The CIA & Drugs

Narco-colonialism in the 20th Century

http://www.angelfire.com/id/ciadrugs/indexwhite.html
 
"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 outline section of this web site:
(http://www.angelfire.com/id/ciadrugs/outline.html)
"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:

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)


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.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, material found on this website is reproduced without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.


See also:

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