative new imperial era that the war was opening up for London and New York moneycrats. Prescott Bush, by then a close friend of “Bunny” Harriman, and several other Bonesmen from their class of 1917 would later comprise the core partners in Brown Brothers Harriman, the world’s large