Flash Gordon Left Me The Keys
The TEST OF ALL MOTHERS
Saturday, May 03, 2003
Contras used Cocaine to buy arms
CONTRAS USED COCAINE TO BUY ARMS
BY VINCE BIELSKI and DENNIS BERNSTEIN
WASHINGTON--Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) and his staff said recently
they are "confident" that money from the sale of narcotics helped finance
the contras and that the arms network set up by Lt. Col. Oliver North could
North was fired from the staff of the National Security Council by
President Reagan this week after the Administration discovered that North
arranged for the transfer $30 million from the sale of arms to Iran to
Swiss bank accounts controlled by the contras.
"I'm confident that the contras have received drug money. They have
received illegal shipments of weapons and that U.S. officials knew of it,"
Kerry said, in calling for a special prosecutor to look into these other
John Weiner, a Kerry aide, said while congressional investigators do
not know if North was directly involved, they do have evidence linking the
"North network" to the cocaine-arms operation. According to a report
produced by Kerry's staff, North established a network, involving retired
Army Gen. John Singlaub, U.S. mercenaries and Cuban-Americans, to provide
arms to the contras during the two-year congressional ban on U.S. support.
After the downing of the C-123 cargo plane over Nicaragua, Administration
officials also acknowledged that North set up the private arms operation to
Weiner and several other sources charge that individuals involved in
the network traffic in cocaine to help buy weapons for the contras.
"We have received a variety of allegations about drug connections to
the contras and to parts of the North network. As to whether Oliver North
was directly involved in that I can't say. But parts of the North network
allegedly were. And that needs to be looked at very seriously," he said.
The Senate Foreign Relations committee is expected to investigate
these charges when Congress reconvenes in January.
The role that cocaine played in funding the network has been part of a
two-year investigation carried out by the Christic Institute, a Washington-
based law firm. Dan Sheehan, the attorney directing the investigation, said
the proceeds from the sale of cocaine has been "one significant source of
funding for the contras. He said he has subsantial evidence to prove that
the contras and their Cuban-American supporters are smuggling one ton of
cocaine into the United States each week.
The Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that one ton of cocaine
has a street value of between $26 and $50 million. Sheehan said a portion
the profits are used to purchase weapons.
The cocaine ring, involving mostly major Columbian cocaine trafficker,
or "cocaine lords," and Cuban-Americans from Miami had been operating for
years before the North network began in 1984. John Mattes, an attorney for
one of the Cuban-Americans involved in the North network, said that the
cocaine traffickers and the arms network "got together as a marriage of
"The Columbians saw that the contra base in Costa Rica was an ideal
transhipment point. Their planes would land there and refuel. They also
benefit from the pilots, planes and intelligence information which the arms
suppliers had and which they make extensive use of," Mattes said. In
return, Mattes said the Columbians paid the contras $10,000 to $25,000 for
each plane carry cocaine which landed in Costa Rica for refueling. The
Christic Institute's allegations are all contained in a civil suit filed in
May 1986 in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida.
The suit is brought by two U.S. journalists, Martha Honey and Tony
Avirgan, who charge that the cocaine/arms conspiracy was responsible for
the May 1984 assassination attempt on contra leader Eden Pastora in La
Penca, Nicaragua. The journalists are sueing for personal injuries they
suffered resulting from a bomb explosion at a press conference which killed
8 people and injured Pastora. "As amazing as it sounds," Sheehan said, "the
conspiracy is continuing to bring about one ton or 1,000 kilos of cocaine
into the United States each week." Jesus Garcia, a former corrections
officer in Dade County, Florida, said he was actively involved in the
He is one of Sheehan and Kerry's main sources of information. In a
telephone interview from prison, where Garcia is no serving a three-year
term for possession of a firearm, he said "it is common knowledge here in
Miami that that this whole contra operation in Costa Rica was paid for with
cocaine. Everyone involved knows it. I actually saw the cocaine and the
weapons together under one roof, weapons that I helped ship to Costa Rica."
In May of 1983, according to the suit, two Cuban-Americans, Rene Corbo and
Felipe Vidal joined forces with John Hull, a U.S. citizen who owns 1,750
acres of land in northern Costa Rica, "to recruit, train, finance (and)
arm" a Cuban-American mercenary force to attack Nicaragua.
To finance the mercenary force, the Cuban-Americans, Hull and others
made arrangements with two known Columbian cocaine trafficers, Pablo
Escobar and Jorge Ochoa, "to provide hundreds of pounds of cocaine on a
regular basis," according to the suit. Garcia said that individuals
involved in the arms supply operation told him that Ochoa was supplying
cocaine to the contras.
The cocaine was flown from Columbia to Hull's ranch, Sheehan said,
where the planes would refuel. Sheehan said he has obtained records of
Corbo buying huge gasoline tanks in Costa Rica which are used for refueling
the planes. The Christic Institute learned about the cocaine shipments from
members of Costa Rican Rural Guard, workers on Hull's land who unloaded the
illegal substance from the small planes, and the pilots who transported the
Corbo and Vidal belong to the Brigade 2506, an anti-Castro group in
Miami whose members were recruited and hired by the CIA to fight in the Bay
of Pigs invasion agaisnt Cuba. Kerry's staff report charges that "Hull...
has been identified by a wide range of sources, including Eden Pastora,
mercenaries, Costa Rican officials, and contra supporters as "deeply
involved with military support for the contras...and has been identified by
a wide-range of sources...as a CIA or NSC liaison to the contras."
According to Steven Carr and Peter Glibbery, two mercenaries based on
land operated by Hull who were captured by the Costa Rican Rural Guard in
1985, Hull introduced himself to them as "the chief liaison for the FDN
(National Democratic Force) and the CIA." Hull received $10,000 a month
from the NSC, according to the report. The NSC denies having made payments
Hull has denied that he is assisting the contras and that he is
working for the U.S. government.
Sheehan said that the cocaine is flown from the land operated by Hull
to Memphis and then to Denver. The drug is also packed into container ships
at the Costa Rican port of Limon and transported to Miami, New Orleans and
Francisco Chanes, a Cuban-American, is the major importer and
distributor of the cocaine coming in from Costa Rica, according to the
suit. Sheehan said he learned of Chanes' role from Drug Enforcement
Administration agents who investigated Chanes, Corbo and Vidal.
During a January 1986 interview with FBI agents, Garcia said he told
the agents that Chanes and Corbo were also involved in the contra supply
Garcia said the agents responded by saying that Chanes and Corbo were
already the subjects of a FBI narcotics trafficing investigation. Mattes,
Garcia's attorney who was present at the interview, said he also heard the
agents say that the FBI was investigating Chanes and Corbo.
Sheehan said money from the sale of cocaine is deposited in one bank
in Miami and two in Central America and then withdrawn to purchase weapons
Garcia said he was personally involved in a March 1985 shipment of 6
tons of arms to Costa Rica from Miami. In July 1986, an official from the
U.S. Attorney's office in Miami confirmed to the Miami Herald that "we now
believe there were some weapons" illegally shipped to the contras by their
U.S. supporters from the Fort Lauderdale International airport in 1985.
Garcia said he saw both these weapons and three kilograms of cocaine
stored at the home of Chanes in Miami in the company of Chanes and Carr.
"They cocaine was kept in a dresser, about ten feet away from the
weapons. Carr told me that the three keys (kilograms) was what was left
from a larger shipment," Garcia said.[EP
He said he had no direct evidence that the weapons in Chanes' home
were purchased with the proceeds from the sale of cocaine. He said that
Carr told him that the three kilograms were part of a larger shipment of
cocaine brought to the United States from Costa Rica in container ships
belonging Ocean Hunter, a seafood importing company owned by Chanes.
Garcia said he helped load the weapons into a van which were then
taken to the aiport in Miami. Glibbery said he witnessed the arrival of
these weapons on airstrips located on land operated by Hull in Costa Rica,
according to the Kerry report.
The suit also names Theodore Shackley, former CIA associate deputy
director for world wide covert operations, and retired Army Gen. John
Singlaub as the main weapons suppliers.
According to the suit, Shackley "knowingly accept(ed) the proceeds
from illegal sales of narcotics in payment for illegal arms shipments."
Singlaub has made "admissions to various reporters that he has sent guns
and bullets to the contras," according to the report.
Reasearch and Editorial Assistance: Connie Blitt
Articles by Vince Bielski (San Fransisco-based) and Dennis Bernstein
(new York) have appeared in Newsday, Philadelphia Inquirer, Plain Dealer,
Denver Post, Dallas Times Herald, Dallas Morning News, Baltimore Sun, San
Fransisco Examiner, Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury, Arizona Daily Star,
Seattle Times, Minnieapolis Star and Tribune, and others.
THE CIA, CONTRAS & CRACK: THE COVER-UP CONTINUES
1. (AFIB) Editor's Introduction
2. (MC) MEDIA CONSORTIUM: Lost History: Reagan-Bush
3. (CIA) John Deutch's Letter To Senator Barbara Boxer
4. (SJMN) SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: `Dark Alliance' Series
Leads To CIA Probe: Agency Chief Orders
SAN FRANCISCO -- The devastating results of the crack plague
on America's black community, can be measured in human lives. By
neighborhoods transformed into deadly war zones; by shattered
dreams and shattered hopes; by the exponential growth of a
monstrous prison industry; by an escalation of police terror and
an unprecedented assault on civil liberties. Business as usual;
the historical legacy of a settler-colonial state whose "trade"
was wholesale plunder and whose economic base was rooted firmly
in a system of white supremacy, slavery and genocide.
During a pivotal historical juncture which began with the
smashing of the Axis powers in 1945, and continues today despite
the implosion and collapse of the former Soviet Union, the U.S.
National Security State forged an unholy alliance with the
remnants of defeated fascism and organized crime; all profited
handsomely from their firm commitment to the ideology of
But unlike the racist mythology of media pundits, neo-
eugenicist academics, and a "private sector" dominated by
taxpayer subsidized high-tech merchants of death seeking to
expand into the lucrative "security enhancement" market, it
wasn't the "black underclass" which created the crack trade. The
award for perfecting a newer, more lethal "addiction delivery
system" (crack) belongs to America's racist ruling class and
their guard dogs, the CIA.
When Eugene Hasenfus' C-123 cargo plane was shot down in
Nicaragua in October 1986, Colonel North's "Enterprise" began to
unravel. Congressional Democrats were quick to join their
Republican colleague's across the aisle in what amounted to a
massive cover-up. With few exceptions, they were aided by a
mendacious corporate media wholly committed to the Reagan
administration's "roll-back" doctrine.
Though little-known even today, Hasenfus and the other
Americans aboard the ill-fated supply run from El Salvador's
Illopango air base to the Contra's, were all veterans of another
of the CIA's "secret wars" -- one fought in Southeast Asia with
the assistance of Laotian drug-dealer, General Vang Pao. But
history such as this is too unsettling for "conservative"
proponents of "traditional family values," many of whom, Pat
Robertson among them, were "useful idiots" of a "public-private
partnership" which greatly enhanced the power of a repressive
State and the drug cartels.
Three interrelated political forces were instrumental in the
formation of the Contra army and it's political wing, the
Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN): the Central Intelligence
Agency, the remnants of the Somocista National Guard, and the
Argentine military. All three entities have had long-standing,
documented ties with international narco-capitalists.
Many of the Argentine "security specialists" who trained the
Contras were veterans of the notorious Argentine Anticommunist
Alliance (AAA) death squad. Fresh from a campaign of slaughter
against the Argentine left during the "dirty war," they joined
their CIA associates in El Salvador and Honduras, and helped to
extend the range of "Operation Condor," a plan to liquidate the
Latin American left. Employing a methodology similar to the
CIA's infamous "Phoenix Program" in Vietnam, tens of thousands of
Central Americans were murdered or "disappeared."
A fourth "arm" guiding the formation and eventual deployment
of the Contra army will be mentioned; the various political and
paramilitary groupings which comprise international fascist and
neo-Nazi terrorist networks, particularly those associated with
the World Anti-Communist League. Future issues of AFIB will
explore these connections in depth.
For the moment, suffice it to say that international
fascism, pursuing its' own agenda, converged with forces aligned
with imperialism in order to crush the threat of socialist
revolution throughout Central America. Legitimized by the U.S.
National Security State, these well-entrenched terror networks
remain firmly in place. Indeed, political assassinations, terror
bombings and the organization of racist pogroms are the
quintessential signatures left as calling cards by _L'Orchestre
Noir_. The drug trade continue to be a means employed by fascism
to bankroll their operations.
As part of AFIB's continuing exploration of the origins of
the crack plague, we are posting Robert Parry's excellent piece,
"Lost History: Reagan-Bush Crime Syndicate." The article
appeared recently in the investigative E-zine, "The Consortium,"
and is reproduced with the publisher's permission. It was Robert
Parry and his associate, Brian Barger, who first broke the story
of the CIA-Contra collaboration with Colombian drug cartels in
1985. Subscription information, including access to "The
Consortium's" excellent archive follows Mr. Parry's article.
Additionally, we are posting CIA director, John Deutch's
letter to Senator Boxer, dismissing allegations of Company
involvement with the Colombian cartels and a piece by San Jose
Mercury News reporter, Gary Webb, whose "Dark Alliance" series
blew the lid off one of Washington's best-kept dirty secrets.
There is every indication that the Iran/Contra/Coke cover-up
T H E C O N S O R T I U M
"THE INTERNET'S FIRST INVESTIGATIVE `ZINE"
Vol. 1, No. 21 -- Washington, D.C. -- Sept. 16, 1996
LOST HISTORY: REAGAN-BUSH CRIME SYNDICATE
By ROBERT PARRY
WASHINGTON -- It should be clear by now that for 12 years,
from 1981-1993, the United States was governed by political
leaders who merged the power of the state with criminality to a
degree possibly unmatched in modern American history. That
disturbing reality was underscored again this past month by an
exhaustively researched series by Gary Webb in The San Jose
Webb's three-part series, with supporting documentation,
traced the "crack" epidemic that devastated Los Angeles and other
U.S. cities to massive shipments of cocaine smuggled by elements
of the CIA-organized Nicaraguan contra army in the early-to-mid
1980s. Danilo Blandon Reyes, a former contra leader and drug
dealer, testified during a recent cocaine trafficking trial in
San Diego that the smuggling was given a green light by the late
Enrique Bermudez, who commanded the FDN, the largest contra force
and the one most closely associated with the CIA.
"There is a saying that the ends justify the means," Blandon
said. "And that's what Mr. Bermudez told us in Honduras, OK. So
we started raising money for the contra revolution." Though
Blandon was offered as a U.S. government witness, the Justice
Department first obtained a gag order that blocked defense
attorneys from inquiring about the CIA's role in dealing dope to
the Crips and Bloods and other inner-city gangs.
But a wealth of other evidence, collected by federal drug
agents and congressional investigators during the 1980s,
corroborated that the Reagan-Bush administrations knew about the
drug trafficking and mounted a determined cover-up to protect the
contras from exposure. Senior administration officials apparently
shared Enrique Bermudez's situational ethics. After all,
President Reagan had hailed the contras as the "moral equivalent
of the Founding Fathers." They could not be unmasked as drug
Published stories about contra drug trafficking were also not
new. On Dec. 20, 1985 -- more than a decade ago -- The Associated
Press published a story by Brian Barger and me reporting that all
major contra factions had joined the drug trade. "Nicaraguan
rebels operating in northern Costa Rica have engaged in cocaine
trafficking, in part to help finance their war against
Nicaragua's leftist government, according to U.S. investigators
and American volunteers who work with the rebels," our AP story
It was the first article alleging contra drug trafficking and
it was sharply criticized by both the Reagan-Bush administration
and the conservative media. The contras were already reeling from
widespread charges that they engaged in rape, torture and murder
of Nicaraguan civilians. The day our AP story ran, deputy State
Department spokesman Charles Redman declared, "we are not aware
of any evidence to support those charges" -- a claim Barger and I
knew to be untrue. But Redman's denial was just the start of a
cover-up by the "just-say-no" crowd.
The contra-drug story -- and others we had written about
Oliver North's secret contra supply operation -- did, however,
attract the attention of a young U.S. senator, John Kerry,
D-Mass., who instructed his staff to investigate. A federal
prosecutor, Jeffrey Feldman, also was sniffing around in Miami
and Costa Rica. He had uncovered allegations of gun-running and
some hints of drug-trafficking by the contras.
But Feldman's probe drew a watchful eye from senior Justice
Department officials in Washington. On a trip to Miami, Attorney
General Edwin Meese III talked about the investigation with
Feldman's boss, U.S. Attorney Leon Kellner. On April 4, 1986,
another Miami prosecutor David Leiwant said he overheard Kellner
saying that Washington had ordered him to "go slow" on the contra
probe, a claim Kellner later denied.
At AP, Barger and I got wind of the federal investigation,
too, and published a story disclosing that the U.S. Attorney's
office in Miami was examining allegations of contra gun-running
and drug-trafficking. The AP article prompted a front-page attack
on our work by The Washington Times, a right-wing newspaper
financed by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church.
But it was not just conservatives giving us trouble. The New
York Times weighed in with an article knocking down our story. A
reporter for the prestigious Times interviewed Meese's spokesman
Patrick Korten who dismissed the contra allegations by claiming
that "various bits of information got referred to us. We ran them
all down and didn't find anything. It comes to nothing."
Despite those public declarations from Washington, Feldman and
Miami-based FBI agents actually were finding a lot. On May 14,
1986, Feldman recommended to his superiors that the evidence of
contra crimes was strong enough to take the case to a grand jury.
Feldman's boss, Kellner, scribbled on the memo, "I concur that we
have sufficient evidence to ask for a grand jury investigation."
But on May 20, Kellner met with his top aides and reversed the
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 then signed Feldman's name to the memo,
again without telling Feldman, and sent the memo to Washington on
June 3. The doctored memo was then slipped to congressional
Republicans who leaked it to the conservative media and used it
to discredit Kerry, who was put under a Senate Ethics Committee
investigation for his troubles. The contra cover-ups were under
Even after North's contra supply operations were exposed in
October 1986, when one of his planes (which had been used to
carry cocaine) was shot down, the allegations about contra drug
trafficking continued facing Reagan-Bush denunciations and little
interest in either Congress or the media. In July 1987, a
spectator interrupted North's Iran-contra testimony by demanding
that someone "ask about the cocaine." But the only response was a
cursory review released by Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., which
concluded that there was no truth to the contra drug charges.
Still, stories continued to percolate about contra cocaine
trafficking. I even learned that Vice President Bush's national
security aide Donald Gregg, a former CIA officer, had helped
organize a pre-Oliver North contra-aid network that had included
a drug-tainted enterprise called the Arms Supermarket. In May
1988, when I was working at Newsweek, I wrote an article that
cited government documents and high-level administration
officials confirming that the Arms Supermarket "was financed at
least in part with drug money."
Bush, who had been chief of Reagan's drug task force, was then
running for president and claiming that he had been "out of the
loop" on Iran-contra. So his aides harshly attacked the Newsweek
story. Internally, Newsweek senior editors, who shared a
real-politick view of fighting leftists in the Third World, took
Bush's side and throttled any further investigation of the vice
president's unsavory contra drug connections. The Washington
Post, Newsweek's sister publication, didn't help by joining in
the ridicule of the contra drug stories. My Newsweek career came
to an end in 1990.
In the following years, official Washington effectively
committed the contra-drug story to the loony bin of conspiracy
theories. Even when Panama's Manuel Noriega was tried on drug
charges in 1991 and witnesses implicated the contras, too, that
evidence drew almost no public attention. To recognize the contra
drug trafficking would mean, of course, re-examining the role of
then-President Bush as well as exposing the incompetence of the
elite Washington news media.
Recently, however, I discovered documents in the National
Archives that shed more light on who was behind the drug-linked
contra operations. The papers were a series of flow charts
showing who was responsible for the secret support of the
Nicaraguan contras at different phases. The chart, unsigned but
apparently prepared by a Reagan-Bush insider, described how Bush
and Gregg took the lead in arranging off-the-books support for
the contras after Congress cut off CIA funding in 1984.
A MYSTERY MARKET
One chart described "Max Gomez," whose real name was Felix
Rodriguez, a CIA-trained Cuban exile, as the Bush-Gregg man on
the ground in Central America. "Max Gomez" pulled in another
former CIA Cuban exile named, Mario Delamico, who held "a
position of authority with Honduran officers and the FDN [contra]
camp," the chart said. Delamico, in turn, set up the "Arms
Warehouse/Supermarket" in Honduras, with a corrupt Honduran
officer, named "Col. Aplicano."
The chart noted that "the 'Arms Warehouse' was started with
seed money of approximately $14 million from the CIA. Later, it
was believed that funds relating to narcotics traffic found its
way into the inventory in the warehouse." Though the chart
matched with the earlier suspicions about Bush's team, the
information apparently was never seriously pursued during the
Iran-contra investigations, which wound down in 1993.
When President Bush lost re-election in 1992, whatever scant
media interest in the crimes of that era evaporated. Unlike other
countries which have sought to achieve some accounting for
official crimes of the Cold War, the United States seems
determined to forget the past. The Clinton administration and
congressional Democrats, such as Lee Hamilton, have joined in
whitewashing other evidence that Reagan and Bush had presided
over an era of extraordinary criminality.
For instance, Clinton prosecutors ignored credible evidence --
including a sworn affidavit from Reagan national security aide
Howard Teicher -- so they could reject allegations that the
Republicans had helped arm Iraq's Saddam Hussein in the 1980s.
For his part, Hamilton hid documentary evidence that Reagan's
1980 campaign had colluded with Iranian terrorists to stymie
President Carter's efforts to free 52 American hostages. (See The
October Surprise X-Files: The Hidden Origins of the Reagan-Bush
There has been no serious follow-up on a host of other
Reagan-Bush crimes either: the support for Central American death
squads; the cover-up of the 1981 El Mozote massacre in El
Salvador; collaboration with Noriega; protection for the heroin
trade of another CIA-backed group, the Afghan mujahadeen;
Ferdinand Marcos's alleged multi-million-dollar pay-offs to
Ronald Reagan; the BCCI affair; the savings-and-loan plundering
and a hundred other economic rip-offs that enriched the few and
left the nation trillions of dollars in debt.
So it was not entirely surprising that Gary Webb's remarkable
story about contras and crack caused not a ripple of official
reaction. The disclosures were not even mentioned in the nation's
two leading papers, The New York Times and The Washington Post.
After all, since both prestige papers had blown the story in the
1980s, they weren't eager to admit their screw-up now.
Apparently confident that the Republican crimes will continue
to go unchallenged, GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole (who
played a prominent role in the Iran-contra cover-up) even had the
audacity to attack Clinton on the rise in drug use among
teen-agers. Going still further, Dole pledged that as president,
he would involve the CIA in the war on drugs.
Still, the elite of Washington seem content to turn a blind
eye on the dark history of the 1980s. Presumably, the sanitized
history is safer for the careers of those -- Republican,
Democrat, journalist and bureaucrats -- who protected a criminal
enterprise at the very heart of national power.
Copyright (c) 1996
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1 September 1996
The Honorable Barbara Boxer
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Boxer:
I write in response to your letter of August 28, 1996,
concerning the allegations made by the San Jose Mercury News that
the Central Intelligence Agency engaged in drug trafficking to
support the Contras in their effort to overthrow the Sandinista
government in Nicaragua. Specifically, the Mercury News alleges
or infers a relationship between the Agency and drug smuggling
activities in which two Nicaraguan Nationals, Oscar Danilo
Blandon Reyes and Juan Norwin Meneses Cantarero, were engaged.
I consider these to be extremely serious charges. The review I
ordered of Agency files, including a study conducted in 1988 and
briefed to both intelligence committees, supports the conclusion
that the Agency neither participated in nor condoned drug
trafficking by Contra forces. In particular, the Agency never had
any relationship with either Blandon or Meneses, nor did it ever
have information concerning either of them withheld in the trial
of Rick Ross.
Although I believe there is no substance to the allegations in
the Mercury News, I do wish to dispel any lingering public doubt
on the subject. Accordingly, I have asked the Agency's Inspector
General to conduct an immediate and thorough internal review of
all the allegations concerning the Agency published by the
I will write again to report to you when the Inspector
General's review is completed. I have asked that the review be
finished within 60 days.
Director of Central Intelligence Agency
`DARK ALLIANCE' SERIES LEADS TO CIA PROBE: Agency Chief
Published: Sept. 6, 1996
BY GARY WEBB,
Mercury News Staff Writer
Central Intelligence Agency Director John Deutch has ordered
the spy agency's inspector general to look into CIA connections
to a Bay Area drug ring that helped touch off the ''crack''
cocaine epidemic of the 1980s.
In a letter to Senator Barbara Boxer, D-California, and
Representative Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, Deutch said that in
response to ''extremely serious charges'' by the Mercury News, he
has asked for ''an immediate and thorough internal review of all
the allegations concerning the Agency published by the
The Mercury News' three-part series, ''Dark Alliance,''
detailed how a Bay Area drug ring sold tons of cocaine to the
street gangs of South Central Los Angeles and funneled millions
in drug profits to a CIA-run guerrilla army. The series traced
the crack cocaine explosion to two Nicaraguan cocaine dealers,
Danilo Blandon and Norwin Meneses, who were civilian leaders of
the Frente Democratica Nicaraguense (FDN), an anti-communist
commando group formed and run by the CIA during the 1980s.
Blandon, who is now an undercover informant for the Drug
Enforcement Administration, admitted in federal court recently
that his biggest customer was a South Central crack dealer named
''Freeway'' Rick Ross, who turned Blandon's cocaine into crack
and distributed it to the Crips and Bloods street gangs. He told
the DEA in 1995 that at the height of his business with Ross, he
was selling 100 kilos of cocaine a week to the gangs.
Boxer, in an interview, called the CIA director's announcement
''a big step'' and expressed confidence that the Inspector
General's review would be ''thorough and complete.''
But Deutch's letter makes it clear that, at the moment, he
doesn't believe the CIA had anything to do with the FDN's drug
''The review I ordered of Agency files, including a study
conducted in 1988 and briefed to both intelligence committees,
supports the conclusion that the Agency neither participated in
nor condoned drug trafficking by Contra forces,'' Deutch wrote.
''In particular, the Agency never had any relationship with
either Blandon or Meneses.''
When the Mercury News filed a Freedom of Information Act
request with the CIA last year asking about Blandon and Meneses
and their relationship with the CIA, the agency replied that it
could not provide anything about either man because of national
According to a top DEA official in Washington who has read
Meneses' intelligence files, DEA reports say that Meneses
''either was or represented himself to be'' a CIA agent.
The Mercury News found that Meneses and Blandon met with CIA
agents Enrique Bermudez, the military commander of the Contra
forces, and Adolfo Calero, the FDN's political leader, both
before and during the time Meneses and Blandon were selling
cocaine in Los Angeles.
The CIA's past history of investigating itself has been
criticized by many researchers and investigators who looked into
allegations of a CIA-Contra-cocaine connection during the 1980s.
The 1988 study Deutch cited in his letter to Boxer, for
example, ''was part of the attempt to crap all over us,'' said
Jack Blum, the former chief counsel to a Senate subcommittee that
investigated Contra drug operations that year. Blum said the CIA
study, which has never been released publicly, ''was a quick
whiz-by'' to determine if the intelligence agency had ordered or
approved of the sale of drugs.
''It was not (a question of) "Did we protect it?' or "Did we
cover it up?' '' Blum said. ''With the agency, you have to watch
every single word.''
Boxer said that it was ''understandable that people would be
skeptical, given the fact that Deutch says that it's been studied
and he doesn't believe it. But on the other hand, these
investigations take on a life of their own and the Inspector
General has a very clear mandate from the Congress to be
independent from the agency. If they're not, they're going to
hear from me about it.''
CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said he was uncertain whether the
report of the Inspector General's investigation would be made
public. Deutch said he would report back to Boxer within 60 days.
Waters said she was ''very pleased'' Deutch had ordered the
investigation, but said, ''We cannot dispel suspicions and doubt
until and unless we have exhausted every effort to uncover the
truth.'' Waters, who represents South Central, has asked for a
Congressional investigation of the matter and has requested an
internal investigation at the Department of Justice as well.
She was joined in that request Thursday by Sen. Dianne
Feinstein, D-California, who asked Attorney General Janet Reno to
look into the Justice Department's handling of Blandon, Meneses
and the recent DEA sting against Freeway Rick Ross.
Blandon was the government's star witness against Ross at a
trial in San Diego last March, after he lured Ross, a recently
paroled crack dealer, into a government sting.
Waters said Reno has not yet responded to her request.
In his letter to Boxer, Deutch denied that the CIA had ever
tried to keep information about Blandon and Meneses from defense
lawyers in Ross' case, a reference to an unusual motion the
Justice Department filed before the San Diego trial to prevent
Ross' lawyers from questioning Blandon about his relationship
with the CIA.
The motion, filed by Asst. U.S. Attorney L.J. O'Neale, said
that the government believed ''at least one defendant will
attempt to assert to the effect that (Blandon) sold cocaine to
raise money for the Nicaraguan contras and that he did so in
conjunction with, or for, the Central Intelligence Agency. This
matter, if true, would be classified; if false should not be
allowed.'' O'Neale's motion was granted by U.S. District Judge
Marilyn Huff, who decided that whatever Blandon's involvement was
with the CIA, it was irrelevant to the Ross case.
Ross is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 13 in San Diego. He
faces a possible sentence of life without the possibility of
* * * * *
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An August, 1996, series in the San Jose Mercury News by reporter Gary Webb linked the origins of crack cocaine in California to the contras, a guerrilla force backed by the Reagan administration that attacked Nicaragua's Sandinista government during the 1980s. Webb's series, The Dark Alliance, has been the subject of intense media debate, and has focused attention on a foreign policy drug scandal that leaves many questions unanswered. This electronic briefing book is compiled from declassified documents obtained by the National Security Archive, including the notebooks kept by NSC aide and Iran-contra figure Oliver North, electronic mail messages written by high-ranking Reagan administration officials, memos detailing the contra war effort, and FBI and DEA reports. The documents demonstrate official knowledge of drug operations, and collaboration with and protection of known drug traffickers. Court and hearing transcripts are also included. Special thanks to the Arca Foundation, the Ruth Mott Fund, the Samuel Rubin Foundation, and the Fund for Constitutional Government for their support. Contents: Documentation of Official U.S. Knowledge of Drug Trafficking and the Contras Evidence that NSC Staff Supported Using Drug Money to Fund the Contras U.S. Officials and Major Traffickers: Manuel Noriega José Bueso Rosa FBI/DEA Documentation Testimony of Fabio Ernesto Carrasco, 6 April 1990 National Security Archive Analysis and Publications Click on the document icon next to each description to view the document. Documentation of Official U.S. Knowledge of Drug Trafficking and the Contras The National Security Archive obtained the hand-written notebooks of Oliver North, the National Security Council aide who helped run the contra war and other Reagan administration covert operations, through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed in 1989. The notebooks, as well as declassified memos sent to North, record that North was repeatedly informed of contra ties to drug trafficking. In his entry for August 9, 1985, North summarizes a meeting with Robert Owen (Rob), his liaison with the contras. They discuss a plane used by Mario Calero, brother of Adolfo Calero, head of the FDN, to transport supplies from New Orleans to contras in Honduras. North writes: Honduran DC-6 which is being used for runs out of New Orleans is probably being used for drug runs into U.S. As Lorraine Adams reported in the October 22, 1994 Washington Post, there are no records that corroborate North's later assertion that he passed this intelligence on drug trafficking to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. In a July 12, 1985 entry, North noted a call from retired Air Force general Richard Secord in which the two discussed a Honduran arms warehouse from which the contras planned to purchase weapons. (The contras did eventually buy the arms, using money the Reagan administration secretly raised from Saudi Arabia.) According to the notebook, Secord told North that 14 M to finance [the arms in the warehouse] came from drugs. An April 1, 1985 memo from Robert Owen (code-name: T.C. for The Courier) to Oliver North (code-name: The Hammer) describes contra operations on the Southern Front. Owen tells North that FDN leader Adolfo Calero (code-name: Sparkplug) has picked a new Southern Front commander, one of the former captains to Eden Pastora who has been paid to defect to the FDN. Owen reports that the officials in the new Southern Front FDN units include people who are questionable because of past indiscretions, such as José Robelo, who is believed to have potential involvement with drug running and Sebastian Gonzalez, who is now involved in drug running out of Panama. On February 10, 1986, Owen (TC) wrote North (this time as BG, for Blood and Guts) regarding a plane being used to carry humanitarian aid to the contras that was previously used to transport drugs. The plane belongs to the Miami-based company Vortex, which is run by Michael Palmer, one of the largest marijuana traffickers in the United States. Despite Palmer's long history of drug smuggling, which would soon lead to a Michigan indictment on drug charges, Palmer receives over $300,000.00 from the Nicaraguan Humanitarian Aid Office (NHAO) -- an office overseen by Oliver North, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Elliott Abrams, and CIA officer Alan Fiers -- to ferry supplies to the contras. State Department contracts from February 1986 detail Palmer's work to transport material to the contras on behalf of the NHAO. Evidence that NSC Staff Supported Using Drug Money to Fund the Contras In 1987, the Senate Subcommittee on Narcotics, Terrorism and International Operations, led by Senator John Kerry, launched an investigation of allegations arising from reports, more than a decade ago, of contra-drug links. One of the incidents examined by the Kerry Committee was an effort to divert drug money from a counternarcotics operation to the contra war. On July 28, 1988, two DEA agents testified before the House Subcommittee on Crime regarding a sting operation conducted against the Medellin Cartel. The two agents said that in 1985 Oliver North had wanted to take $1.5 million in Cartel bribe money that was carried by a DEA informant and give it to the contras. DEA officials rejected the idea. The Kerry Committee report concluded that senior U.S. policy makers were not immune to the idea that drug money was a perfect solution to the Contras' funding problems. U.S. Officials and Major Traffickers Manuel Noriega In June, 1986, the New York Times published articles detailing years of Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega's collaboration with Colombian drug traffickers. Reporter Seymour Hersh wrote that Noriega is extensively involved in illicit money laundering and drug activities, and that an unnamed White House official said the most significant drug running in Panama was being directed by General Noriega. In August, Noriega, a long-standing U.S. intelligence asset, sent an emissary to Washington to seek assistance from the Reagan administration in rehabilitating his drug-stained reputation. Oliver North, who met with Noriega's representative, described the meeting in an August 23, 1986 e-mail message to Reagan national security advisor John Poindexter. You will recall that over the years Manuel Noriega in Panama and I have developed a fairly good relationship, North writes before explaining Noriega's proposal. If U.S. officials can help clean up his image and lift the ban on arms sales to the Panamanian Defense Force, Noriega will 'take care of' the Sandinista leadership for us. North tells Poindexter that Noriega can assist with sabotage against the Bibliography it isdg ui kguklh hyo klhklyi ilhukl uk;ghukghu hjbj ,mh,j j,. jhk jh kjh h.kh;k Word Count: 1052
CRACK AND THE CONTRAS
Gary Webb, San Jose Mercury News
November 5, 1996
Read Gary Webb's answers.
Oct. 31, 1996:
The Washington Post digs up further evidence linking the Contras to Drug dealers in the US.
Aug. 18, 19, 20, 1996:
Read "Dark Alliance," Gary Webb's three part series linking the proliferation of crack cocaine in America to the CIA backed Contras in Nicaragua.
Oct. 20, 21, 22, 1996:
Read "The Cocaine Trail." The LA Times three part series following up the evidence raised in Gary Webb's articles.
Oct. 4, 1996:
Walter Pincus of The Washington Post also looked into the crack cocaine-Contra links.
Oct. 2, 1996:
The Washington Post's media critic takes a look at the journalistic issues behind the story.
The American Journalism Review weighs in with their view of the story.
October 12, 1996:
The San Jose Mercury News answers criticism of the "Dark Alliance" series.
Selections from the Senate Committee Report on Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy chaired by Senator John F. Kerry.
The Central Intelligence Agency home page.
The US Department of Justice home page .
The US Drug Enforcement Agency home page.
"For the better part of a decade, a San Francisco Bay Area drug ring sold tons of cocaine to the Crips and Bloods street gangs of Los Angeles and funneled millions in drug profits to a Latin American guerrilla army run by the US Central Intelligence Agency." So begins the controversial three part series, published last August, by Gary Webb in the San Jose Mercury News.
The story makes the allegation that beyond selling drugs in America in the 1980's, the US-backed Contra rebels, fighting a Cuban-backed Nicaraguan regime, were largely responsible for introducing crack-cocaine into the US. This issue has raised interest to the point that a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has begun hearings on it.
The story has been picked up by other news organizations, notably The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times. These two papers question some of Mr. Webb's sources and his findings, especially regarding the introduction of crack into America, the targetting by Contra dealers of African-American communities and the involvement of the CIA.
In his defense, Mr. Webb told The Washington Post that "this (series) doesn't prove the CIA targeted black communities. It doesn't say this was ordered by the CIA... Essentially our trail stopped at the door of the CIA."
A 1989 Senate Foreign Relations Committee report that looked into this issue also stopped just short of implicating the CIA. It stated, "There are some serious questions as to whether or not US officials involved in Central America failed to address the drug issue for fear of jeopardizing the war effort against Nicaragua."
Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Chairman of that sub-Committee, had this to say about the recent allegations raised by Mr. Webb and others, "There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, or on the payroll of the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the Contras, but it is also important to note that we never found any evidence to suggest that these traffickers ever targeted any one geographic area or population group."
The CIA is investigating the matter further as is the Justice Department. In 1988 the Deputy Director of the CIA, Robert Gates, led a three day investigation into the affair concluding that "all allegations that the CIA condoned, abetted or participated in narcotics trafficking are absolutely false."
With such differing views coming from within government, clearly some issues remain to be answered.
Our Forum asks? Was the government involved in alleged drug sales by the Contras in the US? Are you satisfied that Mr. Webb's research supports his allegations of widespread Contra involvement in the American crack trade? Has the government been diligent enough in it's investigation of this issue? What should happen if proof of CIA involvement arises?
Gary Webb's answers are below.
Questions asked in this forum:
A question about continued CIA denials.
Would there be a better investigation with a Republican or Democratic administration?
What about the evidence coming out of Costa Rica?
What were your biggest obstacles in covering this story?
Why have the major media outlets downplayed this story?
What are the connections between this case and the airstrip at the Hull Ranch?
A question from Douglas Couvertier of FT. Lauderdale FL :
The CIA has denied the selling of drugs to anyone. What proof is there that the government actual took part in the selling of cocaine?
And if such proof exists, why aren't there any prosecutions going on?
Gary Webb responds:
The CIA has denied an accusation that was never made. What they have not denied is that men working for the CIA-run army were selling vast quantities of cocaine to American citizens and using some of the drug profits to arm and equip that army. The CIA has also not denied that the drug dealers were meeting with CIA-paid commanders during this time and getting fundraising requests from them.
Return to question index...
A question from Daniel Berg of Grand Rapids, MI:
Do you feel their would be a better investigation with a Republican administration or Democratic one?
Gary Webb responds:
I think that both parties would be happy to blame the other for this. Historically, neither party has seemed particularly eager to delve into this can of worms.
Return to question index...
A question from Joe Horman of Houston, Texas:
In 1989, after a Costa Rican Congressional investigation concluded that the contra resupply network in Costa Rica that Oliver North coordinated from the White House doubled as a drug smuggling operation, Nobel Prize winner, President Oscar Arias, banned North, CIA agent Joseph Fernandez, Ambassador Tambs, Admiral Poindexter, and Richard Secord from the nation. "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." (Costa Rican Tico Times, 7/28/89) Were these activities connected to the Los Angeles distribution, and if so, why did you not include the Costa Rican findings in your report?
Gary Webb responds:
The Costa Rica angle is something that we are currently investigating. The reason it was not included in the original series, aside from space, is that we did not have a chance to investigate these allegations for ourselves.
Return to question index...
A question from Phil Wright of Concord, MA:
What were your biggest obstacles in reporting on this story? I can only imagine that dealing with such a cloak and dagger issue, ie, involving the CIA and crack dealers, you had a lot to overcome. Did you ever feel threatened?
Gary Webb responds:
The biggest obstacles were the total lack of cooperation and candor for the US government. All but one of Freedom of Information Act requests were denied, often for the most absurd reasons, ie, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the FBI didn’t want to invade the privacy of these international drug lords. Not a single government official with personal knowledge these activities would agree to answer to questions. We had public records disappear from court files. We had a witness disappear from a Nicaraguan prison. I was told that I would endanger the lives of DEA agents if we disclosed certain matters. I never felt threatened personally, but as my Nicaraguan colleague, George Hodell, noted at one point, “Things are moving all around us.”
Return to question index...
A question from Pearl Gladstone of Bensalem, PA :
Why are all the larger newspapers, pooh, poohing the story by shortchanging the information, and using the technique of failing to tell the story, just criticizing it, and also using name-calling techniques like Conspiracy theorist for anyone who dares to ask a question?
Gary Webb responds:
It helps to realize that, for the past ten years, the major media outlets have studiously ignored or dismissed this topic, with very few exceptions. Now that it has been proven that the Contras were indeed selling drugs to Americans, I think they are hard pressed to explain their lack of attention to a topic that millions of Americans care very deeply about. To accept this story now is a tacit admission that the biggest media outlets in this country have been asleep at the switch for a decade - or worse.
A question from Bonnie Perry of Mundelein, IL:
Does any of your research lead you back to the allegations raised in the past regarding flights late at night into the airstrip by the Hull ranch (was his name , David?) that were discussed on several reports during the end of the Bush era on NPR? They interviewed some local residents who became alarmed at all of these late flights and noise. Investigations showed that the activities were very hush, hush and local people were systematically reprimanded for asking questions. The report as I remember it, alleged that this was the drop-off point for the Contras and that the "payment" for the trips was actually free passage of cocaine to the US under the watch of our government, CIA, operatives, etc. Further, that Mr. Hull did very well by his little flying missions and was compensated by the CIA.
I don't remember hearing any of this brought up in the Clinton years. Thanks for your work on this.
Gary Webb responds:
See the answer to #3. The Hull ranch was in northern Costa Rica.
Return to Top
Carl Jensen of Cotati, CA. Founder of Project Censored.
The CIA and its contra-drug connection was the #2 Censored story of 1987 as cited by Project Censored at Sonoma State University.
Despite nearly a decade of charges about the CIA and its contra drug smuggling connection, the mainstream media did not put the issue on the national agenda ... until the San Jose Mercury News published its extraordinary three-part series starting August 18, 1996.
Using the FOIA, newly declassified federal reports, court testimony, and interviews, it documented and exposed the the contra drug smuggling network, the CIA's role, and, possibly most important, made the important connection between the flawed foreign policy of Reagan and Bush in the 1980s and America's drug-devastated streets of today. The Mercury News series prompted long overdue investigations by the CIA, Justice Department, Congress, and the mass media. Not surprisingly, three of the nation's largest newspapers (The New York Times, 10/20/96; Washington Post,10/4/96; and the Los Angeles Times, 10/20/96) which hadn't investigated and reported the original charges by the Christic Institute in 1987, were quick to investigate the Mercury News charges in a transparent effort to discredit them. The old "not exposed here" process was embarassingly evident in their belated efforts.
Cinque Maroon of Chicago, IL
If the CIA supported Contras were being financed by drug trafficking in California, and the CIA had no knowledge, than how good at intelligence gathering is the CIA? Is the CIA dumbfounded about how the Contras were financed? Is the CIA completely in the dark about how and where drugs, which are not grown in the United States, get here? I think the CIA insults themselves by claiming lack of knowledge concerning these issues.
Sharlene Franks of Hopatcong, NJ
Given that the allegations of CIA driven genocide of black Americans has been alleged for a decade, how can Mr. Webb claim that he did not intend to stir this debate up with his research?
Also, since the CIA must have at least some African-Americans on staff, how could this plan have been executed without substantiated proof for so long? The CIA has been used as a bogeyman by many people and groups for a long time, and I believe it is irresponsible on Mr. Webb's part to make allegations without solid proof. The African American community has enough to deal with without an author cashing in on the paranoia in certain sectors.
If he has verifiable proof, he should produce it, and if not, he should have left specualtion out of his article, or made it clear that speculation was all he had.
Scott Eissfeldt of Portland, OR
There has always been a gut feeling about the Contra/Crack connection although it seems, as William Weld has stated during the U.S. Senate campaign here, "nutty" to think that the CIA would want to pollute this country with cocaine. Nevertheless, the crack epidemic has somehow always seemed to have been orchestrated by an unseen hand and is probably more an effect of an act of war against this country rather than a simple health issue.
I began studying it in 1988 shortly after the appearance of "Prisoners of Crack", an article in Rolling Stone Magazine RS545 p.61 by Lewis Cole which details malevalent neglect under Ronald Reagan. In that case, it was more fear and complacency with respect to dealing with people of color among the nearly all-white Washington Republican Party establishment, which really exists throughout history. It is an extremely difficult issue, as are tobacco and alcohol which go to the heart of the centuries long argument of laissez-faire vs. managed social systems.
Thank you for your persistence and brave reporting.
Reports by Topic:
CIA and Crack Cocaine
Crack Cocaine to Finance the Contras
On January 20, 1987, Joel Brinkley (special to the New York Times) reported. "Contra Arms Crew said To Smuggle Drugs" The 3rd secret had surfaced. Brinkley wrote: "Fed. Drug investigators uncovered evidence last fall that the American flight crews which covertly carried arms to the Nicaraguan rebels were smuggling cocaine and other drugs on their return trips back to the US. Administration Officials said today that when the crew members, based in El Salvador, learned that DEA agents were investigating their activities, one of them warned that they had White House protection. The Times then quoted an anonymous US official who said the crew member's warnings which came after DEA searched his San Salvador house for drugs, caused 'quite a stir' at Ilopango." Written Statement for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, April 27, 1998 of Celerino Castillo III (DEA, Retired), author of Powderburns: Cocaine, Contras and the Drug War
"Webb's revelations detail how a group of rich, powerful Nicaraguans set up a massive and unstoppable flow of cocaine into South-Central LA beginning in 1982 in order to help finance the cash-poor, CIA-devised Contra war gainst the Sandinistas. Webb showed how Oscar Danilo Blandon Reyes, a former Nicaraguan official with apparent ties to the U. S. Central Intelligence Agency, directed mountains of cocaine... Jill Stewart, "Just Another Big Embarassment Under Shelby", Phoenix New Times.
Reporters Robert Barry and Brian Barger found that some contra troops were involved with shipments of cocaine sent to the United States through Costa Rica. AP wiere service refused to run the story, however it was accidentally sent to some foreign AP offices and then printed in most Spanish-speaking countries in the Western Hemisphere. Jake Sexton, "The Rewards of Responsible Journalism"
Blandon Reyes, Oscar Danilo, a former Nicaraguan official with apparent ties to the U. S. Central Intelligence Agency, directed a massive and unstoppable flow of cocaine into South-Central LA beginning in 1982 in order to help finance the cash-poor, CIA-devised Contra war gainst the Sandinistas. Jill Stewart, "Just Another Big Embarassment Under Shelby", Phoenix New Times.
Menesus, Norvin. Nicaraguan drug trafficker. Reported by LA times to have donated "no more than $50,000 of his street sales to the contras." Gene "Chip" Tatum, "LA Times 'spins' CIA Drug Involvement, Big Sky Patriot, November 6, 1996
Bolivia's "cocaine coup" government of 1980-82 was the first in line filling the contra drug pipeline. But other contra-connected drug operations soon followed, including the Medellin cartel, the Panamanian government, the Honduran military and Miami-based anti-Castro Cubans. The contra-connected cocaine also moved through transshipment points in Costa Rica and El Salvador. [For details, see Robert Parry's Lost History; Cocaine Politics by Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall; or Gary Webb's forthcoming book, Dark Alliance.] Robert Parry, "Contra-Cocaine: Evidence of Premeditation" The Consortium for Independent Journalism, a paid subscription service, Volume 3, No 11 (Issue 63) - June 1, 1998.
October 22, 1982. The first publicly known case of contra cocaine shipments appeared in government files in a cable from the CIA's Directorate of Operations. The cable passed on word that U.S. law enforcement agencies were aware of "links between (a U.S. religious organization) and two Nicaraguan counter-revolutionary groups [which] involve an exchange in (the United States) of narcotics for arms." The material in parentheses was inserted by the CIA as part of its declassification of the cable. The name of the religious group remains secret. Robert Parry, "Contra-Cocaine: Evidence of Premeditation" The Consortium for Independent Journalism, a paid subscription service, Volume 3, No 11 (Issue 63) - June 1, 1998.
Letter from the U.S: Anger over CIA and crack trade The series raised serious doubt about whether the CIA was actively involved in pushing crack into Los Angeles' black community, or whether it simply turned a blind eye to the contra operation. Webb's series sparked a ground swell of protest, and many black leaders, including black Democrats, demanded an investigation into the CIA-contra-crack connection.
South Central residents condemn CIA's reported role. John Veit, DEA's finest details corruption
Contra drug point of entry: Mena, Arkansas. At the height of activities, handled a night flight every five minutes, without lights. Bill Alexander, Democratic Congressman for Arkansas, stated that activities at Mena have been responsible for large volumes of drugs coming into his state. In spite of mounting evidence, however, Clinton, as Governor of the state, appears to have made no attempt to help with investigations by local prosecutors into the illegal activities there... Untitled material on Drug-running and ArkansasSite 1 or Site 2
CIA Involvement and Knowledge
"Are CIA Hands Clean?" That's what many shocked Americans have asked after reading the San Jose Mercury News' explosive series of article that questioned the agency's role in America's so-called War on Drugs. The Mercury News investigation claimed that the CIA supported a drug pipeline from Colombia, South America the the San Francisco area that may have financed the Nicaraguan Contras by selling tons of cocaine.
Feb 11, 1982, Attorney General William French Smith grants an exemption sparing the CIA from a legal requirement to report on drug smuggling by agency assets. This occurred only two months after President Reagan authorized covert CIA support for the Nicaraguan contra army and some eight months before the first known documentary evidence revealing that the contras had started collaborating with drug traffickers. The exemption suggests that the CIA's tolerance of illicit drug smuggling by its clients during the 1980s was official policy anticipated from the outset, not just an unintended consequence followed by an ad hoc cover-up. The exemption had been secretly engineered by CIA Director William J. Casey according to a letter placed into the Congressional Record by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., on May 7, 1998, which establishes that Casey foresaw the legal dilemma which the CIA would encounter should federal law require it to report on illicit narcotics smuggling by its agents. The narcotics exemption is especially noteworthy in contrast to the laundry list of crimes which the CIA was required to disclose.. The CIA's inspector general Frederick P. Hitz confirmed that long-held suspicion in an investigative report issued on Jan. 29, 1998. The Clinton administration quietly rescinded Casey's narcotics exemption in 1995. Robert Parry, "Contra-Cocaine: Evidence of Premeditation" The Consortium for Independent Journalism, a paid subscription service, Volume 3, No 11 (Issue 63) - June 1, 1998.
General Pual F. Gorman, head of the U. S. Southern Command, acknowledged in 1984 that "substantial evidence links drugs, money and arms networks in Central America. The fact is, if you want to go into the subversion business, collect intelligence, and move arms, you deal with drug movers." Jerry Meldon, Contra-Crack Guide: Reading between the lines," in The Consortium (paid internet service)
In 1984, the CIA intervened with the Justice Department to block a criminal investigation into a suspected contra role in a San Francisco-based drug ring. Robert Parry, "Contra-Cocaine: Evidence of Premeditation" The Consortium for Independent Journalism, a paid subscription service, Volume 3, No 11 (Issue 63) - June 1, 1998.
In December 1985, Brian Barger and I wrote the first news article disclosing that virtually every Nicaraguan contra group had links to drug trafficking. In that Associated Press dispatch, we noted that the CIA knew of at least one case of cocaine profits filtering into the contra war effort, but that DEA officials in Washington claimed they had never been told of any contra tie-in. The Casey exemption explains why that was possible. After the AP story ran, the Reagan administration attacked it as unfounded and the article was largely ignored by the rest of the Washington press corps. But it did help spark an investigation by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who over the next two years amassed substantial evidence of cocaine smuggling in and around the contra war. Still, the Reagan and Bush administrations continued to disparage Kerry's probe and its many witnesses. Robert Parry, "Contra-Cocaine: Evidence of Premeditation" The Consortium for Independent Journalism, a paid subscription service, Volume 3, No 11 (Issue 63) - June 1, 1998.
Ross, Ricky. Los Angeles drug dealer, supplied by Blandon Reyes with smuggled contraband powder, quickly capitalized on existing heavy street use of PCP, heroin, and other durgs in South Central LA to introduce a cheap new drug known as crack..."not only did the CIA know that its Contras were unleshing a virulent drug in America's ghettos via Blandon and Ross, but the agency allowed it to happen because it needed the money to fund Ronald Reagan's war against socialism." Jill Stewart, "Just Another Big Embarassment Under Shelby", Phoenix New Times.
I was a 25 year veteran, highly decorated international deep cover agent, who witnessed, first hand, how the CIA, State Department and the Department of Justice teamed up to kill every major international drug case I was involved in, for political and economic reasons. At the same time our politicians and bureaucrats lied to the American people and taxed them hundreds of billions of dollars to fight drugs. I was a witness to the highest kind of treason imaginable committed by our government's covert agencies, politicans and bureaucrats, against their own people. After my brother, a heroin addict for 25 years, committed suicide and my son, a highly decorated New York City police officer was killed by crack addicts during a holdup, I had experienced enough. I decided I would use whatever talents God gave me and training the government gave me, against the criminals responsible for the immense and deadly fraud known as "The War on Drugs." You can read the truth in my books, my articles and hear it on my radio show. Mike Levine
Tatum, Gene "Chip". "During a four month period in 1985, as a CIA operative under the direct control of Oliver North, I delivered over two tons of cocaine to various airfields in Honduras. Gene "Chip" Tatum, "LA Times 'spins' CIA Drug Involvement, Big Sky Patriot, November 6, 1996
Ricky Donnell Ross arrested while picking up $1 million worth of cocaine in LA. Ross, Los Angeles drug dealer, supplied by Blandon Reyes with smuggled contraband powder, had quickly capitalized on existing heavy street use of PCP, heroin, and other durgs in South Central LA to introduce a cheap new drug known as crack..."not only did the CIA know that its Contras were unleshing a virulent drug in America's ghettos via Blandon and Ross, but the agency allowed it to happen because it needed the money to fund Ronald Reagan's war against socialism." Jill Stewart, "Just Another Big Embarassment Under Shelby", Phoenix New Times. Washington Post's rebuttal: Roberto Suro and Walter Pincus, "The CIA and Crack: Evidence is Lacking of Alleged Plot." Friday, October 4, 1996, p. A01, Washington Post. "if Freeway Ricky Ross had become a born-again Christian and gone to build Habitat for Humanity Houses, crack would still have happened."
August 1996 Gary Webb, writes "Dark Alliance" series in the San Jose Mercury News which claimed evidence of direct CIA involvement with contra drug operation. Central finding: "After being instrucgted by a CIA agent to raise money in California for the Contras, two Contra drug dealers began selling vast amounts of cocaine in inner-city Los Angeles, primarily to the Crips and Bloods. Some of the profits went to pay for the CIA;s covert war against the Sandinistas...The drug ring's main customers, the LA gangs, introduced crack to more than 110 cities across the U. S. by the end of the 1980's." The series was later attacked by the Washington Post, and New York Times, and Gary Webb was forced out of his job. Jake Sexton, "The Rewards of Responsible Journalism";
May 14, 1986, I spoke to Jack O'Conner DEA HQS Re: Matta- Ballesteros. (NOTE: Juan Ramon Matta-Ballesteros was perhaps the single largest drug trafficker in the region. Operating from Honduras he owned several companies which were openly sponsored and subsidized by C.I.A.) Written Statement for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, April 27, 1998 of Celerino Castillo III (DEA, Retired), author of Powderburns: Cocaine, Contras and the Drug War
Early part of 1986, I received a telex/cable from DEA Costa Rica. SA Sandy Gonzales requested for me to investigate hangers 4 and 5 at Ilopango. DEA Costa Rica had received reliable intelligence that the Contras were flying cocaine into the hangars. Both hangers were owned and operated by the CIA and the National Security Agency. Operators of those two hangars were, Lt. Col. Oliver North and CIA contract agent, Felix Rodriguez, "a.k.a." Max Gomez. (See attached letter by Bryan Blaney (O.I.C.), dated March 28, 1991). Written Statement for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, April 27, 1998 of Celerino Castillo III (DEA, Retired), author of Powderburns: Cocaine, Contras and the Drug War
Attempted Assassination of DEA Agent
Aug. 24, 1989, Because of my information, the U.S. Embassy canceled Guatemalan Military, Lt. Col. Hugo Francisco Moran-Carranza, (Head of Interpol and Corruption) U.S. visa. He was documented as a drug trafficker and as a corrupt Guatemalan Official. He was on his way to a U.S. War College for one year, invited by the CIA. Between Aug. 1989 and March 06, 1990, Col. Moran had initiated the plan to assassinate me in El Salvador and blame it on the guerrillas. On March 06, 1990, I traveled to Houston to deliver an undercover audio tape on my assassination. The Houston DEA S.A Mark Murtha (DEA File M3-90-0053) had an informant into Lt. Col. Moran. Written Statement for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, April 27, 1998 of Celerino Castillo III (DEA, Retired), author of Powderburns: Cocaine, Contras and the Drug War
In Aug. 1986, The Kerry Committee requested information on the Contra pilots from the DEA. The Department Of Justice flatly refused to give up any information. October 15, 1986, Asst. Atty. Gen. Mark Richard testified before the Kerry Committee, that he had attended a meeting with 20 to 25 officials and that the DEA did not want to provide any of the information the committee had requested on the Contra involvement in drug trafficking. Written Statement for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, April 27, 1998 of Celerino Castillo III (DEA, Retired), author of Powderburns: Cocaine, Contras and the Drug War
Coverup. October 22, 1987, I received a call from DEA HQS Everett Johnson, not to close Contra files because some committee was requesting file. If you have an open file, you do not have access to the files under Freedom of Information Act. Written Statement for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, April 27, 1998 of Celerino Castillo III (DEA, Retired), author of Powderburns: Cocaine, Contras and the Drug War
Hearings chaired by Sen. John kerry, D-Mass, result in Senate Foreign Relations Report, 1989. Jerry Meldon, Contra-Crack Guide: Reading between the lines," in The Consortium (paid internet service)
In April 1989, when Kerry released a lengthy report detailing multiple examples of how the contra war supplied cover for major drug trafficking operations, the nation's most prestigious newspapers -- The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times -- published only brief, dismissive accounts. Robert Parry, "Contra-Cocaine: Evidence of Premeditation" The Consortium for Independent Journalism, a paid subscription service, Volume 3, No 11 (Issue 63) - June 1, 1998.
Media Downplay the Story
Gary Webb's August 1996 articles secured more attention than any other article in the Mercury News' history. One would think this would make him a hero, and that he would be treated as such by his paper, and the journalistic community as a whole. Not so. Jake Sexton, "The Rewards of Responsible Journalism"
" Imagine this: you're an investigative reporter with nearly 20 years experience. You publish a multi-part investigative series in a reputable daily paper. The story electrifies the public and sends the country's premier newspapers scurrying to find fault with it. After exhaustive examination involving dozens of journalists at several major papers, the original story is found except for a few details and overstatements--to be basically sound. Yet you find yourself ostracized. Your follow-up stories go unpublished. After being transferred and taken off the investigative beat, you leave journalism." Barbara Bliss Osborn "Are You Sure You Want to Ruin Your Career?"
Bob Parry, a former investigative reporter for the Associated Press and Newsweek who, with partner Brian Barger, broke the original Contra-cocaine stories on the East Coast in the 1980s, says Webb was wise to protect himself by sending his raw information directly to the public. Parry, who for years persisted on the Contra cocaine scandal--an explosive political story that top journalists did not want to belive and Washington officials took pains to cover up--as nearly ruined for his trouble and was smeared by Oliver North and many other then-top government officials. Jill Stewart, "Just Another Big Embarassment Under Shelby", Phoenix New Times.
CIA finds no evidenceOfficially, the CIA investigators say they found zero evidence to support the allegations raised in a controversial three-part series published in 1996 in the San Jose Mercury News.
CIA Inquiry The department's inquiry has established that two CIA officers based in Caracas, Venezuela, tacitly approved at least some of the drug shipments, believing that they were part of a legitimate undercover investigation by the Venezuelan anti-drug squad. But in what one law enforcement source described as the "worst breakdown" in communications since the CIA became involved in anti-drug....
According to the New York Times, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has completed a classified 500-page report confirming that it continued to work with about two dozen members and supporters of the CIA-backed Nicaraguan contra army in the 1980s after hearing charges that they were trafficking in drugs. Unnamed officials said the report shows that the CIA received allegations of drug trafficking activity by about 50 contras and contra supporters but continued to work with half of them; the CIA "was unable to either prove or disprove the charges, or did not investigate them adequately," the Times says. Former CIA director John Deutch ordered two reports on contra drug trafficking after an August 1996 series in the San Jose Mercury News of San Jose, California, named a group of contra supporters who supplied cocaine to Los Angeles drug dealers in the early 1980s; the Los Angeles dealers have been linked to the explosion of crack use in the city. The series caused outrage in the local and national African-American communities. Mainstream US media then denounced the series as flawed; in May 1997 the Mercury News partly retracted the articles, and their author, Gary Webb, was forced out of the newspaper. The first report, released in January 1998, cleared the CIA of all responsibility for the contras' drug trafficking. "The fundamental finding of the [second, much longer] report is that there is no information that the CIA or CIA employees ever conspired with any contra organizations or individuals involved with the contras for purposes of drug trafficking," a unnamed "intelligence official" told the Times. The CIA is "reluctant" to declassify the report "because it deals directly with the contras the agency did work with," according to the Times. [NYT 7/17/98] Source: "New CIA Report Hedges on Contra-Crack Charges", Weekly News Update on the Americas, Issue #442, July 19, 1998, Nicaragua Solidarity Network of NY * 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012 * 212-674-9499 fax: 212-674-9139
"We knew that this was a fact," former US ambassador to El Salvador Robert White told the Mexican daily newspaper La Jornada, referring to CIA collaboration with alleged drug traffickers, "but I'm happy that they finally admitted it." White, who served in El Salvador in the early 1980s, said it is ironic that after showing its tolerance for drug traffickers in the 1980s, the CIA now works in the US "war against drugs." [LJ 7/18/98, quotes retranslated from Spanish] Source: "New CIA Report Hedges on Contra-Crack Charges", Weekly News Update on the Americas, Issue #442, July 19, 1998, Nicaragua Solidarity Network of NY * 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012 * 212-674-9499 fax: 212-674-9139 Call for Regulation of CIA
Drugs and the U. S. GovernmentC.I.A. support for the Nicaraguan contras has sparked sustained allegations, yet unconfirmed, of the agency's complicity in the Caribbean cocaine trade. Regulation of the C.I.A.'s covert operations might thus deny some future drug lord the political protection he needs to flood America with heroin or cocaine.
Class Action Against CIA
In 1997, I joined DEA SA Richard Horn in a federal class action suit against the CIA. The suit is against the CIA and other federal agencies for spying on several DEA agents and other unnamed DEA employees and their families. United States District Court for The District of Columbia; Richard Horn vs. Warren Christopher, Civil Action No. 1:96CV02120 (HHG) January 30, 1994. Written Statement for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, April 27, 1998 of Celerino Castillo III (DEA, Retired), author of Powderburns: Cocaine, Contras and the Drug War
AMERICA'S SECRET WAR
Recently eight high-school students, members of the Baltimore Environmental Justice Project, visited us. Over a brown-bag lunch, we asked what environmental problem they considered biggest or worst. Without hesitation, they said drugs, especially crack cocaine.
Homeless addicts, crack babies, drive-by-shootings, gangs, burglaries, robberies, muggings, black-on-black youth violence. Where did this scourge come from?
The twin centers of the crack cocaine industry are Los Angeles and Miami. The first time the MIAMI HERALD ever mentioned crack cocaine was April 20, 1986. The first time the LOS ANGELES TIMES ever mentioned crack cocaine was two months later on June 30, 1986. The news service Facts on File first mentioned crack on August 15, 1986, under the headline, "'Crack' Explosion Alarms Nation." That story said crack had been around for "as long as 3 years, but its use was said to have exploded in the last months of 1985 and the first half of 1986." From these sources, we conclude that crack first appeared about 1983 and began spreading quickly; by mid-1986, it was a nationwide problem. What happened between 1983 and 1986?
Cocaine had been around as a sniffable white powder since the mid-1970s, but it cost $200 a gram ($5600 an ounce) providing recreation for the rich, not for working people. But by 1986 that had changed. The MIAMI HERALD wrote April 20, 1986, "Described until recently as a rich man's drug, cocaine has filtered down to blue-collar households and is finding an eager market among high school students who can ante up $10 or so to buy some 'crack,' cocaine in a highly purified form suitable for free-basing [smoking]." The LOS ANGELES TIMES wrote September 21, 1986, "The economics of cocaine have changed so radically that it is no longer restricted to the well-to-do. The processing of crystallized cocaine as 'rock' or 'crack' has so lowered the price--and increased the availability--that junior high school students are pooling their lunch money... to buy cocaine from schoolyard dealers." How did crack spread throughout urban neighborhoods during 1983-1986?
The story begins in Nicaragua. In 1979, the "Sandinistas" -- a left-wing revolutionary army -- defeated the U.S.-trained army of dictator Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua. Less than two years later, according to the WASHINGTON POST (March 10, 1982), on November 16, 1981, CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] Director William Casey proposed to President Reagan that he approve $19 million for the CIA to organize a counter-revolutionary force to overthrow the leftist Sandinista government. The POST reported that President Reagan accepted Casey's proposal and authorized the CIA to finance and train a paramilitary commando force to provoke a counter-revolution in Nicaragua. According to TIME magazine, throughout 1982 the CIA rallied anti-Sandinista military forces, creating bases of operation in Honduras, on Nicaragua's border. This became known as Ronald Reagan's "secret war," but it wasn't much of a secret. In fact, it was so public that on December 8, 1982, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the "Boland Amendment" to the 1983 military appropriations bill stating that none of the appropriated defense funds could be used to "train, arm, or support persons not members of the regular army for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Nicaragua." This amendment made it illegal for the CIA to continue funding its anti-Sandinista army, which by then was calling itself the FDN (Nicaraguan Democratic Forces), but was better known as the Contras.
After passage of the Boland amendment, the Contras desperately needed a new source of funds. (This was several years before Oliver North set up his Iran connection to divert money from arms sales to the Contras.) 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 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.
The MERCURY NEWS investigation highlights three individuals in particular: Danilo Blandon, Norwin Meneses, and Ricky Ross.
At Ricky Ross's drug trial in San Diego in March, 1996, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) star witness was Danilo Blandon, telling his story for the first time. Blandon was the son of a wealthy Nicaraguan family who fled from Nicaragua to Los Angeles on June 19, 1979, at age 29, just as the Somoza dictatorship collapsed. His family's ranches and real estate holdings in Managua, and his wife's substantial
wealth, were confiscated by the Sandinista government. The Blandons worked in Los Angeles to build an anti- Sandinista movement, holding rallies and cocktail parties, but Blandon testified that their efforts raised little money. The trial record shows that, in 1981, Blandon was introduced to Norwin Meneses, another Nicaraguan living in California. With Meneses, Blandon flew to Honduras where they were introduced to the military chief of the CIA's Contra army, Enrique Bermudez. According to the MERCURY NEWS, "Bermudez was hired by the Central Intelligence Agency in mid-1980" to create the FDN. The MERCURY NEWS says, "Bermudez was the FDN's military chief and, according to congressional records and newspaper reports, received regular CIA paychecks for a decade, payments that stopped shortly before his still-unsolved slaying in Managua in 1991." (The Contra-Sandinista war ended in 1988.) After meeting with the CIA's Bermudez, Blandon testified in court, he and Meneses started raising money for the Contra revolution by selling drugs in L.A.
Blandon's partner, Norwin Meneses, was known in Nicaragua as "Rey de la Droga" (King of Drugs). In 1979, Meneses was under active investigation by the DEA and by the FBI for selling drugs in the U.S. According to the MERCURY NEWS, "despite a stack of law enforcement reports describing him as a major drug trafficker, Norwin Meneses was welcomed into the U.S. in July 1979 as a political refugee and given a visa and a work permit. He settled in the Bay Area and for the next six years supervised the importation of thousands of kilos of cocaine into California." (A kilo, or kilogram, weighs 2.2 pounds.) Meneses supplied Blandon with tons of cocaine and with assault weapons, which Blandon sold to young blacks in L.A. Blandon's profits went back to Honduras and Nicaragua, to support the CIA's Contra army. There seems little doubt that the CIA cooperated in Blandon's operation. Indeed, NEWSWEEK magazine on two occasions printed interviews and other evidence indicating that the CIA and the DEA both cooperated in the Contras' guns-and- drugs pipeline. (NEWSWEEK 1/26/87, pg. 26, and 5/23/88, pg. 22; and see WASHINGTON POST 1/20/87, pg. A12.) The MERCURY NEWS has now provided additional confirming evidence.
Blandon didn't really know what he was doing until he met Ricky Ross, a small-time African-American drug dealer. Because Blandon could supply limitless amounts of cocaine at rock-bottom prices, Ross began to build an enormous drug empire. When methods for turning cocaine into crack became known in 1983, Ross already had a drug-dealing network in place. Norwin Meneses routinely shipped 200-to-400-kilo quantities of cocaine from Miami to Blandon on the west coast, who sold them to Ross. Ross had 5 "cook houses" turning cocaine into crack. A former crack dealer described for the MERCURY NEWS one of Ross's cook houses where huge steel vats of cocaine were being stirred with canoe paddles atop restaurant-sized gas ranges. At his recent drug trial, Ross testified that it was not unusual to take in between $2 and $3 million a day. "Our biggest problem had got to be counting the money," Ross testified. Blandon told the DEA last year that during 1983 and 1984 he supplied Ross with 100 kilos a week. As this crack flooded into the streets of L.A., the gangs, chiefly the Crips and the Bloods, set up a national distribution network, and crack cascaded across the country into black neighborhoods everywhere, offering a cheap vacation from the miseries of ghetto life. For $20, anyone could get wasted. The gangs themselves were immensely strengthened by the money, guns, and connections that the crack business brought them. And of course the CIA's army got the millions it needed to keep alive Ronald Reagan's secret war.
Today Ricky Ross is facing life in federal prison without the possibility of parole. Danilo Blandon is free, working as an informant for the DEA. Norwin Meneses has never spent a day in a U.S. prison. Although he figured in 45 separate federal investigations, he openly supplied Ricky Ross's crack empire from his home in the Bay area, and was never touched by the law. He has since moved back to Nicaragua.
According to the MERCURY NEWS, agents of four law enforcement agencies --DEA, U.S. Customs, the L.A. County Sheriff's Office, and the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement -- say their investigations into Ross's empire were thwarted by the CIA or by unnamed "national security" interests.
The rise of the crack industry has had lasting effects on communities across America. In 1980, one out of every 453 Americans was incarcerated. By 1993, one out of every 189 Americans was incarcerated. Between 1980 and 1993, the U.S. prison population tripled (from 329,821 to 1,053,738).
But not just anyone went to jail. Crack is a poor person's drug; powder cocaine remains a recreation of the rich. Congress and 14 states passed laws making penalties for crack up to 100 times as great as penalties for powder cocaine. As a result, blacks were much more likely to go to jail, and for longer periods, than whites. In 1993 blacks were seven times more likely to be incarcerated than whites; an estimated 1471 blacks per 100,000 black residents vs. 207 whites per 100,000 white residents were imprisoned at the end of 1993.
Prisons are now the fastest-growing item in almost all state budgets. California spends more on prisons than it does on colleges and universities. (NY TIMES 6/2/96, p. 16E) Former defense contractors are now getting into the lucrative incarceration business. (NY TIMES August 23, 1996, pg. B1.) Almost three quarters of new admissions to prisons are now African-American or Hispanic. If present trends continue for another 14 years, an absolute majority of African-American males between the ages of 18 and 40 will be in prison or in detention camps. (NY TIMES 8/10/95, pg. A14.) A secret war indeed.
--Peter Montague (National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981/AFL-CIO)
 Bruce Goldman, "Cocaine: The Powder That Corrupts," MIAMI HERALD April 20, 1986, pg. 10G.
 Scott Ostler, "Sudden Death Has New Meaning," LOS ANGELES TIMES June 30, 1986, Section 3 (Sports), pg. 3. Ostler writes, "...the new rage in the drug world is crack cocaine, which is smokeable coke. It is cheap, plentiful, and intensively addictive."
 "'Crack' Explosion Alarms Nation," FACTS ON FILE WORLD NEWS DIGEST August 15, 1986, pg. 600F3.
 Bill Farr and Carol McGraw, "Drug Enforcers Losing Nation's Cocaine War; Massive Government Eradication Efforts are 'Overwhelmed by the Bad Guys,' Official Says," LOS ANGELES TIMES September 21, 1986, pg. 1.
 "U.S. Shows Photos to Prove Nicaragua Buildup; CIA- Trained Commandos to Hit Economic Targets," FACTS ON FILE WORLD NEWS DIGEST March 12, 1982, pg. 157A1, quoting the WASHINGTON POST of March 10, 1982.
 George Russel, "Niacargua's Elusive War," TIME Vol. 121 (April 4, 1983), pgs. 34-35.
 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. And: Gary Webb, "S.F. Drug Agent Thought She Hit on Something Big; As Trail Got Warm, Her Superiors Took Her Off the Case," SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS August 19, 1996, pg. 10A.
 Allen J. Beck and Darrell K. Gilliard, "Prisoners in 1994," BUREAU OF JUSTICE STATISTICS BULLETIN [NCJ- 151654], August, 1995, pgs. 1-13.
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