|"For decades, the CIA, the Pentagon, and secret organizations like Oliver North's Enterprise have been supporting and protecting the world's biggest drug dealers.... The Contras and some of their Central American allies ... have been documented by DEA as supplying ... at least 50 percent of our national cocaine consumption. They were the main conduit to the United States for Colombian cocaine during the 1980's. The rest of the drug supply ... came from other CIA-supported groups, such as DFS (the Mexican CIA) ... [and] other groups and/or individuals like Manual Noriega." (Ex-DEA agent Michael Levine: The Big White Lie: The CIA and the Cocaine/Crack Epidemic)|
|"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. FROM: Peter Dale Scott & Jonathan Marshall, Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America, Berkeley: U. of CA Press, 1991, pp. x-xi.|
|Former Congressional Investigator Jack Blum, on the structure
of CIA narco-colonialism:
"For criminal organizations, participating in covert operations offers much more than money. They may get a voice in selecting the new government. They may get a government that owes them for help in coming to power. They may be able to use their connections with the United States government to enhance their political power at home and towave off the efforts of the American law enforcement community." (Prepared October 1996 statement of Jack Blum (former special counsel to the 1987 "Kerry" Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations) for the October 1996 Senate Select Intelligence Committee on alleged CIA drug trafficking to fund Nicaraguan Contras in the 1980s, Chaired by Senator Arlen Specter)
|Taken alone, one CIA drug ring, that of Rafael
Caro Quintero and Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo (two Contra supporters
based in Guadalajara, Mexico) were known by DEA to be smuggling four
tons A MONTH into the U.S. during the early Contra war. Other operations
including Manuel Noriega (a CIA asset, strongman leader of Panama),
John Hull (ranch owner and CIA asset, Costa Rica), Felix Rodriguez
(Contra supporter, El Salvador), Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros (Honduran
Military, Contra supporter, Honduras) along with other elements
of the Guatemalan and Honduran military. Cumulatively, the aforementioned
CIA assets were concurrently trafficking close to two hundred tons
a year or close to 70% of total U.S. consumption. All
of these CIA assets have been ascertained as being connected to CIA
via public documentation and testimony. -- "From the
section of this web site:
|"The CIA functionally gains influence and control in governments corrupted by criminal narco-trafficking. Politically, the CIA exerts influence by leveraging narco-militarists and corrupted politicians ... This is really NEO-narco-colonialism, whereby local criminal proxies do the bidding of the patron government seeking expanded influence. But because of the quid-pro-quo of protecting the criminal proxies' illicit pipelines, the result is still a functional narco-colonialism, involving a narcotics commodity in the actual practical execution of policy, but with the very different twist of covert action." -- from the analysis section of this web site:|
|"Here's my problem. I think that if people in the government of the United States make a secret decision to sacrifice some portion of the American population in the form of ... deliberately exposing them to drugs, that is a terrible decision that should never be made in secret." (- Jack Blum, speaking before the October 1996 Senate Select Intelligence Committee on alleged CIA drug trafficking to fund Nicaraguan Contras in the 1980s, Chaired by Senator Arlen Specter).|
Introduction: The purpose of this web site.
One of the more astounding revelations of the recent investigations was that the Dept. of Justice and the CIA had a secret 1981 agreement that specifically released the CIA from the requirement that CIA report any drug-related activities by its operatives to DoJ.
A group of U.S. Congressmen submitted this documentary history of CIA collusion with drug traffickers into the Congressional Record.
Volume 2 of the CIA Inspector General's Report on Contra drug smuggling and CIA complicity was released late last fall (Fall '98), and is additionally available here with additional commentary here. The CIA's own Inspector General shows that from the very start of the US-backed war on Nicaragua the CIA knew the Contras were planning to traffic in cocaine into the US. It did nothing to stop the traffic and, when other government agencies began to probe, the CIA impeded their investigations. When Contra money raisers were arrested the Agency came to their aid and retrieved their drug money from the police. So, was the Agency complicit in drug trafficking into Los Angeles and other cities? It is impossible to read Hitz's report and not conclude that this was the case.
The IG's report stands as the official CIA admission of its collusion with narcotics traffickers allied with the CIA-supported Nicaraguan Contras. The Contra drug-running was part of the vast Iran-Contra affair that mushroomed during the Reagan administration, whereby various Contra supporters (known CIA assets and Contra leaders) were found to have heavy ties to drug couriers, middlemen and the major cartels.
Taken alone, one Contra drug ring, that of Rafael Caro Quintero and Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo (two Contra supporters based in Guadalajara, Mexico) were known by DEA to be smuggling four tons A MONTH into the U.S. during the early Contra war. Other operations including Manuel Noriega (a CIA asset, strongman leader of Panama), John Hull (ranch owner and CIA asset, Costa Rica), Felix Rodriguez (Contra supporter, El Salvador), Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros (Honduran Military, Contra supporter, Honduras) along with other elements of the Guatemalan and Honduran military. Cumulatively, the aforementioned CIA assets were concurrently trafficking close to two hundred tons a year or close to 70% of total U.S. consumption. All of these CIA assets have been ascertained as being connected to CIA via public documentation and testimony.
The IG's 300 page report holds many revelations; however, it is was originally a 600 page document. Robert Parry (http://www.consortiumnews.com/) did a story in the Fall of 1998 regarding the omitted sections of the report, particulary concerning a second CIA drug ring (distinct from the one examined in Dark Alliance) in South Central Los Angeles that existed between 1988 and 1991. And according to Parry, there was yet another drug ring in L.A. that remains classified, because it was run by a CIA agent who had participated in the Contra war. It remains classified because of an ongoing CIA investigation into the matter, leaving one to speculate whether the CIA will utter another word about this case.
Evidence: Three DEA agents and their first-hand experiences:
In 1985 and 1986, Ayers surveilled airplanes (parked at Miami International Airport) belonging to two CIA-related airlines ("formerly owned" by the CIA) under contract with the Dept. of Defense to transport materiel for the Contras.
He repeatedly found traces of cocaine and marijuana inside the planes.
Ayers' findings became court evidence in a lawsuit by the airlines against a Miami TV station, and was found to be truthful and accepted as evidence.
Castillo gathered evidence during 1984 and 1985 that known traffickers, with multiple DEA files, piloted CIA- and NSC-owned airplanes, using two CIA and NSC hangars at an airbase in Central America.
These CIA-paid pilots obtained U.S. visas, despite their drug trafficking dossiers being in U.S. Gov't databases.
Some of the pilots were quite bold about their smuggling of drugs: Once stateside, some would use their CIA credentials to ward off U.S. Customs and DEA agents. Other pilots, Castillo noted, were more discrete.
"Hundreds of flights each week [through Ilopango] delivered cocaine to the buyers and returned with money headed for ... Panama."
"From Panama, the money was wired to a Costa Rican bank account held by the Contras" (Castillo, Powderburns: Cocaine, Contras, and the Drug War [Oakville, Ont.: Mosaic Press, 1994], 138-39)
"There is no doubt that they were running large quantities of cocaine into the U.S. to support the [Nicaraguan] Contras."
"We saw the cocaine and we saw boxes full of money. We're talking about very large quantities of cocaine and millions of dollars."
"...my reports contain not only the names of traffickers, but their destinations, flight paths, tail numbers, and the date and time of each flight." (1994 interview (How the Contras Invaded the United States, by Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight, (c) 1996)
In Bolivia, Levine witnessed an Argentine-lead 'Cocaine Coup,' co-sponsored by the CIA. Along with help from the Argentinian military, the drug lords installed a narco-militarist regime, replacing the democratically elected moderate-socialist government. This spawned the cocaine boom of the 1980's, with the Bolivian-based "La Corporacion," the General Motors of cocaine, having total freedom to run Bolivia as a narco-colonial serf state.
Levine's infiltration into the Bolivian network of coca plantation kingpins was subverted by the CIA and his complaints were ignored by the DEA upper echelon.
He complained in a letter to NewsWeek magazine. For such a brazen act, he was suffered bureaucratic and procedural backlash, and was thereafter removed from his Bolivian assignment.
Later, Levine infiltrated a major Mexican drug ring. Levine was targeting highly-placed Mexican officials, only to find that his cover had been blown by U.S. Department of Justice (under Reagan's then-Attorney General, Edwin Meese). Levine was lucky: a fellow DEA agent, "Chi Chi" Camerena, was found tortured and executed by Mexican drug lords, his identity revealed as a result of the DoJ's indiscretion.
"For decades, the CIA, the Pentagon, and secret organizations like Oliver North's Enterprise have been supporting and protecting the world's biggest drug dealers.... The Contras and some of their Central American allies ... have been documented by DEA as supplying us with at least 50 percent of our national cocaine consumption. They were the main conduit to the United States for Colombian cocaine during the 1980's. The rest of the drug supply for the American habit came from other CIA-supported groups, such as DFS (Mexican CIA), the Shan United Army in the Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia, or any of a score of other groups and/or individuals like Manual Noriega." (The Big White Lie: The CIA and the Cocaine/Crack Epidemic, 1993)
"I personally hit the top of the drug world, dealt with the top
traffickers in the world posing as a criminal ... and in every case found
these traffickers in bed with our Central Intelligence Agency.
Exactly as Senator Al D'Amato said, 'We're in bed with these guys.' ...
We still are. But its worse than that." (From a 1995 radio interview)
|Dennis Dayle, former chief of an elite DEA enforcement unit: "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." -- FROM: Peter Dale Scott & Jonathan Marshall, Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America, Berkeley: U. of CA Press, 1991, pp. x-xi.|
|Celerino Castillo stated that together with 3 other ex-DEA agents, they were willing to testify in Congress regarding their direct knowledge of CIA involvement in international drug trafficking. Castillo estimates that approximately 75%(!) of narcotics entered the U.S. with the acquiescence or direct participation of U.S. and foreign CIA agents. (August 13, 1996 San Diego Union-Tribune, regarding Rep. Robert Toricelli's proposed subcommittee on the intelligence community and human rights violations in Guatemala and Central America).|
|Declassified DEA Report of Investigation (February 13, 1990, Page
4 of 7) File Title: REDACTED
"23. [Redacted] had learned that the reporter from Vera Cruz (FNU) Velasco before his death (1985) was allegedly developing information that, using the DFS as cover, the CIA established and maintained clandestine airfields to refuel aircraft loaded with weapons which were destined for Honduras and Nicaragua.
24. Pilots of these aircraft would allegedly load up with cocaine in Barranquilla Colombia and in route to Miami, Florida, refuel in Mexico at Narcotic trafficker-operated and CIA-maintained airstrips."
|This is from a 1987 DEA report, regarding the LA drug ring covered
by the Dark Alliance series and book. In 1987, the DEA sent undercover
informants inside this drug operation, and they interviewed one of the
principals of this organization, namely Ivan Torres. And this is what he
said. He told the informant:
"The CIA wants to know about drug trafficking, but only for their own purposes, and not necessarily for the use of law enforcement agencies. Torres told DEA Confidential Informant 1 that CIA representatives are aware of his drug-related activities, and that they don't mind. He said they had gone so far as to encourage cocaine trafficking by members of the contras, because they know it's a good source of income. Some of this money has gone into numbered accounts in Europe and Panama, as does the money that goes to Managua from cocaine trafficking. Torres told the informant about receiving counterintelligence training from the CIA, and had avowed that the CIA looks the other way and in essence allows them to engage in narcotics trafficking."This is a DEA report that was written in 1987, when the contra operations were still on going. Another member of this organization affiliated with a San Francisco connection, said in 1985 to the CIA:
"Cabezas claimed that the contra cocaine operated with the knowledge of, and under the supervision of, the CIA. Cabezas claimed that this drug enterprise was run with the knowledge of CIA agent Ivan Gómez."
Congressional testimony and documents.
|"We don't need to investigate [the CIA's role in Contra drug trafficking]. We already know. The evidence is there." Jack Blum, former Chief Counsel to John Kerry's Subcommittee on Narcotics and Terrorism in 1996 Senate Hearings|
|"If you ask: In the process of fighting a war against the Sandinistas, did people connected with the US government open channels which allowed drug traffickers to move drugs to the United States, did they know the drug traffickers were doing it, and did they protect them from law enforcement? The answer to all those questions is yes." (Jack Blum, chief investigator for the Kerry Senate subcommittee, after years of investigation and access to classified information.)|
|"For criminal organizations, participating in covert operations offers much more than money. They may get a voice in selecting the new government. They may get a government that owes them for help in coming to power, They may be able to use their connections with the United States government to enhance their political power at home and to wave off the efforts of the American law enforcement community." (Blum has said something quite significant here. The CIA functionally gains control of governments corrupted by criminal narco-trafficking, and can exert influence by leveraging narco-militarists and corrupted politicians. It's fascinating that Blum basically described the Opium Wars of the 19th century. What Blum is saying is that narco-colonialism is alive and well and residing centrally at CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia.)|
|"I think that among the other things you should be looking at is a review of the relationship in general between covert operations and criminal organizations. The two go together like love and marriage. And it's a problem which really has to be understood by this committee. Criminal organizations are perfect allies in a covert operation. If you sent me out of the country to risk my life for the government to do something as a spy in a foreign land, I would think criminals would be my best ally. They stay out of reach of the law, they know who the corrupt government officials are, and they have them on the payroll. They'll do anything I want for money. It's a terrific working partnership. The problem is that they then get empowered by the fact that they work with us." (Jack Blum)|
|"Here's my problem. I think that if people in the government of the United States make a secret decision to sacrifice some portion of the American population in the form of exposing them, let's say, deliberately exposing them to drugs, that is a terrible decision that should never be made in secret." (Jack Blum)|
|"When people who are engaged in an operation say, 'We're going to look the other way; we're not going to do anything,' interfere in the law enforcement process to protect people who are running the operationand, in that process of interference, permit drugs to flow in, you have an extraordinarily serious problem." (Jack Blum)|
|"There was a judgment call here, and that judgment call erred so
far on the wrong side of where judgment should have been that we wound
up with a terrible problem. And that terrible problem was a de facto result
that I was describing, that is, where many people did suffer as a consequence.
And I started to say, when DEA allows a controlled delivery of drugs,
there is a furious debate. Those controlled deliveries are monitored because
DEA says our job is to prevent it from coming in, and if it escapes on
the street, for any reason, we've blown it.
And that kind of standard is really the kind of standard that should have, I think, been applied here. And maybe you can give me and maybe we would both agree that there is some dreadful circumstance where this should have occurred and been allowed to occur and so on, and I probably could be convinced in the right set of circumstances. But the problem was that that issue wasn't put that way, and the sensitivity to what was going on was simply missing." (Jack Blum)
|"I do think it [was] a terrible mistake to say that 'We're going to allow drug trafficking to destroy American citizens' as a consequence of believing that the contra effort was a higher priority." - Sen. Robert Kerrey (D-NE)|
Obsessed with overthrowing the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua, Reagan administration officials tolerated and protected drug trafficking as long as the traffickers gave support to the Contras.
In response to the most recent allegations about CIA and Contra drug-running, the CIA has suddenly developed amnesia, feigning ignorance of widespread Contra drug running. CIA defenders continue the lie by claiming it was a few rogue Contra supporters operating outside of the knowledge and the employ of the CIA. Here the CIA and their media defenders caught in a CONTRAdiction:
CIA origin of the Contras:
The CIA and NSC tried to publicly distance themselves from the corrupt contra leadership, but the Contras were little more than a CIA-run proxy army from the onset. Oliver North's contra liaison, Robert Owen, described contra leader Adolfo Calero as "..a creation of the USG [U.S. Government] and so he is the horse we chose to ride.."
"Without the Honduran military there would have been no Contras."
- Lt. Col. Oliver
North. (North later intervened to get an absurdly lenient sentence
Jose Bueso-Rosa, a Honduran general who had been convicted of smuggling
tons of cocaine into the U.S. as part of a plot to finance an assassination
of the Honduran president.)
|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." ("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)|
Jesus Garcia, who worked with Lt. Col. Oliver North's operations, said, "It is common knowledge here in Miami that this whole Contra operation was paid for with cocaine. ... I actually saw the cocaine and the weapons together under one roof, weapons that I (later) helped ship to Costa Rica." (December 1986 interview with Robert Knight and Dennis Bernstein, Contragate/Undercurrents) (How the Contras Invaded the United States, by Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight, 1996, Part One: Wars go better with coke)
How widespread was the trafficking?
A Senate committee memorandum clearly stated "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 in the U.S. through the same infrastructure which is procuring, storing and transporting weapons, explosives, ammunition and military equipment for the Contras from the United States." (Robert Knight and Dennis Bernstein , Contragate/Undercurrents, Newsday, March 31, 1987: re: Eight-page June 25, 1986, Select House Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control) (How the Contras Invaded the United States, by Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight, 1996, Part One: Wars go better with coke)
CIA knowledge (admitted acquiescence) of Contra drug running:
"With respect to (drug trafficking by) the Resistance Forces ... it is not a couple of people. It is a lot of people."(Iran-Contra testimony of Central American Task Force Chief, Alan Fiers, in sworn deposition to the Congressional Iran-Contra committees, August 5, 1987, 100-11, pp. 182-183.)
"We knew that everybody around [Contra leader Eden] Pastora was involved in cocaine ... His staff and friends (redacted), they were drug smugglers or involved in drug smuggling." (Iran-Contra deposition of Central American Task Force Chief Alan Fiers, Appendix B, Vol. 3 pp. 1121 - 1230. Also North Diary page Q1704, March 26, 1984, 'Pastora revealed as drug dealer.')
CIA complicity in protection of drug runners:
"When this whole business of drug trafficking came out in the open in the Contras, the CIA gave a document to Cesar, Popo Chamorro and Marcos Aguado, too..."
"..They said this is a document holding them harmless, without any responsibility, for having worked in U.S. security..." (Former ARDE Contra leader Eden Pastora, Nov. 26, 1996, speaking before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee on alleged CIA drug trafficking to fund Nicaraguan Contras in the 1980s, Chaired by Senator Arlen Specter)
CIA continued protection of, and collaboration with, the same
"..Pastora noted that the trio has been able to cross U.S. borders freely since then but are barred from entering Costa Rica. Records show the Costa Rican government accused them of cocaine trafficking for the Contras." (Gary Webb & Thomas Farragher, San Jose Mercury News/Mercury News Washington Bureau, "Ex-Contras: We saw no CIA link to drugs; One acknowledges payment from dealer," Published: Nov. 27, 1996)
In July 1989, Oliver
North and other major contragate figures were barred from Costa Rica.
The order was issued by none other than Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. Then-President Arias was acting on recommendations from a Costa Rican congressional commission investigating drug trafficking. The commission concluded that the contra re-supply network in Costa Rica which North coordinated from the White House doubled as a drug smuggling operation.
The narcotics commission started probing the contra network centered around the northern Costa Rican ranch of US-born John Hull because of "the quantity and frequency of the shipment of drugs that passed through the zone." North's personal notebook mentioned "the necessity of giving Mr. Hull protection." (San Juan Star, Puerto Rico, 7/22/89).
In 1989, after the Costa Rica government indicted Hull for drug trafficking, a DEA-hired plane clandestinely and illegally exfiltrated the CIA operative to Miami, via Haiti. The US repeatedly thwarted Costa Rican efforts to extradite Hull back to Costa Rica to stand trial. (Martha Honey and David Myers, "U.S. Probing Drug Agent's Activities in Costa Rica," San Francisco Chronicle, August 14, 1991. )
Investigators held North responsible for Gen. Manuel Noriega's participation in the contra supply network, which opened the door to at least seven pilots who trafficked in drugs while supplying arms to the contras. "These requests for contra help were initiated by Colonel North to General Noriega," the commission reported. "They opened a gate so their henchmen could utilize [Costa Rican] territory for trafficking in arms and drugs." (Tico Times, Costa Rica, 7/28/89).
Barred from Costa Rica along with North were Maj. Gen. Richard
Secord, former National Security Advisor John Poindexter, former US Ambassador
to Costa Rica, Lewis Tambs, and former CIA station chief in Costa Rica,
Joseph Fernandez. The Costa Rican congress later ratified the permanent
implementation of the bannings.
|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. In addition to those
servicing the Meneses-Blandon operation detailed by the Mercury News, and
Noriega's operation, there was 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. (Martha Honey, Hostile Acts: U.S. Policy in Costa Rica in the 1980s, Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1994.)
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. (Martha Honey, Hostile Acts: U.S. Policy in Costa Rica in the 1980s, Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1994.)
The Miami Police Department investigations revealed:
A City of Miami Police Intelligence Report dated September 26, 1984, states that money to support Contras being illegally trained in Florida "comes from narcotics transactions." Every page of that document is stamped: "Record furnished to George Kosinsky, FBI." Justice Department head Janet Reno, then Florida's chief prosecutor, apparently saw no reason to investigate further.
|Immense Contra Drug ring in Los Angeles:
According to a year-long investigation by the SAN JOSE (California) MERCURY NEWS based on court records, recently declassified documents, undercover audio tapes, and files retrieved via the Freedom of Information Act, the FDN solved its financial problem by opening the first pipeline from the Colombian cocaine cartels to black gangs --the Crips and the Bloods --on the streets of Los Angeles.
Federal and local drug-enforcement agencies investigated this Contra drug ring. An Oct. 23, 1986, affidavit (Thomas Gordon, a former Los Angeles County sheriff's narcotics detective) identifies Contra supporter and former Nicaraguan Samoza government official Danilo Blandon as "the highest-ranking member of this organization" and describes an immense drug network involving more than 100 Nicaraguan Contra sympathizers who were selling cocaine "mainly to blacks living in the South-Central Los Angeles area."
The affidavit indicates that DEA and FBI informants were inside Blandon's drug ring for several years before the sheriff department performed a sweep of raids on the drug trafficking empire Oct. 27, 1986.(San Jose Mercury News, Oct. 3, 1996 Affidavit: Cops knew of drug ring Document sheds light on Contra-cocaine link By Gary Webb and Pamela Kramer)
Other police documents indicated that the total volume of cocaine moved by Danilo Blandon's operations was 100 kilos (220 lbs.) per week or nearly SIX TONS PER YEAR. This is an astonishing volume when considering the fact that the total illicit cocaine volume in the 1980's averaged out to 50 tons per year (based upon a U.S. 1980's total of 500 tons for the decade, where the trend was upward throughout the decade). That's 12% of the total illicit cocaine traffic in the U.S., which corresponds with the testimony of several key figures in the L.A. drug ring.
Other narcotics reports suggest the volume was upwards to 200 kilos per week!
A great deal of this increasingly cheap high-volume cocaine was converted into ultra-addictive ready-made freebase 'crack' cocaine, kick-starting and fueling the crack cocaine epidemic in L.A.
The San Jose Mercury Dark Alliance series specifically cites Blandon and his associates Edwin Meneses and Freeway Rick as the tripartite Typhoid Mary of crack cocaine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gary Webb, "'Crack' Plague's Roots Are in Nicaragua War; Colombia- Bay Area Drug Pipeline Helped CIA-Backed Contras '80s Efforts to Assist Guerillas Left Legacy of Drugs, Gangs in Black L.A.," SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS August 18, 1996, pg. 1A;
Gary Webb, "Testimony Links U.S. to Drugs-Guns Trade; Dealers Got 'Their Own Little Arsenal,'" SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS August 18, 1996, pg. 17A.
Gary Webb, "Odd Trio Created Mass Market for 'Crack'; L.A. Dealer Might Get Life; Officials Quiet About Role of Nicaraguans," SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS August 19, 1996, pg. 1A.
A Senate investigator found:
In the spring of 1986, John Mattes, a former Miami-based Federal Public Defender, began working with Senator John Kerry's office to investigate the contra drug connection. "What we investigated and uncovered," Mattes recalls, "was the very infrastructure of the network that had the veil of national security protecting it, so that people could load cannons in broad daylight, in public airports, on flights going to Ilopango Airport, where in fact the very same people were bringing narcotics back into the U.S., unimpeded."
The CIA had control over almost all aspect of the illicit Contra resupply operation. "CIA officers in Central America were charged with obtaining clearances for these flights from the Honduran military. As a result, CIA officers in Central America began learning about the contractors who were making NHAO's deliveries.." (Chapter 21 "CIA Subject #1," Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters, Volume I: Investigations and Prosecutions, Lawrence E. Walsh, Independent Counsel, pg. 299 - http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/walsh/index.html)
|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." (Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy, a Report of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations, 1989)|
|White House Protection of in-coming drug flights by freezing Customs:
"We ran into another procedure which was extremely troubling. There was a system for stopping Customs inspections of inbound and outbound aircraft from Miami and from other airports in Florida. People would call the Customs office and say, 'Stand down. Flights are going out. Flights are coming in.'
We tried to find out more about that and were privately told, again by Customs people who said "Please don't say anything," that the whole thing was terribly informal and there was no real way of determining the legitimacy of the request to stand down, or the legitimacy of what was on the plane and going out to people in the field. That I found to be terribly troubling, and it's a matter that you all should be looking at very carefully." (taken from Jack Blum's testimony before Congress)
Lt. Col. Oliver North's Notebooks and other funny things about Ollie North's out-of-control "Enterprise." Note that a good deal of evidence regarding White House knowledge of CIA and Contra drug running probably was destroyed. As Col. North (currently an MSN commentator!) readily admitted in Senate testimony, he destroyed all manner of incriminating evidence by shredding documents while Congressional Iran-Contra investigators reviewed documents in an adjacent room. His notebooks have been released in two forms, with different redactions and declassifications. What Lt. Col. North left us to pick through are hints as to the scope of corruption in Lt. Col. North's "Enterprise:"
Notes of Col. Oliver North, July 12, 1985:
--mtg. tonight w/Dick/Rafael/Tom w/Romero FDN Log Chief
--[CIA Subject #1] discussions re Supermarket
--HO [Honduran] Army plans to seize all mat'l when supermarket
comes to bad end
--$14M to finance came from drugs
--[Subject #1] expects HOAF [Honduran Air force] to seize the
supermarket's assets when the supermarket folds.
--[Subject #1] likes light A/C [aircraft] ASAP
--Doesn't like goons [slang term for C-47]
--Should get CASA 212's
(CIA Subject #1: of Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters, Volume I: Investigations and Prosecutions, Lawrence E. Walsh, Independent Counsel - http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/walsh/index.html)
Note: "Dick = Richard Secord; Rafael = Rafael Quintero, ex-CIA, old associate of Secord; Tom = Thomas Clines, ex-CIA, old associate of Secord; CIA Subject #1 = senior field officer, Cent. Amer., served with Clines and Secord in covert operations in Laos. The supermarket assets at the time were $17 million." - pp's. 298 & 299, Chapter 21 )
On Aug. 9, 1985, North was informed that one of the resupply planes being used by Mario Calero, the brother of Adolfo Calero, leader of the FDN (the largest Contra group), was being used for drug runs into the U.S. Mario Calero was part owner of a drug-trafficking airline, Hondu Carib. Hondu Carib's first owner was a Contra pilot (Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall, Cocaine Politics, 57-58; cf. Celerino Castillo, 175).
A subsequent August 9, 1985 memo to Robert Owens, North notes that a "DC-6 which is being used for runs [to supply the Contras] out of New Orleans is probably used for drug runs into the US."
On Feb. 10, 1986, Owen informed North 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 10 years of trafficking in Detroit at the same time he was receiving more than $300,000 in U.S. funds from a State Department contract to ferry "humanitarian" aid to the Contras.
In 1985, Lt. Col. Oliver North suggested that $1.5 million in drug money, generated in a joint NSC/CIA/DEA sting of Medellin cartel and Sandinista leaders, be provided to the Contras. The sting, targeting Medellin drug lord Jorge Luis Ochoa and Sandinista official Federico Vaughn, was orchestrated by the White House using trafficker-turned-DEA informant Barry Seal. North's suggestion was rejected by the DEA, but it emphasizes a peculiar presumption that Seal's drug profits from the sting would be used to fund North's illegal operations. (DEA Testimony before House Subcommittee on Crime, July 28, 1988) (SENATE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS, "Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy", December 1988: A Report on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Drug Trafficking)
DIACSA: The Contras laundered Oliver
North's Enterprise money using a cocaine trafficker:
During 1984 and 1986, the Contras and the U.S. Department of State chose DIACSA, a Miami-based company that was already documented in on-line U.S. Government databases as a center of operations for it's drug trafficking owners. DIACSA's owners would ultimately be indicted and convicted for cocaine trafficking.
Through DIACSA, the Contras laundered bank deposits arranged by Lt. Col. Oliver North. The Contras used DIACSA for "intra-account transfers" in order to conceal the fact that some funds were through deposits arranged by Oliver North. (Iran-Contra testimony of Adolfo Calero, Appendix B Volume 3, p. 176)
DIACSA's president, Alfredo Caballero, was a business associate of Floyd Carlton -- a pilot who flew cocaine for Panama's drug-trafficking General Manuel Noriega. Carlton testified against Noriega in Noriega's trial. (See also section on Noriega)
Despite readily available federal data on DIACSA's drug-trafficking activities, the State Department selected DIACSA for aircraft parts supply to the Contras. Despite repeated warnings from Senator John Kerry and the inevitable indictments of DIACSA's principles for drug trafficking and money laundering, the State Department continued to make payments to DIACSA, totaling $41,120.90. (GAO Analysis, NHAO Accounts, provided to Subcommittee September, 1988: Senate Committee Report on Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy chaired by Senator John F. Kerry)
The 1986 case of Honduran General Jose Bueso Rosa:
The White House and CIA protected a Honduran narco-militarist who planned to use his drug profits to finance the assassination of the president of Honduras (Honduras was the main Contra and CIA base of operations for the covert war against Sandinista-led Nicaragua; evidently Honduran President Roberto Suazo Cordova was not being sufficiently cooperative to suit the CIA and the Contras).
Bueso was involved in a conspiracy to import 345 kilos of cocaine into Florida -- with a street value of $40 million. But because he had been a key Contra liaison in Honduras for the CIA and the Pentagon, North, Clarridge, and others in the Reagan administration brought considerable pressure into the trial to reduce Bueso's sentence (As Francis J. McNeil, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research noted, in 1986, eight top officials, led by North, persuaded a federal judge to grant a lenient sentence to Honduran Gen. Jose Bueso-Rosa).
In an e-mail and later declassified memo, Lt. Col. Oliver
North said that U.S. officials would "cabal quietly to look
at options: pardon, clemency, deportation, reduced sentence."
The objective was to seek leniency for the general in order to keep "Bueso
from spilling the beans," otherwise Gen. Bueso might start "singing
songs nobody wants to hear" about the Contras. In the end, Bueso
served less than five years in a white-collar "Club Fed" prison in Florida.
The classic case of Panamanian general Manuel Noriega.
For a period spanning three decades, Manuel Noriega was known to be involved in drug trafficking. And 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-ClA 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). The U.S. government only turned against Noriega, invading Panama in December 1989 and kidnapping the general once they discovered he was providing intelligence and services to the Cubans and Sandinistas. Ironically drug trafficking through Panama increased after the US invasion." (John Dinges, Our Man in Panama, Random House, 1991; National Security Archive Documentation Packet The Contras, Cocaine, and Covert Operations.)|
|"The second man who turned up on our screen very big time was General
Noriega. And as you'll recall -- press accounts have said it, the government
has made this public -- so I'm not saying anything that's classified, Noriega
was on our payroll. The accounts we heard were that he was getting paid
some $200,000 a year by the United States government. At the time that
was going on, virtually everybody who dealt with him knew he was in the
drug business. It was an open secret. In fact, it was so open, it appeared
on the front page of the New York Times in June of 1986. I testified about
it in a closed session of the Foreign Relations Committee in 1986.
We have, as the absolute low point of the contra war, Ollie North having a meeting with General Noriega, and he recorded that meeting in great detail in his notebooks, in which he's bargaining with Noriega. Noriega says to him, I've got this terrible public relations problem over drugs, what can you do to help me? Here's what I'll do to help you; I'll assassinate the entire Sandinista leadership, I'll blow up buildings in Managua. Ollie doesn't call the cops; what Ollie does is he goes back to Poindexter, and Poindexter says, "Gee, that's a little bit extreme. Can't you get him to tone it down? Go back and meet with him again." Which Ollie does.
When our committee asked the General Accounting Office to do a step-by-step
analysis of just who in our government knew that General Noriega was dealing
drugs and when they knew it and what they did to act on that knowledge,
the administration told every agency of the government not to cooperate
with GAO, labeled it a national security matter, and swept it into the
White House and cloaked it in executive privilege. That investigation never
went forward, should have gone forward. I was very much dismayed. Our committee
subpoenaed Ollie North's notebooks, and the history of those notebooks
is quite astonishing. Not many people realize this, but the Senate never
got a clean copy of those notebooks. North's lawyers were permitted to
expurgate sections of the notebooks based on, quote, "relevance." Our committee
subpoenaed those notebooks and we engaged in a 10-month battle to get them,
and ultimately, the investigation ended, the subcommittee's mandate ended,
we never got them." (from Jack
Blum's testimony before Senator Arlen Specter's investigative committee)
alliances in Haiti. In the 1980s to early 199Os, the CIA worked
to keep the corupt Haitian military and political leadership in power.
As usual, 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.
The Honduran military:
This author's overview of modern narco-colonialism.
The pattern of CIA narco-colonial complicity and/or protection of drug running rackets continues, with notable examples from Burma, Peru, Guatemala and Venezuela, in addition to a continuation of playing underground games in Colombia and Mexico.
Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion
by Gary Webb
Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the
CIA in Central America, Updated edition
by Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall
Powderburns: Cocaine, Contras & the Drug War
by Celerino, III Castillo and Dave Harmon
The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade
Alfred W. McCoy