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Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #251 


Testimony On Contras Still Haunts Colonel



Journalist Peter Maas profiled the new Iraq Counterinsurgency effort in New York Times Magazine (May 1, 2005)



Washington Post Editorial  “Iraq’s Death Squads”



Guardian article on “The Salvador Option”  October, 2010



Celerino Castillo III essay on Negroponte and the Salvador Option


Jim Steele Bio | Premiere Motivational Speakers Bureau


A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #252 

The Head of the UN Drug commission said that 352 billion in drug cash infused into the banking system is what saved the banks from collapsing



Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray says UK and USA sent prisoners to Uzbek to be tortured 

Craig Murray, says that the Taliban sympathizers only account for 10% of drug exports from Afghanistan, whereas Karzai’s people account for well over 50%. See this recent speech by Murray at the 7:20 mark:

Photos of U.S. and Afghan Troops Patrolling Poppy Fields June 2012



Afghan opium production 'rises by 61%' compared with 2010



2012 Afghanistan’s Opium Production on the Rise

“We are back in the situation we had in 2007-08,” UNODC country representative Jean-Luc Lemahieu told the paper. “The Taliban definitely get income from opium cultivation … but the lion’s share of the income still disappears here, into the hands of the big patrons of this country.”



Classic article
Originally published in Rolling Stone, October 20, 1977.

 How Americas Most Powerful News Media Worked Hand in Glove with the Central Intelligence Agency and Why the Church Committee Covered It Up



off topic but interesting...

CIA burglar goes rogue

A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #253 
After 8 years the links have gone bad-- here are the new links for Knight and Bernstein


But our eyes are not closed to the CIA "company" presence. In fact, Robert Knight and Dennis Bernstein were among the very first to report original details with participants and eyewitnesses of the NSC-CIA-contra-cocaine connection. It was exactly ten years ago that we launched the award-winning "Undercurrents" investigative news program which aired on more than a hundred radio stations nationwide. We also wrote of the contra "guns-for-drugs" phenomenon in major mainstream newspapers and magazines.

  • On March 31, 1987, we published original details in a nationally syndicated Newsday article,

Why is the Contra-Cocaine Connection Being Ignored?

  • In September, 1996, we revisited the story in the Baltimore Sun and Lexington Herald-Leader:

Why is the Contra-Cocaine Connection STILL Being Ignored?

  • On October 4, 1996 we published a widely-distributed article for the Pacific News Service and Philadelphia Tribune,

DEA Agent's Decade Long Battle to Expose CIA-Contra-Crack Story

  • Our most recent effort is currently apperaing in weekly newspapaers across the country:

How the Contras Invaded the United States

  • Our work was also selected for inclusion in the October 8, 1996 SALON "Newsreal" page,

Right hand, Left hand


The CIA, the Contras and Crack Cocaine

by Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight http://www.albionmonitor.com/9612a/ciacontra.html

A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #254 

Have we simply made Afghanistan safe for opium production?

In 2000, the Taliban banned opium production in Afghanistan, making it illegal to grow poppies. Any farmer caught cultivating the cash crop would be severely punished, usually by death. By the middle of 2001, there was basically no opium produced in Afghanistan, though that nation ordinarily led the world in production of the drug. However, since the start of the U.S. led invasion, the poppy fields began growing again and the opium trade is flourishing as never before.

The Taliban had relied on opium sales to finance their operations until July 2000. It was then that the regime's leader Mullah Mohammed Omar issued a ban on the drug trade, because he claimed that it conflicted with Islamic law. Less than a year later, a U.N. delegation visited the areas of the country where poppies were traditionally grown and found nothing.

The head of the U.N. Drug Control Program said: "There are no poppies. It's amazing." By January 2002, the U.S. military had the Taliban on the run and the poppy fields had returned in earnest. At the same time, the U.S. and NATO nations signed a worldwide ban on opium production. The U.N. released a report on the return of the Afghan opium trade which noted: "Afghanistan has been the main source of illicit opium: 70 percent of global illicit opium production in 2000 and up to 90 percent of heroin in European drug markets originated from Afghanistan."

The report went on to say: "There are reliable indications that opium cultivation has resumed since October 2001 in some areas (such as the southern provinces Uruzgan, Helmand, Nangarhar, and Kandahar), following the effective implementation of the Taliban ban on cultivation in 2001, not only because of the breakdown in law and order, but also because the farmers are desperate to find a means of survival following the prolonged drought."

Despite the Bush administration claims at the time that the international drug trade helped finance terrorism, a blind-eye was turned to the activities of the Afghan warlords and the Pashtun mafia. The U.S. and our NATO partners ignored the re-introduction of the poppy crops and allowed opium production to flourish. In 2007, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime released a report which found that during 2006, opium production increased by 50 percent from the previous year.

Afghanistan produced a record of 6,700 metric tons in 2006, and was responsible for 92 percent of the world's opium production. This rise corresponded with the dramatic fall of Southeast Asia's opium production, which, in contrast only produced 370 metric tons that same year. In the past, it has been reported that the CIA is involved in Afghanistan's opium production, or at least in protecting it. In March 2002, a U.S. foreign intelligence official speaking on the condition of anonymity, reminded a reporter with NewsMax.com of the CIA's record of involvement with the international drug trade.

The official said: "The CIA did almost the identical thing during the Vietnam War, which had catastrophic consequences--the increase in the heroin trade in the USA beginning in the 1970's is directly attributable to the CIA. The CIA has been complicit in the global drug trade for years, so I guess they just want to carry on their favorite business." He went on to say: "The sole reason why organized crime groups and terrorists have the power that they do is all because of drug trafficking. Like the old saying, 'those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.'"

The following is a listing of Afghanistan’s opium crop in metric tons, since 2001:












Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Afghanistan Opium Survey 2009 Summary Findings (http://www.unodc.org)

Afghanistan’s 2010 crop was nearly cut in half from the previous year’s production due to a blight hitting the poppy fields. However, the reduced supply tripled the price of opium, earning the farmers $605 million last year, up 38 percent from 2009. The current high price is now convincing many of that country’s farmers to give up on growing traditional crops such as wheat, and enter opium production.

In addition to being the world’s number one opium supplier, Afghanistan is now the largest producer of hashish, producing between 1,500 and 3,500 tons annually.

While the U.S. government claims to be making strides in the eradication of Afghanistan’s opium fields, the United Nations reports that only 5,351 hectares of opium were eradicated in 2009, less than 4 percent of the amount planted. In 2010, the amount of land used for poppy cultivation was 123,000 hectares, with the amount reportedly eradicated, unchanged from 2009.

Though Afghanistan produces about 90 percent of the world's opium supply, a mere 2 percent of the drug is actually seized within that country’s borders.

Afghanistan could now be fairly described as a 'narco-state' and the role that the U.S. military has played in that nation's illicit evolution cannot be ignored.

2010 was the deadliest year to date for the U.S. military serving in Afghanistan, with 499 personnel killed last year alone.

As of April 11, 2011, a total of 1,532 U.S. service members have been killed in Afghanistan.


Afghan opium prices soar as production rises


12 January 2012  - The full Afghan Opium Survey for 2011 points to a dramatic increase of 133 per cent in the farm-gate value of opium compared with 2010 (the summary findings of the survey were issued in September 2011).  Released today by the Ministry of Counter-Narcotics of Afghanistan and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the survey reveals that the farm-gate income generated by opium probably amounted to $1.4 billion, equivalent to 9 per cent of the GDP of Afghanistan in 2011.

Even more striking is the potential income derived from opium production. Export earnings from Afghan opiates may be worth $2.4 billion - equivalent to 15 per cent of GDP. Such vast sums cannot easily be earned in other ways. "Opium is therefore a significant part of the Afghan economy and provides considerable funding to the insurgency and fuels corruption," said Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC.

Almost 60 per cent of farmers surveyed in 2011 said that they were motivated primarily by the high prices fetched by opium poppy cultivation, which will continue to remain attractive if it reaps bumper profits, according to the survey. Compounding the problem was a simultaneous drop in the price of wheat. In 2011, the gross income from opium was 11 times higher than that from wheat, the biggest difference in income since 2003.

In 2010, plant diseases wiped out much of the opium yield and the resulting scarcity of fresh opium triggered a speculative rise in prices. While higher prices had been expected in 2011 after opium yields returned to pre-blight levels, the 2011 values far exceeded expectations. The gross per-hectare income from opium cultivation ($10,700) also reached levels not observed since 2003.

Around 90 per cent of the world's opium comes from Afghanistan. The survey showed that the area of land used for opium poppy cultivation in 2011 was 131,000 hectares, 7 per cent higher than in 2010. The amount of opium produced increased by 61 per cent, from 3,600 metric tons in 2010 to 5,800 metric tons in 2011.

"The Afghan Opium Survey 2011 sends a strong message that we cannot afford to be lethargic in the face of this problem. We thank the Government of Afghanistan for the leadership and dedication already shown, but a stronger commitment from a broad range of national and international partners is needed to turn this worrying trend around", said Mr. Fedotov, referring to rising production.

UNODC recently launched an ambitious regional programme for Afghanistan and neighbouring countries that focuses on counter-narcotics, as well as a new country programme to support alternative livelihoods for opium poppy farmers. In addition, the UNODC-brokered Paris Pact, an initiative involving more than 50 States, provides a platform to promote coordinated measures to counter drug trafficking from Afghanistan. Next month in Vienna, the Governments of States members of the Paris Pact initiative will meet at the ministerial level to consider the next steps. "With the transition of responsibilities towards 2014 in mind, our message is clear. Counter-narcotics is not the exclusive domain of specialized units alone, but the shared responsibility of everybody concerned with security, stability, governance and development in Afghanistan and the wider region", said Mr. Fedotov.

A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #255 

(the only copy i could find online.  Sorry its in some religious rag.)
Tosh Plumlee's April, 1990 article "I ran Drugs for Uncle Sam"  reprinted in some radical religious newsletter.  All of the other online copies disappeared from the net.  He says if you call the paper that printed the story (The reader) , they won't give you a copy, but they have been instructed to turn your info over to LEA.  Someone didn't like the story evidently.

5 part radio interview with retired DEA agent Mike Levine:


youtube vid is here:

Mike Levine Interview April 10, 2012

Dr. Oliver Villar, co-author of “Cocaine, Death Squads, and the War on Terror: U.S. Imperialism and Class Struggle in Colombia”,

A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #256 

A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #257 

Drug lords targeted by Fast and Furious were FBI informants

Federal agents released alleged gun trafficker Manuel Fabian Celis-Acosta to help them find two Mexican drug lords. But the two were secret FBI informants, emails show.

March 21, 2012|By Richard A. Serrano, Washington Bureau


U.S. Agents Aided Mexican Drug Trafficker to Infiltrate His Criminal Ring


Harold Mauricio Poveda-Ortega, an accused Colombian drug trafficker, in custody in 2010.



DEA Boss: Mexican Drug Cartels Are So Deeply Embedded in Chicago, We Have to Operate Like We‘re ’On the Border’


A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #258 
The case of Richard Horn DEA in Afghanistan

Former DEA agent's lawsuit exposes CIA "fraud"



DEA Agent’s Whistleblower Case Exposes the “War on Drugs” as a “War of Pretense”

Agent’s Sealed Legal Case Dismissed on National Security Grounds; Details Leaked to Narco News

By Bill Conroy
Special to The Narco News Bulletin

September 7, 2004



Bugged coffee table used against employees of govt



Ex-DEA Agent Wins 16-Year Legal Battle | Main Justice

31 Mar 2010 ... Ex-DEA Agent Wins 16-Year Legal Battle ... A federal judge in the District of Columbia endorsed a $3 million settlement with Richard A. Horn, ...

http://www.mainjustice.com/ 2010/ 03/ 31/ ex-dea-agent-wins-16-year-legal-battle-with-government

Former DEA Agent Reaches Tentative Settlement in CIA Case

1 Oct 2009 ... Former DEA Agent Reaches Tentative Settlement in CIA Case ... The lawsuit, brought by Richard A. Horn, accused the CIA of illegally bugging ...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ wp-dyn/ content/ article/ 2009/ 10/ 01/ AR2009100103373.html

A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #259 

CIA Drug Trafficking and remembering Gary Webb

December 10, 2008

Check out this new story by Robert Parry reflecting on journalist Garry Webb’s suicide, after being totally blacklisted by the mainstream media because he had the guts to speak the truth about the CIA and other parts of the US government that helped the Contras and their allies import cocaine into the US, during the period that President Reagan was talking about “fighting drugs” and locking up all those drug users in a cage, beefing up the police state and the prison industrial complex. CIA drug trafficking had already been well documented (albeit ignored by the mainstream media) but Webb linked this cocaine to “Freeway” Rick Ross, who was almost single-handedly responsible for the crack epidemic in LA and around the country.

Read Parry’s (who as a mainstream journalist broke the CIA-Contra-cocaine story in the 1980s) article here:


Many critics sympathetic to Webb, noted that his story would have been much stronger if he had acknowledged all the other proof of CIA drug trafficking over the years, notably “The Politics of Heroin” by Alfred McCoy, and directly relating to CIA-Contra cocaine trafficking there was Senator John Kerry’s 89 commission, which established beyond any doubt that the Contras and their allies were bringing cocaine into the US with the help of the CIA.

So, in the interests of that, I am including below the definitive summary of CIA drug trafficking, written by William Blum. Check out all the footnotes below, to learn more, but my overall favorite book, which summarizes all the best dirt we have on the CIA, is “Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs, and the Press” by Counterpunch’s Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St.Clair
The CIA and Drugs
Just say “Why not?”
by William Blum

“In my 30-year history in the Drug Enforcement Administration and related agencies, the major targets of my investigations almost invariably turned out to be working for the CIA.”
Dennis Dayle, former chief of an elite DEA enforcement unit.{1}

On August 18, 1996, the San Jose Mercury initiated an extended series of articles about the CIA connection to the crack epidemic in Los Angeles. Though the CIA and influential media like The Washington Post , The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times went out of their way to belittle the significance of the articles, the basic ingredients of the story were not really new — the CIA’s Contra army, fighting the leftist government of Nicaragua, turning to smuggling cocaine into the U.S., under CIA protection, to raise money for their military and personal use.

What was unique about the articles was (A) they appeared in a “respectable” daily newspaper and not an “alternative” publication, which could have and would have been completely ignored by the powers that be; and (B) they followed the cocaine into Los Angeles’ inner city, into the hands of the Crips and the Bloods, at the time that street-level drug users were figuring out how to make cocaine affordable: by changing the costly white powder into powerful little nuggets of crack that could be smoked cheaply.

The Contra dealers, principally Oscar Danilo Blandon and his boss Juan Norwin Meneses, both from the Nicaraguan privileged class, operated out of the San Francisco Bay Area and sold tons of cocaine — a drug that was virtually unobtainable in black neighborhoods before — to Los Angeles street gangs. They then funneled millions in drug profits to the Contra cause, while helping to fuel a disastrous crack explosion in L.A. and other cities, and enabling the gangs to buy automatic weapons, sometimes from Blandon himself.

The principal objection raised by the establishment critics to this scenario was that, even if correct, it didn’t prove that the CIA was complicit, or even had any knowledge of it. However, to arrive at this conclusion, they had to ignore things like the following from the SJM series:

a) Cocaine flights from Central America landed with impunity in various spots in the United States, including a U.S. Air Force base in Texas. In 1985, a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent assigned to El Salvador reported to headquarters the details on cocaine flights from El Salvador to the U.S. The DEA did nothing but force him out of the agency{2}.

b) When Blandon was finally arrested in October 1986, after congress resumed funding for the Contras, and he admitted to crimes that have sent others away for life, the Justice Department turned him loose on unsupervised probation after only 28 months behind bars and has paid him more than $166,000 since.

c) According to a legal motion filed in a 1990 police corruption trial: In the 1986 raid on Blandon’s money-launderer, the police carted away numerous documents purportedly linking the U.S. government to cocaine trafficking and money-laundering on behalf of the Contras. CIA personnel appeared at the sheriff’s department within 48 hours of the raid and removed the seized files from the evidence room. This motion drew media coverage in 1990 but, at the request of the Justice Department, a federal judge issued a gag order barring any discussion of the matter.

d) Blandon subsequently became a full-time informant for the DEA. When he testified in 1996 as a prosecution witness, the federal prosecutors obtained a court order preventing defense lawyers from delving into Blandon’s ties to the CIA.

e) Though Meneses is listed in the DEA’s computers as a major international drug smuggler and was implicated in 45 separate federal investigations since 1974, he lived openly and conspicuously in California until 1989 and never spent a day in a U.S. prison. The DEA, U.S. Customs, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement have complained that a number of the probes of Meneses were stymied by the CIA or unnamed “national security” interests.

f) The U.S. Attorney in San Francisco gave back to an arrested Nicaraguan drug dealer the $36,000 found in his possession. The money was returned after two Contra leaders sent letters to the court swearing that the drug dealer had been given the cash to buy supplies “for the reinstatement of democracy in Nicaragua”. The letters were hurriedly sealed after prosecutors invoked the Classified Information Procedures Act, a law designed to keep national security secrets from leaking out during trials. When a U.S. Senate subcommittee later inquired of the Justice Department the reason for this unusual turn of events, they ran into a wall of secrecy. “The Justice Department flipped out to prevent us from getting access to people, records — finding anything out about it,” recalled Jack Blum, former chief counsel to the Senate subcommittee that investigated allegations of Contra cocaine trafficking. “It was one of the most frustrating exercises that I can ever recall.”

A Brief History of CIA Involvement in Drug Trafficking

1947 to 1951, France

CIA arms, money, and disinformation enabled Corsican criminal syndicates in Marseille to wrestle control of labor unions from the Communist Party. The Corsicans gained political influence and control over the docks — ideal conditions for cementing a long-term partnership with mafia drug distributors, which turned Marseille into the postwar heroin capital of the Western world. Marseille’s first heroin laboratories were opened in 1951, only months after the Corsicans took over the waterfront.{3}

Early 1950s, Southeast Asia

The Nationalist Chinese army, organized by the CIA to wage war against Communist China, became the opium barons of The Golden Triangle (parts of Burma, Thailand and Laos), the world’s largest source of opium and heroin. Air America, the CIA’s principal airline proprietary, flew the drugs all over Southeast Asia.{4}

1950s to early 1970s, Indochina

During U.S. military involvement in Laos and other parts of Indochina, Air America flew opium and heroin throughout the area. Many GI’s in Vietnam became addicts. A laboratory built at CIA headquarters in northern Laos was used to refine heroin. After a decade of American military intervention, Southeast Asia had become the source of 70 percent of the world’s illicit opium and the major supplier of raw materials for America’s booming heroin market.{5}

1973-80, Australia

The Nugan Hand Bank of Sydney was a CIA bank in all but name. Among its officers were a network of US generals, admirals and CIA men, including former CIA Director William Colby, who was also one of its lawyers. With branches in Saudi Arabia, Europe, Southeast Asia, South America and the U.S., Nugan Hand Bank financed drug trafficking, money laundering and international arms dealings. In 1980, amidst several mysterious deaths, the bank collapsed, $50 million in debt.{6}

1970s and 1980s, Panama

For more than a decade, Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega was a highly paid CIA asset and collaborator, despite knowledge by U.S. drug authorities as early as 1971 that the general was heavily involved in drug trafficking and money laundering. Noriega facilitated “guns-for-drugs” flights for the Contras, providing protection and pilots, as well as safe havens for drug cartel officials, and discreet banking facilities. U.S. officials, including then-CIA Director William Webster and several DEA officers, sent Noriega letters of praise for efforts to thwart drug trafficking (albeit only against competitors of his Medellin Cartel patrons). When a confluence of circumstances led to Noriega’s political luck running out, the Bush administration was reluctantly obliged to turn against him, invading Panama in December 1989, kidnapping the general, and falsely ascribing the invasion to the war on drugs. Ironically, drug trafficking through Panama was not abated after the US invasion.{7}

1980s, Central America

Obsessed with overthrowing the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua, Reagan administration officials tolerated drug trafficking as long as the traffickers gave support to the Contras. In 1989, the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations (the Kerry committee) concluded a three-year investigation by stating: “There was substantial evidence of drug smuggling through the war zones on the part of individual Contras, Contra suppliers, Contra pilots, mercenaries who worked with the Contras, and Contra supporters throughout the region. … U.S. officials involved in Central America failed to address the drug issue for fear of jeopardizing the war efforts against Nicaragua. … In each case, one or another agency of the U.S. government had information regarding the involvement either while it was occurring, or immediately thereafter. … Senior U.S. policy makers were not immune to the idea that drug money was a perfect solution to the Contras’ funding problems.”{8}

In Costa Rica, which served as the “Southern Front” for the Contras (Honduras being the Northern Front), there were several different CIA-Contra networks involved in drug trafficking, including that of CIA operative John Hull, whose farms along Costa Rica’s border with Nicaragua were the main staging area for the Contras. Hull and other CIA-connected Contra supporters and pilots teamed up with George Morales, a major Miami-based Colombian drug trafficker who later admitted to giving $3 million in cash and several planes to Contra leaders.{9} In 1989, after the Costa Rica government indicted Hull for drug trafficking, a DEA-hired plane clandestinely and illegally flew him to Miami, via Haiti. The US repeatedly thwarted Costa Rican efforts to extradite Hull back to Costa Rica to stand trial.{10}

Another Costa Rican-based drug ring involved a group of Cuban Americans whom the CIA had hired as military trainers for the Contras. Many had long been involved with the CIA and drug trafficking. They used Contra planes and a Costa Rican-based shrimp company, which laundered money for the CIA, to move cocaine to the U.S.{11}

Costa Rica was not the only route. Other way stations along the cocaine highway — and closely associated with the CIA — were the Guatemalan military intelligence service,which harbored many drug traffickers, and Ilopango Air Force Base in El Salvador, a key component of the U.S. military intervention against the country’s guerrillas.{12}
The Contras provided both protection and infrastructure (planes, pilots, airstrips, warehouses, front companies and banks) to these CIA-linked drug networks. At least four transport companies under investigation for drug trafficking received US government contracts to carry non-lethal supplies to the Contras.{13} Southern Air Transport, “formerly” CIA-owned, and later under Pentagon contract, was involved in the drug running as well.{14} Cocaine-laden planes flew to Florida, Texas, Louisiana and other locations, including several military bases. Designated as “Contra Craft,” these shipments were not to be inspected. When some authority wasn’t clued in and made an arrest, powerful strings were pulled on behalf of dropping the case, acquittal, reduced sentence, or deportation.{15}

1980s to early 1990s, Afghanistan

CIA-supported Moujahedeen rebels engaged heavily in drug trafficking while fighting against the Soviet-supported government and its plans to reform the very backward Afghan society. The Agency’s principal client was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of the leading druglords and leading heroin refiner. CIA-supplied trucks and mules, which had carried arms into Afghanistan, were used to transport opium to laboratories along the Afghan-Pakistan border. The output provided up to one half of the heroin used annually in the United States and three-quarters of that used in Western Europe. US officials admitted in 1990 that they had failed to investigate or take action against the drug operation because of a desire not to offend their Pakistani and Afghan allies.{16} In 1993, an official of the DEA called Afghanistan the new Colombia of the drug world.{17}

Mid-1980s to early 1990s, Haiti

While working to keep key Haitian military and political leaders in power, the CIA turned a blind eye to their clients’ drug trafficking. In 1986, the Agency added some more names to its payroll by creating a new Haitian organization, the National Intelligence Service (SIN). SIN was purportedly created to fight the cocaine trade, though SIN officers themselves engaged in the trafficking, a trade aided and abetted by some of the Haitian military and political leaders.{18}


1. Peter Dale Scott & Jonathan Marshall, Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America, Berkeley: U. of CA Press, 1991, pp. x-xi.

2. Celerino Castillo, Powder Burns: Cocaine, Contras and the Drug War, Mosaic Press, 1994, passim.

3. Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, New York: Harper & Row, 1972, chapter 2.

4. Christopher Robbins, Air America, New York: Avon Books, 1985, chapter 9; McCoy, passim

5. McCoy, chapter 7; Robbins, p. 128 and chapter 9

6. Jonathan Kwitny, The Crimes of Patriots: A True Tale of Dope, Dirty Money and the CIA, New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1987, passim; William Blum, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1995, p. 420, note 33.

7. a) Scott & Marshall, passim

b) John Dinges, Our Man in Panama, New York: Random House, 1991, passim
c) Murray Waas, “Cocaine and the White House Connection”, Los Angeles Weekly, Sept. 30-Oct. 6 and Oct. 7-13, 1988, passim
d) National Security Archive Documentation Packet: “The Contras, Cocaine, and Covert Operations” (Washington, D.C.), passim

8. “Kerry Report”: Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy, a Report of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations, 1989, pp. 2, 36, 41

9. Martha Honey, Hostile Acts: U.S. Policy in Costa Rica in the 1980s, Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1994.

10. Martha Honey and David Myers, “U.S. Probing Drug Agent’s Activities in Costa Rica,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 14, 1991.

11. Honey, Hostile Acts.

12. Frank Smyth, “In Guatemala, The DEA Fights the CIA”, New Republic, June 5, 1995; Martha Honey, “Cocaine’s Certified Public Accountant,” two-part series, The Source, August and September, 1994; Blum, p. 239.

13. Kerry report, passim.

14. Scott & Marshall, pp. 17-18

15. Scott & Marshall, passim; Waas, passim; NSA, passim.

16. Blum, p. 351; Tim Weiner, Blank Check: The Pentagon’s Black Budget, New York: Warner Books, 1990, pp. 151-2

17. Los Angeles Times, Aug. 22, 1993

18. New York Times, Nov. 14, 1993; The Nation, Oct. 3, 1994, p. 346

Written by William Blum, author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II; email:bblum6@aol.com

A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


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Reply with quote  #260 

CIA pays many in Karzai administration: report



Reports Link Karzai’s Brother to Heroin Trade


My knowledge of all this comes from my time as British Ambassador in Uzbekistan. I ... watched the Jeeps ... bringing the heroin through from Afghanistan, en route to Europe. I watched the tankers of chemicals roaring into Afghanistan.
The four largest players in the heroin business are all senior members of the Afghan government – the government that our soldiers are fighting and dying to protect.
Craig Murray / The Mail, , July 21, 2007

(AWK was killed in 2011)

A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


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Reply with quote  #261 
Craig Murray wiki

Craig Murray site


Craig Murray article archive

See the DOCS here:


Opium fields guarded by U.S. troops in Afghanistan


Britain is protecting the biggest heroin crop of all time


Last updated at 20:45 21 July 2007

This week the 64th British soldier to die in Afghanistan, Corporal Mike Gilyeat, was buried. All the right things were said about this brave soldier, just as, on current trends, they will be said about one or more of his colleagues who follow him next week.

The alarming escalation of the casualty rate among British soldiers in Afghanistan ? up to ten per cent ? led to discussion this week on whether it could be fairly compared to casualty rates in the Second World War.

Scroll down for more...

Killing fields: Farmers in Afghanistan gather an opium crop which will be made into heroin

But the key question is this: what are our servicemen dying for? There are glib answers to that: bringing democracy and development to Afghanistan, supporting the government of President Hamid Karzai in its attempt to establish order in the country, fighting the Taliban and preventing the further spread of radical Islam into Pakistan.

But do these answers stand up to close analysis?

There has been too easy an acceptance of the lazy notion that the war in Afghanistan is the 'good' war, while the war in Iraq is the 'bad' war, the blunder. The origins of this view are not irrational. There was a logic to attacking Afghanistan after 9/11.

Afghanistan was indeed the headquarters of Osama Bin Laden and his organisation, who had been installed and financed there by the CIA to fight the Soviets from 1979 until 1989. By comparison, the attack on Iraq ? which was an enemy of Al Qaeda and no threat to us ? was plainly irrational in terms of the official justification.

So the attack on Afghanistan has enjoyed a much greater sense of public legitimacy. But the operation to remove Bin Laden was one thing. Six years of occupation are clearly another.

Head of the Afghan armed forces: General Abdul Rashid Dostrum

Few seem to turn a hair at the officially expressed view that our occupation of Iraq may last for decades.

Lib Dem leader Menzies Campbell has declared, fatuously, that the Afghan war is 'winnable'.

Afghanistan was not militarily winnable by the British Empire at the height of its supremacy. It was not winnable by Darius or Alexander, by Shah, Tsar or Great Moghul. It could not be subdued by 240,000 Soviet troops. But what, precisely, are we trying to win?

In six years, the occupation has wrought one massive transformation in Afghanistan, a development so huge that it has increased Afghan GDP by 66 per cent and constitutes 40 per cent of the entire economy. That is a startling achievement, by any standards. Yet we are not trumpeting it. Why not?

The answer is this. The achievement is the highest harvests of opium the world has ever seen.

The Taliban had reduced the opium crop to precisely nil. I would not advocate their methods for doing this, which involved lopping bits, often vital bits, off people. The Taliban were a bunch of mad and deeply unpleasant religious fanatics. But one of the things they were vehemently against was opium.

That is an inconvenient truth that our spin has managed to obscure. Nobody has denied the sincerity of the Taliban's crazy religious zeal, and they were as unlikely to sell you heroin as a bottle of Johnnie Walker.

They stamped out the opium trade, and impoverished and drove out the drug warlords whose warring and rapacity had ruined what was left of the country after the Soviet war.

That is about the only good thing you can say about the Taliban; there are plenty of very bad things to say about them. But their suppression of the opium trade and the drug barons is undeniable fact.

Now we are occupying the country, that has changed. According to the United Nations, 2006 was the biggest opium harvest in history, smashing the previous record by 60 per cent. This year will be even bigger.

Our economic achievement in Afghanistan goes well beyond the simple production of raw opium. In fact Afghanistan no longer exports much raw opium at all. It has succeeded in what our international aid efforts urge every developing country to do. Afghanistan has gone into manufacturing and 'value-added' operations.

It now exports not opium, but heroin. Opium is converted into heroin on an industrial scale, not in kitchens but in factories. Millions of gallons of the chemicals needed for this process are shipped into Afghanistan by tanker. The tankers and bulk opium lorries on the way to the factories share the roads, improved by American aid, with Nato troops.

How can this have happened, and on this scale? The answer is simple. The four largest players in the heroin business are all senior members of the Afghan government ? the government that our soldiers are fighting and dying to protect.

When we attacked Afghanistan, America bombed from the air while the CIA paid, armed and equipped the dispirited warlord drug barons ? especially those grouped in the Northern Alliance ? to do the ground occupation. We bombed the Taliban and their allies into submission, while the warlords moved in to claim the spoils. Then we made them ministers.

President Karzai is a good man. He has never had an opponent killed, which may not sound like much but is highly unusual in this region and possibly unique in an Afghan leader. But nobody really believes he is running the country. He asked America to stop its recent bombing campaign in the south because it was leading to an increase in support for the Taliban. The United States simply ignored him. Above all, he has no control at all over the warlords among his ministers and governors, each of whom runs his own kingdom and whose primary concern is self-enrichment through heroin.

My knowledge of all this comes from my time as British Ambassador in neighbouring Uzbekistan from 2002 until 2004. I stood at the Friendship Bridge at Termez in 2003 and watched the Jeeps with blacked-out windows bringing the heroin through from Afghanistan, en route to Europe.

I watched the tankers of chemicals roaring into Afghanistan.

Yet I could not persuade my country to do anything about it. Alexander Litvinenko ? the former agent of the KGB, now the FSB, who died in London last November after being poisoned with polonium 210 ? had suffered the same frustration over the same topic.

There are a number of theories as to why Litvinenko had to flee Russia. The most popular blames his support for the theory that FSB agents planted bombs in Russian apartment blocks to stir up anti-Chechen feeling.

But the truth is that his discoveries about the heroin trade were what put his life in danger. Litvinenko was working for the KGB in St Petersburg in 2001 and 2002. He became concerned at the vast amounts of heroin coming from Afghanistan, in particular from the fiefdom of the (now) Head of the Afghan armed forces, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, in north and east Afghanistan.

Dostum is an Uzbek, and the heroin passes over the Friendship Bridge from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan, where it is taken over by President Islam Karimov's people. It is then shipped up the railway line, in bales of cotton, to St Petersburg and Riga.

The heroin Jeeps run from General Dostum to President Karimov. The UK, United States and Germany have all invested large sums in donating the most sophisticated detection and screening equipment to the Uzbek customs centre at Termez to stop the heroin coming through.

But the convoys of Jeeps running between Dostum and Karimov are simply waved around the side of the facility.

Litvinenko uncovered the St Petersburg end and was stunned by the involvement of the city authorities, local police and security services at the most senior levels. He reported in detail to President Vladimir Putin. Putin is, of course, from St Petersburg, and the people Litvinenko named were among Putin's closest political allies. That is why Litvinenko, having miscalculated badly, had to flee Russia.

I had as little luck as Litvinenko in trying to get official action against this heroin trade. At the St Petersburg end he found those involved had the top protection. In Afghanistan, General Dostum is vital to Karzai's coalition, and to the West's pretence of a stable, democratic government.

Opium is produced all over Afghanistan, but especially in the north and north-east ? Dostum's territory. Again, our Government's spin doctors have tried hard to obscure this fact and make out that the bulk of the heroin is produced in the tiny areas of the south under Taliban control. But these are the most desolate, infertile rocky areas. It is a physical impossibility to produce the bulk of the vast opium harvest there.

That General Dostum is head of the Afghan armed forces and Deputy Minister of Defence is in itself a symbol of the bankruptcy of our policy. Dostum is known for tying opponents to tank tracks and running them over. He crammed prisoners into metal containers in the searing sun, causing scores to die of heat and thirst.

Since we brought 'democracy' to Afghanistan, Dostum ordered an MP who annoyed him to be pinned down while he attacked him. The sad thing is that Dostum is probably not the worst of those comprising the Karzai government, or the biggest drug smuggler among them.

Our Afghan policy is still victim to Tony Blair's simplistic world view and his childish division of all conflicts into 'good guys' and 'bad guys'. The truth is that there are seldom any good guys among those vying for power in a country such as Afghanistan. To characterise the Karzai government as good guys is sheer nonsense.

Why then do we continue to send our soldiers to die in Afghanistan? Our presence in Afghanistan and Iraq is the greatest recruiting sergeant for Islamic militants. As the great diplomat, soldier and adventurer Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Alexander Burnes pointed out before his death in the First Afghan War in 1841, there is no point in a military campaign in Afghanistan as every time you beat them, you just swell their numbers. Our only real achievement to date is falling street prices for heroin in London.

Remember this article next time you hear a politician calling for more troops to go into Afghanistan. And when you hear of another brave British life wasted there, remember you can add to the casualty figures all the young lives ruined, made miserable or ended by heroin in the UK.

They, too, are casualties of our Afghan policy.

A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


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Reply with quote  #262 

How a Torture Protest Killed a Career

By Craig Murray
October 24, 2009

Editor’s Note: In this modern age – and especially since George W. Bush declared the “war on terror” eight years ago – the price for truth-telling has been high, especially for individuals whose consciences led them to protest the torture of alleged terrorists.

One of the most remarkable cases is that of Craig Murray, a 20-year veteran of the British Foreign Service whose career was destroyed after he was posted to Uzbekistan in August 2002 and began to complain about Western complicity in torture committed by the country’s totalitarian regime, which was valued for its brutal interrogation methods and its vast supplies of natural gas.

Murray soon faced misconduct charges that were leaked to London’s tabloid press before he was replaced as ambassador in October 2004, marking the end of what had been a promising career. Murray later spoke publicly about how the Bush administration and Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government collaborated with Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov and his torturers. [See, for instance, Murray's statement to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Torture.]

But Murray kept quiet about his personal ordeal as the victim of the smear campaign that followed his impassioned protests to the Foreign Office about torture. Finally, on Oct. 22 at a small conference in Washington, Murray addressed the personal pain and his sense of betrayal over his treatment at the hands of former colleagues.

While Murray’s account is a personal one, it echoes the experiences of many honest government officials and even mainstream journalists who have revealed inconvenient truths about wrongdoing by powerful Establishment figures and paid a high price.

Below is a partial transcript of Murray’s remarks:

I was just having dinner in a restaurant that was only a block from the White House. It must have been a good dinner because it cost me $120. Actually it was a good dinner. … 

I’ve never, ever spoken in public about the pain of being a whistleblower. Partly because of the British stiff-upper lip thing and partly as well because if you wish to try eventually to get on and reestablish yourself then it doesn’t do to show weakness. …

I was sitting in this place on my own and feeling rather lonely. And there were a whole bunch of people in dark suits coming from government offices, in many cases in groups, and there they were with the men’s suits sleek and the ladies, the whole office, power-politics thing going on, having after-dinner champagne in the posh bar.

And I was remembering how many times I’d been the center of such groups and of how successful my life used to be. I was a British ambassador at the age of 42. The average age for such a post is 57.

I was successful in worldly terms. And I think I almost never sat alone at such a place. Normally if I had been alone in such a place, I would have ended up probably in the company of a beautiful young lady of some kind.

I tell you that partly because this whole question of personal morality is a complicated one. I would never, ever, no one would have ever pointed at me as someone likely to become or to be a person of conscience. And yet eventually I found myself on the outside and treated in a way that challenged my whole view of the world.

Mission to Tashkent

Let me start to tell you something about how that happened. I was a British ambassador in Uzbekistan and I was told before I went that Uzbekistan was an important ally in the war on terror, had given the United States a very important airbase which was a forward mounting post for Afghanistan, and was a bulwark against Islamic extremism in Central Asia.

When I got there I found it was a dreadful regime, absolutely totalitarian. And there’s a difference between dictatorship of which there are many and a totalitarian dictatorship which unless you’ve actually been in one is hard to comprehend.

There’s absolutely no free media whatsoever. News on every single channel, the news programs start with 12 items about what the president did today. And that’s it. That is the news. There are no other news channels and international news channels are blocked.

There are about 12,000 political prisoners. Any sign of religious enthusiasm for any religion will get you put into jail. The majority of people are predominantly Muslim. But if you are to carry out the rituals of the Muslim religion, particularly if you were to pray five times a day, you’d be in jail very quickly. Young men are put in jail for growing beards.

It’s not the only religion which is outlawed. The jails are actually quite full of Baptists.  Being Baptist is illegal in Uzbekistan. I’m sure that Methodists and Quakers would be illegal, too, It’s just that they haven’t got any so they haven’t gotten around to making them illegal.

And it’s really not a joke. If you are put into prison in Uzbekistan the chances of coming out again alive are less than even. And most of the prisons are still the old Soviet gulags in the most literal sense. They are physically the same places. The biggest one being the Jaslyk gulag in the deserts of the Kizyl Kum.

I had only been there for a week or two when I went to a show trial of an al-Qaeda terrorist they had caught. It was a big event put on partly for the benefit of the American embassy to demonstrate the strength of the U.S.-Uzbek alliance against terrorism.

When I got there, to call the trial unconvincing would be an underestimate. There was one moment when this old man [who] had given evidence that his nephew was a member of al-Qaeda and had personally met Osama bin Laden. And like everybody else in that court he was absolutely terrified.

But suddenly as he was giving his evidence, he seemed from somewhere to find an inner strength. He was a very old man but he stood taller and said in a stronger voice, he said, “This is not true. This is not true. They tortured my children in front of me until I signed this. I had never heard of al-Qaeda or Osama bin Laden.”

He was then hustled out of the court and we never did find out what had happened to him. He was almost certainly killed. But as it happens I was within touching distance of him when he said that and I can’t explain it. It’s not entirely rational. But you could just feel it was true. You could tell he was speaking the truth when he said that.

And that made me start to call into doubt the whole question of the narrative about al-Qaeda in Uzbekistan and the alliance in the war on terror.

Boiled to Death

Something which took that doubt over the top happened about a week later. The West -- because Uzbekistan was our great ally in the war on terror – had shown no interest in the human rights situation at all. In fact, the opposite, going out of its way to support the dictatorship.

So the fact that I seemed to be interested and seemed to be sympathetic came as something of a shock and people [in Uzbekistan] started to come to me.

One of the people who came to me was an old lady, a widow in her 60s whose son had been killed in Jaslyk prison and she brought me photos of the corpse of her son. It had been given back to her in a sealed casket and she’d been ordered not to open the casket but to bury it the next morning, which actually Muslims would do anyway. They always bury a body immediately.

But she disobeyed the instructions not to open the casket. She was a very old lady but very determined. She got the casket open and the body out onto the table and took detailed photos of the body before resealing the casket and burying it. These photos she now brought to me.

I sent them on to the chief pathologist at the University of Glasgow, who actually now by coincidence is the chief pathologist for the United Kingdom. There were a number of photos and he did a detailed report on the body. He said from the photographs the man’s fingernails had been pulled out while he was still alive. Then he had been boiled alive. That was the cause of death, immersion in boiling liquid.

Certainly it wasn’t the only occasion when we came across evidence of people being boiled alive. That was the most extreme form of torture, I suppose, but immersion in boiling liquid of a limb was quite common.

Mutilation of the genitals was common. Suffocation was common, usually by putting a gas mask on people and blocking the air vents until they suffocated. Rape was common, rape with objects, rape with bottles, anal rape, homosexual rape, heterosexual rape, and mutilation of children in front of their parents.

It began with that and became a kind of personal mission for me, I suppose, to do what I could to try to stop this. I spent a great deal of time with my staff gathering evidence on it.

Being a very capricious government, occasionally a victim [of the Uzbek regime] would be released and we’d be able to see them and get medical evidence. More often you’d get letters smuggled out of the gulags and detention centers, evidence from relatives who managed to visit prisoners.

We built up an overwhelming dossier of evidence, and I complained to London about the conduct of our ally in rather strong terms including the photos of the boy being boiled alive.

‘Over-Focused on Human Rights’

I received a reply from the British Foreign Office. It said, this is a direct quote, “Dear Ambassador, we are concerned that you are perhaps over-focused on human rights to the detriment of commercial interests.”

I was taken aback. I found that extraordinary. But things had gotten much worse because while we were gathering the information about torture, we were also learning what people were forced to confess to under torture.

People aren’t tortured for no reason. They’re tortured in order to extract some information or to get them to admit to things, and normally the reason you torture people is to get them to admit to things that aren’t actually true. They were having to confess to membership in al-Qaeda, to being at training camps in Afghanistan, personally meeting Osama bin Laden.

At the same time, we were receiving CIA intelligence. MI-6 and the CIA share all their intelligence. So I was getting all the CIA intelligence on Uzbekistan and it was saying that detainees had confessed to membership in al-Qaeda and being in training camps in Afghanistan and to meeting Osama bin Laden.

One way and another I was piecing together the fact that the CIA material came from the Uzbek torture sessions.

I didn’t want to make a fool of myself so I sent my deputy, a lady called Karen Moran, to see the CIA head of station and say to him, “My ambassador is worried your intelligence might be coming from torture. Is there anything he’s missing?”

She reported back to me that the CIA head of station said, “Yes, it probably is coming from torture, but we don’t see that as a problem in the context of the war on terror.”

In addition to which I learned that CIA were actually flying people to Uzbekistan in order to be tortured. I should be quite clear that I knew for certain and reported back to London that people were being handed over by the CIA to the Uzbek intelligence services and were being subjected to the most horrible tortures.

I didn’t realize that they weren’t Uzbek. I presumed simply that these were Uzbek people who had been captured elsewhere and were being sent in.

I now know from things I’ve learned subsequently, including the facts that the Council of Europe parliamentary inquiry into extraordinary rendition found that 90 percent of all the flights that called at the secret prison in Poland run by the CIA as a torture center for extraordinary rendition, 90 percent of those flights next went straight on to Tashkent [the capital of Uzbekistan].

There was an overwhelming body of evidence that actually people from all over the world were being taken by the CIA to Uzbekistan specifically in order to be tortured. I didn’t know that. I thought it was only Uzbeks, but nonetheless, I was complaining internally as hard as I could.


The result of which was that even when I was only complaining internally, I was subjected to the most dreadful pattern of things which I still find it hard to believe happened.

I was suddenly accused of issuing visas in return for sex, stealing money from the post account, of being an alcoholic, of driving an embassy vehicle down a flight of stairs, which is extraordinary because I can’t drive. I’ve never driven in my life. I don’t have a driving license. My eyesight is terrible. …

But I was accused of all these unbelievable accusations, which were leaked to the tabloid media, and I spent a whole year of tabloid stories about sex-mad ambassador, blah-blah-blah. And I hadn’t even gone public. What I had done was write a couple of memos saying that this collusion with torture is illegal under a number of international conventions including the UN Convention Against Torture.

I couldn’t believe [what was happening], I’d been a very successful foreign service officer for over 20 years. The British Foreign Service is small. Actual diplomats, as opposed to [support] staff, are only about 2,000 people,
I worked there for over 20 years. I knew most of them by name. All the people involved in smearing me, trying to taint me on false charges, were people I thought were my friends. It’s really hard when people you think are your friends [lie about you].

I’m writing memos saying it’s illegal to torture people, children are being tortured in front of their parents. And they’re writing memos back saying it depends on the definition of complicity under Article Four of the UN Convention.

I’m thinking what’s happening to their moral sense, and I never, ever considered myself a good person, at all. Yet I couldn’t see where they were coming from and I still don’t; I still don’t understand it to this day.

And then these people – and I’m absolutely certain quite knowingly – tried to negate what they saw as these unpatriotic things. I was told I was viewed now as unpatriotic, by trying to land me with false allegations.

I went through a five-month fight and formal charges. I was found eventually not guilty on all charges, but my reputation was ruined forever because the tabloid media all carried the allegations against me in 25-point headlines and the fact I was acquitted in two sentences on page 19. It’s extraordinary.

Lessons Learned

The thing that came out of it most strongly for me is how in a bureaucratic structure, if the government can convince people that there is a serious threat to the nation, ordinary people who are not bad people will go along with things that they know are bad, like torture, like trying to stain an innocent man.

And it’s circular, because the extraordinary thing about it was that the whole point of the intelligence being obtained under torture was to actually exaggerate the terrorist threats and to exaggerate the strength of al-Qaeda.

That was the whole point of why people were being tortured, to confess that they were members of al-Qaeda when they weren’t members of al-Qaeda and to denounce long lists of names of people as members of al-Qaeda who weren’t members of al-Qaeda.

I always tell my favorite example which is they gave me a long list of names of people whom people were forced to denounce and I often saw names of people I knew.

One day, I got this list from the CIA of names of a couple dozen al-Qaeda members and I knew one really quite well, an old dissident professor, a very distinguished man who was actually a Jehovah’s Witness, and there aren’t many Jehovah’s Witnesses in al-Qaeda. I’d even bet that al-Qaeda don’t even try to recruit Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m quite sure that Jehovah’s Witnesses would try to recruit al-Qaeda.

So much of this intelligence was nonsense. It was untrue and it was designed to paint a false picture. The purpose of the false picture was to make people feel afraid. What was it really about. …

I want to mention this book, which is the greatest book that I’ve ever written. It’s called Murder in Samarkand and recounts in detail what I have just told you together with the documentary evidence behind it.

But the most interesting bit of the entire book comes before the page numbers start, which is a facsimile of a letter from Enron, from Kenneth Lay, chairman of Enron, to the honorable George W. Bush, governor of the state of Texas. It was written on April 3, 1997, sometime before Bush became president.

It reads, I’ll just read you two or three sentences, “Dear George, you will be meeting with Ambassador Sadyq Safaev, Uzbekistan’s Ambassador to the United States on April 8th. … Enron has established an office in Tashkent and we are negotiating a $2 billion joint venture with Neftegas of Uzbekistan … to develop Uzbekistan’s natural gas and transport it to markets in Europe … This project can bring significant economic opportunities to Texas.”

Not everyone in Texas, of course. George Bush and Ken Lay, in particular.
That’s actually what it was about. All this stuff about al-Qaeda that they were inventing, extreme Islamists in Central Asia that they were inventing.

I have hundreds and hundreds of Uzbek friends now. Every single one of them drinks vodka. It is not a good place for al-Qaeda. They were inventing the threat in order to cover up the fact that their real motive was Enron’s gas contract and that was the plain and honest truth of the matter.

Just as almost everything you see about Afghanistan is a cover for the fact that the actual motive is the pipeline they wish to build over Afghanistan to bring out Uzbek and Turkmen natural gas which together is valued at up to $10 trillion, which they want to bring over Afghanistan and down to the Arabian Sea to make it available for export.

And we are living in a world where people, a small number of people, with incredible political clout and huge amounts of money, are prepared to see millions die for their personal economic gain and where, even worse, most people in bureaucracies are prepared to go along with it for their own much smaller economic gain, all within this psychological mirage which is so much of the war on terror.

It’s hard to stand against it. I do think things are a little more sane now than they were a year or two ago. I do think there’s a greater understanding, but you’ll never hear what I just told you in the mainstream media. It’s impossible to get it there.

[For an early Consortiumnews.com article about President Bush’s Uzbek alliance, see “The More Things Change.”]

The envoy who said too much

One minute he was Our Man in Tashkent, the next he was a major embarrassment for the Foreign Office. Craig Murray, ambassador to Uzbekistan, talks to Nick Paton Walsh about his turbulent year


A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #263 

NATO Civil-Military Fusion Centre Counter-Narcotics in Afghanistan Report August 2012

September 7, 2012 in Afghanistan, North Atlantic Treaty Organization


  •  74 pages
  • August 2012


Despite the continuous counter-narcotics efforts of the international community and the Afghan government throughout the past decade, Agence France-Presse wrote in April 2012 that Afghanistan continues to be a major contributor to the global drug supply. Approximately 90% of the world’s opium, most of which is processed into heroin, originates in Afghan fields. While potential opium production in Afghanistan peaked in 2007, poppy cultivation has recently risen. For instance, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) marked a 61% increase in the potential opium production between 2010 and 2011. A separate UNODC report from 2010 states that drugs and bribes are equivalent to approximately a quarter of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Dynamics & Motivations. Price fluctuations influence market dynamics, according to the UNODC. For instance, the rise in poppy cultivation between 2005 and 2009 translated into an increase in supply, which in turn helped to bring about the gradual decrease in the price of opium. Similarly, a decline in the amount of opium poppies produced in 2009-2010 contributed to rising poppy values and greater cultivation in 2011. Other factors are also reportedly at play. For instance, a World Bank report on “Drugs and Development in Afghanistan” says that poppies are attractive to some farmers because “there is working capital financing available at all stages, as well as credit and other inputs for producers.” The same report notes that many poorer households are obligated to grow poppies by landowners and creditors to enable them to pay off debts. The Institute for War and Peace Reporting further indicates that many Afghan farmers are in fact compelled to grow this crop by insurgent elements through threats and intimidation.

Who Benefits? Numerous people benefit from the poppy cultivation business and from related narcotics processing and trafficking, according to the World Bank. However, the benefits are far from evenly distributed among groups involved in the trade. The World Bank notes that farmers with limited amounts of land, most of whom are involved in sharecropping, benefit the least while farmers with capital resources and significant landholdings receive greater income. Small-scale opium traders also benefit, though their income is eclipsed by that accruing to wholesalers and refiners who arrange transport and processing of raw materials into opium and heroin. The Chr. Michelsen Institute notes that the proceeds of poppy cultivation and narcotics trafficking particularly benefit a small group of warlords.

The Taliban and other insurgent groups also reportedly receive income from poppy cultivation, hashish cultivation and narcotics trafficking. The World Bank’s report on “Drugs and Development in Afghanistan” says that insecurity in parts of Afghanistan during the course of the past 11 years has facilitated poppy cultivation and that opium has provided a “ready source of cash” which has financed the purchase of weapons and other items necessary to sustain the insurgency. Furthermore, UNODC’s report on “The Global Afghan Opium Trade” says the Taliban receives approximately 10% of the value of opiates being transported by traffickers. Given that the total value of the heroin trafficked to Iran and Pakistan was estimated to be approximately USD 700 million in 2009, UNODC says approximately USD 70 million may have been paid to the Taliban as tax on transport alone. Poppies and narcotics reportedly also contribute to the insurgency’s financing in other ways.

Beyond Poppies & Opium. In addition to the opium “industry”, Afghanistan has also become the biggest producer of hashish, a drug produced from the cannabis crop’s resin. According to Time Magazine, Afghan farmers earned approximately USD 94 million from the sales of 1,500-3,500 tonnes of hashish.”

A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #264 

UNODC Estimating Illicit Financial Flows From Drug Trafficking and Transnational Organized Crimes

September 29, 2012 in United Nations

Estimating illicit financial flows resulting from drug trafficking and other transnational organized crimes

  • 140 pages
  • October 2011


The purpose of this study was to examine the magnitude of illicit funds generated by drug trafficking and organized crime, and the extent to which they are laundered. Research in this area is still limited and results difficult to compare, but likely orders of magnitude may be estimated, though they should be treated with caution.

•• The most widely quoted figure for the extent of money laundered has been the IMF ‘consensus range’ of 2% to 5% of global GDP, made public by the IMF in 1998. A meta-analysis of the results from various studies suggests that all criminal proceeds are likely to amount to some 3.6% of global GDP (2.3%-5.5%), equivalent to about US$2.1 trillion (2009).

•• The best estimate for the amount available for laundering through the financial system, emerging from a meta-analysis of existing estimates, would be equivalent to 2.7% of global GDP (2.1%-4%) or US$1.6 trillion in 2009. Still within the IMF ‘consensus range’, this figure is located towards its lower end.

•• If only flows related to drug trafficking and other transnational organized crime activities were considered, related proceeds would have been equivalent to around US$650 billion per year in the first decade of the new millennium, equivalent to 1.5% of global GDP or US$870 billion in 2009 assuming that the proportions remained unchanged. The funds available for laundering through the financial system would have been equivalent to some 1% of global GDP or US$580 billion in 2009.

•• The largest income for transnational organized crime comes from illicit drugs, which account for some 20% (17%-25%) of all crime proceeds, about half of transnational organized crime proceeds and 0.6% to 0.9% of global GDP. In turn, drug-related proceeds available for money-laundering through the financial system would be equivalent to between 0.4% and 0.6% of global GDP.

•• Expressed as a proportion of national GDP, all crime proceeds appear to be generally higher in developing countries and tend to be laundered abroad more frequently.

•• The results also suggest that the ‘interception rate’ for anti-money-laundering efforts at the global level remains low. Globally, it appears that much less than 1% (probably around 0.2%) of the proceeds of crime laundered via the financial system are seized and frozen.

•• More in-depth research was undertaken, in the context of the present study, on illicit financial flows generated by the transnational organized crime market for cocaine and the distribution of these flows across regions. Overcoming the complexities of the problem and the lack of readily available data required innovative approaches.

•• The gross profits out of cocaine sales (totalling US$85 bn) were estimated at US$84 billion for the year 2009. (About US$1 billion were production costs, mainly going to farmers in the Andean region). Most of the profits (retail and wholesale) were generated in North America (US$35 bn) and in West and Central Europe (US$26 bn).

•• While the local cocaine market in South America (including Caribbean and Central America) are still rather small in dollar terms (U$S3.5 bn), the gross profits of organized crime groups operating in South America, selling the drugs to the local markets as well as to overseas markets rise to some US$18 billion.

•• The calculations, derived from estimates of the size of the market, the number of traffickers and the market structure (derived from individual drug seizures), suggested that, at the wholesale level, some 92% of global cocaine gross profits were available for laundering in 2009. The proportion fell to 46% at the retail level.

•• A new ‘gravity model’ was developed to show the likely laundering flows, based on indicators of the potential attractiveness of locations to money launderers. Out of more than US$84 billion in gross profits and some US$53 billion available for laundering, the base version of the gravity model predicts that some US$26 billion leave the jurisdictions where the profits were generated.

•• The largest outflows, according to the model, would take place from countries in North America (US$10 bn), South America (US$7 bn) and Europe (US$7 bn). These regions would together account for 95% of all cocaine profit-related outflows worldwide.

•• In terms of net outflows (outflows less inflows) the model suggests that the main destination outside the regions where the profits were generated would be the Caribbean, with net inflows of around US$6 billon, reflecting significant outflows from North America and South America. Such outflows do not appear to be compensated by inflows from other regions. The outflows from countries in Europe, in contrast, would be offset by inflows from other countries in Europe, North America and South America.

•• The presented outcome still relies on a large number of assumptions (number of traffickers, market structure, factors influencing the decisions of moneylaunderers) whose validity needs to be tested, opening a whole set of new research questions for the future.

•• Analysis of the socio-economic impact suggests that the most severe consequence of criminal funds is the further perpetuation and promotion of criminal activities. In the drug area, research indicates that the socio-economic costs related to drug abuse are twice as high as the income generated by organized crime; in some countries (USA, UK) one can even find a 3:1 ratio.

•• Criminal funds, even if invested in the legal economy, may create a number of problems, from distortions of the resource allocation, to ‘crowding out’ licit sectors and undermining the reputation of local institutions, which, in turn, can hamper investment and economic growth. The situation is less clear-cut for financial centres receiving illicit funds, but the long-term consequences may be negative if they do not actively fight money-laundering.

A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #265 

Off topic

article on Somalia anti-piracy force abandoned in the desert heavily armed.



Off topic and Hilarious

Forced Leniency:
The True Story of an Orgy Sponsored by the FBI
A Sting Gone Wrong
Investigation, Cover-up
Corrupting the Weak

off topic---
Kendall Coffee used his govt credit card for strippers after losing a major case, bit the stripper, lied about it.



A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #266 

Source: Drug cartels control Mexican airports

A high-level attorney for the Beltran Leyva faction of the Sinaloa Cartel has revealed that two of Mexico's busiest international airports, in Cancun and Toluca, are controlled by Mexican drug cartels.

His disclosures shed new light on the mystery which still—more than five years later—surrounds the two planes from St. Petersburg Florida caught carrying almost ten tons of cocaine in the Yucatan.


The revenge of "The Nineteen"

Roberto Lopez Najera (called “The Nineteen” because he’s missing a finger) was a lawyer working for Edgar Valdez Villarreal, the Texas-born cartel enforcer known as "La Barbie" for his blond hair and blue eyes. In 2008, Lopez Najera turned himself in to Mexican authorities (who quickly passed him on to the DEA), offering to reveal all he knew.

His motive was revenge. His boss had murdered his brother, an ill-advised move by “La Barbie” which led cartel insider Lopez Najera to blow the whistle on corruption by top Mexican officials. 

One result of Lopez Najera's turning government informant is the recent indictment of four top Mexican Generals on charges of facilitating drug trafficking through the Cancun and Toluca airports,which has quickly become the biggest scandal in the history of the Mexican military.

“La Barbie," meanwhile, often described as “one of the most ruthless drug traffickers in Mexico,” is currently in US custody awaiting trial.

Suspicion (once again) centers on Mexico's new President

Lopez Najera told the Mexico's Attorney General's Office (PGR) that between 2006 and 2009 the Beltrán Leyva Cartel used the Cancun and Toluca International Airports to smuggle at least 50 tons of cocaine into Mexico from Colombia and Venezuela.

The Toluca Airport is located in the State of Mexico, where new Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto was the Governor. It is managed by a Spanish company, OHL, which Pena Nieto brought in to run the airport.

"If you just land in Cancun to refuel, and get off the plane to do the paperwork required for an international flight," Lopez Najera told authorities, "you paid only $400,000 to the Federal Police, who controlled the network of corruption.”

By contrast, officials at the Toluca Airport were paid $1 million per flight to look the other way. The drugs were off-loaded in hangers belonging to the Mexican government's Ministry of Public Security (SSP). 

St Petersburg, Florida and Toluca, Mexico: Unofficial sister cities?

The testimony of Lopez Najera explains why the Toluca airport figured heavily in accounts of the American planes from St Petersburg busted in the Yucatan: a DC-9 (N900SA) painted to look like a US government plane from the Dept of Homeland Security, and a Gulfstream II business jet (N987SA) used by the CIA in Colombia and in renditions to Guantanamo.

In the case of the DC-9, two ex-military pilots from the Mexican Federal Government’s National Water Commission— both of whom had spent recent time in prison for drug trafficking—flew a Falcon 20 jet from Toluca to meet the DC-9, which was Toluca-bound when it was forced by mechanical problems to land at Ciudad del Carmen in the Yucatan.

Startled soldiers found an unexpected bonanza: 5.5 tons of cocaine.

18 months later, the second St Petersburg plane, the Gulfstream II, was also Toluca-bound when it was forced down over the Yucatan after being denied the right to land in Cancun to refuel.

The interdiction of the two planes, which led authorities to discover that major American banks like Wachovia and the Bank of America were laundering tens of billions of dollars of drug money for Mexican cartels, has become a seminal event in the drug trade, the biggest since the killing of Pablo Escobar.  

Drug trafficking & the parasitic elite

Lopez Najera’s testimony reveals that drug trafficking  in Mexico—as almost everywhere, including the U.S.— is the province of what Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi calls the “parasitic elite.”

It exposes as fanciful nonsense the idea that Mexican drug kingpins spend their time holed up in the mountains, with bandoliers of ammunition strapped cross-ways across their bare chests.

They’re more likely to be found dining on beef tenderloin with foie gras and wild mushrooms, or lobster tacos with molcajete sauce, as  Lopez Najera was when he dined with General Roberto Dawe at the elegant restaurant El Lago overlooking a picturesque lake in Chapultepec Park in March 2007.

“El Lago is one of the most luxurious restaurants in Mexico City,” gushes TripAdvisor.com’s review of the restaurant. “This is a place where you should eat at least once in your life!”

And when leaders of the Beltran Leyva Cartel had a “sit-down” with  top honchos from Los Zetas in late January 2008, it wasn’t in the basement of a non-descript safe house, but in the picturesque Silver City of  Taxco, at the Hotel Monte Taxco, overlooking a golf course.

They had a lot to talk about. In Cancun, considered the gateway to large drug shipments from South America, the Beltran Leyva cartel controlled the Federal and state police.

Los Zetas controlled the Ministry of Public Security and the state attorney general's office. For their mutual benefit, the two cartels, at war with one another in other parts of Mexico, agreed to co-exist.

Their plan was "to fix the Cancun International Airport to allow flights from South America laden with cocaine to land and re-fuel.”

The central mystery remains mysterious

Denying the Gulfstream permission to land put Cancun Airport Manager Jose Luis Soladana between a rock and a hard place.

After the Gulfstream II crashed, Federal authorities began to suspect him of involvement with the drug traffickers. They were preparing to take him into custody when he was murdered, just hours after authorities had arrested airport dispatcher Martin Gomez Soto, who worked underneath Soladana.

At the same time, he was receiving death threats from the drug traffickers. When the Gulfstream that he wouldn't let land in Cancun ran out of  fuel and crashed 25 miles short of the airport in Merida, almost four tons of their cocaine spilled out across several acres of jungle.

They were, perhaps understandably, upset.

Jose Luis Soladana Ortiz paid for his mistake with his life. While attending a soccer game with his family he received a phone call from Lopez Najera, requesting a meeting, where Soladana was shot in the head. While on the ground, he was shot six more times, at point-blank range.

After Soladana's murder, Lopez Najera said a second cooperating witness, scribbled a note and pinned it to his chest.  When authorities approached the body, his cel phone began ringing repeatedly.

His killers, still nearby, were mocking investigators.

Unanswered questions

In Lopez Najera's account, there is no mention of a big question which remains to be answered: Why did Soladana refuse the Gulfstream permission to land?

It has been widely reported that the DEA has a strategy of  supporting the Sinaloa Cartel. Is it just a coincidence that since breaking with the Sinaloa cartel, the Beltran Leyva cartel has suffered more losses than any other?

According to Lopez Najera, the drug flights, on twin-engine planes carrying 3.3 or 3.4 tons of cocaine each, originated in Maracaibo, Venezuela. 

“The aircraft departed from Maracaibo with the knowledge of Venezuelan Generals,” reported "Reforma."

But the Gulfstream II flight that went down over the Yucatan was universally reported to have originated at an international airport in Rio Negro, Colombia, just outside Medellin, whose big boss,  since the fall of  Pablo Escobar,  has been former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

Maybe the DEA is now backtracking to protect Alvaro Uribe; but, in any case, one thing's for sure:

In America's endless drug war, stranger things happen all the time.


Mexico billionaire’s “caravan of cocaine”

A new scandal over a politically well-connected Mexican oligarch's possible involvement in drug trafficking is erupting in Mexico.

Controversy is raging over the refusal of Mexico’s Attorney General to investigate connections between 18 Mexicans busted for carrying $9.2 million in drug money several weeks ago in Nicaragua, and Latin America’s largest TV network, Televisa, and its controversial owner, Emilio Azcarraga, said to be the power behind the throne of Mexico’s new President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Stopped in mid-August by border guards in Nicaragua, the 18 Mexicans, wearing Televisa T-shirts, were traveling in six satellite TV vans emblazoned with the Televisa logo, and told Customs officials they were journalists from—you guessed it, Televisa. They even carried press credentials from the network.


U.S. media's synchronized roll-over

News reports in the U.S. dismissed the evidence like it was too soft to bust a grape in a fruit fight.

The 18 Mexicans were called "fake journalists" in the Washington Post. FOX NEWS called them a “phony news crew.”  Reuters reported the Mexicans detained had been “posing as journalists.”

The Associated Press  used the incident to cast a gimlet eye on the post-Sandinista government of Nicaragua.

Big cash seizure puts light on Nicaragua drug roleread a  headline over the AP account. The seizure “pulled back the curtain on Nicaragua’s role as a (drug) conduit” said London's Telegraph.

It was a synchronized media roll-over worthy of the Olympics, where it might even rival Pravda's somersaults—back when Pravda was Pravda—in degree of difficulty.

Marisa Morales Investigates

Mexico's Attorney General Marisela Morales said in a television interview (with Televisa, natch) that the suspects had falsely used Televisa’s name as a cover for their criminal doings.

“Using the prestige or name of persons or companies without their knowledge,” she explained breezily, "is part of the way in which criminal organizations operate in Mexico and other countries.”

That may be. But first, her office was forced to admit to reporters that in her remarks she wasn't relying on results of an independent investigation. She was relying on assurances from Televisa.

It seemed less than sporting.

Ms Morales' dubious but stubborn defense of Televisa unleashed a wave of criticism in Mexico. It was a 'trending topic' on Twitter (at #NarcoTelevisa)  The hapless lame-duck Attorney General—who probably can't wait to clean out her office—became a new meme on the Internet: Investigate like Marisela. (#InvestigoComoMariselaMorales.) "Investigating like Marisela," wrote wags, leads to interesting discoveries:

"The 150 men who escaped from prison in Coahuila last week weren't really prisoners. They were just tourists whose holiday ended."

 “El Chapo doesn't sell drugs. He's a philanthropist, delivering medicine to poor countries like the U.S."

"Previous statements have been rendered inoperative"

For its part, Televisa issued conflicting press releases. Each new release rendered   inoperative the network’s previous statements.  Televisa’s director of public relations initially told reporters the vans were Televisa's…but they'd been stolen.

No one had filed a stolen vehicle report, he was told. So he changed his story: Televisa never owned the vehicles. Later still, it became: the satellite vans were registered using fake documents.

What happened next was extraordinary. Some people committed journalism.

Weekly magazine Proceso, MVS TV and an intrepid female reporter named Carmen Aristegui, who apparently knows no fear, reported  the satellite vans in Nicaragua were registered in Mexico City in the name of  Televisa SA de CV by an agent known to have been authorized to sign documents for the company between 2009-2011.

In a Sunday featrue, "Nicaragua File: Logo of Power," Proceso explained that displaying the logo of the largest media company in Latin America allowed the drug trafficking Mexicans to operate with impunity, criss-crossing Central America without being checked.

Even Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega weighed in.“Using the Televisa vans gave the 18 Mexicans impunity,” he said, “because it is not easy to detain supposed journalists to investigate them."

The big unanswered question: For whom were the 18 Mexicans really working? What's the name of the guy that's out  $9.2 million?

American drug traffickers with 'get out of jail free' cards

Mexico is not the only country where well-connected drug traffickers ply their trade with impunity.  Here's a brief condensation from more than two dozen stories posted in The Cocaine-One Files.:

A DC-9 left St Petersburg Florida and was busted at 6 PM Central Time on the evening of April 10 with 5.5 tons of cocaine.

 When it was busted,FAA registration records clearly show, the plane’s owner was Frederic Geffon of St Petersburg.

Geffon didn't appear to lose any sleep over owning a plane seized with a boxcar-full of cocaine.  Instead, he cooly claimed that he'd sold the plane. But he didn't inform the FAA of the sale until after it was seized.

Oddly enough, this  bothered no one in a position to assist putting Geffon behind bars.

Geffon Takes a Mulligan. Geffon gets a 'do-over.'

Geffon took a 'Mulligan.' He got a 'do-over.'  We should all be so lucky.

FAA spokesman Roland Herwig told Howard Altman ofthe Tampa Tribune that the FAA received a copy of a letter from Royal Sons dated April 7, asking that the plane be exported to Venezuela.

When Roland Herwig from the FAA cited the date typed on the letter, rather than the date on which the FAA received it, he offered anyone with eyes to see a huge clue about what was going on:

The fix was in.

It's not as if Geffon’s letter dated April 7 was lost in the mail for four days before showing up at the FAA. It was faxed in. The FAA’s stamp indicated they received it on April 11.

That's almost a full day after his plane was busted. And it didn't matter.

The fax numbers at the bottom of the letter faxed to Geffon and Corrales, the buyer, who turned out to be working for the Sinaloa Cartel (Geffon said he was an "airplane broker) show the same thing.

Fred Geffon told the FAA he'd sold the plane almost 24 hours after it was seized. And it didn't matter.

The FAA’s date stamp shows the FAA actually received the change of ownership documents even later, on April 13, almost three days after the bust.

The documents submitted by Geffon were back-dated. That's probably a federal crime.

And that didn't matter, either.

In a better world, Frederic Geffon would have to pay for owning a plane caught carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine. But then, in a better world, drugs would be legal.

And the multi-billion dollar slush funds currently in the hands of power brokers around the world would slowly be extricated from their pudgy little fingers.

Shakespeare said it best: "Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished."


A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #267 

Part 6 of a 7 part series on John Kerry     (great article)




  Chairing a Senate panel on terrorism, John Kerry continued to investigate Oliver North's contra ties.
More photos
(1988 UPI Photo)


With probes, making his mark

By John Aloysius Farrell, Globe Correspondent, 6/20/2003



Events in Kerry's life

  photo galleries

Kerry's life in pictures

  the series

Part One:
A privileged youth, a taste for risk
Handwritten letter to his parents
Transcript of the letter

Part Two:
Heroism, growing concern over war
Kerry's journal from Vietnam
Where Kerry served in Vietnam

Part Three:
With antiwar role, high visibility
Clips from Watergate tapes
Transcripts of Watergate tapes
Doonesbury cartoon about Kerry

Part Four:
First campaign ends in defeat
Sampling of Lowell Sun coverage

Part Five:
Taking one prize, then a bigger one
Kerry took loss in tax shelter
Kerry's tax shelter documents
Freeze Voter '84 memo

Part Six:
With probes, making his mark

Part Seven:
At center of power, seeking summit A quest for the edge
Senator Kerry's voting record


WASHINGTON -- On a summer day in 1986, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee gathered behind closed doors off the chamber floor to hear the sales pitch of a brash freshman, Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts.

Fifteen years earlier, Kerry had appeared before the same committee to denounce the Vietnam War, challenging the senators to answer the question: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

Now, at age 42, Kerry was a senator himself, the US was embroiled in another anti-communist crusade in a distant land, and Kerry was determined to prevent a repeat of Vietnam.

He had spent the spring conducting an unauthorized investigation into reports that the Reagan administration was illegally providing aid to the rebel Nicaraguan Contra armies, which were attempting to overthrow the left-wing government of that Central American nation. At this closed session, he planned to urge the committee to launch an official probe.

On this and related issues, Kerry's relentless drive "came largely from Vietnam veteran syndrome," said former aide and investigator Jack Blum, describing the disillusionment that returning soldiers often felt as a result of that divisive war. "You come home and discover that people who are running the war are just interested in covering their ass; meanwhile, real people are dying real deaths. ... This was a very searing business."

To Kerry's critics -- and they were especially fierce toward a Massachusetts liberal at the height of Reagan's popularity -- the action seemed like another case of Kerry grandstanding. Several committee members were wary of Kerry's reputation for self-promotion; one griped aloud that the senator's staff was already leaking to the press.

The Republican senators who controlled the committee owed their majority status to Reagan's popularity. Privately, they were feeling increasing pressure from a shadowy figure at the White House, a Marine lieutenant colonel named Oliver North, who was orchestrating support for the contras.

But behind the scenes, Kerry had forged an unlikely alliance with Senator Jesse Helms, the hidebound conservative from North Carolina. As the senior Republican on the committee, Helms was the key to Kerry's hopes. And the key to Helms was the drug war.

In the course of their investigation, Kerry and his staff had found evidence that some contras had ties to drug smuggling. If there was one class of villain that Helms deplored as much as the communists, it was drug traffickers.

On matters of political philosophy, Kerry and Helms were polar opposites. Yet each was something of a maverick, contemptuous of the capital's courtiers and willing to rock the clubby Senate. "I spent time with Jesse," Kerry recalls. "I talked to him. Talked his language. Jesse didn't believe the same things I did in many cases, but he was a gentleman. He was a man of his word."

As Kerry finished his presentation, the senior members turned to Helms, taking his temperature on the issue. "Jesse? What do you think about this?" asked Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on the panel, according to a transcript of the then-secret session. "I know you are a contra supporter."

"I will tell you what I do not support, and John Kerry and I have talked about this: anybody sending drugs into this country," Helms told his colleagues. "I do not care whose side they are on."

Helms was on board. The committee reached a consensus: It would investigate the contras and the contra-drug connection.

As the Iran-contra scandal unfolded, John Kerry would find an outlet for his prosecutorial skills, his thirst for media attention, and his still-simmering outrage over "seeing the government lie, and realizing the consequences" in Vietnam, as he recently put it.

Kerry's sometimes clumsy lurch for the limelight was offset by skill at finding the right people to help his causes.

As Kerry made his early mark in the Senate, however, his personal life was hollow. By the late 1980s, Kerry was broke and coping with a divorce. He was sometimes forced to stay with developer and lobbyist friends -- a lifestyle that would bruise him years later, during a wrenching re-election campaign.

Mysteries in Managua


Shortly after taking office in 1985, Kerry and Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa went on a fact-finding trip to Nicaragua, where they met with Daniel Ortega (right) and other Sandinistas. The trip was criticized when the Sandinistas cemented ties with Moscow.
(Globe File Photo)


John Kerry and Oliver North were just three months apart in age. Both served in Vietnam. Both were renowned for their daring, and both won Silver and Bronze Stars. Kerry had three Purple Hearts; North had two.

But while Kerry returned from the war speaking against needless deaths and government lies, North believed that Vietnam was an honorable stand against communist tyranny. North blamed antiwar protesters for forcing the United States to prematurely bring its troops home. The Iran-contra probe would pit these two determined figures against each other.

Congressional investigations are a set piece, an American ritual: John and Robert Kennedy taking on Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa; Richard Nixon chasing Alger Hiss over allegations of communist influence at the State Department; the televised Watergate hearings that led to Nixon's resignation.

The format suited Kerry. He was a restless former prosecutor with a taste for televised acclaim and an ambitious politician consigned to the shadow of a law-passing, back-slapping seatmate, Edward Kennedy. "He is, by nature, an investigative figure," says Kennedy, summing up Kerry's primary role in the Senate. "You can investigate and then legislate. He's investigated."

The Cold War was reaching its final stages when Kerry entered the Senate in 1985. Reagan had been re-elected in a thunderous landslide in November of 1984 and was using his administration to help the contra armies destabilize the Sandinista government of Nicaragua as part of a global strategy to give the tottering communist empire a final shove.

Reagan had carried Massachusetts that fall, but the contra cause was unpopular in the state. House Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill Jr., a Democrat from Cambridge, feared the United States would be drawn into another Vietnam in the jungles of Central America, and he worked with Congressman Edward Boland, an old Democratic pal from Springfield, to attach a series of "Boland amendments" to appropriation bills, banning or limiting US aid to the contras.

At first, Kerry's audacity cost him. Within weeks of taking office in 1985, he was off to Nicaragua, accompanied by reporters on a 36-hour, self-appointed fact-finding mission with another freshman, Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa. Congressional Democrats had accused the White House of exaggerating the communist threat posed by the Sandinista regime. So the two senators were publicly castigated when -- just days after meeting with Daniel Ortega and other leaders of the regime -- the Sandinistas climbed aboard a plane to Moscow to cement their Soviet ties.

Secretary of State George Shultz declared that Kerry and Harkin had been "used" by the Nicaraguans, and he ridiculed them for their naivete in "dealing with the communists." Kerry was called "silly" in the Boston press.

During this time, North was an obscure White House aide, a man with a ramrod-straight disposition, short cropped hair, patriotic zeal, and unflagging allegiance to President Reagan. North had secretly begun to organize a complex scheme to raise money from wealthy conservatives, foreign nations, and eventually from the proceeds of secret arms sales to circumvent the Boland amendments and keep the contras in the field.

Word that something was afoot began to seep into Kerry's Capitol Hill office, which had become a magnet for tips from left-leaning journalists, activists, and conspiracy theorists drawn to the senator's antiwar history and his criticisms of Reagan's Central American policy.

Kerry worried that a repeat of Vietnam -- with a White House misleading the public -- was in the making. "A central part of my campaign had been the notion that I would bring to the Senate the experience of the Vietnam period, which cautioned me against the kind of illegal activities we were hearing about, and the things that were going on," Kerry recalls. "Literally, I did do an ad hoc investigation."

The Vietnam skipper who once beached his boat to kill an enemy guerrilla assembled a combative and single-minded crew inside the Russell Senate Office Building. Kerry's scrappy staff had minimal Washington experience and, like Kerry, little desire to fit in with the normally genteel style of the US Senate. In his choice of aides, like the senators he sought out as partners, Kerry was eclectic.

"John formed nonconventional alliances," says former chief of staff Frances Zwenig. "You can't pigeonhole him. He likes feisty people who are fighters like him."

Another former chief of staff, Ronald Rosenblith, offers a telling description of his own personality: "I piss people off sometimes. I annoy people. All I know how to do is tell the truth."

In late 1985, an intriguing report came to Kerry's staff from John Mattes, a public defender in Miami whose sister was a Massachusetts peace advocate. Mattes had a client who claimed to know all about the contras' secret supply network. Kerry's staff interviewed Mattes and his client and traveled to Costa Rica to quiz other young men who allegedly had been working in a US-sanctioned contra supply network.

"It was like a detective story at that point," recalls Jonathan Winer, who was Kerry's counsel. The clues pointed to "violations of US law by the Reagan administration, including this guy Ollie North, who I didn't know anything about."

On hearing some of the wilder allegations brought to him by his staff -- tales of mercenaries and smugglers and assassination plots -- Kerry recalls that he would grimace and complain: "This is cockamamie. It cannot be true."

But he gave his people plenty of running room. Kerry enjoyed the trust of Senator Richard Lugar, the respected Republican who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, with whom he worked during a trip to monitor the 1986 Philippine elections.

"He understood that I was ambitious and serious about the work that we were doing, an enormous agenda, and in fairness, he regularly participated," Lugar says. "He was not one of the dissident types. I did not see in him someone who was out there going after President Reagan, out after a Republican president."

But North, who declined repeated requests for an interview, did see Kerry as a threat to Reagan. His notebooks, later obtained by Congress, were peppered with notations of concern about Kerry, his staff, and their freelance investigation. On April 18, 1986, North wrote: "Sen. Kerry trying to get evidence linking RR [Ronald Reagan] to La Penca," the location of an attempted assassination attempt against a contra leader by hardliners in the movement.

`In early 1986, people like North were deathly afraid of what Kerry was after," says Tom Blanton, the executive director of the National Security Archive, a research organization in Washington. "There was this pervasive sense of the potential of turning over too many rocks. Worms and insects kept crawling out."

Before long, Kerry encountered resistance. Congressional investigators would later detail how the government intimidated Kerry's witnesses, including a mysterious figure named Jack Terrell, who claimed to have been a contra adviser operating under the nom de guerre "Colonel Flaco."

Terrell told Kerry and a handful of investigative reporters that North's supply network had been used to smuggle arms and drugs.

IN MONTH TK, Kerry's staff interviewed Terrell in New Orleans, brought him to Washington, installed him in a safe house, and obtained funding from a liberal think tank, the International Center for Development Policy. In a memo to Reagan, later obtained by the Iran-contra committee, North warned that "Terrell's accusations are at the center of Senator Kerry's investigation." North labeled Terrell a possible Nicaraguan spy, potential presidential assassin, and a "terrorist threat."

The Secret Service was alerted, and the FBI placed Terrell under surveillance. Agents tailed him, combed his telephone records, searched his garbage, and pressured him into taking a polygraph test. They ultimately determined he was no threat to the president, but his eagerness waned and he never testified.

Elsewhere, Republican staffers on the Foreign Relations committee leaked details of Kerry's probe to the administration. An assistant US attorney in Florida, who was also investigating the allegations, was told by his superiors that "politics" forbade him from taking the case to a grand jury. The Washington Times, a paper known for its conservative ties, published stories containing allegations that Kerry's office was inducing witnesses to commit perjury. At North's insistence, the FBI began to compile information on the Kerry investigation.

A crash, a tip and probe widens

Kerry's ad-hoc investigation came at a personal and professional cost. The long hours were taking time from his two young daughters, who were living with their mother in Massachusetts, and he was in danger of being marginalized in the Senate.

"He was up against a wall financially, politically, and emotionally," recalls Blum. "He wanted to be in this business, and he took the risk to be in it. But it is tough. What seemed like a simplistic route to political glory. . . He began to understand there was more to it."

Despite Kerry's work, and that of House investigators, North's covert enterprise thrived. But on Oct. 5, 1986, a C-123 aircraft was shot down in Nicaragua. Documents found in the wreckage connected the plane to a CIA proprietary airline, Southern Air Transport. A surviving crew member, Eugene Hasenfus, said he was involved in an effort to arm the contras.

To Kerry's investigators, the operation smelled like a covert CIA plot. Suspicions about North's involvement intensified. By now the full committee, at Kerry's urging, had launched its investigation, and Kerry used an Oct. 10, 1986, hearing to interrogate Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams about whether the Reagan administration had involved foreign governments in arming the contras.

Elliott Abrams: "I can say that while I have been assistant secretary, which is about 15 months, we have not received a dime from a foreign government, not a dime, from any foreign government."

Senator Kerry: " `We' being who?"

Abrams: "The United States."

Senator Kerry: "How about the contras?"

Abrams: "I don't know. But not that I am aware of and not through us. The thing is, I think I would know about it because if they went to a foreign government, a foreign government would want credit for helping the contras and they would come to us to say you want us to do this, do you, and I would know about that."

This testimony, and similar statements to a House committee, would result in Abrams pleading guilty to charges of withholding information from Congress. (He was pardoned by President George H. W. Bush in 1992, and now serves in the Bush White House.) Then, in early November 1986, a Lebanese newspaper broke the news of US arms sales to Iran. A few weeks later, the White House disclosed that funds from the sale had been diverted to supply the contras.

Suddenly, Kerry's theories didn't seem so far-fetched. He hoped this would be his moment to help lead the investigation into this extraordinary episode. The Iran-contra scandal was the top story in town, and there was worried talk in the halls of Congress that the United States might suffer another failed presidency.

But when congressional leaders chose the members of the elite Iran-contra committee, Kerry was left off. Those selected were consensus-politicians, not bomb-throwers.

The feeling among a disappointed Kerry and his staff was that the committee members were chosen to put a lid on things. "He was told early on they were not going to put him on it," Winer recalls. "He was too junior and too controversial . . .. They were concerned about the survival of the republic."

Even some Democrats "thought John was a little hotter than they would like," says Rosenblith.

As a consolation prize, the Democratic leadership gave Kerry chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations and a charter to dig into the contra-drug connection. While disappointed, Kerry stuck with his investigation and the subcommittee published a report in 1989 that concluded the CIA and other US agencies had turned a blind eye to drug trafficking occurring on the fringes of the contra network. In many cases, traffickers were using the same airplanes, airfields, and other resources that the contras were using.

To the disappointment of the conspiracy theorists, Kerry and his team found no evidence the United States ran or sanctioned a contra drug ring.

During the investigation, an Oregon businessman claiming CIA ties, Richard Brenneke, whose testimony was taken by Kerry's committee, made the sensational and undocumented charge that Vice President George H. W. Bush's office had sanctioned a contra-drug smuggling operation. Bush challenged Kerry to "show some evidence and stop leaking out information that is not true."

Kerry denied he was the source of the leak, and the committee dropped the Brenneke angle.

Republican senators were suspicious of Kerry's motives. The Kerry investigation -- done in the midst of the 1988 presidential campaign pitting Vice President Bush against Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis -- was "being conducted as if it were a division of the Dukakis campaign," recalls Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who served as ranking Republican on the subcommittee. The probe "deteriorated into a biased partisan agenda" that, to McConnell, was primarily aimed at cooking up allegations to tarnish Bush's reputation and presidential hopes.

Ultimately, the subcommittee's findings on the scope of the contra-drug connection were validated by two subsequent federal investigations. Inspectors General at the CIA and the Justice Department found that these agencies had done little or nothing in response to hundreds of allegations that elements of the contras and their supply networks were involved with drugs.

"Kerry's proven conclusion was that the government, especially the CIA, looked the other way," says Blanton. "The Kerry committee findings hold up."

Drugs to money-laundering


Kerry in 1992 presided over a Senate probe of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. The inquiry had led him to call 84-year-old Clark Clifford to testify, angering fellow Democrats.
(AFP File Photo)


By the late 1980s, Kerry was running his senatorial staff the way he helped run the Middlesex District Attorney's Office a decade earlier: concentrating on investigations, depositions, and testimony. But now, instead of local crooks and criminals, he had aides probing the global netherworld of drugs, spies, and money-laundering.

In an off-shoot of the contra-drug investigation, Kerry examined reports that Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was involved in drug trafficking. The probe led to information that Noriega was shipping money out of Panama with the help of a bank called BCCI -- which prompted yet another Kerry investigation.

BCCI was an international bank of Middle East origins whose employees asked few questions of their wealthy and powerful customers, making it a favorite of arms merchants, drug dealers, despots such as Noriega, and intelligence agencies. At the CIA, which sometimes used the bank to launder its own activities, it was known as the "Bank of Crooks and Criminals."

Kerry's investigation, launched in 1988, helped to close the bank three years later, but not without upsetting some in Washington's Democratic establishment. Prominent BCCI friends included former Defense Secretary Clark Clifford, former President Jimmy Carter, and his budget director, Bert Lance. When news broke that Clifford's Washington bank was a shell for BCCI -- and how the silver-haired Democrat had handsomely profited in the scheme -- some of Kerry's Senate colleagues grew icy.

"What are you doing to my friend Clark Clifford?" more than one Democratic senator asked Kerry. Kerry's aides recall how Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Pamela Harriman, a prominent party fund-raiser, called on the senator, urging him to not to pursue Clifford.

Kerry and his staff were under intense pressure, and Foreign Relations chairman Claiborne Pell, the Democrat from Rhode Island, began to request that Kerry's investigation end. Blum brought the evidence against BCCI to the Justice Department, but was rebuffed. With Kerry's blessing, he left the staff and took the case to New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, who filed the indictments leading to the bank's collapse in the summer of 1991.

When he finally got the 84-year-old Clifford to the witness table during a Senate hearing that fall, Kerry seemed conflicted, pulling his punches and allowing the elderly statesman to claim a loss of memory. During a recess, his aides urged him on. "He's an old man. He couldn't remember. I'm not going to humiliate an old man," Kerry barked, in an exchange recalled by David McKean, a cousin of Kerry and member of his staff, who later wrote a book on Clifford.

Years later, Kerry says he was "shocked . . .(and) surprised" but "resigned that you had to go in and let the chips fall where they may" when he discovered that Clifford and other prominent Democrats had become involved with BCCI.

He defends his decision to treat Clifford courteously: "There was a balance of what I thought was decency. I am one of those kids who grew up watching Joseph Welch respond to Joe McCarthy and I remember his line about decency." (In 1954, Welch, an attorney for the US Army, replied to Senator Joseph McCarthy's latest red-baiting accusations with the words: "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?")

"I thought we had proven the points we needed," Kerry says of the Clifford inquiry. "We had got the testimony that was essential. And I didn't see any reason to cross the line of what I considered to be necessary."

An unsettled private life

Kerry's personal life, meanwhile, was becoming increasingly tumultuous. He had separated from his first wife, Julia Thorne, in 1982, and the divorce became final in 1988. For much of their marriage, Julia, who came from a wealthy Long Island family, had provided significant financial contributions. The divorce left Kerry strapped for cash and looking for ways to meet child-support payments, campaign debts, and tuition costs.

He took out a $473,000 loan to purchase a home in Washington, thinking his daughters would be staying with him for periods of time. It was "a huge mistake," he says, as he found himself returning to Boston most weekends to maintain his ties to his children and the state. He sold the D.C. home and bought a Boston condo but "lost his shirt" when he sold it a few years later, as he told the Globe in 1996. "He was broke," Blum says.

To make ends meet, Kerry collected speaking fees, averaging about $1,400 apiece and $26,000 a year total during his first five years in the Senate. Most of the honoraria were from think tanks and schools; some were paid by trade associations such as the Massachusetts Bankers Association or corporations such as Goldman Sachs and Chevron, which had legislative interests before Congress.

Kerry pocketed another $21,000 in a low-risk real estate deal in 1986, arranged by his campaign treasurer, developer Wesley Finch. In a business brochure the next year, Finch boasted about his relationship with Kerry, stating he "works closely with the senator and his colleagues on tax and economic issues that come to the floor of the United States Senate."

Finch had cut in his friends, Kerry and his then-Senate aide, Ronald Rosenblith, on an investment in condominium units in Salem and Clinton. One of the units was already under a purchase-and-sales agreement by the time Finch brought in Kerry and Rosenblith as partners, the Globe reported in 1996, although all three said Finch never informed them of that. The Globe calculated their profit at 31 percent in about six months.

Kerry has long maintained he never used his influence on Finch's behalf, but he did acknowledge he was stung by the press reports on the deal and soured on investments after that. "I thought it was legitimate," Kerry said of the deal. But "I found that the inquiries made me profoundly uncomfortable, and I never invested again in the 11 years after that . . . I have never since invested one penny in anything" as exotic.

Kerry acknowledges money "was tight" for him in those days. "I was spending all I had," he says. Regarding honoraria, which Congress banned in 1991, Kerry says: "I did not take honoraria from anyone who had anything in front of my committee."

Kerry also signed on as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the fund-raising arm for Senate Democrats, for the 1987-1988 cycle. This would help him tap the network of national Democratic donors.

Kerry's current wife, Teresa Heinz, calls the late 1980s his "gypsy period." For months at a time he had no fixed address and crashed instead with his daughters when Julia was away or with Julia's brother David.

Sometimes, he stayed with a girlfriend who had been his former law partner, Roanne Sragow, now a district court judge in Massachusetts. (She declined to be interviewed.) Or he stayed with a Vietnam buddy or on a per diem basis in condos owned by wealthy contributors: developers Finch and Edward W. Callan, and lobbyist and campaign fund-raiser Robert Farmer. Eventually, he rented a one-room apartment in Washington and an apartment in Boston.

During this period, Kerry was linked romantically with several Hollywood starlets, including Morgan Fairchild, and his dating life became fodder for gossip columnists in Boston and Washington. Kerry declined to discuss this period of his social life, other than to make this reference to the 2000 presidential campaign, in which then-candidate George W. Bush confessed only to unnamed youthful indiscretions.

"If George Bush can run around and say `When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible,' " says Kerry. "I can say when I was young and single, I was young and single."

A new campaign

As Kerry prepared for his reelection campaign in 1990, he found that the tables were sometimes turned -- the senator who loved investigations became the subject of informal inquiry. Reporters queried candidates in the race about drug use, and Kerry was forced to admit that he had smoked marijuana after he returned from Vietnam. "About 20 years ago, I tried marijuana. I didn't like it. I have never used or tried any drug since," Kerry said through a spokesman at the time.

Republicans and the media also raised questions about his dealings with wealthy donors. The most prominent inquiry focused on one of Kerry's major fund-raisers, a savings and loan executive named David Paul, who emerged as a principal figure in the savings and loan scandals of the time and who had ties to BCCI.

Paul's CenTrust Savings Bank of Miami failed in 1990 and cost taxpayers an estimated $2 billion, according to a report prepared by the Republican staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The investigation found that Paul "spent millions of dollars of insured deposits on such lavish personal perquisites as an art collection, the leasing of an airplane frequently used for personal and political purposes, operating expenses of a $7 million yacht owned by another Paul business interest, the purchase of a sailboat, Persian rugs, Baccarat crystal, foreign linens, and other expensive furnishings."

The Republican investigators also found there was "an interlocking relationship" between CenTrust and BCCI in the person of Ghaith R. Pharaon, a Saudi investor in both banks, who paid to fly six French chefs to a lavish 1988 dinner party at Paul's Florida home, attended by Kerry and other legislators. Kerry was among those politicians who flew on Paul's jet, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which Kerry chaired, leased Paul's yacht for fund-raisers.

When their relationship became known, Kerry acknowledged that Paul had asked for special consideration of a banking amendment CenTrust needed. Paul had contacted Kerry and other key lawmakers in 1989, seeking to weaken a portion of the savings and loan bailout bill. Specifically, he wanted to dilute the part of the bill that restricted institutions' use of "good will" assets rather than capital, as reserves against losses.

Kerry wrote Paul a friendly letter, inviting him to Washington "so that we can sit down and perhaps follow up." But, the senator said, he ultimately opposed Paul's request, which failed to win support in Congress.

Blum, the former Kerry aide, says the senator "came to understand he was being compromised." Blum stresses that Kerry in the end "got out of there."

Still, the matter became fodder in the reelection campaign, with Republican hopeful Jim Rappaport asking: "How could John Kerry possibly have appointed David Paul to a senior position in the Democratic Party?" Despite Rappaport's self-financed campaign and the nation's anti-incumbent mood, Kerry's performance during his first Senate term proved sufficiently popular to secure a healthy 57 percent of the state's vote.

Kerry was on his way to a second term, where Vietnam -- a war that he questioned, then fought for, and then opposed -- would continue to define his senatorial career, just as it had in the 1980s.

"Vietnam is a lesson," Kerry says. "It is history to me. It can guide me, but it doesn't run me. You have to move on and I moved on long ago. But the lessons are valuable. I love the lessons."

Michael Kranish and Brian Mooney of the Globe staff contributed to this report.


This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 6/20/2003.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.

A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #268 


U.S. Agents Launder Mexican Profits of Drug Cartels

Josue Gonzalez/Reuters

A crime scene in Monterrey, Mexico, last week. Drug-related violence has claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people since late 2006, Mexican officials say.


WASHINGTON — Undercover American narcotics agents have laundered or smuggled millions of dollars in drug proceeds as part of Washington’s expanding role in Mexico’s fight against drug cartels, according to current and former federal law enforcement officials.


The agents, primarily with the Drug Enforcement Administration, have handled shipments of hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal cash across borders, those officials said, to identify how criminal organizations move their money, where they keep their assets and, most important, who their leaders are.

They said agents had deposited the drug proceeds in accounts designated by traffickers, or in shell accounts set up by agents.

The officials said that while the D.E.A. conducted such operations in other countries, it began doing so in Mexico only in the past few years. The high-risk activities raise delicate questions about the agency’s effectiveness in bringing down drug kingpins, underscore diplomatic concerns about Mexican sovereignty, and blur the line between surveillance and facilitating crime. As it launders drug money, the agency often allows cartels to continue their operations over months or even years before making seizures or arrests.

Agency officials declined to publicly discuss details of their work, citing concerns about compromising their investigations. But Michael S. Vigil, a former senior agency official who is currently working for a private contracting company called Mission Essential Personnel, said, “We tried to make sure there was always close supervision of these operations so that we were accomplishing our objectives, and agents weren’t laundering money for the sake of laundering money.”

Another former agency official, who asked not to be identified speaking publicly about delicate operations, said, “My rule was that if we are going to launder money, we better show results. Otherwise, the D.E.A. could wind up being the largest money launderer in the business, and that money results in violence and deaths.”

Those are precisely the kinds of concerns members of Congress have raised about a gun-smuggling operation known as Fast and Furious, in which agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed people suspected of being low-level smugglers to buy and transport guns across the border in the hope that they would lead to higher-level operatives working for Mexican cartels. After the agency lost track of hundreds of weapons, some later turned up in Mexico; two were found on the United States side of the border where an American Border Patrol agent had been shot to death.

Former D.E.A. officials rejected comparisons between letting guns and money walk away. Money, they said, poses far less of a threat to public safety. And unlike guns, it can lead more directly to the top ranks of criminal organizations.

“These are not the people whose faces are known on the street,” said Robert Mazur, a former D.E.A. agent and the author of a book about his years as an undercover agent inside the Medellín cartel in Colombia. “They are super-insulated. And the only way to get to them is to follow their money.”

Another former drug agency official offered this explanation for the laundering operations: “Building up the evidence to connect the cash to drugs, and connect the first cash pickup to a cartel’s command and control, is a very time consuming process. These people aren’t running a drugstore in downtown L.A. that we can go and lock the doors and place a seizure sticker on the window. These are sophisticated, international operations that practice very tight security. And as far as the Mexican cartels go, they operate in a corrupt country, from cities that the cops can’t even go into.”

The laundering operations that the United States conducts elsewhere — about 50 so-called Attorney General Exempt Operations are under way around the world — had been forbidden in Mexico after American customs agents conducted a cross-border sting without notifying Mexican authorities in 1998, which was how most American undercover work was conducted there up to that point.

But that changed in recent years after President Felipe Calderón declared war against the country’s drug cartels and enlisted the United States to play a leading role in fighting them because of concerns that his security forces had little experience and long histories of corruption.

Today, in operations supervised by the Justice Department and orchestrated to get around sovereignty restrictions, the United States is running numerous undercover laundering investigations against Mexico’s most powerful cartels. One D.E.A. official said it was not unusual for American agents to pick up two or three loads of Mexican drug money each week. A second official said that as Mexican cartels extended their operations from Latin America to Africa, Europe and the Middle East, the reach of the operations had grown as well. When asked how much money had been laundered as a part of the operations, the official would only say, “A lot.”

“If you’re going to get into the business of laundering money,” the official added, “then you have to be able to launder money.”

Former counternarcotics officials, who also would speak only on the condition of anonymity about clandestine operations, offered a clearer glimpse of their scale and how they worked. In some cases, the officials said, Mexican agents, posing as smugglers and accompanied by American authorities, pick up traffickers’ cash in Mexico. American agents transport the cash on government flights to the United States, where it is deposited into traffickers’ accounts, and then wired to companies that provide goods and services to the cartel.

In other cases, D.E.A. agents, posing as launderers, pick up drug proceeds in the United States, deposit them in banks in this country and then wire them to the traffickers in Mexico.

The former officials said that the drug agency tried to seize as much money as it laundered — partly in the fees the operatives charged traffickers for their services and another part in carefully choreographed arrests at pickup points identified by their undercover operatives.

And the former officials said that federal law enforcement agencies had to seek Justice Department approval to launder amounts greater than $10 million in any single operation. But they said that the cap was treated more as a guideline than a rule, and that it had been waived on many occasions to attract the interest of high-value targets.

“They tell you they’re bringing you $250,000, and they bring you a million,” one former agent said of the traffickers. “What’s the agent supposed to do then, tell them no, he can’t do it? They’ll kill him.”

It is not clear whether such operations are worth the risks. So far there are few signs that following the money has disrupted the cartels’ operations, and little evidence that Mexican drug traffickers are feeling any serious financial pain. Last year, the D.E.A. seized about $1 billion in cash and drug assets, while Mexico seized an estimated $26 million in money laundering investigations, a tiny fraction of the estimated $18 billion to $39 billion in drug money that flows between the countries each year.

Mexico has tightened restrictions on large cash purchases and on bank deposits in dollars in the past five years. But a proposed overhaul of the Mexican attorney general’s office has stalled, its architects said, as have proposed laws that would crack down on money laundered through big corporations and retail chains.

“Mexico still thinks the best way to seize dirty money is to arrest a trafficker, then turn him upside down to see how much change falls out of his pockets,” said Sergio Ferragut, a professor at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico and the author of a book on money laundering, which he said was “still a sensitive subject for Mexican authorities.”

Mr. Calderón boasts that his government’s efforts — deploying the military across the country — have fractured many of the country’s powerful cartels and led to the arrests of about two dozen high-level and midlevel traffickers.

But there has been no significant dip in the volume of drugs moving across the country. Reports of human rights violations by police officers and soldiers have soared. And drug-related violence has left more than 40,000 people dead since Mr. Calderón took office in December 2006.

The death toll is greater than in any period since Mexico’s revolution a century ago, and the policy of close cooperation with Washington may not survive.

“We need to concentrate all our efforts on combating violence and crime that affects people, instead of concentrating on the drug issue,” said a former foreign minister, Jorge G. Castañeda, at a conference hosted last month by the Cato Institute in Washington. “It makes absolutely no sense for us to put up 50,000 body bags to stop drugs from entering the United States.”

Money Laundering Banks Fuel Mexican Drug Cartels

December 1, 2011 in News



Killing Drug Cartel Bosses Isn’t Working, Says Top U.S. General


Mexico Kills Cartel Big Shot, But Drug Violence Worsens


Mexico seeks to fill drug war gap with focus on dirty money

The evolving anti-laundering campaign could change the tone of the Mexican government's battle by striking at the heart of the cartels' financial empire, analysts say.

November 27, 2011|By Ken Ellingwood and Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times


Police Officers Find That Dissent on Drug Laws May Come With a Price


A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #269 

(U//LES) LulzSec Release: EPIC Language of the Cartels Narco Terminology Report

June 25, 2011 in Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Intelligence Fusion Centers

This document is part of a collection leaked by the anonymous hacker collective known as LulzSec.


  • 14 pages
  • Law Enforcement Sensitive
  • January 28, 2011


The El Paso Intelligence Center DEA/CBP Gang Intelligence Unit has been providing intelligence reports on many National gangs affecting this region such as the Surenos, Mexican Mafia and the Nortenos. These reports are condensed and include a short history of the gang, identifiers and current trends for the purposes of providing quick reference and concise information to the street officer that may encounter these individuals throughout the course of their duty.

In 2009, the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) assessed that Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) were operating in the U.S. in at least 1, 286 cities spanning nine regions. Moreover, NDIC assesses with high confidence that Mexican DTO’s in at least 143 of these U.S. cities were linked to a specific Mexican Cartel or DTO based in Mexico—the Sinaloa Cartel (at least 75 cities), the Gulf Cartel/Los Zetas (at least 37 cities), the Juárez Cartel (at least 33 cities), the Beltrán-Leyva DTO (at least 30 cities), La Familia Michoacán (at least 27 cities), or the Tijuana Cartel (at least 21 cities). NDIC assesses with high confidence that Mexican DTOs will further expand their drug trafficking operations in the United States. Due to the rise in violence throughout the Southwest Region and Mexico, members of the Cartels, their associates and their families have been suspected of moving into many U.S. cities along the border. As a result, agencies are requesting information on ways to identify those involved with drug trafficking organizations. The information included in this report is not set in stone as many of these criminal organizations are dynamic and will alter their methods and trends frequently to avoid detection by law enforcement.

Related Material From the Archive:

  1. (U//FOUO) LulzSec Release: DHS Sinaloa Drug Cartel Reference Guide
  2. Low Probability Cartel Violence Will Affect Seven County Area in Near Term
  3. (U//FOUO/LES) LulzSec Release: DHS Mexico Sonora-Based Threats to U.S. Border Security
  4. (U//FOUO/LES) LulzSec Release: San Diego Cross-Border Kidnapping Threat Assessment
  5. (U//LES) ATF Project Gunrunner Mexican Cartel Strategy
  6. Mexican Drug Cartels Bribe Border Patrol Agents with Sex, Use Female Assassins, Kidnap People for Gladiator Knife Fights
  7. Afghan Taliban Forming Narco-Cartels to Fund Insurgency
  8. (U//FOUO) National Guard Mexico Travel Advisory





Afghan Contractors Hire High, Warlord, Taliban Commander, Iranian Spies

October 8, 2010 in News


Senate Report on Private Security Contractor Oversight in Afghanistan

October 8, 2010 in Afghanistan, United States


A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #270 

(U//LES) National Drug Intelligence Center: Mexican Drug Cartels Operating Within U.S. Cities

October 31, 2011 in Department of Justice

Cities Where Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations Operate Within the United States

  • 24 pages
  • Law Enforcement Sensitive
  • Limited Official Use
  • April 2010


The National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) assesses with high confidence that in 2009, Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) were operating in the United States in at least 1,286 cities spanning all nine Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) regions, based on law enforcement reporting. Moreover, NDIC assesses with high confidence that Mexican DTOs in at least 143 of these U.S. cities (see Appendix A) were linked to a specific Mexican Cartel or DTO based in Mexico—the Sinaloa Cartel (at least 75 cities), the Gulf Cartel/Los Zetas (at least 37 cities), the Juárez Cartel (at least 33 cities), the Beltrán-Leyva DTO (at least 30 cities), La Familia Michoacán (at least 27 cities), or the Tijuana Cartel (at least 21 cities). NDIC assesses with high confidence that Mexican DTOs will further expand their drug trafficking operations in the United States in the near term, particularly in the New England, New York/New Jersey, Mid-Atlantic, and Florida/Caribbean Regions. NDIC also believes that Mexican DTOs will maintain the present high level of availability for heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine because the conditions in Mexico and in the United States that enabled and motivated the DTOs to increase production and availability of those drugs have not significantly changed.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #271 



Transcript of U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) Speech at the Los Angeles Shadow Convention- Tuesday, 14 August 2000, Patriot Hall

Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you so very very much. There is no war on drugs going on in America today, and Barry McCaffrey needs to resign right now.

He needs to stop pushing policies that send our tax dollars to Columbia supporting these right wing dictator-types! And move out of the way and allow us to develop some good drug policies that’s going to stop incarcerating the victims of this so-called drug war.

I want you to know that you are seated in this building right on the edge of the community that the CIA allowed to be over-run with drugs.

They turned a blind eye to the dumping of tons of cocaine into this community all the way back down through South Central Los Angeles that has destroyed lives, destroyed families, literally destroyed our communities. As a result of what they have done, they have left a lot of broken homes, a lot of young people were incarcerated.

One young man, who was stupid enough to go along with the okiedoke, found himself with a life sentence for cooking up the cocaine that was dumped into the community who the profits from which were used to fund the war down in Nicaragua, the contras vs the Sandinistas.

I know it happened, I investigated it, I worked on it for a couple of years. Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury unveiled what had taken place, spent a year investigating it.

Oh, they tried to quiet him, to put a muzzle on him but he was correct. I went all the way to Nicaragua myself and met with someone in prison who had worked with the Medellin cartel who had been involved at the time the drugs were being dumped into our community; however, they would tell you they’ve had a war on drugs and a lot of those victims are now in prison or dead, but it’s time for a new drug policy and we are going to lead the way for it right here in California.

I’m going to tell you why, why we’ve got to lead the way for it in California. In my own state, California ranks #1 in the incarceration of drug offenders. Nearly half of all drug offenders imprisoned in California last year, were imprisoned for simple possession of drugs. In New York, 91% of those imprisoned last year for drug offences were locked up for possession of one of the states three lowest level drug offenses. Despite these bleak numbers, there were efforts to stop the madness surrounding the so-called war on drugs.

Let me tell you, is Bill Zimmerman in the house. I want Bill Zimmerman to stand. There he is back there. Because we have an initiative on the ballot, Proposition 36. Are you aware of this? We’re going to turn this state around because we’re going to create a policy with this initiative that will stop locking up people for these simple offenses, many of them who are victims who are people who need help. We’re going to stop putting them in jail. We’re going to give them an opportunity to be rehabilitated. The Congressional Black Caucus is supporting this initiative. Over the majority of us have signed on so that we can send a message that we want California to be successful so that we can serve as a model for the nation about what we can do in creating a real war on drugs and saving lives. Thank you, Bill, for your leadership.

I don’t know how many people are at this convention from California and how many of you are willing to come back and help us. We can win this initiative but we need all of the bodies in the street. We need all of the help we can get. Will you help us?

I’m going to just wrap up by saying to you with less than five percent of the world’s population, the United States has one-quarter of the world’s prisoners. The rapid expansion of the U.S. prison industrial complex has been fueled by the so-called war on drugs. On June 8,2000, the Human Rights Watch released a report which found that African-American men are imprisoned for drug crimes 13 times more than others even though…absolutely right. I have said over and over again, America has a problem with drug addiction and we cannot continue to incarcerate our way out of the help crisis. I have introduced HR1681, the Major Drug Trafficking Prosecution Act of 1991 to correct the misguided policy of mandatory minimum sentencing.

I want to bring on a friend of mine but I just want to close by saying this lock ‘em up and throw the key away mentality has got to stop. We have got to understand we cannot continue to spend more money on prisoners than we are spending on education. I want you to start to call the politicians to task. Look at where they are getting their campaign contributions. They’re getting their campaign contributions too often from those who have a stake in us keeping people in prison. They want the prisons to grow so that they can make money in this privatization of the prisons. You have to understand there is a direct connection between the growth in this industry and the campaign contributions and the public policy. We’re smarter than that. We’re not going to continue to let them do it. This is the beginning of everything at this Shadow Convention.

God bless you! Thank you! Thank you! I want to introduce to my friend…Thank you. I want you…Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I want to introduce you to a man that you need to know, Michael Eric Dyson, Professor of Religion, religious study at the DuPaul University.

You think I’ve got some thoughts about this imprisonment of young people; I’ve got some thoughts about this lack of a real war on drugs; I’ve got some thoughts about the prison industrial complex, you ain’t heard nothing yet. Michael Eric Dyson, come on out here.

Afghanistan: Karzai’s Recent Decree on Fighting Against Corruption

[SAP20120727457007 Kabul Office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Pashto; OSC Translated Text; 26 Jul 12]


10/17/2012 @ 8:03AM |4,253 views

Large Cash Transactions Banned In Mexico


A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #272 
John Hull was introduced to Ollie North by VP Dan Quayle...
the original article on Hull's arrest. He was never interviewed by the Iran Contra Committee.

U.S. Farmer in Costa Rica Seized in Probe

January 14, 1989|From Times Wire Services

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — John Hull, an American farmer who allegedly used his Costa Rica ranch to assist the Nicaraguan Contras, was arrested on suspicion of spying for the CIA and of arms and drug smuggling, officials said Friday.

Hull was picked up at his ranch in the northern province of San Carlos on Thursday and taken to San Jose, the capital, for questioning.


The Indiana native, who has lived in Costa Rica for 20 years, openly supported the Contras and has said that, in the past, he let the rebels use his property, which stretches along the Nicaraguan border, but denied receiving U.S. support.

However, information uncovered by the Iran-Contra investigation supported the allegation that he acted as an arms conduit and worked under orders of the CIA. Hull later acknowledged that he did indeed receive thousands of dollars a year from the CIA to provide what he called "security," but insisted he had done nothing illegal.

Costa Rican authorities said Friday they began investigating Hull last year after a convicted Colombian drug trafficker, George Morales, accused him of links with arms and drugs trafficking and of spying for the Contras.

Morales, serving a 16-year prison term in the United States for drug trafficking, told a U.S. Senate committee last April that he had supplied arms to the Nicaraguan rebels based in Costa Rica and carried drugs back to the United States. He also said that he used landing strips on or adjacent to Hull's ranch.

A source in Costa Rica's Office of Judicial Investigations, which is handling the case, said authorities had not decided whether to release Hull or send him to the prison in San Sebastian pending the outcome of the investigation.

The U.S. Embassy refused to confirm or deny the arrest.

Last month, Hull met with F. Andy Messing, who heads the conservative National Defense Foundation in Washington, and California Rep. David Dreier (R-La Verne) during the pair's fact-finding trip to Central America.

Messing said Friday that Hull assured them he had stopped assisting the rebels when the Iran-Contra case broke.


Article written by a friend of Hull's


Saturday, November 21, 2009

My friend John Hull


I haven't seen John Hull or Rob Owen since 1984. We thought it best to part company at that time. Rob Owen had to burn through $1,000,000 to protect himself from the US Senate. I held my breath and lowered my profile. It worked.

I did have an amusing incident when I was invited to a party at the Vice President's House and met Dan Quayle. I knew Rob Owen worked for Quayle because one of the numbers I used to contact Owen was in the Indiana Senator's office. Several years later when introduced to the then Vice President I said we had a mutual friend in Rob Owen. VP Quayle smiled and asked as to how I knew Rob, and when I mentioned through John Hull, a concerned look rose across his face.

I chuckled and told him it was cool. John Hull was my friend and I knew what Hull did and did not do.

I had no idea John was still alive. I have posted several times about him and how he was railroaded by the "Liar of the Senate", John Kerry. Here is what he has been doing the last 25 years and here is a previous post I did on John Hull.


Don John: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Photos by Sonny Brown and
Kristen K. Tucker Evansvilleliving

At his Yucatan ranch, John Hull talks to Kristen K. tucker about growing up in Southern Indiana, the Contra war, and a life spent aiding native Indians.

“Don John” is up to his old tricks.

It could also be said, and it would be true, he’s never stopped doing what he does.

We — editors of this magazine and most people in Evansville — just didn’t know.

For nearly 20 years, the name John Hull hasn’t been heard much around Evansville. But for the decade of the 1980s and into the 1990s, “Don John,” as the Gibson County farmer was called throughout Central America, dominated local news reporting and captured the interest of national news organizations, politicians, presidents, the native Indians of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, the FBI, and the CIA.

The man who for a decade regaled reporters and anyone who would listen about his wartime adventures was keeping a low profile.

Pam Martin, an executive at Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville, who in 1989 interviewed and reported on Hull for the Sunday Courier & Press, even speculated recently as she drove up U.S. Highway 41 past the Patoka exit (where the Hull family farm sits less than a quarter-mile off the highway) if Hull still was alive.

John Floyd Hull Jr., 88, is indeed alive and talking at his 1,200-acre ranch in a remote area of the Mexican state of Yucatan, in the municipality of Tizimin, where he and his wife of 20 years, Emelia, 42, raise 800 Brahman cattle and have demonstrated a commitment to improving the lives of the native Mayan people who inhabit that region.

Two Evansville residents, John Whinrey, an attorney at Frick Powell LLP, and Ron Huffman, a retired Whirlpool engineer, both members of the Rotary Club of Evansville, recently traveled to the Yucatan to visit with Hull and Emelia (“Emie&rdquo.

Soon after their visit, I received a phone call in my office on a Friday afternoon. The strong, clear, congenial voice on the phone said, “Mrs. Tucker, this is John Hull. I want to invite you down to my ranch in Mexico.”

John Hull is up to his old tricks. Those who know him — including his grandson Joe Bammer, who owns and operates GrassMasters Sod Farm on part of the Hull family property in Patoka — say that Hull is doing the same thing in Mexico that he began doing in Costa Rica 40 years ago: carving a ranch out of the jungle and working intently to improve the natives’ lives, chiefly through better medical care.

Martin is not surprised. “It sounds just like John Hull. He’ll have one cause after another — humanitarian. Whether it’s on the political fringes or by himself, he’s going to try to improve lives. It’s his brand of assistance. He’ll always be doing what helps people.”

I took Hull’s invitation to visit his ranch seriously and in early January extended a business trip to San Antonio, Texas, to fly to Cancun, Mexico, where Hull said he and Emie would pick me up. Because the Hulls were in El Salvador when they phoned, I had not been able to reach them again until I was in the airport.

“We’re so pleased you’re coming,” Hull said. “We’ll try not to get you kidnapped.”

A few days later I was greeted by Emie Hull in Cancun. Because my flight was a few hours late and people picking up arriving passengers must wait outside, Hull was resting in the leather-seated Chrysler van. I spotted Emie, a pretty Costa Rican woman with strong features and a bright smile, and we began the 100-mile drive through Cancun and into the interior to the Hull ranch. While the roads in this ancient area of Mexico have been improved in recent years, due largely to the tourism industry centering around Cancun and the ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum, still the drive takes nearly three hours, giving us plenty of time to get acquainted as we stopped several times to see the beach, to eat, and to buy fruit, Mexican pastries, and tortillas.

Early Adventures

John Floyd Hull Jr. learned about adventure early in his life. He was born Oct. 20, 1920, in Princeton, Ind., the second of two sons. Both parents had college degrees; his mother taught school, and his father was a county agricul-tural extension agent.

Hull’s father was outspoken against the Ku Klux Klan and, as a result, had a hard time finding a job in Southern Indiana. But he was able to find a job in Dubois County, where John Jr. started school at age 4.

When Hull’s father landed a job as the Vanderburgh County extension agent, the family moved to 715 Washington Ave., and Hull attended Stanley Hall and Bosse High School before enrolling in Evansville College at the age of 17. Always popular, he told me he beat out Vance Hartke, who would later become a U.S. senator, for senior class president.

Hull studied at Evansville College before enrolling in the federal government’s civil pilot training program. He took pilot courses in Evansville and Indianapolis and was selected to take instructor and acrobatic courses.

In 1940, he joined his older brother, J.D., in California where he trained pilots for the U.S. Army Air Corps, the forerunner of the Air Force. There, Hull taught flying for a year before he was drafted by the Army for occupational duty in Germany. Demonstrating the willfulness and resourcefulness that define him, he persuaded the Army to release him and went to Canada to join the Royal Air Force. Hull says he wanted to fly planes instead of being stationed in Germany.

Soon he was flying B-24 bombers from Canada to India. He claims to have held the Guinness World Record for the fastest halfway-around-the-world flight in 1941.

At the expansive Yucatan ranch home he and Emie built six years ago, Hull displays on the walls framed photographs of the pilots he taught in California, a handsome photo of himself flying a B-24, and a framed newspaper clipping from the Evansville Courier Journal, dated Jan. 26, 1936, that featured his mother, Anna Clark Hull. In the story, on the occasion of the death of King George V of England, Hull’s mother recalled 25 years earlier when she was presented at the court of the king and Queen Mary.

Also on the wall of the ranch home is a widescreen high-definition television. A satellite dish, borrowed from their Gibson County property, receives programs broadcast from the U.S. While Emie manages the daily operations of the ranch and its employees — including cowboys, Portofirio and Ruben, and maid, Helda — Hull takes care of business from his recliner and watches Fox News. While his wit is wry and he is quick with a quip, Hull has Parkinson’s disease and a history of heart disease and isn’t as active as he was even at age 70, when, I learned that first night sitting at their dining room table, Hull and Emie fled Nicaragua (prompted by numerous threats on Hull’s life) on foot, climbing over a 4,000- foot mountain in the middle of the night.

Farming Paradise

About 1949, Hull’s father had left his job in Vanderburgh County to work for the Ford Foundation as a foreign agricultural specialist, which led the Hull family to consider making farming investments in other countries. Hull had become interested in the tropics earlier in the war when he flew bombers from Canada to Central America.

During the 1950s, Hull and his father flew to Central America in their own airplane with soil testing kits to test throughout Central America and into South America. They looked for a location with fertile, mineralized soil; a friendly, pro-American culture; and a stable government. They found that in Costa Rica.

In 1969, Hull was the first American rancher to take up residence in northern Costa Rica. At the peak of his farming operations there, Hull amassed a total of about 12,000 acres under management, nearly all of it in ranches bordering the San Juan River along the Nicaraguan border.

Over the years, Hull, and other Americans he persuaded to follow him to Costa Rica (like wealthy Henderson, Ky., farmer and former Army officer, the late George P. Whittington), tamed Costa Rica’s wild frontier, dotting it with cattle, lumber, and citrus industries. Hull became a Costa Rican citizen (today, he holds dual citizenship with the U.S.) and earned the titles of respect: “Don John” or “El Patron” among the locals.

In the Yucatan, Hull still is called “Don John.” At a recent party Emie hosted at the ranch for the schoolchildren of the tiny neighboring village of San Pilar, a little girl asked if she could kiss “Don John.”

“I’ve not had a woman ask to kiss me in 50 years,” Hull joked.

I had read newspaper accounts from the early 1980s suggesting Hull was the most powerful man in Costa Rica. “Was he?” I asked Emie.

“He was. He was a fantastic asset for North America,” Emie says. “John first got very well known for flying in medical supplies.”

Just as his father had an airstrip on their Gibson County property (Evansville residents may remember the sign, “Hull Airport,” along U.S. Highway 41), Hull established grass runways on many of his Costa Rican farms. When neighboring Nicaragua tipped into a full-scale civil war in 1978, Hull began assisting Costa Rican officials by flying in medical supplies and flying out the wounded.

“I’ve grown very fond of the Indians, in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and now here,” Hull says.

Warring in Nicaragua were the Sandinistas and the Contras. The Sandinistas had taken over a repressive regime in 1979, and within a few months, had made known their ties with Cuba and the Soviet Union and vowed to spread communism across Central America. The Contras were formed from dozens of anti-Sandinista battle groups that staged assaults on the new Nicaraguan government from enclaves deep in the eastern Nicaraguan jungle and from neighboring Honduras and Costa Rica, the area of Hull’s ranches.

“The Costa Rican (National) guard were as much against the communists as anyone; so were the El Salvadorans and the Hondurans,” says Hull. “Luckily, there was an awful lot of help from everywhere, especially over in our area — rural people are anti-communist. Your communist agitation comes from people in the big cities, and out there in the North where I was, and the valley rural area, the people donated rice to me and food that I could give to the Contras. The police offered to close any roads I wanted, where they were going to air drop that night. When everyone cooperated, we felt we were stopping the communist movement...”

Robert Parry article on Hull's escape from Costa Rica

Martha Honey article on Costa Rica, La Penca bombing and hULL
War and Peace: Remembrances of a reporter covering Costa Rica in the tumultuous 1980s

Posted: Friday, September 14, 2012
The Tico Times looks back at that troubled era with memories of those who lived it.


Profile of Hull


Costa Rican Legislative Assembly Special Commission
July 10,1989

Appointed to Investigate the Acts Reported on Drug Trafficking Document 10.684 FINAL REPORT San Jose, July 10, 1989 CRS Congressional Research

Service ù The Library of Congress ù Washington, D.C. 20540

(Translation - Spanish)


A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #273 

Martha Honey on OIG report


Subj: US: Don't Ask, Don't Tell
Source: In These Times
Contact: itt@inthesetimes.com
Website: http://www.inthesetimes.com/
Pubdate: May 1998
Author: Martha Honey


In testimony before the House Select Committee on Intelligence on March
16, the Central Intelligence Agency once again suffered a blow to its
reputation. This time the injury was self-inflicted. The CIA's own top
watchdog, Inspector General Frederick P. Hitz, admitted that although
"dozens of individuals and a number of companies" involved in the agency's
covert war against Nicaragua during the '80s were suspected drug
traffickers, the CIA had legal authority to ignore their crimes as long as
they were helping contra rebels fight the left-wing Sandinista government.

Hitz revealed that between 1982 and 1995 the spy agency had an agreement
with the Justice Department, allowing it to ignore drug trafficking by its
"agents, assets and non-staff employees." The directive, known as a
"Memorandum of Understanding" (MOU), did not exempt the agency's full-time,
career employees, who are known as CIA "officials." However, the agency did
not have to tell the Justice Department about the criminal activities of
"agents" or "assets" -- terms used interchangeably to refer to its paid and
unpaid spies. Also exempt were CIA contractors, such as pilots, accountants
and military trainers, who supplied the agency with specific goods and
services rather than intelligence. "There was no official requirement to
report on allegations of drug trafficking with respect to non-employees of
the agency," Hitz told the committee.

Hitz said this agreement, which he termed "a rather odd history," has since
been changed. But it was not until 1995 -- five years after the end of the
war in Nicaragua and three years into Clinton's first term -- that the
agreement was revised to include agents, assets and contractors as
"employees" whose suspected criminal activities, such as drug trafficking,
must be reported to the Justice Department.

Disclosure of this agreement is another black eye for the CIA at a time
when the agency is trying to distance itself from persistent allegations of
drug trafficking, including the provocative August 1996 "Dark Alliance"
series in the San Jose Mercury News. Veteran journalists, investigators,
policy analysts and members of Congress interviewed by In These Times all
say they were unaware of the directive. "This previously unknown agreement
enabled the CIA to keep known drug smugglers out of jail and on the payroll
of the American taxpayer," says Peter Kornbluh, a senior analyst with the
National Security Archive, who has written extensively on the CIA and the
war in Nicaragua. "CIA officials realized collaborating with pro-contra
drug smugglers was important to the goal of overthrowing the Sandinistas
and it sought protection from the Justice Department."

In 1982, when the MOU was implemented, the United States was gearing up for
a covert war in Central America aimed at toppling the Sandinistas. Over the
next eight years, the CIA hired scores of Latin American, Cuban and
American spies, as well as dozens of aviation, fishing and real estate
companies, to support the contras. Simultaneously, cocaine began flooding
into the United States, fueling the crack epidemic that has devastated Los
Angeles, Baltimore and other cities.

David MacMichael, who was a senior CIA officer in the early '80s, says that
while he was not aware of this MOU, he does recall that "in 1981, [CIA
Director William] Casey went to attorney general [William French] Smith
looking for a blanket exemption from prosecution for CIA officers for
crimes committed in the line of duty." Smith demurred, he says.

Since the mid-'80s, a spate of media reports, congressional inquiries, and
court cases in the United States and Central America have linked contra
officials and collaborators with cocaine traffickers, money launderers and
various front companies. Many of those implicated also claimed or were
alleged to be working for the CIA. In 1996, the accusations erupted anew
with the publication of Gary Webb's Mercury News series, which detailed how
a Nicaraguan drug ring used black street gangs to sell crack cocaine in Los
Angeles. Over the years, the CIA has repeatedly denied allegations that it
dealt with drug dealers.

Those denials have been championed by Washington Post reporter Walter
Pincus, a specialist in national security affairs and a leading critic of
the Mercury News series. Pincus, who has yet to report on Hitz's testimony,
says he had not been previously aware the directive. "I am still trying to
get a clarification of it," he says, adding that it may not be very
significant. "All it admits is that what they were doing was legal. On
occasion they were dealing with people who may or may not have been dealing
in drugs."

In December 1985, reporters Robert Parry and Brian Barger wrote the first
story tying the CIA's contra operation to cocaine smuggling. The piece for
The Associated Press angered Reagan administration officials, who tried
unsuccessfully to block its publication. During the contra war, most of the
media either ignored or discredited the drug trafficking reports. Parry
maintains that his pursuit of this story helped cost him jobs at AP and
Newsweek. "Historically we were correct," Parry says. "We pointed to a
serious problem in a timely fashion, and we were all punished and
ridiculed. The reporters who put this story down have gone on to fame and

Parry calls Hitz's disclosure "extremely significant." "It amounts to a
blank check for dealing with drug traffickers," he says. "The agency is
admitting that it engaged in covering up drug crimes by the contras and
that this was legal."

Major media also ignored the 1989 findings of Sen. John Kerry's (D-Mass.)
Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations. The
Kerry committee's two-year investigation turned up substantial evidence of
cocaine smuggling and money laundering by persons connected to the contras
and the CIA. Among the conclusions of its 1,166-page report:

*"Drug traffickers used the contra war and their ties to the contras as a
cover for their criminal enterprises in Honduras and Costa Rica. Assistance
from the drug lords was crucial to the contras, and the traffickers in turn
promoted and protected their operations by associating with the contra

*"Drug traffickers provided support to the contras and used the supply
network of the contras. Contras knowingly received both financial and
material assistance from the drug traffickers."

*"Drug traffickers contributed cash, weapons, planes, pilots, air supply
services and other materials to the contras."

*"In each case, one or another U.S. government agency had information
regarding these matters either while they were occurring, or immediately

The report was all but ignored by the three major networks and buried in
the back pages of the major newspapers. Combined, the stories in the
Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times totalled less than
2,000 words.

At the March congressional hearing, Hitz explained that the MOU between the
agency and the Justice Department was modified slightly in 1986,
prohibiting the CIA from paying those suspected of involvement in drug
trafficking. The CIA, however, could legally continue to use suspected drug
smugglers and not report their activities, as long as they received no
money from the agency.

But for major drug traffickers, being allowed to operate under the CIA's
umbrella was payment enough. The Kerry committee's report, along with most
press accounts of the CIA-cocaine connection, alleges that the contras
accepted money and supplies from drug smugglers and money launderers -- not
the other way around.

John Mattes, a young public defender in Miami in the mid-80s, stumbled upon
the allegations of drug trafficking by Cuban-Americans working with the
contras. Mattes, who represented several cocaine traffickers and
soldiers-of-fortune who testified before the Kerry committee, says
traffickers were seeking protection, not money, from the CIA. "There was a
marriage of convenience between the contras and the coke smugglers," he
says. The smugglers had cash, planes and pilots, while the Contras had
intelligence, airstrips and, most importantly, unimpeded access to the
United States. "And that, to a drug smuggler," he says, "is worth all the
tea in China."

During the '80s, the CIA conducted several internal inquiries and announced
it found no substantial evidence that contra leaders and other persons
working for the CIA had connections to cocaine traffickers. Then, the "Dark
Alliance" series touched off a volatile, nationwide controversy over the
agency's role in introducing crack to Southern California street gangs. To
help quell public and congressional anger, both the CIA and Justice
Department launched separate internal investigations. Both reports were
scheduled to be released last December, but were withheld at the last
minute without explanation.

Attorney General Janet Reno subsequently announced that she had blocked the
release of the Justice Department report (rumored to be the more
substantial and significant of the two) for unspecified "law enforcement
reasons." Justice Department sources told in These Times that one of the
people named in the report is a government witness in an ongoing criminal
case, whose identity must be protected. However, Jack Blum, a Washington
attorney and investigator for the Kerry committee, doubts that the Justice
Department will ever release its report. Blum says law enforcement
officials often claim disclosures will jeopardize ongoing cases, and he
wonders why the report was not simply edited to protect the informant's

In late January, the CIA released a declassified version of volume one of
its two-part report. Entitled "The California Story," this 149-page report
focuses on the cocaine network described in the "Dark Alliance" series,
which detailed the activities of two Nicaraguan drug smugglers, Danilo
Blandon and Juan Norwin Meneses. In the early '80s, Meneses and Blandon
supplied large quantities of powder cocaine to Ricky Ross, an
African-American drug dealer, who then turned it into crack for sale to two
Los Angeles gangs. Webb alleges that the Nicaraguans gave some of their
drug profits to top contra officials who were working with the CIA.

Hitz called the CIA's 18-month investigation "the most comprehensive and
exhaustive ever conducted" by the agency. He told the congressional
committee: "We found absolutely no evidence to indicate that the CIA as an
organization or its employees were involved in any conspiracy to bring
drugs into the United States," But, taken in conjunction with what Hitz
said about the MOU, "employees" here may pertain only to CIA career
officials -- not agents, assets or contractors.

Webb, whose reporting touched off the controversy, describes the report as
"schizophrenic." "The Executive Summary says there's no CIA involvement,"
says Webb. "The actual report shows there are CIA fingerprints all over
this drug operation."

For example, upon the release of volume one, CIA Director George Tenet
proclaimed that the Agency "left no stone unturned" in reaching its
conclusion that the CIA had "no direct or indirect" ties to Blandon and
Meneses. Yet, the report contains a compendium of indirect links between
the CIA's contra army and drug traffickers. The most obvious admissions
contained in the report include:

- --An October 22, 1982, cable from the CIA's Directorate of Operations that
reports, "There are indications of links between (a U.S. religious
organization) and two Nicaraguan counter-revolutionary groups...These links
involve an exchange in (the United States) of narcotics for arms." The
report goes on to say that there was to be a meeting in Costa Rica of
contras, several U.S. citizens and Renato Pena, a convicted drug dealer who
was part of Meneses' operation. Astonishingly, a November 3, 1982, cable
from CIA headquarters says that the agency decided "not to pursue the
matter further" because of "the apparent participation of U.S. persons

- --The CIA directly intervened in the 1983 "Frogman Case," in which San
Francisco police seized 430 pounds of cocaine and arrested 50 individuals,
including a number of Nicaraguans. Because the CIA feared the agency's
connections to some of the contras involved had "potential for disaster,"
an unidentified CIA lawyer convinced the U.S. Attorney in San Francisco and
Justice Department officials to cancel plans to take depositions from
contra leaders in Costa Rica and to return $36,800 seized in the drug raid
to one of the contra factions. "There are sufficient factual details which
would cause certain damage to our image and program in Central America,"
CIA assistant general counsel Lee Strickland wrote in a August 22, 1984,
memo quoted in the report.

- --Blandon and Meneses met on various occasions with the contras' military
commander, Enrique Bermudez, who worked for the CIA. At one meeting in
Honduras in 1982, Bermudez, arguing that "the ends justify the means,"
asked the pair for help "in raising funds and obtaining equipment" and arms
for the contras. After the meeting, a group of contras escorted Blandon and
Meneses to the Tegucigalpa airport, where the pair was arrested by Honduran
authorities because they were carrying $100,000 in cash, profits from a
Bolivian drug deal. The contras intervened and the money was returned to
Blandon and Meneses. The report inexplicably concludes that there is no
evidence that Bermudez knew the duo were drug traffickers, even though CIA
cables show the agency was aware that Meneses had been a "drug king-pin"
since the '70s.

At the congressional hearings, lawmakers cited these and other portions of
the report, questioning the agency's capacity to investigate itself. Among
the most vocal critics were Los Angeles Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters and
Juanita Millender-McDonald, whose districts have been the epicenter of the
crack epidemic. Waters charged that the report was "fraught with
contradictions and illogical conclusions," saying that the CIA's cleverly
worded denials of links to drug traffickers in Southern California "defies
the evidence."

Volume two of the report, which covers the entire Nicaraguan war, was
scheduled to be turned over to the House and Senate intelligence committees
in late March. But, as of mid-April, CIA officials told In These Times, the
report had not been released to Congress. In his congressional testimony,
Hitz said that volume two will contain "a detailed treatment of what was
known to CIA regarding dozens of people and a number of companies connected
in some fashion to the contra program or the contra movement, that were the
subject of any sort of drug trafficking allegations."

Previewing the report, Hitz admitted: "There are instances where the CIA
did not, in an expeditious or consistent fashion, cut off relationships
with individuals supporting the contra program, who are alleged to have
engaged in drug trafficking activity or take action to resolve the
allegation." Several congressional sources say that they suspect the report
will never be released.While the precise wording of the MOU has not been
made public, some say the directive may be considerably broader than
implied at the hearing. At one point in his testimony, Hitz said the MOU
applied to "intelligence agencies," indicating that it also may include the
dozen or so U.S. agencies involved in intelligence work, not just the CIA.
Hitz declined requests for an interview.

But the CIA may not be able to get away without further disclosures. The
National Security Archive and other public interest groups, as well as
Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Waters, are mounting a campaign for the
declassification and release of the text of the MOU, the Justice Department
report, volume two of the CIA report, tens of thousands of pages of
documents and hundreds of interviews compiled by the two agencies in the
course of their internal investigations. Attorney Blum warns that CIA
officials who testified before the Kerry committee may have perjured
themselves in denying they knew of any links between the CIA, the contras
and cocaine traffickers. And investigative journalists Parry and Webb,
among others, say Hitz's admission may be the smoking gun that conclusively
proves that the CIA colluded with and then concealed its involvement with
cocaine traffickers.

Martha Honey is director of the Peace and Security program at the Institute
for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. During the '80s, she covered the war
in Nicaragua as a journalist in Costa Rica

A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #274 
Great BCCI article...


The Senator Who Exposed The Criminal Bankers

by Lucy Komisar

Kerry's Contra Cocaine Investigation

One gets an eerie sense of deja vu watching John Kerry battle the Bush clan. He's done it once before, against the old man, President Bush's father, though many voters have probably forgotten. That battle involved the first Bush administration's attempt to put the lid on an investigation that connected a worldwide criminal bank to narco-traffickers, terrorists, and to Middle East money men who helped the Bush family make piles of cash. Those links connect to people now on the U.S. post-9/11 terrorist list.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Kerry fought to expose an international criminal bank, BCCI -- the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. The bank was run by a Pakistani, working with Persian Gulf managers who operated through a network of secret offshore centers to hide their operations from the world's bank examiners. They weren't, however, hidden from the CIA, which not only knew what the bank was doing, but used the bank to funnel cash through its Islamabad and other Pakistani branches to CIA client Osama bin Laden, part of the $2 billion Washington sent to the Afghani mujahideen. The operation gave bin Laden an education in black finance. CIA director William Casey himself met with BCCI founder Agha Hasan Abedi. The CIA also paid its own agents through the bank and used BCCI to fund black ops all over the world.

Kerry took on not only the Bush clan and its friends, but the CIA, and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. This is not irrelevant history, but important to examine, because it reveals a lot about Kerry and how he might have responded to terrorism or other global criminal enterprises. Kerry's record shows that he took on powerful political and bureaucratic interests, was a tenacious investigator, and savvy about international crime and money flows, which is crucial in the fight against terrorism.

Against the opposition of powerful Republicans and Democrats, and in light of a lack of cooperation from a very politicized Justice Department and stonewalling by the CIA, Kerry worked with investigators and ran Senate hearings that exposed the bank's shadowy multi-billion-dollar scams and precipitated its end.


Find other articles in the Monitor archives about


BCCI was founded in 1972 by Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi and initially capitalized by Sheik Zayed of Abu Dhabi. It incorporated in the bank secrecy jurisdiction of Luxembourg but operated out of London. During two decades, it expanded to 73 countries worldwide, with nearly a million depositors with accounts totaling more than $10 billion. When the bank was finally shut down nearly 20 years later, between $9.5 and $15 billion -- the analysts differ -- had been lost or stolen, making this the biggest bank fraud in the world.


The bank had carved out a niche: it was the banker to the bad guys. One U.S. indictment would say that money laundering was BCCI's "corporate strategy." BCCI survived for two decades because it floated on the waves of the offshore system, with key booking operations in Luxembourg and the Cayman Islands, where bank regulators couldn't go. Its Grand Cayman "bank-within-a-bank" was just a post office box. The bank also had friends in high places in the U.S. and, of course, the wink and nod of the CIA and the Reagan-Bush administration, which depended on its services. Over the years, BCCI was involved with:

  • Drug cartels   As early as 1985, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the IRS found that BCCI was involved in laundering heroin money, with numerous branches in Colombia to handle accounts for the drug cartels. It ran accounts for the traffickers' protector, Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, as well as for the drug kingpins of Asia's Golden Crescent, including Burmese heroin warlord Khun Sa, and for drug trafficking Afghanis and Pakistanis.


  • Illegal arms traders   For the Afghanis, the rule was "drugs out, American and British arms in." Clients also included Middle East terrorist Abu Nidal, who used bank financing to get weapons; the sellers of nuclear technology to Pakistan; and Syrian drug trafficker, terrorist, and arms trafficker Monzer Al-Kassar. The bank served international organized crime involved in extortion, bribery, kidnapping and murder, and ran accounts for Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Haiti's Jean-Claude Duvalier, Liberian strongman Samuel Doe and other thieving heads of state who needed to hide their stolen cash.


  • The Iran/Contra scandal   BCCI had a role in the infamous scandal of the Reagan years. The CIA told Noriega to use the bank for the payoffs he got for helping National Security Council (NSC) staffer Oliver North set up shell companies and secret bank accounts in Panama to illegally move funds to the Contras in Nicaragua and arms to Iran in 1985-86. North had arranged to illegally sell 1,250 U.S. Tow missiles to Iran in exchange for a promise that Teheran would press militants in Lebanon to release American hostages. Adnan Khashoggi, a Saudi middleman and fixer, used a BCCI account to move $20 million for the illegal arms and money plot. BCCI prepared phony documents for the arms sale, and checks signed by North were drawn on the Paris branch of BCCI, which "had no records" of the account when U.S. law enforcement later sought them. The profits were sent to Nicaragua's right wing Contra rebels, violating a congressional ban on such aid.


  • Saddam Hussein   During the Reagan-Bush support of Iraq as an adversary to Iran, BCCI funneled millions of dollars to Baghdad's banker in the U.S., the Atlanta branch of the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, (an Italian bank), so that from 1985 to 1989 it could make $4 billion in secret loans to Iraq -- money for arms. BNL was a client of Kissinger Associates, and Henry Kissinger was on the bank's international advisory board along with Brent Scowcroft, who would become Bush Sr.'s National Security Advisor.

BCCI's global connections also helped bring private profit to the Bushes. Former Senate investigator Jack Blum told me, "This whole collection of people were wrapped up in the Bush crowd in Texas." Prominent Saudis played a key role: Khalid Bin Mahfouz, head of National Commercial Bank in Saudi Arabia, and a major investor and BCCI board member; Kamal Adham, brother-in-law of the late Saudi King Faisal, former head of Saudi intelligence and a major shareholder and frontman for BCCI, and; Ghaith Rashad Pharaon, a BCCI shareholder and front man for the bank's illegal purchase of three U.S. banks.

Then there was James Bath, a Texas businessman, who owned Houston's Main Bank with Bin Mahfouz and Pharaon. When George W. Bush set up Arbusto Energy Inc. in 1979 and 1980, Bath provided some of the financing. As it turned out, Bush was not much of a businessman, and when Arbusto needed a bailout, political connections eventually got him a buyout by Harken Energy Corp., which paid him $600,000 in stock and a $120,000-a-year consultancy.

BCCI-connected friends were there again with money to help when Harken got into trouble. Arkansas investment banker Jackson Stephens in 1987 worked out Harken's debts by getting $25 million financing from Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), a partner with BCCI in the Swiss Banque de Commerce et de Placements. As part of that deal, a board seat was given to Harken shareholder Sheikh Abdullah Taha Bakhsh, whose chief banker was BCCI shareholder Bin Mahfouz.

Were the Bushes putting their financial interests ahead of American security? Given the Bush links to BCCI, it's not surprising that the Bush administration tried to smother the investigation and prosecution of the bank.

It might have succeeded, were it not for New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau -- and the junior Senator from Massachussetts, John Kerry.


Kerry The Investigator

As a former prosecutor, Kerry knew a lot about the workings of financial crime. Kerry pointed out how billions of dollars looted from U.S. savings and loans in the 1980s -- after Ronald Reagan deregulated the thrift industry -- had been stashed in secret offshore accounts. After he became head of the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations, Kerry had wanted to look into cocaine trafficking by Contras fighting the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and the connection to Oliver North's illegal offshore Contra-support operation. So, in 1986, Kerry hired Washington lawyer Jack Blum to head the investigation.


Sen. John Kerry
Investigator Jack Blum and Senator Kerry during the BCCI investigations

As an investigator for Senator Frank Church's subcommittee on multinational corporations, Blum had exposed the Lockheed bribes and ITT's attempts to destabilize the government of Salvador Allende in Chile.

"The Foreign Relations Committee was looking at the relationship between drug trafficking and arms dealing and the way we run foreign policy," says Blum. "'Did we ignore all the stuff going on to support the war in Nicaragua?' We got into the issue of money laundering." Blum said he "stumbled across Lee Ritch," who told the panel, "I used to launder my money in the Cayman Islands. The U.S. wised up, and the bankers told me to shift to Panama. In Panama, I'm told the only guy to talk to is Noriega. He sends me to BCCI."

Blum says, "We go poking around. I found a guy who had worked for BCCI. I met him in Miami. He said, 'That's their major line of work. They're a bunch of criminals.' He goes on to say that in addition to handling drug money, they were managing Noriega's personal finances and that the bankers who did that lived in Miami." Noriega even carried a BCCI Visa credit card.

So Blum subpoenaed that information. He said, "There is a subplot between us and the federal government and prosecutors. We find out about coming arrests for money laundering [in an ongoing Tampa drug trafficking investigation], but the feds want to make only a limited case in Tampa; they don't want to investigate other ramifications. Their story is they had their case and didn't want it messed up with extraneous stuff. The notion the other stuff was extraneous boggles the mind."

Blum began poking deeper and came across the CIA standing in the shadows. He found that during the 1980s, the CIA had prepared hundreds of reports that discussed BCCI's criminal connections -- drug trafficking, money laundering -- and its control of Washington's First American Bank, part of an illegal plot to get into the U.S. banking system. He also found that this was accomplished with the help of major U.S. figures, including former Treasury Secretary Bert Lance, former Defense Secretary Clark Clifford, former U.S. Sen. Stuart Symington, ex-federal bank regulators, and former and current local, state and federal legislators.

The CIA provided its reports to Treasury Secretary Donald Regan but not to the prosecutors in Tampa. The Treasury and Customs departments also sat on evidence. Kerry tried to get the Bush Justice Department to expand the Tampa investigation or to turn its information over to the FBI or other agencies. It refused.

Blum told me, "We started with laundering drug money, but then pursued it much further and got in testimony a pretty good layout of the criminal nature of the bank. Having done that, we wrote a report and said the matter needs further investigation. But the Justice Department doesn't pick up on any of the clues. I talked to them. I got a leading figure in the bank to turn evidence to the government, which didn't want to listen. I taped him for three days with undercover agents in a hotel room in Miami; the government didn't transcribe the tapes."

The chief Customs undercover agent who handled the drug sting against BCCI was so disgusted, he quit. The Justice Department ordered key witnesses not to cooperate with Kerry, and it refused to produce documents subpoenaed by his subcommittee. The CIA also stonewalled or lied to the Kerry investigators.

As a junior senator, Kerry was further hampered because his subcommittee mandate was limited to looking into terrorism and drugs. But even that investigation was bothering too many important people, so Clayborne Pell, a Democratic senator, shut it down.

Then the Justice Department closed the Tampa case with a plea bargain that let BCCI off the hook. Kerry was furious. He thought the crooked bank should be shut down. He said the deal kept the bank alive and discouraged bank officials from telling the U.S. what they knew about BCCI's larger criminality, including its ownership of First American and other U.S. banks. However, the bank relied on its friends. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) defended the plea bargain on the Senate floor, and then asked the bank to lend $10 million to a friend.

Following the plea agreement, the Justice Department stopped investigating BCCI for about 18 months. It even lobbied state regulators to keep BCCI open -- after being urged to do that by former Justice Department personnel working for BCCI.

Kerry tried in 1990 and 1991 to get an investigation by the Senate Banking Committee, chaired by Democrat Donald Riegle. But Riegle and four of the other members of his committee had gotten money from Charles Keating, head of Lincoln Savings and Loan, who was later convicted of fraud, and they weren't interested in drawing attention to crooked banks.

Finally, Kerry got permission to run a one-day subcommittee hearing in May 1991. Then he started holding public hearings through the banking committee, which wouldn't staff them; he had to use his own people. "Riegle considered himself a gentlemen, because he let Kerry do that," says Blum. "Riegle is probably the most misnamed U.S. senator."

The bank's friends prevented more Kerry hearings, says Blum. "They got it out of Foreign Relations," he recalled. "We later learned that BCCI, between September 1988 and July 1991 when the bank closed, spent $26 million on lawyers and lobbyists trying to keep themselves in business. They hired people on both sides to shut [the investigations] down."

But, Blum adds, "They didn't stop me from going to the New York County DA's office with Kerry's blessing to assure a prosecution would ensue." Blum went to see New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and told him about the Justice Department's refusal to investigate BCCI's involvement in drug money laundering and other crimes. The Justice Department and the Federal Reserve, run by Paul Volcker, refused to aid the DA's investigation.

However, Morgenthau got a grand jury indictment of BCCI in July 1991. It said the bank and its founders had defrauded depositors, falsified bank records to hide illegal money laundering, committed millions of dollars in larcenies and paid off public officials. It charged that BCCI had been a criminal enterprise since 1972 and had paid millions of dollars in bribes to central bankers or other financial officials in a dozen developing countries. Morgenthau named Ghaith Pharaon as a front man for BCCI who had gotten a secret loan from the bank to invest in three U.S. banks.

The New York Fed -- not Washington -- also took action. It coordinated an action on the fourth of July weekend 1991 to shut BCCI down. And, finally, the DA's investigation forced Washington to act, though it kept the case as limited as possible. Soon after, Assistant Attorney General Robert S. Mueller III (now head of the FBI) oversaw the indictment by a federal grand jury of Democratic influence-peddler and former Johnson Defense Secretary Clark Clifford and his protege Robert Altman -- the top officials of First American Bank -- for misleading the Federal Reserve Board about BCCI's secret control of the bank and obstructing the Fed's inquiries into BCCI.

Altman got off after convincing the jurors that he -- an executive worth multi-millions of dollars in pay and stock benefits -- didn't know who the bank's true owners were. Clifford evaded trial because of the Pinochet defense: his health.

In September, the Justice Department came up with an indictment of top BCCI officials which focused only on drug-money laundering, not on fraud against the bank's depositors. It ignored leads, witnesses and evidence that would have revealed the bank's large scale frauds -- and exposed CIA and Reagan-Bush use of the bank.

"When I first looked at it, I thought there's something nefarious or embarrassing -- what is it? Their own incompetence? Worse? You never know the answer," says Blum. "There was the Fed, which looked stupider than hell, the Office of the Comptroller who were stupid beyond comprehension. The then head of CIA said, yes, the CIA had used the bank. Everything you touched about that bank led to somebody ugly. Margaret Thatcher's husband and maybe son, the prime minister of Canada, a 'who's who of politics and the worlds of skullduggery."

In July 1992, a New York County grand jury indicted Khalid Bin Mahfouz and an aide for defrauding BCCI and its depositors of as much as $300 million. But Bin Mahfouz was in Saudi Arabia, out of reach, and in the end Morgenthau settled for a fine. The Fed fined Bin Mahfouz $170 million. The Justice Department didn't go after Bin Mahfouz at all.

The Kerry Committee report issued in 1992 was damning. It said that the White House knew about BCCI's criminal activities, that the U.S. intelligence agencies used it for secret banking and that BCCI routinely paid off American public officials. Among the Kerry Report's major findings:


  • Federal prosecutors handling the Tampa drug money laundering indictment of BCCI did not use the information they collected to focus on -- or report to federal agencies -- BCCI's other crimes, including its secret, illegal ownership of First American Bank.


  • The Justice, Treasury and Customs departments failed to support or aid investigators and prosecutors.


  • Following lobbying by former Justice officials working for BCCI, the U.S. attorney in Tampa accepted a plea agreement that kept BCCI alive and discouraged bank officials from revealing other crimes.


  • CIA chief Casey and the agency knew, by early 1985, a lot about what BCCI was up to and didn't inform the Justice Department or the Federal Reserve.


  • "After the CIA knew that BCCI was, as an institution, a fundamentally corrupt criminal enterprise, it continued to use both BCCI and First American, BCCI's secretly held U.S. subsidiary, for CIA operations."


  • The Federal Reserve approved the first hidden BCCI takeover despite evidence the bank was behind it because it was swayed by influence-peddlers such as Clifford and because the CIA and Treasury failed to raise warnings about what they knew.

There's a lot about BCCI that outsiders will never know. Once the investigations started, there were seven fires in the fireproof London warehouses where BCCI stored records. In one of them, four firemen were killed.

Kerry's experience fighting the Washington establishment over BCCI gave him a profound education in the workings of the insider Washington power and corruption that support corporate and organized crime and weaken the country's ability to counter terrorism. He showed that he has what it takes to stand up to the big-money special interests that don't want the system to change.

During this presidential campaign, Kerry talked a lot about his service in Vietnam, but he didn't take credit now for exposing BCCI, perhaps because he thought it was too complicated for the American public to understand the scandal. Yet, more than physical courage, what the U.S. needs is guts and smarts and the resolution and courage to fight scourges that range from terrorism to international crime to corporate corruption and tax evasion.

Jack Blum, who was not involved in the Kerry campaign, says: "There has never been a guy who has run for president who has, hands-on, known the kinds of substantive things he knows about the world of international crime, about banking and international bank regulation and finance, about the interconnectedness of the world finance system and how various intelligence agencies play into it. He is uniquely qualified."



Comments? Send a letter to the editor.

Albion Monitor November 3, 2004 (http://www.albionmonitor.com)

A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


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Reply with quote  #275 
Kerry's Contra Cocaine Investigation

by Robert Parry

The Senator Who Exposed The Criminal Bankers

In December 1985, when Brian Barger and I wrote a groundbreaking story for the Associated Press about Nicaraguan Contra rebels smuggling cocaine into the United States, one U.S. senator put his political career on the line to follow up on our disturbing findings. His name was John Kerry.

Yet, over the past year, even as Kerry's heroism as a young Navy officer in Vietnam has become a point of controversy, this act of political courage by a freshman senator has gone virtually unmentioned, even though -- or perhaps because -- it marked Kerry's first challenge to the Bush family.

In early 1986, the 42-year-old Massachusetts Democrat stood almost alone in the U.S. Senate demanding answers about the emerging evidence that CIA-backed Contras were filling their coffers by collaborating with drug traffickers then flooding U.S. borders with cocaine from South America.

Kerry assigned members of his personal Senate staff to pursue the allegations. He also persuaded the Republican majority on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to request information from the Reagan-Bush administration about the alleged Contra drug traffickers.


Challenging Reagan

In taking on the inquiry, Kerry challenged President Ronald Reagan at the height of his power, at a time he was calling the Contras the "moral equals of the Founding Fathers." Kerry's questions represented a particular embarrassment to Vice President George H.W. Bush, whose responsibilities included overseeing U.S. drug-interdiction policies.

Sen. John Kerry
Kerry holding Congressional hearings in the late 1980s


Kerry took on the investigation though he didn't have much support within his own party. By 1986, congressional Democrats had little stomach left for challenging the Reagan-Bush Contra war. Not only had Reagan won a historic landslide in 1984, amassing a record 54 million votes, but his conservative allies were targeting individual Democrats viewed as critical of the Contras fighting to oust Nicaragua's leftist Sandinista government. Most Washington journalists were backing off, too, for fear of getting labeled "Sandinista apologists" or worse.

Kerry's probe infuriated Reagan's White House, which was pushing Congress to restore military funding for the Contras. Some in the administration also saw Kerry's investigation as a threat to the secrecy surrounding the Contra supply operation, which was being run illegally by White House aide Oliver North and members of Bush's vice presidential staff.

Through most of 1986, Kerry's staff inquiry advanced against withering political fire. His investigators interviewed witnesses in Washington, contacted Contra sources in Miami and Costa Rica, and tried to make sense of sometimes convoluted stories of intrigue from the shadowy worlds of covert warfare and the drug trade.

Kerry's chief Senate staff investigators were Ron Rosenblith, Jonathan Winer and Dick McCall. Rosenblith, a Massachusetts political strategist from Kerry's victorious 1984 campaign, braved both political and personal risks as he traveled to Central America for face-to-face meetings with witnesses. Winer, a lawyer also from Massachusetts, charted the inquiry's legal framework and mastered its complex details. McCall, an experienced congressional staffer, brought Capitol Hill savvy to the investigation.

Behind it all was Kerry, who combined a prosecutor's sense for sniffing out criminality and a politician's instinct for pushing the limits. The Kerry whom I met during this period was a complex man who balanced a rebellious idealism with a determination not to burn his bridges to the political establishment.


In 1998, Kerry's trailblazing investigation was vindicated by the CIA

The Reagan administration did everything it could to thwart Kerry's investigation, including attempting to discredit witnesses, stonewalling the Senate when it requested evidence and assigning the CIA to monitor Kerry's probe. But it couldn't stop Kerry and his investigators from discovering the explosive truth: that the Contra war was permeated with drug traffickers who gave the Contras money, weapons and equipment in exchange for help in smuggling cocaine into the United States. Even more damningly, Kerry found that U.S. government agencies knew about the Contra-drug connection, but turned a blind eye to the evidence in order to avoid undermining a top Reagan-Bush foreign policy initiative.

The Reagan administration's tolerance and protection of this dark underbelly of the Contra war represented one of the most sordid scandals in the history of U.S. foreign policy. Yet when Kerry's bombshell findings were released in 1989, they were greeted by the mainstream press with disdain and disinterest. The New York Times, which had long denigrated the Contra-drug allegations, buried the story of Kerry's report on its inside pages, as did the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. For his tireless efforts, Kerry earned a reputation as a reckless investigator. Newsweek's Conventional Wisdom Watch dubbed Kerry a "randy conspiracy buff."

But almost a decade later, in 1998, Kerry's trailblazing investigation was vindicated by the CIA's own inspector general, who found that scores of Contra operatives were implicated in the cocaine trade and that U.S. agencies had looked the other way rather than reveal information that could have embarrassed the Reagan-Bush administration.

Even after the CIA's admissions, the national press corps never fully corrected its earlier dismissive treatment. That would have meant the New York Times and other leading publications admitting they had bungled their coverage of one of the worst scandals of the Reagan-Bush era.

The warm and fuzzy glow that surrounded Ronald Reagan after he left office also discouraged clarification of the historical record. Taking a clear-eyed look at crimes inside Reagan's Central American policies would have required a tough reassessment of the 40th president, which to this day the media has been unwilling to do. So this formative period of Kerry's political evolution has remained nearly unknown to the American electorate.


"Two days' driving time from Harlingen, Texas"

Two decades later, it's hard to recall the intensity of the administration's support for the Contras. They were hailed as courageous front-line fighters, like the Mujahedin in Afghanistan, defending the free world from the Soviet empire. Reagan famously warned that Nicaragua was only "two days' driving time from Harlingen, Texas."

Yet, for years, Contra units had gone on bloody rampages through Nicaraguan border towns, raping women, torturing captives and executing civilian officials of the Sandinista government. In private, Reagan referred to the Contras as "vandals," according to Duane Clarridge, the CIA officer in charge of the operation, in his memoir, "A Spy for All Seasons." But in public, the Reagan administration attacked anyone who pointed out the Contras' corruption and brutality.

The Contras also proved militarily inept, causing the CIA to intervene directly and engage in warlike acts, such as mining Nicaragua's harbors. In 1984, these controversies caused the Congress to forbid U.S. military assistance to the Contras -- the Boland Amendment -- forcing the rebels to search for new funding sources.

Drug money became the easiest way to fill the depleted Contra coffers. The documentary evidence is now irrefutable that a number of Contra units both in Costa Rica and Honduras opened or deepened ties to Colombian cartels and other regional drug traffickers. The White House also scrambled to find other ways to keep the Contras afloat, turning to third countries, such as Saudi Arabia, and eventually to profits from clandestine arms sales to Iran.

The secrets began to seep out in the mid-1980s. In June 1985, as a reporter for the Associated Press, I wrote the first story mentioning Oliver North's secret Contra supply operation. By that fall, my AP colleague Brian Barger and I stumbled onto evidence that some of the Contras were supplementing their income by helping traffickers transship cocaine through Central America. As we dug deeper, it became clear that the drug connection implicated nearly all the major Contra organizations.

The AP published our story about the Contra-cocaine evidence on Dec. 20, 1985, describing Contra units "engaged in cocaine smuggling, using some of the profits to finance their war against Nicaragua's leftist government." The story provoked little coverage elsewhere in the U.S. national press corps. But it pricked the interest of a newly elected U.S. senator, John Kerry. A former prosecutor, Kerry also heard about Contra law violations from a Miami-based federal public defender named John Mattes, who had been assigned a case that touched on Contra gunrunning. Mattes' sister had worked for Kerry in Massachusetts.

By spring 1986, Kerry had begun a limited investigation deploying some of his personal staff in Washington. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry managed to gain some cooperation from the panel's Republican leadership, partly because the "war on drugs" was then a major political issue. Besides looking into Contra drug trafficking, Kerry launched the first investigation into the allegations of weapons smuggling and misappropriation of U.S. government funds that were later exposed as part of North's illegal operation to supply the Contras.

Kerry's staff soon took an interest in a federal probe in Miami headed by assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Feldman. Talking to some of the same Contra supporters whom we had interviewed for the AP's Contra-cocaine story, Feldman had pieced together the outlines of North's secret network.


Warning to Ollie

In a panicked memo dated April 7, 1986, one of North's Costa Rican-based private operatives, Robert Owen, warned North that prosecutor Feldman had shown Ambassador Lewis Tambs "a diagram with your name underneath and John [Hull]'s underneath mine, then a line connecting the various resistance groups in C.R. [Costa Rica]. Feldman stated they were looking at the 'big picture' and not only looking at possible violations of the Neutrality Act, but a possible unauthorized use of government funds." (For details, see my "Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press and 'Project Truth.'")

John Hull was an American farmer with a ranch in Costa Rica near the Nicaraguan border. According to witnesses, Contras had used Hull's property for cocaine transshipments. (Hull was later accused of drug trafficking by Costa Rican authorities, but fled the country before facing trial. He returned to the United States.)

On April 10, 1986, Barger and I reported on the AP wire that the U.S. Attorney's office in Miami was examining allegations of Contra gunrunning and drug trafficking. The AP story rattled nerves inside the Reagan administration. On an unrelated trip to Miami, Attorney General Edwin Meese pulled U.S. Attorney Leon Kellner aside and asked about the existence of this Contra probe.

Back in Washington, other major news organizations began to sniff around the Contra-cocaine story but mostly went off in wrong directions. On May 6, 1986, the New York Times relied for a story on information from Meese's spokesman Patrick Korten, who claimed "various bits of information got referred to us. We ran them all down and didn't find anything. It comes to nothing."

But that wasn't the truth. In Miami, Feldman and FBI agents were corroborating many of the allegations. On May 14, 1986, Feldman recommended to his superiors that the evidence of Contra crimes was strong enough to justify taking the case to a grand jury. U.S. Attorney Kellner agreed, scribbling on Feldman's memo, "I concur that we have sufficient evidence to ask for a grand jury investigation."

But on May 20, less than a week later, Kellner reversed that recommendation. Without telling Feldman, Kellner rewrote the memo to state that "a grand jury investigation at this point would represent a fishing expedition with little prospect that it would bear fruit." Kellner signed Feldman's name to the mixed-metaphor memo and sent it to Washington on June 3.

The revised "Feldman" memo was then circulated to congressional Republicans and leaked to conservative media, which used it to discredit Kerry's investigation. The right-wing Washington Times denounced the probe as a wasteful political "witch hunt" in a June 12, 1986, article. "Kerry's anti-Contra efforts extensive, expensive, in vain," screamed the headline of a Washington Times article on Aug. 13, 1986.

Back in Miami, Kellner reassigned Feldman to unrelated far-flung investigations, including one to Thailand.

The altered memo was instrumental in steering Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), away from holding hearings, Kerry's later Contra-drug report, "Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy," stated. "Material provided to the Committee by the Justice Department and distributed to members following an Executive Session June 26, 1986, wrongly suggested that the allegations that had been made were false," the Kerry report said.

Feldman later testified to the Senate that he was told in 1986 that representatives of the Justice Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI had met "to discuss how Senator Kerry's efforts to get Lugar to hold hearings on the case could be undermined."


Kerry's Risks

Mattes, the federal public defender in Miami, watched as the administration ratcheted up pressure on Kerry's investigation. "From a political point of view in May of '86, Kerry had every reason to shut down his staff investigation," Mattes said. "There was no upside for him doing it. We all felt under the gun to back off."

The Kerry that Mattes witnessed at the time was the ex-prosecutor determined to get to the bottom of serious criminal allegations even if they implicated senior government officials. "As an investigator, he had a sense it was there," said Mattes, who is now an investigative reporter for Fox News in San Diego. "Kerry was a crusader. He was the consummate outsider, doing what you expect people to do. ... At no point did he flinch."

Years later, in the National Archives, I discovered a document showing that the Central Intelligence Agency also was keeping tabs on Kerry's investigation. Alan Fiers Jr., who served as the CIA's Central American Task Force chief, told independent counsel Lawrence Walsh's Iran-Contra investigators that the AP and Feldman's investigations had attracted the hostility of the Reagan-Bush administration. Fiers said he "was also getting a dump on the Senator Kerry investigation about mercenary activity in Central America from the CIA's legislative affairs people who were monitoring it."

Negative publicity about the Contras was particularly unwelcome to the Reagan-Bush administration throughout the spring and summer 1986 as the White House battled to restore U.S. government funding to the Contras. In the politically heated atmosphere, the administration sought to smear anti-Contra witnesses cooperating with Kerry's investigation.

In a July 28 memo, initialed as read by President Reagan, North labeled onetime Contra mercenary Jack Terrell as a "terrorist threat" because of his "anti-Contra and anti-U.S. activities." North said Terrell had been cooperating "with various congressional staffs in preparing for hearings and inquiries regarding the role of U.S. government officials in illegally supporting the Nicaraguan resistance."

In August 1986, FBI and Secret Service agents hauled Terrell in for two days of polygraph examinations on suspicion that Terrell intended to assassinate President Reagan, an allegation that proved baseless. But Terrell told me later that the investigation had chilled his readiness to testify about the Contras. "It burned me up," he said. "The pressure was always there."

Beyond intimidating some witnesses, the Reagan administration systematically worked to frustrate Kerry's investigation. Years later, one of Kerry's investigators, Jack Blum, complained publicly that the Justice Department had actively obstructed the congressional probe. Blum said William Weld, who took over as assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division in September 1986, was an "absolute stonewall" blocking the Senate's access to evidence on Contra-cocaine smuggling. "Weld put a very serious block on any effort we made to get information," Blum told the Senate Intelligence Committee a decade after the events. "There were stalls. There were refusals to talk to us, refusals to turn over data."

Weld, who later became Massachusetts governor and lost to Kerry in the 1996 Senate race, denied that he had obstructed Kerry's Contra probe. But it was clear that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was encountering delays in getting information that had been requested by Chairman Lugar, a Republican, and Rhode Island Sen. Claiborne Pell, the ranking Democrat. At Kerry's suggestion, they had sought files on more than two dozen people linked to the Contra operations and suspected of drug trafficking.

Inside the Justice Department, senior career investigators grew concerned about the administration's failure to turn over the requested information. "I was concerned that we were not responding to what was obviously a legitimate congressional request," Mark Richard, one of Weld's top deputies, testified in a deposition. "We were not refusing to respond in giving explanations or justifications for it. We were seemingly just stonewalling what was a continuing barrage of requests for information. That concerned me no end."


Cartel Witness

On Sept. 26, 1986, Kerry tried to spur action by presenting Weld with an 11-page "proffer" statement from a 31-year-old FBI informant who had worked with the Medellin cartel and had become a witness on cartel activities. The woman, Wanda Palacio, had approached Kerry with an account about Colombian cocaine kingpin Jorge Ochoa bragging about payments he had made to the Nicaraguan Contras.

As part of this Contra connection, Palacio said pilots for a CIA-connected airline, Southern Air Transport, were flying cocaine out of Barranquilla, Colombia. She said she had witnessed two such flights, one in 1983 and the other in October 1985, and quoted Ochoa saying the flights were part of an arrangement to exchange "drugs for guns."

According to contemporaneous notes of this "proffer" meeting between Weld and Kerry, Weld chuckled that he was not surprised at allegations about corrupt dealings by "bum agents, former and current CIA agents." He promised to give serious consideration to Palacio's allegations.

After Kerry left Weld's office, however, the Justice Department seemed to concentrate on poking holes in Palacio's account, not trying to corroborate it. Though Palacio had been considered credible in her earlier testimony to the FBI, she was judged to lack credibility when she made accusations about the Contras and the CIA.

On Oct. 3, 1986, Weld's office told Kerry that it was rejecting Palacio as a witness on the grounds that there were some contradictions in her testimony. The discrepancies apparently related to such minor points as which month she had first talked with the FBI.

Two days after Weld rejected Palacio's Contra-cocaine testimony, other secrets about the White House's covert Contra support operations suddenly crashed --literally -- into view.


Plane Down

On Oct. 5, a quiet Sunday morning, an aging C-123 cargo plane rumbled over the skies of Nicaragua preparing to drop AK-47 rifles and other equipment to Contra units in the jungle below. Since the Reagan administration had recently won congressional approval for renewed CIA military aid to the Contras, the flight was to be one of the last by Oliver North's ragtag air force.

The plane, however, attracted the attention of a teenage Sandinista soldier armed with a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile. He aimed, pulled the trigger and watched as the Soviet-made missile made a direct hit on the aircraft. Inside, cargo handler Eugene Hasenfus, an American mercenary working with the Contras, was knocked to the floor, but managed to crawl to an open door, push himself through, and parachute to the ground, where he was captured by Sandinista forces. The pilot and other crew members died in the crash.

As word spread about the plane crash, Barger -- who had left the AP and was working for a CBS News show -- persuaded me to join him on a trip to Nicaragua with the goal of getting an interview with Hasenfus, who turned out to be an unemployed Wisconsin construction worker and onetime CIA cargo handler. Hasenfus told a press conference in Managua that the Contra supply operation was run by CIA officers working with the office of Vice President George Bush. Administration officials, including Bush, denied any involvement with the downed plane.

Our hopes for an interview with Hasenfus didn't work out, but Sandinista officials did let us examine the flight records and other documents they had recovered from the plane. As Barger talked with a senior Nicaraguan officer, I hastily copied down the entries from copilot Wallace "Buzz" Sawyer's flight logs. The logs listed hundreds of flights with the airports identified only by their four-letter international codes and the planes designated by tail numbers.

Upon returning to Washington, I began deciphering Wallace's travels and matching the tail numbers with their registered owners. Though Wallace's flights included trips to Africa and landings at U.S. military bases in the West, most of his entries were for flights in Central and South America.

Meanwhile, in Kerry's Senate office, witness Wanda Palacio was waiting for a meeting when she noticed Sawyer's photo flashing on a TV screen. Palacio began insisting that Sawyer was one of the pilots whom she had witnessed loading cocaine onto a Southern Air Transport plane in Barranquilla, Colombia, in early October 1985. Her identification of Sawyer struck some of Kerry's aides as a bit too convenient, causing them to have their own doubts about her credibility.

Though I was unaware of Palacio's claims at the time, I pressed ahead with the AP story on Sawyer's travels. In the last paragraph of the article, I noted that Sawyer's logs revealed that he had piloted a Southern Air Transport plane on three flights to Barranquilla on Oct. 2, 4, and 6, 1985. The story ran on Oct. 17, 1986.

Shortly after the article moved on the AP wires, I received a phone call from Rosenblith at Kerry's office. Sounding shocked, the Kerry investigator asked for more details about the last paragraph of the story, but he wouldn't say why he wanted to know. Only months later did I discover that the AP story on Sawyer's logs had provided unintentional corroboration for Palacio's Contra-drug allegations.

Palacio also passed a polygraph exam on her statements. But Weld and the Justice Department still refused to accept her testimony as credible. (Even a decade later, when I asked the then-Massachusetts governor about Palacio, Weld likened her credibility to "a wagon load of diseased blankets.")



In the fall of 1986, Weld's criminal division continued to withhold Contra-drug information requested by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. According to Justice Department records, Lugar and Pell -- two of the Senate's most gentlemanly members -- wrote on Oct. 14 that they had been waiting more than two months for information that the Justice Department had promised "in an expeditious manner."

"To date, no information has been received and the investigation of allegations by the committee, therefore, has not moved very far," Lugar and Pell wrote in a joint letter. "We're disappointed that the Department has not responded in a timely fashion and indeed has not provided any materials."

On Nov. 25, 1986, the Iran-Contra scandal was officially born when Attorney General Edwin Meese announced that profits from secret U.S. arms sales to Iran had been diverted to help fund the Nicaraguan Contras.

The Washington press corps scrambled to get a handle on the dramatic story of clandestine operations, but still resisted the allegations that the administration's zeal had spilled over into sanctioning or tolerating Contra-connected drug trafficking.

Though John Kerry's early warnings about White House-aided Contra gunrunning had proved out, his accusations about Contra drug smuggling would continue to be rejected by much of the press corps as going too far.

On Jan. 21, 1987, the conservative Washington Times attacked Kerry's Contra-drug investigation again; his alleged offense this time was obstructing justice because his probe was supposedly interfering with the Reagan administration's determination to get at the truth. "Kerry's staffers damaged FBI probe," the Times headline read.

"Congressional investigators for Sen. John Kerry severely damaged a federal drug investigation last summer by interfering with a witness while pursuing allegations of drug smuggling by the Nicaraguan resistance, federal law enforcement officials said," according to the Times article.


Negative Press

The mainstream press continued to publish stories that denigrated Kerry's investigation. On Feb. 24, 1987, a New York Times article by reporter Keith Schneider quoted "law enforcement officials" saying that the Contra allegations "have come from a small group of convicted drug traffickers in South Florida who never mentioned Contras or the White House until the Iran-Contra affair broke in November."

The drift of the article made Kerry out to be something of a dupe. His Contra-cocaine witnesses were depicted as simply convicts trying to get lighter prison sentences by embroidering false allegations onto the Iran-Contra scandal. But the information in the Times story was patently untrue. The AP Contra-cocaine story had run in December 1985, almost a year before the Iran-Contra story broke.

When New York Times reporters conducted their own interview with Palacio, she immediately sensed their hostility. In her Senate deposition, Palacio described her experience at the Times office in Miami. She said Schneider and a "Cuban man" rudely questioned her story and bullied her about specific evidence for each of her statements. The Cuban man "was talking to me kind of nasty," Palacio recalled. "I got up and left, and this man got all pissed off, Keith Schneider."

The parameters for a "responsible" Iran-Contra investigation were being set. On July 16, 1987, the New York Times published another story that seemed to discredit the Contra-drug charges. It reported that except for a few convicted drug smugglers from Miami, the Contra-cocaine "charges have not been verified by any other people and have been vigorously denied by several government agencies."

Four days later, the Times added that "investigators, including reporters from major news outlets, have tried without success to find proof of ... allegations that military supplies may have been paid for with profits from drug smuggling." (The Times was inaccurate again. The original AP story had cited a CIA report describing the Contras buying a helicopter with drug money.)


Ask About the Cocaine

The joint Senate-House Iran-Contra committee averted its eyes from the Contra-cocaine allegations. The only time the issue was raised publicly was when a demonstrator interrupted one hearing by shouting, "Ask about the cocaine." Kerry was excluded from the investigation.

On July 27, 1987, behind the scenes, committee staff investigator Robert A. Bermingham echoed the New York Times. "Hundreds of persons" had been questioned, he said, and vast numbers of government files reviewed, but no "corroboration of media-exploited allegations of U.S. government-condoned drug trafficking by Contra leaders or Contra organizations" was found. The report, however, listed no names of any interview subjects nor any details about the files examined.

Bermingham's conclusions conflicted with closed-door Iran-Contra testimony from administration insiders. In a classified deposition to the congressional Iran-Contra committees, senior CIA officer Alan Fiers said, "with respect to [drug trafficking by] the Resistance Forces [the Contras] it is not a couple of people. It is a lot of people."

Despite official denials and press hostility, Kerry and his investigators pressed ahead. In 1987, with the arrival of a Democratic majority in the Senate, Kerry also became chairman of the Senate subcommittee on terrorism, narcotics and international operations. He used that position to pry loose the facts proving that the official denials were wrong and that Contra units were involved in the drug trade.

Kerry's report was issued two years later, on April 13, 1989. Its stunning conclusion: "On the basis of the evidence, it is clear that individuals who provided support for the Contras were involved in drug trafficking, the supply network of the Contras was used by drug trafficking organizations, and elements of the Contras themselves knowingly received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers. In each case, one or another agency of the U.S. government had information regarding the involvement either while it was occurring, or immediately thereafter."

The report discovered that drug traffickers gave the Contras "cash, weapons, planes, pilots, air supply services and other materials." Moreover, the U.S. State Department had paid some drug traffickers as part of a program to fly non-lethal assistance to the Contras. Some payments occurred "after the traffickers had been indicted by federal law enforcement agencies on drug charges, in others while traffickers were under active investigation by these same agencies."

Although Kerry's findings represented the first time a congressional report explicitly accused federal agencies of willful collaboration with drug traffickers, the major news organizations chose to bury the startling findings. Instead of front-page treatment, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times all wrote brief accounts and stuck them deep inside their papers. The New York Times article, only 850 words long, landed on Page 8. The Post placed its story on A20. The Los Angeles Times found space on Page 11.


Mocking Kerry

One of the best-read political reference books, the Almanac of American Politics, gave this account of Kerry's investigation in its 1992 edition: "In search of right-wing villains and complicit Americans, [Kerry] tried to link Nicaraguan Contras to the drug trade, without turning up much credible evidence."

Thus, Kerry's reward for his strenuous and successful efforts to get to the bottom of a difficult case of high-level government corruption was to be largely ignored by the mainstream press and even have his reputation besmirched.

But the Contra-cocaine story didn't entirely go away. In 1991, in the trial of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega for drug trafficking, federal prosecutors called as a witness Medellin cartel kingpin Carlos Lehder, who testified that the Medellin cartel had given $10 million to the Contras, a claim that one of Kerry's witnesses had made years earlier. "The Kerry hearings didn't get the attention they deserved at the time," a Washington Post editorial on Nov. 27, 1991 acknowledged. "The Noriega trial brings this sordid aspect of the Nicaraguan engagement to fresh public attention."

Kerry's vindication in the Contra drug case did not come until 1998, when inspectors general at the CIA and Justice Department reviewed their files in connection with allegations published by the San Jose Mercury News that the Contra-cocaine pipeline had contributed to the crack epidemic that ravaged inner-city neighborhoods in the 1980s. (Ironically, the major national newspapers only saw fit to put the Contra-cocaine story on their front pages in criticizing the Mercury News and its reporter Gary Webb for taking the allegations too far.)

On Oct. 4, 1996, the Washington Post published a front-page story, with two more pages inside, that was critical of the Mercury News. But while accusing the Mercury News of exaggerating, the Post noted that Contra-connected drug smugglers had brought tons of cocaine into the United States. "Even CIA personnel testified to Congress they knew that those covert operations involved drug traffickers," the Post reported.

A Post editorial on Oct. 9, 1996, reprised the newspaper's assessment that the Mercury News had overreached, but added that for "CIA-connected characters to have played even a trivial role in introducing Americans to crack would indicate an unconscionable breach by the CIA."

In the months that followed, the major newspapers -- including the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times -- joined the Post in criticizing the Mercury News while downplaying their own inattention to the crimes that Kerry had illuminated a decade earlier. The Los Angeles Times actually used Kerry's report to dismiss the Mercury News series as old news because the Contra cocaine trafficking "has been well documented for years."


CIA Confession

While the major newspapers gloated when reporter Gary Webb was forced to resign from the Mercury News, the internal government investigations, which Webb's series had sparked, moved forward. The government's decade-long Contra cocaine cover-up began to crumble when CIA inspector general Frederick Hitz published the first of two volumes of his Contra cocaine investigation on Jan. 29, 1998, followed by a Justice Department report and Hitz's second volume in October 1998.

The CIA inspector general and Justice Department reports confirmed that the Reagan administration knew from almost the outset of the Contra war that cocaine traffickers permeated the CIA-backed army but the administration did next to nothing to expose or stop these criminals. The reports revealed example after example of leads not followed, witnesses disparaged and official law-enforcement investigations sabotaged. The evidence indicated that Contra-connected smugglers included the Medellin cartel, the Panamanian government of Manuel Noriega, the Honduran military, the Honduran-Mexican smuggling ring of Ramon Matta Ballesteros, and Miami-based anti-Castro Cubans.

Reviewing evidence that existed in the 1980s, CIA inspector general Hitz found that some Contra-connected drug traffickers worked directly for Reagan's National Security Council staff and the CIA. In 1987, Cuban-American Bay of Pigs veteran Moises Nunez told CIA investigators that "it was difficult to answer questions relating to his involvement in narcotics trafficking because of the specific tasks he had performed at the direction of the NSC."

CIA task force chief Fiers said the Nunez-NSC drug lead was not pursued then "because of the NSC connection and the possibility that this could be somehow connected to the Private Benefactor program [Oliver North's fundraising]. A decision was made not to pursue this matter."

Another Cuban-American who had attracted Kerry's interest was Felipe Vidal, who had a criminal record as a narcotics trafficker in the 1970s. But the CIA still hired him to serve as a logistics officer for the Contras and covered up for him when the agency learned that he was collaborating with known traffickers to raise money for the Contras, the Hitz report showed. Fiers had briefed Kerry about Vidal on Oct. 15, 1986, without mentioning Vidal's drug arrests and conviction in the 1970s.

Hitz found that a chief reason for the CIA's protective handling of Contra-drug evidence was Langley's "one overriding priority: to oust the Sandinista government ... [CIA officers] were determined that the various difficulties they encountered not be allowed to prevent effective implementation of the Contra program."

According to Hitz's report, one CIA field officer explained, "The focus was to get the job done, get the support and win the war."


Find other articles in the Monitor archives about
the Contra cocaine story


pattern of obstruction occurred while Vice President Bush was in charge of stanching the flow of drugs to the United States. Kerry made himself a pest by demanding answers to troubling questions.

"He wanted to get to the bottom of something so dark," former public defender Mattes told me. "Nobody could imagine it was so dark."

In the end, investigations by government inspectors general corroborated Kerry's 1989 findings and vindicated his effort. But the muted conclusion of the Contra-cocaine controversy 12 years after Kerry began his investigation explains why this chapter is an overlooked -- though important -- episode in Kerry's Senate career. It's a classic case of why, in Washington, there's little honor in being right too soon. Yet it's also a story about a senator who had the personal honor to do the right thing.



Robert Parry, who broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek, has written a new book, "Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq" which can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com or at Amazon.com. More details on Kerry's Contra-Cocaine investigation can also be found in "Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press and 'Project Truth.'"
Reprinted by permission of Consortiumnews.com

Comments? Send a letter to the editor.

Albion Monitor November 3, 2004 (http://www.albionmonitor.com)

A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


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Henry Hyde's Moral Universe

  Where More than Time and Space are Warped

    Chapter 5 — Henry Hyde on Drugs: In Defense of Treason

      Dennis Bernstein and Leslie Kean



Henry Hyde's Moral Universe  ©1999 by the authors
Published by Common Courage Press, Monroe, ME 04951
ISBN 1-56751-166-X

Chapter 5 of Henry Hyde's Moral Universe
has been reproduced in The Psychedelic Library
with the kind permission of the Publisher.
This book can be purchased directly from
Common Courage Press Website at a 25% discount.


Chapter 5 — Henry Hyde on Drugs: In Defense of Treason

"There was no information developed indicating any U.S. government agency or organization condoned drug trafficking by the Contras or anyone else."
              — from a memo endorsed by Henry Hyde, 1987
"Fourteen million to finance [Contra arms] came from drugs."
              — July 12, 1985 entry in a notebook kept by Oliver North.

The involvement of Nicaraguan Contras and their American support system in drug trafficking to raise funds for war is a matter still hotly debated over a decade after the Iran-Contra scandal came to light. Henry Hyde played a significant role in creating public confusion about Contra trafficking and ultimately steering the IranContra Committees away from a serious investigation of this highly volatile subject that goes right to the heart of U.S. national security. The suppression of the Contra drug investigation was crucial in keeping Ronald Reagan and George Bush from being run out of office for a policy which both fueled America's cocaine pandemic and greatly advanced the mission of narco -terrorists who were busy moonlighting as Contra captains. In deflecting the Contra drug investigation, Hyde also shielded himself and other pro-Contra cheerleaders from the onslaught of bad press which would have inevitably followed public revelations about this very serious issue.
    According to the CIA's own documents, Reagan's first attorney general, William French Smith, gave the CIA written permission in 1982 to work with traffickers who were also bringing cocaine into the U.S. without having to report their trafficking activities. By 1985, journalists, law enforcement officials and congressional investigators had a plethora of leads that the Contra operation was riddled with traffickers. "The government made a secret decision to sacrifice a part of the American population for the Contra effort," testified Washington attorney Jack Blum before the Senate Intelligence Committee in 1996. Blum was Special Counsel to Senator John Kerry's Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations which investigated Contra trafficking in the 1980s even before the Iran-Contra committees commenced their work. Blum told the Intelligence Committee that U.S. officials were "quietly undercutting law enforcement and human-rights agencies that might have caused them difficulty ... policy makers absolutely closed their eyes to the criminal behavior of the Contras."
    "I put cops in jail for a lot of years for just knowing about a trafficking operation and failing to report it," says former Drug Enforcement Agent, Michael Levine, who served more than two decades in the DEA. "Imagine this, here you have Oliver North, a high-level government official in the National Security Council running a covert action in collaboration with a drug cartel. That's what I call treason," said the seasoned former federal agent. "We'll never know how many kids died because these so-called patriots were so hot to support the Contras that they risked several generations of our young people to do it." Henry Hyde was a "real insider," said Levine, "a member of the House Intelligence Oversight Committee and a good friend to the CIA... Whether Hyde knew about and supported the policy" to work with traffickers "from the start is not clear, but as a key member of the joint committees, he certainly played a major role in keeping the American people blindfolded about the story."

How to Lie on Drugs: A Hyde Primer

Hyde played a key role in blocking the investigation of the Contra drug connection, not only by consistently refusing to ask hard questions of the Contra plotters, who had substantial knowledge of the trafficking, but by championing a false document that claimed the committee had conducted a wide-ranging investigation into the drug allegations and come up empty.
    In a 900-word memorandum of July 23, 1987 to Iran-Contra House Committee Chair Lee Hamilton and Committee Counsel John Nields, which bears Hyde's signature, Robert A. Bermingham, a House Iran-Contra Committee investigator, claimed that an exhaustive investigation by the Iran-Contra Committees turned up no evidence that the Contra leadership was involved with narcotrafficking.
    One got the first impression from reading the memo that all the committees did was to investigate the Contra drug allegations:

During the course of our investigation, the role of U.S. government officials who supported the Contras and the private resupply effort, as well as the role of private individuals in resupply, were exhaustively examined. Hundreds of persons, including U.S. government employees, Contra leaders, representatives of foreign governments, U.S. and foreign law enforcement officials, military personnel, private pilots and crews involved in actual operations were questioned and their files and records examined... There was no information developed indicating any U.S. government agency or organization condoned drug trafficking by the Contras or anyone else.

    While this certainly sounds thorough and impressive, the memo provided virtually no documentation from the hundreds of people who were allegedly interviewed during the investigation. There were no excerpts from the depositions in the memo, no names of the Contra leaders or private pilots and crews supposedly interviewed. Furthermore, there were no quotes from the files, no specific references to which records were examined, nor was there even a reference as to which foreign governments had cooperated in the Hyde-championed Robert Bermingham investigation.
    "During the course of our investigation," the fraudulent three-page memo stated, "we examined files of State, DOD, NSC, CIA, DEA, Justice, Customs and FBI, especially those reportedly involving newspaper allegations of Contra drug trafficking. We have discovered that almost all of these allegations originate from persons indicted or convicted of drug smuggling."
    Contrary to the memo, all the aforementioned government agencies had information and substantial leads regarding Contra trafficking, at the time of Bermingham's wide-ranging investigation.
    Consider what was going on at the NSC and the state department in 1985 and 1986. Oliver North had teamed up with four companies owned and operated by drug traffickers. According to government documents, the companies included SETCO Air, owned and operated at the time by the notorious Honduran drug trafficker, Ramon Matta Ballesteros; DIACSA, the Miami-based headquarters for major traffickers, Floyd Carlton and Alfredo Caballero; Vortex, an air service and supply company that was partly owned by drug trafficker and pilot, Michael Palmer; and Frigorificos de Puntarenas, a firm established by the Medellin Cartel and operated by Cuban-American drug traffickers who also ran the Florida-based sister outfit, Ocean Hunter.
    At the strong urging of Oliver North, all four shell companies were put on the U.S. payroll as part of what was then known as the Nicaraguan Humanitarian Assistance Office (NHAO), which was officially run out of the U.S. State Department but closely supervised by North at the NSC. Among those in charge, working simultaneously for the Medellin Cartel, North, the State Department and the CIA, was Francisco Chanes. Also working closely with the network was another long-time CIA contract agent named Felipe Vidal. Vidal had been arrested at least a half-dozen times in the U.S. for drug and weapons violations by the time Bermingham and company prepared their flimsy 1987 memo. Former CIA station chief in Costa Rica, Joe Fernandez, testified before Congress that Vidal had a problem with drugs.
    The CIA's Contra-op supervisor, Alan Fiers, and Rob Owen, who worked for the NHAO at the behest of North, were acutely aware in 1986 that the NHAO had hired major traffickers. Among them was Michael Palmer, a former commercial airline pilot, who according to federal court records, "was working for the largest marijuana cartel in the history of the country." When Palmer's DC4 was hit during secret supply drops in Nicaragua, he ended up making an emergency landing off the coast on San Andreas Island, a known haven for cocaine traffickers. Rob Owen wrote to North in 1986 saying, "No doubt you know that the DC4... was used at one time to run drugs and part of the crew had criminal records. Nice group the boys chose."
    Not a hint of any of this was mentioned in the memo on the "exhaustive" investigation by Bermingham and signed by Hyde.
    In September 1986, Senator John Kerry personally provided the justice Department with the name of a credible eyewitness who testified to seeing large quantities of cocaine being loaded onto a CIA-connected, Southern Air Transport plane by a man named Wallace "Buzz" Saywer. Saywer would later make history posthumously as the CIA operative shot down with Eugene Hasenfus over Nicaragua in October 1986, tearing the lid off the secret North network. Wanda Palacio, a trusted FBI informant, had provided a detailed statement to Senator Kerry that Pilots for Southern Air were flying cocaine out of Barranquilla, Columbia as part of a Contra "drugs for guns" exchange. Palacio said on two occasions in 1983 and 1985 that she witnessed the operation in the presence of Medellin Cartel king-pin, Jorge Ochoa. But what evidence is there that Palacio was telling the truth about the use of this plane that was also in the hire of the CIA? First, Palacio passed a lie detector test. But even more convincing, Sawyer's flight logs, obtained by Robert Parry at AP, confirm that the CIA/contract employee had flown a Southern Air Transport plane into Barranquilla in October 1985, just as Palacio had claimed.
    It appears that in his "investigation," Bermingham was interviewing a different set of government officials and Contra leaders than those that had caught the attention in 1985 and 1986 of Senator Kerry and various criminal investigators from a variety of agencies. Jack Blum, while working for Kerry's Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Communications, obtained substantial information as early as 1986 about Contra connections to drugs, which he forwarded to the justice Department for follow-up. The subcommittee's final Report states that it had "uncovered considerable evidence relating to the Contra network which substantiated many of the initial allegations laid out before the Committee in the spring of 1986. On the basis of this evidence, it is clear that individuals who provided support for the Contras were involved in drug trafficking. It is also clear that the supply network of the Contras was used by drug trafficking organizations, and elements of the Contras themselves knowingly received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers. In each case, one or another agency of the U.S. government had information regarding the involvement either while it was occurring or immediately thereafter."
    In stark contrast, the Hyde/Bermingham memo of 1987 declares, "Contra leaders have been interviewed and their bank records examined." It continues: "They denied any connection with or knowledge of drug trafficking. Examination of Contra financial records, private enterprise business records, and income tax returns of several individuals failed to find any indication of drug trafficking." Again, no specific mention of which Contra leaders were deposed under oath or exactly what records were evaluated.
    But Contra-leader Octaviano Cesar was a direct recipient of aid from notorious cartel trafficker, George Morales, and even testified before Kerry to that fact. Morales, with his own little air force of drug planes and stash of ready cash, was the perfect player in the guns for drugs operation. The payoff for Morales—besides striking a blow against the communists—was a bit of legal help on a few drug busts. "It was a marriage of convenience made in heaven," said a former Kerry investigator, interviewed by one of the authors in the fall of 1986, again a year before Bermingham was tasked to concoct his memo exonerating the Contras and the U.S. government from involvement in drug trafficking. The Contra leader, for his part, adopted Hyde's moral stance and roundly blamed Congress for forcing him to team up with a notorious trafficker such as Morales. Cesar said when he dealt with Morales, he "was thinking in terms of the security of my country. It just didn't enter my mind that I would become involved in such a mess... I'm not proud of it, but I just didn't have any choice. I mean, the U.S. Congress didn't give us any choice" but to deal with traffickers.
    One didn't even need subpoena power from Congress, to be a DEA agent in El Salvador or a U.S. Attorney in Miami, to start unraveling the Contra drug connection. Several respected journalists had been following the story since 1984. One of the authors of this book first interviewed George Morales in 1986. Morales, who was also a world-class speedboat racer, was in Miami's Metropolitan Correctional Center at the time. He identified himself as a Contra supporter and a network operative. At the time, Morales was being held without bond on charges that he conspired to smuggle as much as 1,500 kilograms of cocaine into South Florida. In the 1986 interview, Morales said that he was "supplying aircraft and training pilots" for the Contra network as well as flying supplies and materiel to the Contras in Costa Rica. "On some particular days we were loading the planes...and there were U.S. officials around and aware of it and never the planes were touched. Never."
    Meanwhile, Morales wasn't the only one doing business with the Contras. Alarm bells were going off all over Florida about illegal Contra activities with drug links. George Kiszynski was a FBI agent with the Miami Office's antiterrorist squad. According to Congressional testimony, Kiszynski communicated with North through FBI channels. According to a City of Miami Police Intelligence Report dated September 26, 1984, Kiszynski was informed about Contra-related drug activities. A report stamped, "Record furnished to George Kiszynski, FBI," couldn't be clearer. It states that one Contra supporter was "giving financial support to anti-Castro groups and Nicaraguan guerrillas. The money comes from narcotics transactions."
    The Miami police document also placed Costa Rica-based, CIA operative, John Hull, and his ranch in southern Costa Rica, on the Contra supply map.
    It states that two Cuban-American Contra supporters "are associated with an American who owns a ranch in southern Costa Rica... The owner of the ranch is John Hull and the ranch has an airstrip. In October 1983, a load of ammunition was unloaded on that airstrip..."
    Bermingham's brief memo makes no reference whatsoever to Morales, or Wanda Palacio, says nothing about Octaviano Cesar and John Hull or the four drug shell companies hired by the State Department, or the FBI memo, or any of the scores of leads from Congress, law enforcement or dogged journalists. Bermingham does not even attempt to discredit a single source by name. But no matter. He concludes his fraudulent memorandum by stating that "additional investigation of these allegations is unwarranted in view of the negative results to date..."

Using the Washington Post

The exact date of the Bermingham memo, July 23, 1987, is crucial, according to Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall, authors of Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America. The memo appeared the day after a story in the Washington Post reported that Congressman Charles Rangel's Select Committee on Narcotics conducted a thorough investigation into Contra-related trafficking and found nothing. But the Post story was false, so incorrect that it was retracted just days later after written complaints by Rangel and others. In fact, Rangel immediately refuted the claims of the Post article, but his response was never printed.
    No matter. The memo's use of the false article "helped generate the parallel myth, that an exhaustive Congressional investigation... developed no evidence which would show that the Contra leadership was involved in drug smuggling... The date of that memo is important," write Scott and Marshall, because "it suggests witting exploitation of a lie that had been floated in the July 22 Washington Post and that the Post itself had retracted on July 24."
    Instead of interviewing Rangel directly, Bermingham cited the Post story, which was based on leaks from unnamed congressional sources who had been present during a closed door meeting of Rangel's Select Narcotics Committee on July 21, the day before the Post story appeared. So important was the Post article to supporting the memo's assertion that an in-depth investigation had been conducted, that Bermingham cited a quote appearing in it from Rep. Rangel. He is quoted in the Washington Post, July 22, 1987, as stating "his investigation," which started in June of 1986 and includes reams of testimony from hundreds of witnesses, "developed no evidence which would show that Contra leadership was involved in drug trafficking."
    Again Bermingham is pumping up the illusion that hundreds of witnesses had been interviewed and no credible information exists to implicate the Contra leadership in trafficking, without naming a single witness who was interviewed. In fact, Peter Dale Scott happened to be a witness at the Rangel committee meeting referred to in the Post story that was memorialized by Bermingham. Scott had been invited to testify at the July 21, 1987 closed-door executive session of the House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control. According to Cocaine Politics, he and a colleague "submitted a written brief on this subject, as did witnesses from two other groups. They gave instances of Contra leaders and supporters who had been indicted and/or convicted on drug charges."
    Bermingham could have gone straight to Rangel, but he didn't. It would seem obvious that face-to-face interviews with congressional colleagues would be infinitely more reliable than second-hand news reports that were refuted and swiftly retracted the day after they were published. In fact, Robert Weiner, counsel for Rangel's House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control, had complained publicly about the incident at the time and was quoted in the Boston Globe saying that the Rangel committee, "did indeed find that there is substance to many of the allegations [about Contra drug smuggling]. Mr. Bermingham is wrongly prejudging a congressional committee investigation."
    Material submitted to the Rangel committee and boldly referenced in a syndicated Newsday article, coauthored by Polk Award-winning journalist, Robert Knight, is an eight-page document from the Rangel's Narcotics Committee Counsel, Ronald A. LeGrand, dated June 25, 1986—drafted more than a year before the Bermingham memo. According to the June 1986 memo to the Rangel Committee's Chief of Staff, John T Cusack, "A number of individuals 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, have suggested that cocaine is being smuggled into the United States through the same infrastructure which is procuring, storing and transporting weapons, explosives, ammunition and military equipment for the Contras from the United States."
    The 1986 Rangel memo lays out with some specificity key aspects of the Contra drug operation as they would later be confirmed by the CIAs own Inspector General's Report. And it even alludes to the operations of the seafood importing companies later hired by North and the NHAO to assist the Contra resupply operation. "One conspiracy described by these sources involves members of Brigade 2506 in Miami [Cuban-American veterans of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion] and unidentified Colombian drug traffickers smuggling drugs to the United States using two mechanisms.
    "The first is to blast-freeze cocaine in seafood at processing plants in Limon, Costa Rica, and then to smuggle the cocaine in through Miami. The second is to use airstrips on the Costa Rican-Nicaraguan border, controlled or managed by American supporters of the Contras, for refueling of drug planes on the way to the United States from Colombia," stated the memo.
    The narcotics committee document also refers to the now widely reported 1983 "Frogman Case" in which federal agents seized hundreds of pounds of cocaine and tens of thousands of dollars in drug monies as divers for the traffickers attempted to unload the contraband from a freighter at San Francisco's Pier 96. "Three years after their convictions, two defendants said they had been working for the Contras and had in the past provided Costa Rican-based Contra groups with about $500,000 in funds, the majority of which came from cocaine sales. One of the two, Julio Zavala, obtained the release of the seized $36,020 after producing letters from the Contra-connected Conservative Party of Nicaraguans in Exile and Nicaraguan Democratic Union-Nicaraguan Revolutionary Armed Force."
    Also according to the syndicated Newsday article, Jonathan Winer, now a high-level narcotics official in the State Department and a former aid to John Kerry, stated in May of 1987 that he was "confident" that drug money was used to help finance the Contras and that North could be involved. "We have received a variety of allegations about drug connections to the Contras and to parts of the North network," said Jonathan Winer, "As to whether Oliver North is involved in that, I cannot say. But members of the North network allegedly were, and that needs to be looked at very seriously."
    The article also referenced the fact that former ambassador to El Salvador, Robert White, told the House Subcommittee on Western Hemispheric Affairs in October 1986 that "the Contras have been involved in a wide range of criminal activities that violate U.S. law. These activities include narcotics trafficking, arms smuggling, various currency offenses and other crimes up to and including murder."
    As Scott and Marshall report, "Rangel promptly wrote a four-point letter of denial [of the July 22 Washington Post story], but the Post declined to publish it; the paper merely corrected the false claim about hundreds of witnesses being interviewed." Thus "the 'hundreds of witnesses' and the false quotation from Congressman Rangel were enshrined" in the fraudulent memo about Contra drug trafficking.
    In short, the issue of drugs and the Contras had massive evidence indicating further investigation was warranted. But Bermingham makes no specific reference in his memo to having investigated any of the material referenced in the 1986 Rangel memo and syndicated by Newsday. Hyde was apparently not interested in any of this either. For his part, he highlighted the fraudulent memo in the minority section of the final Iran-Contra report that was not released until November of 1987—several months after the document had already been shown to be false. Unabashedly repeating the lie, Hyde scolded members of Congress and attacked the largely bipartisan majority for not giving the false memo more prominence in the final Iran-Contra report, despite the fact that it had been discredited. Hyde stated that Contra drug allegations were created out of whole cloth to damage the esteemed reputation of the Nicaraguan anti-Communist resistance.
    "[T]he fact is that the Committees' staff left no stone unturned in its efforts to obtain information that might be politically damaging to the Resistance…," stated Hyde and the others in a footnote to the final Iran-Contra report. "The Committees' investigators reviewed major portions, if not all, of the Contras' financial records; met with witnesses who alleged the Resistance was involved in terrorism or drug-running; investigated the financial conduct of the NHAO program... received no credible evidence of misconduct by the Resistance. It came as little surprise, of course, that the Committees' majority does not explicitly acknowledge this... For this reason, suggestions that the Committees have not investigated such matters, and other Committees of Congress should, ought to be seen for what they are: political harassment by Congressional opponents of the Resistance."

Smoking Guns

While more is now known about the drug traffickers that collaborated with North and the CIA in funding and running the Contra operation, there was more than enough information back in the mid-'80s to give Hyde and other Contra supporters pause.
    Among the most troubled and vocal critics of Hyde's actions are members of the law enforcement community. Former DEA cop, Michael Levine, strongly believes North, and those who shielded him such as Hyde, should have been tried for trafficking and treason for their role in the Contra drug operation and the cover-up.
    Levine starts to fume when he considers various entries in North's diaries from his heady days as chief gringo Contra commander. He rattles off a cite from North's notebooks: July 12, 1985, "Fourteen million to finance [Contra arms] came from drugs," Levine quotes North. "What the hell does that mean, and where does Congressman Hyde think the drugs went that paid for the Contra's weapons? Into kids' bodies," says Levine.
    "If I was working North's case," said the experienced drug warrior, "I would have tracked him and the rest of them, from the time they got up in the morning until the time they went to bed at night."
    "There was plenty of hard evidence," says Levine who has written several books on the subject and has testified regularly as a court-certified expert witness in drug-related cases. "The totality of the whole picture is very compelling; this is very damning evidence. We had informants who testified before Kerry, the agents testified. Even in my book, Big White Lie, I testified that the CIA stopped us from indicting the Bolivian government at the same time Contra assets were going down there to pick up drugs. When you put it all together you have much more evidence to convict Ollie North, [former high level CIA official] Dewey Claridge and all the way up the line, than they had in any John Gotti case."
    "I had my own evidence," said Levine, "a DEA report that states that the CIA stopped us from indicting the same people who were selling the Contras drugs. That's direct evidence, you cannot get better than that. That is a smoking gun. I know this as an investigator [who] put thousands of Americans in jail personally and then indirectly tens of thousands, because of all the investigations I handled as supervisor for seventeen years. I know there was far more evidence already documented, already testified to in secret and open session in Congress. Put it together with Ollie North's notebooks and with his email you have more than enough to put that man away."
    Hyde may not have taken Levine's concerns seriously, but the entire Costa Rica Justice Department did, not to mention the Country's former President, Nobel Laureate, Oscar Arias. Oliver North, former Reagan NSC chief, Admiral Poindexter, John Hull, Richard Secord and former Costa Rican CIA Chief of Station, Joe Fernendez, were banned from ever setting foot on Costa Rican soil again, as a result of their Contra activities. Hull, whose ranch was a major transshipment point for Contra drugs and guns, was arrested and indicted in Costa Rica on trafficking charges in 1989. But before he was forced to stand trial, he was secretly flown out of the country on a flight arranged by U.S. officials. Perhaps no one feels the frustration more deeply than Celerino Castillo III. The one-time police officer and Vietnam veteran joined the DEA in 1979. "Cele" Castillo served as a top DEA agent in Central America from 1985 to 1991. Working undercover in El Salvador, Castillo learned about the Contra operation at Ilopango, the El Salvadoran military airport in 1986. "They were running narcotics and weapons out of Ilopango to support the Contras," said Castillo during more than a dozen interviews between 1993 and 1997. "We're talking about very large quantities of cocaine and millions of dollars... There's no doubt about it; we saw the cocaine and the boxes full of money." Castillo said the operation was run out of "hangars four and five controlled by North and the CIA with Felix Rodriguez. The cocaine was trans-shipped from Costa Rica through El Salvador and into the United States..."
    The DEA veteran agent detailed how known traffickers with multiple DEA files used Hangars Four and Five in Ilopango for drug smuggling. Despite their backgrounds, stated Castillo, the traffickers had obtained U.S. visas. Castillo said that his reports were very thorough and included "not only the names of traffickers, but their destinations, flight paths, tail numbers and the date and time of each flight."
    According to Castillo, the drug planes flown by Contra pilots came from Costa Rica and sometimes the drugs came on military aircraft from Panama. The top drug pilot flying for the Contra network at that time was Francisco Guirola Beeche. Guirola's name was all over DEA databases, according to Castillo, and their aircraft was on a watch list for drug trafficking. Guirola was arrested with nearly six million dollars in drug money by federal agents in Texas, according to Castillo and numerous public reports. Yet Guirola was immediately set free. Authorities kept the money but sent the drug trafficker on his way in his drug plane. Soon after, Guirola joined the Contra operation as a key pilot. According to Castillo there were eleven separate DEA files regarding Guirola's trafficking, yet he receives no mention in Bermingham's memo.

Felix and Henry

Henry Hyde took particular pride in welcoming Bay of Pigs veteran, Felix Rodriguez to the Iran-Contra hearings. Hyde was proud to stand side-by-side with such a legendary anti-Communist patriot and freedom fighter. Rodriguez was a paramilitary specialist and a CIA agent who was credited with tracking down and executing Cuban revolutionary leader Che Guevara.
    With few questions and only praise for his witness, Hyde showed little interest in what Rodriguez might know about the drug-connected operation he was supervising at Ilopongo. When it came to Rodriguez, Hyde was ready to justify anything he might do to beat back the Communists and prevent them from attacking over the "land bridges" to North America. "I know there is a zeal among some to confine this inquiry to who did what, and ignore why. And I just want to make the point that I think why some of these things were done contributes to a fuller understanding of who and what [was done], and that the nonfeasance of Congress may well turn out to be every bit as important as the misfeasance or malfeasance of certain individuals."
    Rodriguez, a.k.a. Max Gomez, was in charge of the day-to-day operations at Ilopango where the Contra's illegal supply network was based. Rodriguez was placed in the field through George Bush's Office and then CIA Central American task-force chief Allan Fiers. Rodriguez was essentially the CIA cutout, running the day-to-day operations of the Contra resupply network after the CIA involvement was formally forbidden by Boland. It would later be Rodriguez who called Bush's office to alert the VicePresident that Eugene Hasenfus had been shot down over Nicaragua on October 5, 1986. Working alongside Rodriguez as "number two man" at Ilopango, was Luis Posada Carrilles. Posada was credited with the 1976 terrorist attack on a Cubana Airlines jet carrying seventy-three people. The plane exploded soon after takeoff, killing all the passengers, including the entire Cuban national fencing team.
    Besides being an anti-Cuban terrorist, Posada had a long history with the Mafia in South Florida. In the early 1970s, the DEA had received documentary evidence that Posada was smuggling narcotics into the U.S. CIA and DEA files are full of references to Posada's connections to major drug traffickers and mobsters. As early as 1974, the DEA was aware that Posada was trading weapons for cocaine. In fact, Posada began working with Rodriguez at Ilopango right after his escape from a Venezuelan prison where he was being held for the attack on the Cuban airliner.
    There was not a mention in the false Bermingham memo to Posada's checkered past that had been documented by U.S. government officials starting twenty-five years before the Iran-Contra committees were formed.
    Hyde was not interested in pursuing any of the leads with Rodriguez regarding Contra narco-terrorism, despite Rodriguez's obvious links and knowledge. Hyde seemed to be much more interested in what happened at the Bay of Pigs than what a CIAcreated terrorist network of traffickers and assassins were doing in the name of U.S. democracy. "Now, Mr. Rodriguez, you participated in the Bay of Pigs fiasco?" "Yes, sit," Rodriguez answered proudly. One of the few truths Rodriguez would tell Congress.
    According to subsequent testimony before Congress and later in U.S. federal court at the trial of Manuel Noriega, Rodriguez was also the conduit for a $10 million contribution from the Medellin cartel to the Contras. According to testimony before Senator John Kerry's Subcommittee on Narcotics and International Terrorism, the $10 million in drug money was laundered through Frigorificos. The $10 million in drug money was also confirmed at the Noriega trial by Carlos Lehder, the Medellin cartel's former transportation chief, and Ramon Milian Rodriguez, the former accountant for the Medellin cartel.
    Nicaraguan pilot, Marcos Arguado, also worked with Rodriguez at Illopango. Arguado, was the chief pilot for Contra forces in Costa Rica, but after being deported from Costa Rica on drug- trafficking charges, Arguado became a colonel in the Salvadoran Air Force and a key operative in the Contra supply operation. He planned flights from Ilopango that flew to the U.S., according to Cele Castillo.

Songs for Henry

In 1984, Honduran General José Bueso Rosa was indicted for a plot to assassinate President Roberto Suazo Cordova of Honduras and stage a cocaine-funded coup. Bueso Rosa was determined to terminate President Cordova because he had fired Army Chief General Gustavo Alvarez, a key Contra supporter. The coup plotters were arrested in Florida in a FBI sting. The Feds seized over 700 pounds of cocaine during the bust at a tiny, remote airport.
    After Bueso Rosa, one of the CIA's key Contra operatives in Honduras, was arrested for plotting the drug-funded assassination of a foreign head of state on U.S. soil, North himself leapt into action, leaving a trail of documentary evidence that any serious joint Senate/House investigation could have tracked. His mission, as he noted in a memo to Admiral Poindexter, was to take measures to assure that Bueso Rosa would not "start singing songs that nobody wants to hear."
    "I want to hear those songs," said Levine, "and I think the American people have a right to hear those songs so they don't get ripped-off by government officials who are committing treason, by participating in and turning a blind eye to international drug trafficking in the name of national security." Levine said he is still outraged by North's outspoken defense of Bueso Rosa, "even after he was convicted for the cocaine plot... It was surreal and indefensible."
    Despite the fact that Bueso Rosa had participated in five FBI-monitored meetings during which the assassination was discussed, North worked studiously behind the scenes to have Bueso Rosa released and deported without fanfare. North told justice Department officials repeatedly that Bueso Rosa was essentially misled and didn't know what was going on.
    For his part, Henry Hyde never asked North a single question about the sordid Bueso Rosa affair, despite the fact that the story surfaced in the press and bounced around Washington between the justice Department and Congress and had an extensive paper trail. Again there was no mention of Bueso Rosa in the Bermingham investigation that included hundreds of key Contra supporters and endless documents.

The Seal of Approval

A mountain of evidence now exists to back up the fact that the Contras were connected with major cartel trafficking operations, according to the CIA's own Inspector General. The evidence shows that from its very inception, the CIA knew the Contras were involved in wide-ranging "criminal activities," including terrorist bombings, hijackings and narcotics trafficking to advance the Contra cause. According to the 1998 CIA Inspector General's Report, by 1981 Contra operatives had already brought their first shipments of cocaine into the U.S. for distribution. Even more dramatically, the report confirms that dozens of drug traffickers and trafficking entities associated with the Medellin drug cartel were involved in a secret collaborative effort with U.S. officials to keep the Contras in bread and bullets.
    In fact, based on the Inspector General's report, citizens from Oakland and Los Angeles, California filed two federal class action suits on March 15, 1999 against the CIA for protecting Contra traffickers. According to attorneys on the lawsuits, "Each lawsuit concerns two classes of people affected by the crack cocaine epidemic: plaintiffs, largely African American, who experienced harms on an individual basis (babies born addicted; deaths in driveby shootings); and plaintiffs who experienced injuries suffered by the community as a whole (emergency rooms inundated; business districts gutted). If it had not been for the... policy of deliberate silence, the commencement of the crack cocaine epidemic in South Central Los Angeles during that era could have been avoided or greatly reduced."
    Yet, because of the early cover-up by Hyde and other pro-Contra forces in Congress and the executive branch, not only did North, the CIA and other key officials escape serious investigation and prosecution on drug charges, but the former Lieutenant Colonel almost won a Senate seat and more recently was given a talk show on CNBC. Hyde to this day has yet to disavow his relationship with North, despite what is now known.
    On March 4, 1991, Henry Hyde was awarded a CIA Seal Medallion by then Director of Central Intelligence, William Webster. Hyde was granted the high honor for his "tremendous service" and "sustained outstanding support" to the CIA. Hyde characterized his own daring-do with the spy agency, as "a rare adventure." Hyde did render a tremendous service to the agency by helping to keep the lid on some of its darkest secrets, including its illicit relationships with drug traffickers and terrorists during the Contra war. Unlike his Iran/Bosnia investigation when Hyde complained bitterly about the Clinton administration's refusal to declassify documents, based on claims of national security, Hyde cherished secrecy during Iran-Contra.
    It was executive claims of secrecy and national security that prevented a full airing of Iran-Contra. Such claims ultimately protected the CIA and the Chief Executive for jumping into bed with narcotics traffickers and terrorists. Secrecy and claims of national security, according to former Independent Counsel Walsh, were the CIA's best allies against prosecution.
    Walsh made this point in an urgent October 19, 1989 hand-delivered letter to the White House. "Unless different standards for the release of information to the courts are adopted by the intelligence agencies," stated Walsh, "we face the likelihood that former high officials cannot be tried for crimes related to their conduct in public office." Walsh told Bush that as the executive branch continues "to withhold this information we lose a much more important national value—the rule of law. In summary, I believe that concern for the preservation of secrets relating to national security is being used in exaggerated form and will defeat necessary prosecutions of high government officers."
    Walsh was right on the money. Despite the CIA's huge role in the illegal war and its direct involvement with drug traffickers throughout the war, not a single officer or high level official served a single day behind bars. Those who were indicted, such as former CIA Deputy Director, Claire E. George, and former CIA Costa Rican Station Chief, Joe Fernandez, either had their cases dismissed for lack of (unclassified) evidence or were simply pardoned.

Post Script

The Iran-Contra committees never asked serious questions or even sought out some of the information that was on the public record, says Robert Parry. The former AP reporter now edits I.F. Magazine and The Consortium on the Internet. Parry wrote the first story with Brian Barger on Contra-related trafficking in 1985. Parry says the fraudulent Bermingham memo that Hyde used had a "significant impact" in the suppression of the Contra-drug investigation. "It was significant because a big part of Iran-Contra should have been an investigation of Contra drug trafficking," said Parry. "There are several points when the investigation could have taken place and a key point was right then when they pushed the fraudulent memo on Hamilton who was so easily dissuaded from doing anything, because he was such a wimp."
    Parry recalled the day two men were dragged out of the Senate hearing room when they stood up during North's testimony and demanded an end to the silence on the Contra drug connections. "They said, 'ask about the cocaine' and they were dragged off," said Parry. "One of the reasons nobody asked about the cocaine was because they had supposedly 'investigated' the cocaine, had hundreds of interviews and found no evidence. Of course, there was no real investigation," said Parry, because anytime investigators from several other committees besides Iran-Contra tried to raise the topic they were "absolutely clobbered and the media was being used to put them down" every time they came near the subject. "The Washington Times, the Washington Post, New York Times, everybody was being enlisted to kind of beat up on anyone who was looking for the truth." Parry himself took a clobbering, and was pushed out of the mainstream because he refused to back off the story. "We now know," he said, "based on the CIA's report that it was true. The Medellin cartel and the Reagan administration were in it very tight."

A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


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Testimony of

Peter Kornbluh
Senior Analyst
National Security Archive
October 19, 1996
Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, members of the Black and Hispanic Caucus, and the Select Committee on Intelligence, I want to thank you for affording me the opportunity to both testify at, and be witness to, this important hearing.

The name of my organization, the National Security Archive, sounds like the type of government agency that might be involved in this scandal. I can assure you that we are not. We are a public interest documentation center, specializing in obtaining the declassification of internal national security documentation and making it available to Congress, to journalists and to concerned citizens to enhance the public debate over foreign policies that are conducted in our name but often without our knowledge.

The Archive--which is nonpartisan and does not take a position on legislation--often deals with documents that are classified TOP SECRET for national security reasons but that, in truth, have no real bearing on the security of our nation. Today, however, I am happy to have the opportunity to share with you declassified White House documents which indeed address a real and present danger to the national security of this country, to the security of our cities, of our households, and to the health, well- being and personal security of each and every citizen in this room-- the scourge of drugs.

Let me say at the outset that I cannot speak to, nor provide evidence for, the allegations that are stated and implied in the San Jose Mercury Newsstories. Internal U.S. government documents on the early years of the contra war that might shed light on the issues reported by Gary Webb have not been declassified. Hopefully, public pressure brought on the CIA, the Justice Department, the National Security Council and the Drug Enforcement Agency will result in the release of those documents.

But I can and will address the central premise of the story: that the U.S. government tolerated the trafficking of narcotics into this country by individuals involved in the contra war.

To summarize: there is concrete evidence that U.S. officials-- White House, NSC and CIA--not only knew about and condoned drug smuggling in and around the contra war, but in some cases collaborated with, protected, and even paid known drug smugglers who were deemed important players in the Reagan administrations obsessed covert effort to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

Exactly two years ago this weekend, this issue came up during Oliver North's failed run for Virginia's U.S. Senate seat. The Washington Postran an article which I have included in your packet suggesting that North had failed to give important information on the contras and drugs to the DEA. In response, Mr. North called a press conference where he was joined by Duane Clarridge, the CIA official who ran the contra operations from 1981 through mid 1984, and the former attorney general of the United States, Edwin Meese III. Mr. North called it a "cheap political trick...to even suggest that I or anyone in the Reagan administration, in any way, shape or form, ever tolerated the trafficking of illegal substances." Mr. Clarridge claimed that it was a "moral outrage" to suggest that a Reagan Administration official "would have countenanced" drug trafficking. And Mr. Meese stated that no "Reagan administration official would have ever looked the other way at such activity."

The documentation, in which Mr. North, Mr. Clarridge and Mr. Meese all appear, suggests the opposite. Let me review it here briefly:


Oliver North's own diaries, and internal memoranda written to him from his contra contact, reveal explicit reports of drugs trafficking.

On April 1, 1985, Oliver North was informed by his liaison with the contras, Robert Owen, that two of the commanders chosen by the FDN to run the southern front in Costa Rica were probably, or definitively "involved with drug running."

On July 12, 1985, Oliver North was informed that the contras were considering the purchase of arms from a supplier in Honduras. The $14 million that the supplier had used to finance the guns, "came from drugs."

On August 9, 1985, Oliver North was informed that one of the resupply planes being used by Mario Calero, the brother of the head of the largest contra group the FDN, was "probably being used for drug runs into [the] U.S."

On February 10, 1986, North was informed by his liaison Robert Owen that a plane being used to run materials to the contras was previously used to run drugs, and that the CIA had chosen a company whose officials had a criminal record. The company, Vortex Aviation, was run by Michael Palmer, one of the biggest marijuana smugglers in U.S. history, who was under indictment for ten years of trafficking in Detroit at the same time as he was receiving more than $300,000 in U.S. funds from a State Department contract to ferry "humanitarian" aid to the contras.

In not one of these cases, Congresswoman Millander- McDonald, is there any record of Oliver North passing this important intelligence information onto proper law enforcement or DEA officials. Out of the tens of thousands of documents declassified during the Iran-Contra investigations, there is not a telephone message slip, not a memo, not an e-mail, nor a letter.

We also know that Mr. North, who you remember thought it was a "neat idea" to use the Ayatollah Khomeini's money to fund the contras, was predisposed to use drug monies to fund the contras when they ran short of cash. In 1984, during a drug sting the DEA was attempting against leaders of the Medellin Cartel, he asked two DEA agents if $1.5 million in cartel money aboard an informants plane could be turned over to the contras. The DEA officials just said no.


The case of José Bueso Rosa demonstrates the lengths to which high White House and CIA officials were willing to go to protect an individual who fit the classic definition of a "narco- terrorist." General Bueso Rosa was involved in a conspiracy to import 345 kilos of coke into Florida--street value $40 million. Part of the proceeds were to be used to finance the assassination of the president of Honduras. I think most people in this room would agree that a major cocaine smuggler and would-be international terrorist such as General Bueso Rosa should be locked up for life. But because this general had been the CIA's and the Pentagon's key liaison in Honduras in the covert war against Nicaragua, North, Clarridge, and others in the Reagan administration sought leniency for him. As North put it in an e-mail message U.S. officials "cabal[ed] quietly to look at options: pardon, clemency, deportation, reduced sentence." The objective of our national security managers was not to bring the weight of the law down on General Bueso, but to "keep Bueso from...spilling the beans." By the way, he ended up serving less than five years in prison--in a white collar "Club Fed" prison in Florida.


It is the documentation on U.S. relations with another Latin American general, General Manuel Noriega in Panama, that most clearly demonstrates the shameless attitude of the highest U.S. national security officials toward major drug smuggling into our cities. General Noriega is currently serving 40 years in prison for narcotics trafficking. All of us in this room remember that General Noriega's involvement with the Medellín Cartel was so significant that President Bush ordered the U.S. military to invade Panama to arrest him, at the cost of American lives, Panamanian lives and hundreds of millions of dollars.

The 1989 invasion of Panama was codenamed Operation Just Cause. But in 1986, when U.S. officials had the same evidence of Noriega's career as the Cartel's man in Panama, the Reagan administration appeared to have another kind of "Just Cause" with Gen. Noriega.

Shortly after the New York Times published a front page story titled "Panama Strongman Said to Trade in Drugs, Arms, and Illicit Money," General Noriega contacted Oliver North with a quid pro quoproposal: help him "clean up his image" and he would have his covert agents undertake major sabotage operations against economic targets inside Nicaragua.

Instead of telling Noriega that he should rot in jail--as most everybody in this room would have done--Oliver North supported this quid pro quo proposal; indeed North even wanted to pay General Noriega one million dollars, yes, one million dollars in money diverted from the sale of arms to Iran, to carry out these sabotage operations (which the contras would have then taken credit for). In one of the most striking, and candid, electronic mail messages ever written inside the White House, North wrote to his superior, National Security Adviser John Poindexter that

"You will recall that over the years Manuel Noriega and I have developed a fairly good relationship....The proposal sounds good to me and I believe we could make the appropriate arrangements."

And Admiral Poindexter authorized North to jet off to London to meet secretly with Noriega and work out the details on U.S. help to "clean up his image" and collaboration in the covert war. As Poindexter declared in his electronic response: "I have nothing against Noriega other than his illegal activities."


Representative Millender-McDonald and other members of the panel, this is but some of the documented evidence we have of the attitudes and actions of high U.S. officials toward narcotics trafficking and traffickers during the covert war against Nicaragua. While these records do not address the issue of who knew what, when, here in California, they do demonstrate a rather shocking pattern of government behavior that demands an accounting.

The key question, it seems to me, is how that accounting can, and should take place over both the short and long term future. Allow me to conclude with several brief recommendations:

First, members of Congress should call on the President to authorize his Intelligence Oversight Board to conduct a six month inquiry into the questions of official knowledge, tolerance, and complicity in drug trafficking during the covert operations against Nicaragua during the 1980s. With all due respect to the inspector general of the Justice Department and the CIA, an internal investigation is not likely to result in the public disclosure of information required to lay this scandal to rest. The Intelligence Oversight Board is a far more independent body, and far more likely to conduct a thorough investigation that can be declassified along with supporting documentation for a public accounting.

Second, while you, and other Representatives patiently wait on CIA director John Deutch to complete his internal review, you should demand that the CIA immediately declassify a previous internal investigation and report that the agency completed in 1988. This report is already known to exonerate the CIA of wrongdoing. But declassifying it, and all the files on which it was built, is likely to give us a far greater sense of CIA awareness of contra/drug operations, and the action or inaction of Agency officials in the face of this awareness over the course a many years. If the CIA doesn't have anything to hide, it should have no problem releasing this documentation. Its refusal to do so up till now, I suggest to you, should set off the alarm bells throughout the halls of Congress.

Third, a number of files should be released by the Justice Department immediately. Those include files that were not turned over to the Senate Subcommittee chaired by John Kerry in 1987 and 1988, particularly the files related to the so-called Frogman case in San Francisco. Similarly the Justice Department should release its never-filed indictment against Norwin Meneses and all of the supporting prosecution files that went into drafting that indictment, as well as all records relating to why that indictment was never filed and is now locked away in a vault in San Francisco.

Fourth, all DEA investigative records on Meneses and Danilo Blandón should be declassified immediately. In the case of Blandón, the DEA must also release the files on his informant status, including documentation on the deliberations to make him a high- paid informant. The U.S. intelligence community just devoted considerable resources to addressing the scandal of the CIA paying a known torturer and assassin in Guatemala as an informant. Having a major California drug dealer on the U.S. payroll as an informant strikes me as demanding at least as an equal accounting.

Finally, let me say that although the National Security Archive takes no position on legislation, I would personally hope that the political and social organization and mobilization that has been generated by public concern and the commitment of individuals like Rep. Millender-McDonald, Rep. Maxine Waters, Senator Barbara Boxer and others, will address the broader debate over the future of covert operations and intelligence reform. When you think about it, all of the CIA's major covert wars--in Indochina, in Afghanistan, and in Central America--have had as their byproducts drug trafficking and addiction. As the issue we are addressing here today suggests, all too often, covert operations conducted against some obscure enemy abroad have returned home to haunt the very people whose security they are ostensibly designed to protect.

This scandal provides an opportunity--and a challenge--for the American public to protect themselves from their protectors so that five, ten, or twenty years from now, we will not be sitting again in this gymnasium attempting to redress future crimes of state.

Thank you.



Related: Iran Contra Affair 25 years later:


A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


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Presidential 'Exposure' and roles detailed in Special Prosecutor Reports

Reagan Briefed In Advance on Each Group of Missiles Sold to Iran

Bush Chaired Secret Committee that Recommended Mining Harbors of Nicaragua

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 365

Posted - November 25, 2011

For more information contact:
Peter Kornbluh - 202/374-7281
Malcolm Byrne - 202/994-7043

The Iran-Contra Scandal: The Declassified History
by Peter Kornbluh and Malcolm Byrne (New York: The New Press, 314 pp.)
Order from Amazon.com


The Chronology: The Documented Day-by-Day Account of Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Contras
by Scott Armstrong, Malcolm Byrne, Tom Blanton, and the National Security Archive (New York: Warner Books, 678 pp.)
Order from Amazon.com


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Previous Iran Contra Briefing Books

The Iran-Contra Affair 20 Years On
Documents Spotlight Role of Reagan, Top Aides

The Robert Gates File
The Iran-Contra Scandal, 1991 Confirmation Hearings, and Excerpts from new book Safe for Democracy

The Oliver North File: His Diaries, E-Mail, and Memos on the Kerry Report, Contras and Drugs

Washington D.C., November 25, 2011 –President Ronald Reagan was briefed in advance about every weapons shipment in the Iran arms-for-hostages deals in 1985-86, and Vice President George H. W. Bush chaired a committee that recommended the mining of the harbors of Nicaragua in 1983, according to previously secret Independent Counsel assessments of "criminal liability" on the part of the two former leaders posted today by the National Security Archive.

Twenty-Five years after the advent of the "Iran-Contra affair," the two comprehensive "Memoranda on Criminal Liability of Former President Reagan and of President Bush" provide a roadmap of historical, though not legal, culpability of the nation's two top elected officials during the scandal from the perspective of a senior attorney in the Office of Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh. The documents were obtained pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the National Security Archive for the files compiled during Walsh's six-year investigation from 1987-1993.

The posting comes on the anniversary of the November 25, 1986, press conference during which Ronald Reagan and his attorney general, Edwin Meese, informed the American public that they had discovered a "diversion" of funds from the sale of arms to Iran to fund the contra war, thus tying together the two strands of the scandal which until that point had been separate in the public eye. The focus on the diversion, as Oliver North, the NSC staffer who supervised the two operations wrote in his memoirs, was itself a diversion. "This particular detail was so dramatic, so sexy, that it might actually-well divert public attention from other, even more important aspects of the story," North wrote, "such as what the President and his top advisors had known about and approved."

Ronald Reagan with Caspar Weinberger, George Shultz, Ed Meese, and Don Regan discussing the President's remarks on the Iran-Contra affair, Oval Office. 11/25/86.

Source credit: Courtesy Ronald Reagan Library

The criminal liability studies were drafted in March 1991 by a lawyer on Walsh's staff, Christian J. Mixter (now a partner in the Washington law firm of Morgan Lewis), and represented preliminary conclusions on whether to prosecute both Reagan and Bush for various crimes ranging from conspiracy to perjury.

On Reagan, Mixter reported that the President was "briefed in advance" on each of the illicit sales of missiles to Iran. The criminality of the arms sales to Iran "involves a number of close legal calls," Mixter wrote. He found that it would be difficult to prosecute Reagan for violating the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) which mandates advising Congress about arms transfers through a third country-the U.S. missiles were transferred to Iran from Israel during the first phase of the operation in 1985-because Attorney General Meese had told the president the 1947 National Security Act could be invoked to supersede the AECA.

As the Iran operations went forward, some of Reagan's own top officials certainly believed that the violation of the AECA as well as the failure to notify Congress of these covert operations were illegal-and prosecutable. In a dramatic meeting on December 7, 1985, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger told the President that "washing [the] transaction thru Israel wouldn't make it legal." When Reagan responded that "he could answer charges of illegality but he couldn't answer charge that 'big strong President Reagan passed up a chance to free hostages," Weinberger suggested they might all end up in jail. "Visiting hours are on Thursdays," Weinberger stated. As the scandal unfolded a year later, Reagan and his top aides gathered in the White House Situation Room the day before the November 25 press conference to work out a way to protect the president from impeachment proceedings.

On the Contra operations, Mixter determined that Reagan had, in effect, authorized the illegal effort to keep the contra war going after Congress terminated funding by ordering his staff to sustain the contras "body and soul." But he was not briefed on the resupply efforts in enough detail to make him criminally part of the conspiracy to violate the Boland Amendment that had cut off aid to the Contras in October 1984.

Mixter also found that Reagan's public misrepresentations of his role in Iran-Contra operations could not be prosecuted because deceiving the press and the American public was not a crime.

On the role of George Herbert Walker Bush, Mixter reported that the Vice President's "knowledge of the Iran Initiative appears generally to have been coterminous with that of President Reagan." Indeed, on the Iran-Contra operations overall, "it is quite clear that Mr. Bush attended most (although not quite all) of the key briefings and meetings in which Mr. Reagan participated, and therefore can be presumed to have known many of the Iran/Contra facts that the former President knew." But since Bush was subordinate to Reagan, his role as a "secondary officer" made it more difficult to hold him criminally liable.

Mixter's detailed report on Bush's involvement does, however, shed considerable light on his role in both the Iran and Contra sides of the scandal. The memorandum on criminal liability noted that Bush had a long involvement in the Contra war, chairing the secret "Special Situation Group" in 1983 which "recommended specific covert operations" including "the mining of Nicaragua's rivers and harbors." Mixter also cited no less than a dozen meetings that Bush attended between 1984 and 1986 in which illicit aid to the Contras was discussed.

Despite the Mixter evaluations, Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh continued to consider filing criminal indictments against both Reagan and Bush. In a final effort to determine Reagan's criminal liability and give him "one last chance to tell the truth," Walsh traveled to Los Angeles to depose Reagan in July 1992. "He was cordial and offered everybody licorice jelly beans but he remembered almost nothing," Walsh wrote in his memoir, Firewall, The Iran-Contra Conspiracy and Cover-Up. The former president was "disabled," and already showing clear signs of Althzeimers disease. "By the time the meeting had ended," Walsh remembered, "it was as obvious to the former president's counsel as it was to us that we were not going to prosecute Reagan."

The Special Prosecutor also seriously considered indicting Bush for covering up his relevant diaries, which Walsh had requested in 1987. Only in December 1992, after he had lost the election to Bill Clinton, did Bush turn over the transcribed diaries. During the independent counsel's investigation of why the diaries had not been turned over sooner, Lee Liberman, an Associate Counsel in the White House Counsel's office, was deposed. In the deposition, Liberman stated that one of the reasons the diaries were withheld until after the election was that "it would have been impossible to deal with in the election campaign because of all the political ramifications, especially since the President's polling numbers were low."

In 1993, Walsh advised now former President Bush that the Independent Counsel's office wanted to take his deposition on Iran-Contra. But Bush essentially refused. In one of his last acts as Independent Counsel, Walsh considered taking the cover-up case against Bush to a Grand Jury to obtain a subpoena. On the advice of his staff, however, he decided not to pursue an indictment of Bush.

Among the first entries Bush had recorded in his diary (begun in late 1986) was his reaction to reports from a Lebanese newspaper that a U.S. team had secretly gone to Iran to trade arms for hostages. "On the news at this time is the question of the hostages," he noted on November 5, 1986. "I'm one of the few people that know fully the details. This is one operation that has been held very, very tight, and I hope it will not leak."

Read the Documents:

Document 1, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Office of the Independent Counsel, C.J. Mixter to Judge Walsh, "Criminal Liability of Former President Reagan," March 21, 1991, 198 pages.

In this lengthy evaluation, Christian Mixter, a lawyer on the staff of the Independent Counsel, provides Lawrence Walsh with a comprehensive evaluation of the legal liability of President Ronald Reagan in the Iran-Contra operations. The memorandum reviews, in great detail, not only the evolution of the operations, but Reagan's central role in them. It includes "a summary of facts" on both the sale of arms to Iran, in order to free American hostages held in Lebanon, and the evolution of the illicit contra resupply operations in Central America, as well as the connection between these two seemingly separate covert efforts. The report traces Reagan's knowledge and authorization of the arms sales, as well as his tacit authorization of the illegal contra resupply activities; it also details his role in obtaining third country funding for the Contras after Congress terminated U.S. support in 1984. The document further evaluates Reagan's responses in two official inquiries to determine whether they rise to the level of perjury. For a variety of reasons, Mixter's opinion is that "there is no basis for a criminal prosecution" of Reagan in each of the areas under scrutiny, although he notes that it is a "close legal call" on the issue of arms sales to Iran.

Document 2
Office of the Independent Counsel, C.J. Mixter to Judge Walsh, "Criminal Liability of President Bush," March 21, 1991, 89 pages.

In this assessment, Mixter traces then-Vice President Bush's involvement in both sides of the Iran-Contra operations, including his meeting with a high Israeli official on the sales of arms to Iran in July 1986, and his presence at no fewer than a dozen meetings during which illicit assistance to the Contras was discussed. The legal evaluation also contains a detailed overview of Bush's role in arranging a quid pro quo deal with two Presidents of Honduras in order to garner Honduran support for allowing the Contras to use that country as a base of operations against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. "It is quite clear that Mr. Bush attended most (although not quite all) of the key briefings and meetings in which Mr. Reagan participated, and therefore can be presumed to have known many of the Iran/Contra facts that the former President knew." But since Bush was subordinate to Reagan, his role as a "secondary officer" rendered him less likely to be criminally liable for the actions he took.

The Mixter memo on Bush was written before the existence and cover-up of the Vice President's diaries became known in late 1992. The Independent Counsel's office did launch an investigation into why the diaries were not previously turned over and considered bringing charges against the former Vice President for illegally withholding them.

More – The Top 5 Declassified Iran-Contra Historical Documents:

Document 1
NSC, National Security Planning Group Minutes, "Subject: Central America," SECRET, June 25, 1984

At a pivotal meeting of the highest officials in the Reagan Administration, the President and Vice President and their top aides discuss how to sustain the Contra war in the face of mounting Congressional opposition. The discussion focuses on asking third countries to fund and maintain the effort, circumventing Congressional power to curtail the CIA's paramilitary operations. In a remarkable passage, Secretary of State George P. Shultz warns the president that White House adviser James Baker has said that "if we go out and try to get money from third countries, it is an impeachable offense." But Vice President George Bush argues the contrary: "How can anyone object to the US encouraging third parties to provide help to the anti-Sandinistas…? The only problem that might come up is if the United States were to promise to give these third parties something in return so that some people could interpret this as some kind of exchange." Later, Bush participated in arranging a quid pro quo deal with Honduras in which the U.S. did provide substantial overt and covert aid to the Honduran military in return for Honduran support of the Contra war effort.

Document 2
White House, Draft National Security Decision Directive (NSDD), "U.S. Policy Toward Iran," TOP SECRET, (with cover memo from Robert C. McFarlane to George P. Shultz and Caspar W. Weinberger), June 17, 1985

The secret deals with Iran were mainly aimed at freeing American hostages who were being held in Lebanon by forces linked to the Tehran regime. But there was another, subsidiary motivation on the part of some officials, which was to press for renewed ties with the Islamic Republic. One of the proponents of this controversial idea was National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, who eventually took the lead on the U.S. side in the arms-for-hostages deals until his resignation in December 1985. This draft of a National Security Decision Directive, prepared at his behest by NSC and CIA staff, puts forward the argument for developing ties with Iran based on the traditional Cold War concern that isolating the Khomeini regime could open the way for Moscow to assert its influence in a strategically vital part of the world. To counter that possibility, the document proposes allowing limited amounts of arms to be supplied to the Iranians. The idea did not get far, as the next document testifies.

Document 3
Defense Department, Handwritten Notes, Caspar W. Weinberger Reaction to Draft NSDD on Iran (with attached note and transcription by Colin Powell), June 18, 1985

While CIA Director William J. Casey, for one, supported McFarlane's idea of reaching out to Iran through limited supplies of arms, among other approaches, President Reagan's two senior foreign policy advisers strongly opposed the notion. In this scrawled note to his military assistant, Colin Powell, Weinberger belittles the proposal as "almost too absurd to comment on ... It's like asking Qadhafi to Washington for a cozy chat." Richard Armitage, who is mentioned in Powell's note to his boss, was an assistant secretary of defense at the time and later became deputy secretary of state under Powell.

Document 4
Diary, Caspar W. Weinberger, December 7, 1985

The disastrous November HAWK shipment prompted U.S. officials to take direct control of the arms deals with Iran. Until then, Israel had been responsible for making the deliveries, for which the U.S. agreed to replenish their stocks of American weapons. Before making this important decision, President Reagan convened an extraordinary meeting of several top advisers in the White House family quarters on December 7, 1985, to discuss the issue. Among those attending were Secretary of State Shultz and Secretary of Defense Weinberger. Both men objected vehemently to the idea of shipping arms to Iran, which the U.S. had declared a sponsor of international terrorism. But in this remarkable set of notes, Weinberger captures the president's determination to move ahead regardless of the obstacles, legal or otherwise: "President sd. he could answer charges of illegality but he couldn't answer charge that 'big strong President Reagan passed up chance to free hostages.'"

Document 5
NSC, Oliver L. North Memorandum, "Release of American Hostages in Beirut," (so-called "Diversion Memo"), TOP SECRET/SENSITIVE, April 4, 1986

At the center of the public's perception of the scandal was the revelation that the two previously unconnected covert activities -- trading arms for hostages with Iran and backing the Nicaraguan Contras against congressional prohibitions -- had become joined. This memo from Oliver North is the main piece of evidence to survive which spells out the plan to use "residuals" from the arms deals to fund the rebels. Justice Department investigators discovered it in North's NSC files in late November 1986. For unknown reasons it escaped North's notorious document "shredding party" which took place after the scandal became public.

Introduction From Tom Blanton

President Reagan's 1990 Testimony (39 parts):


Iran Contra's Untold Story

A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


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Reply with quote  #279 
Dark alliance 887 pgs


Off topic-- some great october surprise articles.  Lee Hamilton was the same congressman who blocked the Iran Contra affair inquiry

great articles...

Bohemian Grove & Reagan’s ‘Treason’: This weekend, Occupy protesters are targeting the Bohemian Grove in California, where well-connected rich men go on retreats several weekends each summer. The secrecy of the 1980 encampment became a factor in the cover-up of possible “treason” by Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, writes Robert Parry. July 13, 2012

 –Shamir’s October Surprise Admission: Two decades ago, ex-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir offered the stunning confirmation that “of course” an October Surprise plot had blocked President Jimmy Carter from gaining the release of 52 U.S. hostages in Iran, thus helping Ronald Reagan win the presidency in 1980, reports Robert Parry. July 3, 2012












A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #280 


How a big US bank laundered billions from Mexico's murderous drug gangs

As the violence spread, billions of dollars of cartel cash began to seep into the global financial system. But a special investigation by the Observer reveals how the increasingly frantic warnings of one London whistleblower were ignored

Mexico drugs
A soldier guards marijuana that is being incinerated in Tijuana, Mexico. Photograph: Guillermo Arias/AP

On 10 April 2006, a DC-9 jet landed in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, on the Gulf of Mexico, as the sun was setting. Mexican soldiers, waiting to intercept it, found 128 cases packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100m. But something else – more important and far-reaching – was discovered in the paper trail behind the purchase of the plane by the Sinaloa narco-trafficking cartel.

During a 22-month investigation by agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and others, it emerged that the cocaine smugglers had bought the plane with money they had laundered through one of the biggest banks in the United States: Wachovia, now part of the giant Wells Fargo.

The authorities uncovered billions of dollars in wire transfers, traveller's cheques and cash shipments through Mexican exchanges into Wachovia accounts. Wachovia was put under immediate investigation for failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering programme. Of special significance was that the period concerned began in 2004, which coincided with the first escalation of violence along the US-Mexico border that ignited the current drugs war.

Criminal proceedings were brought against Wachovia, though not against any individual, but the case never came to court. In March 2010, Wachovia settled the biggest action brought under the US bank secrecy act, through the US district court in Miami. Now that the year's "deferred prosecution" has expired, the bank is in effect in the clear. It paid federal authorities $110m in forfeiture, for allowing transactions later proved to be connected to drug smuggling, and incurred a $50m fine for failing to monitor cash used to ship 22 tons of cocaine.

More shocking, and more important, the bank was sanctioned for failing to apply the proper anti-laundering strictures to the transfer of $378.4bn – a sum equivalent to one-third of Mexico's gross national product – into dollar accounts from so-called casas de cambio (CDCs) in Mexico, currency exchange houses with which the bank did business.

"Wachovia's blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations," said Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor. Yet the total fine was less than 2% of the bank's $12.3bn profit for 2009. On 24 March 2010, Wells Fargo stock traded at $30.86 – up 1% on the week of the court settlement.

The conclusion to the case was only the tip of an iceberg, demonstrating the role of the "legal" banking sector in swilling hundreds of billions of dollars – the blood money from the murderous drug trade in Mexico and other places in the world – around their global operations, now bailed out by the taxpayer.

At the height of the 2008 banking crisis, Antonio Maria Costa, then head of the United Nations office on drugs and crime, said he had evidence to suggest the proceeds from drugs and crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to banks on the brink of collapse. "Inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade," he said. "There were signs that some banks were rescued that way."

Wachovia was acquired by Wells Fargo during the 2008 crash, just as Wells Fargo became a beneficiary of $25bn in taxpayers' money. Wachovia's prosecutors were clear, however, that there was no suggestion Wells Fargo had behaved improperly; it had co-operated fully with the investigation. Mexico is the US's third largest international trading partner and Wachovia was understandably interested in this volume of legitimate trade.

José Luis Marmolejo, who prosecuted those running one of the casas de cambio at the Mexican end, said: "Wachovia handled all the transfers. They never reported any as suspicious."

"As early as 2004, Wachovia understood the risk," the bank admitted in the statement of settlement with the federal government, but, "despite these warnings, Wachovia remained in the business". There is, of course, the legitimate use of CDCs as a way into the Hispanic market. In 2005 the World Bank said that Mexico was receiving $8.1bn in remittances.

During research into the Wachovia Mexican case, the Observer obtained documents previously provided to financial regulators. It emerged that the alarm that was ignored came from, among other places, London, as a result of the diligence of one of the most important whistleblowers of our time. A man who, in a series of interviews with the Observer, adds detail to the documents, laying bare the story of how Wachovia was at the centre of one of the world's biggest money-laundering operations.

Martin Woods, a Liverpudlian in his mid-40s, joined the London office of Wachovia Bank in February 2005 as a senior anti-money laundering officer. He had previously served with the Metropolitan police drug squad. As a detective he joined the money-laundering investigation team of the National Crime Squad, where he worked on the British end of the Bank of New York money-laundering scandal in the late 1990s.

Woods talks like a police officer – in the best sense of the word: punctilious, exact, with a roguish humour, but moral at the core. He was an ideal appointment for any bank eager to operate a diligent and effective risk management policy against the lucrative scourge of high finance: laundering, knowing or otherwise, the vast proceeds of criminality, tax-evasion, and dealing in arms and drugs.

Woods had a police officer's eye and a police officer's instincts – not those of a banker. And this influenced not only his methods, but his mentality. "I think that a lot of things matter more than money – and that marks you out in a culture which appears to prevail in many of the banks in the world," he says.

Woods was set apart by his modus operandi. His speciality, he explains, was his application of a "know your client", or KYC, policing strategy to identifying dirty money. "KYC is a fundamental approach to anti-money laundering, going after tax evasion or counter-terrorist financing. Who are your clients? Is the documentation right? Good, responsible banking involved always knowing your customer and it still does."

When he looked at Wachovia, the first thing Woods noticed was a deficiency in KYC information. And among his first reports to his superiors at the bank's headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, were observations on a shortfall in KYC at Wachovia's operation in London, which he set about correcting, while at the same time implementing what was known as an enhanced transaction monitoring programme, gathering more information on clients whose money came through the bank's offices in the City, in sterling or euros. By August 2006, Woods had identified a number of suspicious transactions relating to casas de cambio customers in Mexico.

Primarily, these involved deposits of traveller's cheques in euros. They had sequential numbers and deposited larger amounts of money than any innocent travelling person would need, with inadequate or no KYC information on them and what seemed to a trained eye to be dubious signatures. "It was basic work," he says. "They didn't answer the obvious questions: 'Is the transaction real, or does it look synthetic? Does the traveller's cheque meet the protocols? Is it all there, and if not, why not?'"

Woods discussed the matter with Wachovia's global head of anti-money laundering for correspondent banking, who believed the cheques could signify tax evasion. He then undertook what banks call a "look back" at previous transactions and saw fit to submit a series of SARs, or suspicious activity reports, to the authorities in the UK and his superiors in Charlotte, urging the blocking of named parties and large series of sequentially numbered traveller's cheques from Mexico. He issued a number of SARs in 2006, of which 50 related to the casas de cambio in Mexico. To his amazement, the response from Wachovia's Miami office, the centre for Latin American business, was anything but supportive – he felt it was quite the reverse.

As it turned out, however, Woods was on the right track. Wachovia's business in Mexico was coming under closer and closer scrutiny by US federal law enforcement. Wachovia was issued with a number of subpoenas for information on its Mexican operation. Woods has subsequently been informed that Wachovia had six or seven thousand subpoenas. He says this was "An absurd number. So at what point does someone at the highest level not get the feeling that something is very, very wrong?"

In April and May 2007, Wachovia – as a result of increasing interest and pressure from the US attorney's office – began to close its relationship with some of the casas de cambio. But rather than launch an internal investigation into Woods's alerts over Mexico, Woods claims Wachovia hung its own money-laundering expert out to dry. The records show that during 2007 Woods "continued to submit more SARs related to the casas de cambio".

In July 2007, all of Wachovia's remaining 10 Mexican casa de cambio clients operating through London suddenly stopped doing so. Later in 2007, after the investigation of Wachovia was reported in the US financial media, the bank decided to end its remaining relationships with the Mexican casas de cambio globally. By this time, Woods says, he found his personal situation within the bank untenable; while the bank acted on one level to protect itself from the federal investigation into its shortcomings, on another, it rounded on the man who had been among the first to spot them.

On 16 June Woods was told by Wachovia's head of compliance that his latest SAR need not have been filed, that he had no legal requirement to investigate an overseas case and no right of access to documents held overseas from Britain, even if they were held by Wachovia.

Woods's life went into freefall. He went to hospital with a prolapsed disc, reported sick and was told by the bank that he not done so in the appropriate manner, as directed by the employees' handbook. He was off work for three weeks, returning in August 2007 to find a letter from the bank's compliance managing director, which was unrelenting in its tone and words of warning.

The letter addressed itself to what the manager called "specific examples of your failure to perform at an acceptable standard". Woods, on the edge of a breakdown, was put on sick leave by his GP; he was later given psychiatric treatment, enrolled on a stress management course and put on medication.

Late in 2007, Woods attended a function at Scotland Yard where colleagues from the US were being entertained. There, he sought out a representative of the Drug Enforcement Administration and told him about the casas de cambio, the SARs and his employer's reaction. The Federal Reserve and officials of the office of comptroller of currency in Washington DC then "spent a lot of time examining the SARs" that had been sent by Woods to Charlotte from London.

"They got back in touch with me a while afterwards and we began to put the pieces of the jigsaw together," says Woods. What they found was – as Costa says – the tip of the iceberg of what was happening to drug money in the banking industry, but at least it was visible and it had a name: Wachovia.

In June 2005, the DEA, the criminal division of the Internal Revenue Service and the US attorney's office in southern Florida began investigating wire transfers from Mexico to the US. They were traced back to correspondent bank accounts held by casas de cambio at Wachovia. The CDC accounts were supervised and managed by a business unit of Wachovia in the bank's Miami offices.

"Through CDCs," said the court document, "persons in Mexico can use hard currency and … wire transfer the value of that currency to US bank accounts to purchase items in the United States or other countries. The nature of the CDC business allows money launderers the opportunity to move drug dollars that are in Mexico into CDCs and ultimately into the US banking system.

"On numerous occasions," say the court papers, "monies were deposited into a CDC by a drug-trafficking organisation. Using false identities, the CDC then wired that money through its Wachovia correspondent bank accounts for the purchase of airplanes for drug-trafficking organisations." The court settlement of 2010 would detail that "nearly $13m went through correspondent bank accounts at Wachovia for the purchase of aircraft to be used in the illegal narcotics trade. From these aircraft, more than 20,000kg of cocaine were seized."

All this occurred despite the fact that Wachovia's office was in Miami, designated by the US government as a "high-intensity money laundering and related financial crime area", and a "high-intensity drug trafficking area". Since the drug cartel war began in 2005, Mexico had been designated a high-risk source of money laundering.

"As early as 2004," the court settlement would read, "Wachovia understood the risk that was associated with doing business with the Mexican CDCs. Wachovia was aware of the general industry warnings. As early as July 2005, Wachovia was aware that other large US banks were exiting the CDC business based on [anti-money laundering] concerns … despite these warnings, Wachovia remained in business."

On 16 March 2010, Douglas Edwards, senior vice-president of Wachovia Bank, put his signature to page 10 of a 25-page settlement, in which the bank admitted its role as outlined by the prosecutors. On page 11, he signed again, as senior vice-president of Wells Fargo. The documents show Wachovia providing three services to 22 CDCs in Mexico: wire transfers, a "bulk cash service" and a "pouch deposit service", to accept "deposit items drawn on US banks, eg cheques and traveller's cheques", as spotted by Woods.

"For the time period of 1 May 2004 through 31 May 2007, Wachovia processed at least $$373.6bn in CDCs, $4.7bn in bulk cash" – a total of more than $378.3bn, a sum that dwarfs the budgets debated by US state and UK local authorities to provide services to citizens.

The document gives a fascinating insight into how the laundering of drug money works. It details how investigators "found readily identifiable evidence of red flags of large-scale money laundering". There were "structured wire transfers" whereby "it was commonplace in the CDC accounts for round-number wire transfers to be made on the same day or in close succession, by the same wire senders, for the … same account".

Over two days, 10 wire transfers by four individuals "went though Wachovia for deposit into an aircraft broker's account. All of the transfers were in round numbers. None of the individuals of business that wired money had any connection to the aircraft or the entity that allegedly owned the aircraft. The investigation has further revealed that the identities of the individuals who sent the money were false and that the business was a shell entity. That plane was subsequently seized with approximately 2,000kg of cocaine on board."

Many of the sequentially numbered traveller's cheques, of the kind dealt with by Woods, contained "unusual markings" or "lacked any legible signature". Also, "many of the CDCs that used Wachovia's bulk cash service sent significantly more cash to Wachovia than what Wachovia had expected. More specifically, many of the CDCs exceeded their monthly activity by at least 50%."

Recognising these "red flags", the US attorney's office in Miami, the IRS and the DEA began investigating Wachovia, later joined by FinCEN, one of the US Treasury's agencies to fight money laundering, while the office of the comptroller of the currency carried out a parallel investigation. The violations they found were, says the document, "serious and systemic and allowed certain Wachovia customers to launder millions of dollars of proceeds from the sale of illegal narcotics through Wachovia accounts over an extended time period. The investigation has identified that at least $110m in drug proceeds were funnelled through the CDC accounts held at Wachovia."

The settlement concludes by discussing Wachovia's "considerable co-operation and remedial actions" since the prosecution was initiated, after the bank was bought by Wells Fargo. "In consideration of Wachovia's remedial actions," concludes the prosecutor, "the United States shall recommend to the court … that prosecution of Wachovia on the information filed … be deferred for a period of 12 months."

But while the federal prosecution proceeded, Woods had remained out in the cold. On Christmas Eve 2008, his lawyers filed tribunal proceedings against Wachovia for bullying and detrimental treatment of a whistleblower. The case was settled in May 2009, by which time Woods felt as though he was "the most toxic person in the bank". Wachovia agreed to pay an undisclosed amount, in return for which Woods left the bank and said he would not make public the terms of the settlement.

After years of tribulation, Woods was finally formally vindicated, though not by Wachovia: a letter arrived from John Dugan, the comptroller of the currency in Washington DC, dated 19 March 2010 – three days after the settlement in Miami. Dugan said he was "writing to personally recognise and express my appreciation for the role you played in the actions brought against Wachovia Bank for violations of the bank secrecy act … Not only did the information that you provided facilitate our investigation, but you demonstrated great personal courage and integrity by speaking up. Without the efforts of individuals like you, actions such as the one taken against Wachovia would not be possible."

The so-called "deferred prosecution" detailed in the Miami document is a form of probation whereby if the bank abides by the law for a year, charges are dropped. So this March the bank was in the clear. The week that the deferred prosecution expired, a spokeswoman for Wells Fargo said the parent bank had no comment to make on the documentation pertaining to Woods's case, or his allegations. She added that there was no comment on Sloman's remarks to the court; a provision in the settlement stipulated Wachovia was not allowed to issue public statements that contradicted it.

But the settlement leaves a sour taste in many mouths – and certainly in Woods's. The deferred prosecution is part of this "cop-out all round", he says. "The regulatory authorities do not have to spend any more time on it, and they don't have to push it as far as a criminal trial. They just issue criminal proceedings, and settle. The law enforcement people do what they are supposed to do, but what's the point? All those people dealing with all that money from drug-trafficking and murder, and no one goes to jail?"

One of the foremost figures in the training of anti-money laundering officers is Robert Mazur, lead infiltrator for US law enforcement of the Colombian Medellín cartel during the epic prosecution and collapse of the BCCI banking business in 1991 (his story was made famous by his memoir, The Infiltrator, which became a movie).

Mazur, whose firm Chase and Associates works closely with law enforcement agencies and trains officers for bank anti-money laundering, cast a keen eye over the case against Wachovia, and he says now that "the only thing that will make the banks properly vigilant to what is happening is when they hear the rattle of handcuffs in the boardroom".

Mazur said that "a lot of the law enforcement people were disappointed to see a settlement" between the administration and Wachovia. "But I know there were external circumstances that worked to Wachovia's benefit, not least that the US banking system was on the edge of collapse."

What concerns Mazur is that what law enforcement agencies and politicians hope to achieve against the cartels is limited, and falls short of the obvious attack the US could make in its war on drugs: go after the money. "We're thinking way too small," Mazur says. "I train law enforcement officers, thousands of them every year, and they say to me that if they tried to do half of what I did, they'd be arrested. But I tell them: 'You got to think big. The headlines you will be reading in seven years' time will be the result of the work you begin now.' With BCCI, we had to spend two years setting it up, two years doing undercover work, and another two years getting it to trial. If they want to do something big, like go after the money, that's how long it takes."

But Mazur warns: "If you look at the career ladders of law enforcement, there's no incentive to go after the big money. People move every two to three years. The DEA is focused on drug trafficking rather than money laundering. You get a quicker result that way – they want to get the traffickers and seize their assets. But this is like treating a sick plant by cutting off a few branches – it just grows new ones. Going after the big money is cutting down the plant – it's a harder door to knock on, it's a longer haul, and it won't get you the short-term riches."


The office of the comptroller of the currency is still examining whether individuals in Wachovia are criminally liable. Sources at FinCEN say that a so-called "look-back" is in process, as directed by the settlement and agreed to by Wachovia, into the $378.4bn that was not directly associated with the aircraft purchases and cocaine hauls, but neither was it subject to the proper anti-laundering checks. A FinCEN source says that $20bn already examined appears to have "suspicious origins". But this is just the beginning.

Antonio Maria Costa, who was executive director of the UN's office on drugs and crime from May 2002 to August 2010, charts the history of the contamination of the global banking industry by drug and criminal money since his first initiatives to try to curb it from the European commission during the 1990s. "The connection between organised crime and financial institutions started in the late 1970s, early 1980s," he says, "when the mafia became globalised."

Until then, criminal money had circulated largely in cash, with the authorities making the occasional, spectacular "sting" or haul. During Costa's time as director for economics and finance at the EC in Brussels, from 1987, inroads were made against penetration of banks by criminal laundering, and "criminal money started moving back to cash, out of the financial institutions and banks. Then two things happened: the financial crisis in Russia, after the emergence of the Russian mafia, and the crises of 2003 and 2007-08.

"With these crises," says Costa, "the banking sector was short of liquidity, the banks exposed themselves to the criminal syndicates, who had cash in hand."

Costa questions the readiness of governments and their regulatory structures to challenge this large-scale corruption of the global economy: "Government regulators showed what they were capable of when the issue suddenly changed to laundering money for terrorism – on that, they suddenly became serious and changed their attitude."

Hardly surprising, then, that Wachovia does not appear to be the end of the line. In August 2010, it emerged in quarterly disclosures by HSBC that the US justice department was seeking to fine it for anti-money laundering compliance problems reported to include dealings with Mexico.


"Wachovia had my résumé, they knew who I was," says Woods. "But they did not want to know – their attitude was, 'Why are you doing this?' They should have been on my side, because they were compliance people, not commercial people. But really they were commercial people all along. We're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. This is the biggest money-laundering scandal of our time.

"These are the proceeds of murder and misery in Mexico, and of drugs sold around the world," he says. "All the law enforcement people wanted to see this come to trial. But no one goes to jail. "What does the settlement do to fight the cartels? Nothing – it doesn't make the job of law enforcement easier and it encourages the cartels and anyone who wants to make money by laundering their blood dollars. Where's the risk? There is none.

"Is it in the interest of the American people to encourage both the drug cartels and the banks in this way? Is it in the interest of the Mexican people? It's simple: if you don't see the correlation between the money laundering by banks and the 30,000 people killed in Mexico, you're missing the point."

Woods feels unable to rest on his laurels. He tours the world for a consultancy he now runs, Hermes Forensic Solutions, counselling and speaking to banks on the dangers of laundering criminal money, and how to spot and stop it. "New York and London," says Woods, "have become the world's two biggest laundries of criminal and drug money, and offshore tax havens. Not the Cayman Islands, not the Isle of Man or Jersey. The big laundering is right through the City of London and Wall Street.

"After the Wachovia case, no one in the regulatory community has sat down with me and asked, 'What happened?' or 'What can we do to avoid this happening to other banks?' They are not interested. They are the same people who attack the whistleblowers and this is a position the [British] Financial Services Authority at least has adopted on legal advice: it has been advised that the confidentiality of banking and bankers takes primacy over the public information disclosure act. That is how the priorities work: secrecy first, public interest second.

"Meanwhile, the drug industry has two products: money and suffering. On one hand, you have massive profits and enrichment. On the other, you have massive suffering, misery and death. You cannot separate one from the other.

"What happened at Wachovia was symptomatic of the failure of the entire regulatory system to apply the kind of proper governance and adequate risk management which would have prevented not just the laundering of blood money, but the global crisis."


Couple good articles on the Wachovia scandal

Laundering cartel money is nothing new for banking industry


Where the Mob Keeps Its Money




Western banks 'reaping billions from Colombian cocaine trade'

While cocaine production ravages countries in Central America, consumers in the US and Europe are helping developed economies grow rich from the profits, a study claims





Just how much does the banking industry depend on drug cartel profits?


Ex-Colombian president's family face US extradition over drugs charges

Álvaro Uribe's niece and her mother are accused of having ties to Sinaloa cartel drug lord, Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán




Homes that were fit for a kingpin: The eerie abandoned island mansions of Colombia's once-powerful drug lords

By James Nye



Drug cartels have infiltrated the U.S. Border Patrol

January 17, 2011







A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


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Dirty money thrives despite Mexico drug war
Major banks are getting rich from money laundered by violent Mexican drug gangs, whistleblower says.
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2012 13:31
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Cambridge, UK - Sitting in the smart office of a London-based financial security firm, Martin Woods seems far removed from the drug violence tearing at Mexico's soul.

A former compliance officer with the US bank Wachovia, Woods - despite his unassuming demeanor and upper-crust British manners - has seen the drug war and its illicit loot in a light unavailable to even the most seasoned observers.

Back in 2006, Woods started asking questions about billions of dollars pouring into Wachovia accounts in the US from Mexican currency exchanges.

"I guess what surprised me most was my own naivete," Woods told Al Jazeera. "I aggravated my own employers (by bringing forward evidence of laundering) and also the regulators themselves."

In 2010, Wachovia, now owned by Wells Fargo, settled out of court for the largest violation of the Bank Secrecy Act in US history. They paid a fine of $160m for laundering a whopping $378.4bn from Mexican currency exchange houses between 2004 and 2007. Much of this cash is thought to have been drug money, moved without proper documentation from Casa's de Cambio in Mexico to US banks. 

Two years later, Woods said: "There was no consequence for anyone dealing with that money. Some other compliance officers broke the rules and they kept their jobs. I obeyed all the rules, blew the whistle and lost my job."

Wells Fargo did not return phone calls or emails from Al Jazeera requesting comment. 

'Stop the money flow'

What is money laundering?

- Drugs, like other illegal operations, are a cash business. 

- To be able to use the banking system or to make some major purchases, criminals need to create a paper trail to "clean" the money, to make it look like it originated in legitimate enterprise. 

- By using currency exchange houses to move the money internationally into bank accounts, cartels can disguise it to look like remittances from migrants or other legitimate forms of income. 

- Drug gangs and other criminals often establish front companies to move money. In one case, for example, a toy exporter in Los Angles inflated the costs of importing toys from China. This inflation provided a space where drug money could be inserted onto the company's books disguising itself as a part of normal business dealings. 

- Internationally, money laundering represents between two and five per cent of global GDP, according to estimates from the UNODC.

As the body count from Mexico's drug war passes 50,000, public beheadings have become commonplace. Cartels have gunned down teenagers at house parties, massacred dozens of migrants on rural ranches and torched urban casinos. In the current climate of violence and impunity, financial analysts say there is no hyperbole in accusing bankers of laundering blood money for international assassins.

"The whole point of being a drug dealer is money," Heather Lowe, a Washington-based lawyer with Global Financial Integrity, a watchdog group that tracks laundering, told Al Jazeera. "Identifying and stopping that money flow is crucial."

While exact numbers are impossible to come by, due to the nature of the business, the UN Organisation on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that illegal narcotics represent the world's third-biggest export, after oil and the arms trade, worth more than $300bn annually.

"You have these horrendous crimes being committed, people being shot 10, 20 or 30 at a time," said Walter MacKay, a former Canadian police officer who has trained Mexican security forces and now researches the drug war from Mexico City. "This dirty money washing through economies just exacerbates everything," he told Al Jazeera.

Illicit drug sales in the United States generate annual revenues between $18bn and $39bn, according to the US Justice Department's Federal Bureau of Investigation. Much of this money flows back to Mexico, where cartels use it to pay underlings, bribe politicians, invest in legitimate businesses and purchase raw product.

Officially started in its modern incarnation by Richard Nixon and given its nomme de guerre by Ronald Reagan, the "war on drugs" doesn't seem likely to end anytime soon, and many analysts believe the military solution isn't working as violence is increasing. Some policy experts and forensic accountants believe tracking money earned by cartels, along with waging a PR campaign to tackle the demand side of the equation in the US, is the best in a series of bad options.

"In order to weaken organised crime, it is far safer and more effective in the long run to erode its financial base," Laura Carlsen, director of the Americas programme of the International Relations Centre in Mexico City, told Al Jazeera.

'Financial terrorism'

Bulk cash seizures by US authorities, the easiest and most common way of taking money from cartels, totalled $798m between January 2008 and August 2010, leading the US National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) to conclude that they haven't affected trafficking operations to "a significant extent".

Mexico's President Felipe Calderon has said: "The prevention of money laundering and combating financial terrorism is a fundamental part of the state's comprehensive strategy against organised crime." But the statistics are worrying. In the last 10 years, Mexico has seized less than $40m in cash transfers - that's about $4m annually out of close to $40bn in drug sales. 

Currency exchange houses, like the ones used by Wachovia, are probably the most common way for cartels to launder funds, former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard told a gathering at Woodrow Wilson Centre for Studies in May 2012, although it's impossible to be sure. Traffickers normally "contract with money brokers to use their networks of bank accounts and business connections to structure large sums for transport across the border", Goddard said.

Officials in Mexico believe the tide of laundered money could be as high as $50bn per year, a sum equal to about three per cent of Mexico's legitimate economy - more than all its oil exports or spending on key social programmes. Internationally, money laundering represents between two and five per cent of global GDP, or between $800bn and $2tn annually, according to the UNODC.

"Bankers, high-end car dealers and others have a legal duty to report suspicious activities," David Manley, an officer who tracks money laundering with the City of London police, told Al Jazeera. "If they [bankers, solicitors or property dealers] fail to report accurately, they can be prosecuted."

No rewards for whistleblower

While following the law, Martin Woods was reportedly not greeted with enthusiasm by his bosses. After blowing the whistle on shady money coming into Wachovia accounts without proper documentation, he met stiff resistance from the corporate brass. "Ninety-six per cent of whistleblowers never again secure permanent employment in the industry where they blew the whistle," he said.


People & Power: Drug Money

Woods doesn't think highly of government regulators either. He said that the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC), a US regulator that ignored or bungled investigations into Wachovia while they laundered large sums for five years, directly received some of the fines Wachovia paid for flouting the law. "They made $50m and I lost my job," Woods said. "They didn't even take action against the people who laundered the money, which is far worse."

Presently, the global financial services giant HSBC is facing probes from the OCC in the US and other regulators for "critical deficiencies" in its 2006-2009 reporting of bulk cash transfers, creating "significant potential for unreported money laundering or terrorist financing".

Some 300 Mexicans and 180 Mexican companies (more than North Korea or al-Qaeda) are on the so-called kingpin designation list, the US Treasury Department's roster of people and entities suspected of laundering money for drug traffickers or working for them in other capacities.

"We are not spending enough on bank oversight," Heather Lowe, the lawyer, said. "While we have a lot of laws in place designed to stop banks from taking in proceeds of crime, we don't have enough people going into banks to see how those laws are actually being applied."

Part of the problem, Woods says, is that whistleblowers are not protected, so they fear stepping forward. In a possible example of Woods' theory, one veteran private banker at HSBC's Miami office was fired for alleged sexual harassment after he warned bank officials of clients involved in shady dealings, Reuters reported. Compliance officers, the people who should be watching this sort of behaviour, are often pressured not to report suspicious activities, as banking officials want the large sums of money to keep pouring in, no questions asked.

Past prohibitions

In Washington and Mexico City, the chorus for results on laundering has grown louder, but analysts believe serious action - especially on the Mexican side - is still lacking. According to a Washington Post analysis of data from the US and Mexican governments, only about one per cent of drug money is recovered, despite efforts by law enforcement to do better.

In Depth

More from Mexico:

 Surviving Mexico's migrant trail
 Kidnappings rock Mexico's docs
 In Jurarez, women just disappear
 Invest in 'the world's most violent city'
 US-trained cartel terrorises mexico

As the war grinds on, and demand for illicit products continues unabated, it's worth recalling some lessons from other eras of prohibition. When alcohol smuggling by organised criminals ran rampant in the US during the era of alcohol prohibition, it was the money trail - not heavily armed police tactical units - that brought down leading smuggler Al Capone. Capone hadn't paid his taxes, allowing the financial authorities to pounce.

"I don't think the tax angle is considered as much as it should be," Manley, the police officer in London, said. "But if you want to send someone to jail for 20 years, the tax angle won't work."

Times have changed - a lot - since Capone's days of bootlegging and running numbers in Chicago. And there are plenty of cases where long jail sentences are necessary. However, the worst massacre committed by Capone's gang left just seven dead bodies - while killings of fewer than a dozen people in Mexico barely make the evening news thesedays.

Back in his London office, Woods thinks the Obama administration is paying lip service, rather than attention, to well-financed white-collar criminals. No one from Wachovia went to jail for the largest-ever violation of the US Bank Secrecy Act. If that doesn't shake investigators into serious action, Woods wonders, then what will?

"If [US President] Barack Obama's notion of doing more [about drug money laundering] is a deferred prosecution," Woods laments, "then God help the Mexican people."

Follow Chris Arsenault On Twitter: @AJEchris

US 'ignored advice' on Afghan drugs
Russia says US did not act on information on location of narcotics laboratories and major poppy growers in Afghanistan.
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2010 09:41 GMT
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Experts say more than 90 per cent of the heroin circulating in Europe comes from Afghanistan [EPA]

Russia has accused the United States of failing to act on information from a Russian anti-drug official about the location of many narcotics laboratories in Afghanistan.

Victor Ivanov, the head of Russia's federal drug control agency, said he provided US officials in Kabul, the Afghan capital, with the co-ordinates of 175 laboratories where heroin is processed several months ago.

"For some reason they are unable to carry out any operations to destroy these laboratories, because there is a delay from the military side,'' Ivanov told The Associated Press news agency on Thursday.

He said he also suggested going after the major landlords in Afghanistan's poppy growing region by submitting their names to the United Nations for sanctions.

"It wouldn't be difficult to trace them," he said.

Ivanov was in Washington for a meeting of a commission on tackling drugs, set up by the US and Russian presidents to improve co-operation.

Flood of heroin

Russia has said that the US and Nato refusal to implement poppy eradication programmes in Afghanistan is contributing to a flood of Afghan heroin into Russia.

US officials have argued that destruction of poppy fields would drive Afghan farmers into the ranks of the Taliban.

Ivanov said he discussed the issue with Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and other officials, but he was left frustrated that they provided no evidence that poppy eradication would strengthen the Taliban.

"It sounded not like constructive discussion but a manifestation of stubbornness,'' he said.

"I cannot say they are not listening. They are listening very carefully and attentively. But unfortunately, there are no results."

The US Drugs Enforcement Administration would not comment, saying it does not confirm or deny
information shared by other nations.

Russia claims that drug production in Afghanistan, the world's largest supplier of opium, has increased considerably since the US-led invasion that overthrew the Taliban government in 2001.

It says smugglers freely transport Afghan heroin and opium north into Central Asia and Russia, which Ivanov says has two million opium and heroin addicts, and onward to Western Europe.

Nato has urged Moscow to contribute to the war effort in Afghanistan by training more counternarcotics agents and providing helicopters to the Afghan government's air force.


 Analysis of Afghan Banking system


A TAINTED DEAL http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/06/tainted-deal

 LA DEA; Murder of Kiki Camarena http://www.laweekly.com/news/how-a-dogged-la-dea-agent-unraveled-the-cias-alleged-role-in-the-murder-of-kiki-camarena-5750278  

"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998


Posts: 1,194
Reply with quote  #282 

The U.S. War for Drugs and of Terror in Colombia    by Dan Kovalik


The book quotes the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP) which concludes that, today, "the biggest heroin and cocaine trading institutions in the world are the militaries of Burma, Pakistan, Mexico, Peru and Colombia - 'all armed and trained by U.S. military intelligence in the name of anti-drug efforts.'" In the case of Colombia, while the U.S., to justify its massive counterinsurgency program, vilifies the FARC guerillas as "narco-terrorists," this title is more befitting of the Colombian state and its paramilitary allies.

Indeed, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who had been both the darling of the Bush and Obama Administrations, had himself been ranked by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency as number "82 on a list of 104 'more important narco-traffickers contracted by the Colombian narcotics cartels . . . ."

As the book explains, the U.S.'s own Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has concluded that the "FARC involvement in the drug trade mainly involves the taxation of coca, which does not involve cocaine manufacturing, trafficking, and transshipment." As the UNDCP explains, some FARC fronts are not involved in even the taxation of coca, and still others "'actually tell the farmers not to grow coca.'" In terms of the actual trafficking in drugs, it is the friends of the U.S. who are largely responsible for this. Thus, as the book notes, quoting the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, while there is "no evidence of FARC involvement in drug trafficking," there is indeed "extensive drug smuggling to the United States by 'right-wing paramilitary groups in collaboration with wealthy drug barons, the [U.S.-funded] armed forces, key financial figures and senior bureaucrats." And yet, the U.S. war in Colombia is focused upon destroying the FARC, and, to the extent it is aimed at the manual eradication of coca crops, this eradication takes place almost solely in areas under FARC control, leaving the big-time drug traffickers alone.  http://monthlyreview.org/press/books/pb2518/


Washington Post Censors Article About Half of Karzai’s Palace Being On CIA Payroll

August 27, 2010 in News

Ahmed Wali Karzai speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Friday, Oct. 30, 2009. Afghan President Hamid Karzai's younger brother offered Friday to take a polygraph test to deny reports he's on the CIA payroll and said in an interview with The Associated Press it's time for his detractors to prove their allegations against him. (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan)

Public Intelligence

The Washington Post has changed significant portions of an article published earlier today regarding the CIA’s payment of large numbers of people within Hamid Karzai’s administration in Afghanistan.  These changes occur mostly in the beginning of the article and substantially manipulate its content.  Most notable among the changes is the complete elimination of a quote describing how “half of Karzai’s palace” is on the CIA payroll.  This quote, from an anonymous U.S. government official, was replaced with a paraphrased statement that “a significant number” of officials in Karzai’s administration are paid by the CIA.  This alteration is followed by a quote from a CIA spokesman, which does not appear in the original article, who says that the “anonymous source appears driven by ignorance, malice or both.”  Another significant quote from this anonymous source, detailing how Kazai is “blind to about 80 percent of what’s going on below him”, was also completely eliminated from the article.  There are also a number of smaller changes all of which are designed to eliminate the perception of ignorance, malfeasance, or excessive  support of the Afghan government by the CIA.  It has previously been reported by the New York Times that Karzai’s brother Ahmed Wali Karzai is on the CIA payroll.  Yesterday, an article in the Times indicated that one of Karzai’s personal aides, who is simultaneously involved in a corruption scandal regarding money laundering, is also working for the CIA.

The article’s alterations are not disclosed on the Washington Post’s current version of the article.  Instead, only syndicated versions of the article contain the uncensored material.  A side-by-side comparison of the two versions of the article are provided below for reference.  Bold portions indicate discrepancies between the two versions.  More syndicated versions are available elsewhere, with differences in length, that still contain the censored material.

Current VersionSyndicated Version
The CIA is making secret payments to multiple members of President Hamid Karzai’s administration, in part to maintain sources of informationin a government in which the Afghan leader is often seen as having a limited grasp of developments, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The payments are long-standing in many cases and designed to help the agency maintain a deep roster of allies within the presidential palace. Some aides function as CIA informants, but others collect stipends under more informal arrangements meant to ensure their accessibility, a U.S. official said.

The CIA has continued the payments despite concerns that it is backing corrupt officials and undermining efforts to wean Afghans’ dependence on secret sources of income and graft.

The U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a significant number of officials in Karzai’s administration are on the payroll. Paul Gimigliano, a CIA spokesman, disputed that characterization, saying, “This anonymous source appears driven by ignorance, malice or both.”

A former agency official said the payments were necessary because “the head of state is not going to tell you everything” and because Karzai often seems unaware of moves that members of his own government make.

The disclosure comes as a corruption investigation into one of Karzai’s senior national security advisers – and an alleged agency informant – puts new strain on the already fraying relationship between Washington and Kabul.

Top American officials including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) have expressed concern about Karzai’s efforts to rein in anti-corruption teams, as well as intervention in the case against the security adviser. The aide, Mohammad Zia Salehi, is accused of accepting a $10,000 car as a bribe in exchange for his assistance in quashing a wide-ranging corruption probe.

The issue carries enormous stakes for the Obama administration. Concerns that the Afghan government is hopelessly corrupt have prompted a congressional panel to withhold billions of dollars in aid, and threaten to erode American support for the war.

But Karzai supporters accuse their U.S. counterparts of exploiting the issue, and the Salehi arrest in particular, to humiliate the Afghan leader while ignoring more pressing priorities.

In the latest sign of his vexation, Karzai said Thursday that President Obama’s timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops “has given courage to the enemies of Afghanistan,” and complained that the United States wasn’t doing enough to force Pakistan to stop supporting the Taliban.

“We haven’t progressed in the war against terrorism,” Karzai said in a statement.

The CIA has maintained relationships with Afghan government officials for years. But the disclosure that multiple members of Karzai’s government are on the CIA’s payroll underscores the complex nature of the American role in Afghanistan. Even as agency dollars flow in, U.S.-backed investigative units are targeting prominent Afghans in the government and trying to stem an exodus of more than $1 billion in cash annually from the country.

Gimigliano, the CIA spokesman, declined to comment on the agency’s financial ties to Afghan officials. “This agency plays an essential role in promoting American goals in Afghanistan, including security and stability,” he said. “Speculation about who may help us achieve that is both dangerous and counterproductive.”

The agency’s approach has drawn criticism from others in the U.S. government, who accuse the CIA of contributing to an atmosphere in which Afghans are conditioned to extend their hands for secret payments in almost every transaction.

“They’ll pay whoever they think can help them,” the U.S. official said. “That has been the CIA attitude since 2001.”

A second U.S. official defended the agency’s activities and alluded to a simmering conflict within the U.S. government over the scope of American objectives in Afghanistan, and the means required to achieve those goals.

“No one is going to create Plato’s Republic over there in one year, two years, or 10,” the official said. “If the United States decides to deal only with the saints in Afghanistan, it’s in for both loneliness and failure. That’s the risk, and not everyone in our government sees it.”

U.S. and Afghan officials said the CIA is not the only foreign entity using secret payments to Afghan officials to influence events in the country.

A prominent Afghan with knowledge of the inner workings of the palace said it operates a fund that rewards political allies with money that flows in from the Iranian government and foreign intelligence services as well as prominent Afghan companies eager to curry favor with Karzai. The source said the fund distributes $10 million to $50 million a year.

A U.S. official said Turkey and Saudi Arabia are among the other countries funneling money into Afghanistan.

Salehi, the target of the corruption probe, is accused of taking a bribe in return for his help in blocking an investigation of New Ansari, a money transfer business that has helped elite Afghans ship large sums of cash to overseas accounts. U.S. officials worry that the stream includes diverted foreign aid.

But authorities said the Salehi investigation is also focused on his involvement in administering the palace fund – doling out cash and vehicles to Karzai supporters – as well as his role in negotiations with the Taliban.

Salehi’s job put him at the center of some of the most sensitive assignments for the Afghan government. Another national security official, Ibrahim Spinzada, has orchestrated the government’s talks with the Taliban and traveled with Salehi to Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

The payments from the palace are “part of the politics here,” said a second senior Afghan official. Some people receive “a special salary. It is part of intelligence activities.”

Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Afghanistan’s national security adviser and Salehi’s boss, said in an interview that he had spoken with Salehi on Thursday and that Salehi denied working with the CIA. “I don’t think that Salehi is a spy,” Spanta said, adding that Salehi was “shocked and he absolutely rejected it.”

U.S. officials did not dispute that Salehi was on the CIA payroll, which was first reported by The New York Times. But officials sought to draw a distinction between agency payments and corruption probes.

“The United States government had nothing to do with the activities for which this individual is being investigated,” the second U.S. official said. “It’s not news that we sometimes pay people overseas who help the United States do what it needs to get done. . . . Nor should it be surprising, in a place like Afghanistan, that some influential figures can be both helpful and – on their own, separate and apart – corrupt to some degree.”

The flow of CIA money into the region dates to the agency’s support for mujaheddin fighters who ousted Soviet forces three decades ago.

The spigot was tightened during the 1990s but reopened after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Much of the money went to support warlords whose militias helped to overthrow the Taliban regime, which had provided sanctuary for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda training camps. Salehi had served as an interpreter for one of the most prominent of those warlords, Abdurrashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek whose forces played a critical role in the campaign against the Taliban.

The CIA bankrolled Afghanistan’s intelligence service, and its financial ties to government officials has proliferated in recent years.

“There are probably not too many officials we haven’t met and contacted and paid,” a former CIA official said.

The CIA has a long-standing relationship – though not a financial one – with Karzai himself. The agency’s station chief in Kabul traveled with Karzai during the war against the Taliban, at one point shielding him from the blast of a misdirected bomb. The station chief has since served two tours in the Afghan capital at Karzai’s behest.

Karzai Blocks Anti-Corruption Investigations, Fires Senior Prosecutor

August 29, 2010 in News


Washington Post Censors Article About Half of Karzai’s Palace Being On CIA Payroll
Karzai Aide in Corruption Scandal Works for CIA

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (C) with his counterparts from Tajikistan Emomali Rakhmon (R) and Afghanistan Hamid Karzai (L) meet in Tehran on August 05, 2010 at the start of a Trilateral Summit. AFP PHOTO/ATTA KENARE

Karzai sacks anti-corruption prosecutor (Sydney Morning Herald):

Off topic  Greenwald article

The Real U.S. Government

A Washington Post series examines the sprawling, unaccountable world that comprises the National Security State