"'In my 30year 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'. This is what Dennis Dayle, former chief of
an elite DEA enforcement unit says. The CIA has had a long and virtually continuous
involvement with drug trafficking since the end of World War II.
1947 to 1951, France
"CIA arms, money, and disinformation enabled Corsican criminal syndicates
in Marseilles to wrest control of labor unions from the Communist Party. The
Corsicans gained political influence and control over the docks - an ideal
situation for the CIA in cementing a long-term partnership with Mafia drug
distributors which turned Marseilles into the postwar heroin capital of the
Western world. Marseilles' first heroin laboratories were opened in 1951,
only months after the Corsicans took over the waterfront.
Early 1950s, Southeast Asia
"The Nationalist Chinese army, organized by the CIA to wage war against Communist
China, became the opium baron of The Golden Triangle (parts of Burma, Thailand,
and Laos), the world's largest source of opium and heroin. Air America, the
CIA's principal proprietary airline, flew the drugs all over Southeast Asia.
1950s to early 1970s, Indochina
"During U.S. military involvement in Laos and other parts of Indochina, Air
America flew opium and heroin throughout the area. Many GI's in Vietnam became
addicts. A laboratory built at CIA headquarters in northern Laos was used
to refine heroin. After a decade of American military intervention, Southeast
Asia had become the source of 70 percent of the world's illicit opium and
the major supplier of raw materials for America's booming heroin market.
1973 to 1980, Australia
Nugan Hand Bank of Sydney (which the Bush family was involved with - please
see our article, "A Woman Riding the Beast Going Forth Conquering and to Conquer")
was a CIA bank in all but name. Among its officers were a network of U.S.
generals, admirals and CIA men, including former CIA Director William Colby,
who was also one of its lawyers. With branches in Saudi Arabia, Europe, Southeast
Asia, South America and the U.S., Nugan Hand Bank financed drug trafficking,
money laundering and international arms dealing. In 1980, amidst several mysterious
deaths, the bank collapsed, $50 million in debt.
1970s and 1980s, Panama
"For more than a decade, Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega was a
highly paid CIA asset and collaborator, despite knowledge by U.S.
drug authorities as early as 1971 that the general was heavily involved
in drug trafficking and money laundering. Noriega facilitated "guns-for-drugs"
flights for the contras, providing protection and pilots, safe havens
for drug cartel officials, and discreet banking facilities. U.S. officials,
including then-CIA Director William Webster and several DEA officers,
sent Noriega letters of praise for efforts to thwart drug trafficking
(albeit only against competitors of his Medellín cartel patrons).
"The U.S. government only turned against Noriega, invading Panama in December
1989 and kidnapping the general, once they discovered he was providing intelligence
and services to the Cubans and Sandinistas. Ironically, drug trafficking through
Panama increased after the U.S. invasion.
1980s, Central America
"The San Jose Mercury News series documents just one thread
of the interwoven operations linking the CIA, the contras,
and the cocaine cartels. Obsessed with overthrowing the leftist
Sandinista government in Nicaragua, Reagan administration
officials tolerated drug trafficking as long as the traffickers
gave support to the contras. In 1989, the Senate Subcommittee
on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations (the
Kerry committee) concluded a three-year investigation by stating:
"There was substantial evidence of drug smuggling through
the war zones on the part of individual contras, contra suppliers,
contra pilots, mercenaries who worked with the contras, and
contra supporters throughout the region ...
"U.S. officials involved in Central America failed to address the drug issue
for fear of jeopardizing the war efforts against Nicaragua ... In each case,
one or another agency of the U.S. government had information regarding the
involvement either while it was occurring, or immediately thereafter ... Senior
U.S. policy makers were not immune to the idea that drug money was a perfect
solution to the contras' funding problems.
"In Costa Rica, which served as the "Southern Front" for the contras (Honduras
being the Northern Front), there were several CIA-contra networks involved
in drug trafficking. In addition to those servicing the Meneses-Blandon operation
(detailed by the Mercury News) and Noriega's operation, there was CIA
operative John Hull, whose farms along Costa Rica's border with Nicaragua
were the main staging area for the contras. Hull and other CIA-connected contra
supporters and pilots teamed up with George Morales, a major Miami-based Colombian
drug trafficker who later admitted to giving $3 million in cash and several
planes to contra leaders. In 1989, after the Costa Rica government indicted
Hull for drug trafficking, a DEA-hired plane clandestinely and illegally flew
the CIA operative to Miami, via Haiti. The U.S. repeatedly thwarted Costa
Rican efforts to extradite Hull to Costa Rica to stand trial.
"Another Costa Rican-based drug ring involved a group of Cuban Americans
whom the CIA had hired as military trainers for the contras. Many had long
been involved with the CIA and drug trafficking. They used contra planes and
a Costa Rican-based shrimp company, which laundered money for the CIA, to
channel cocaine to the U.S.
"Costa Rica was not the only route. Guatemala - whose military intelligence
service is closely associated with the CIA - harbored many drug traffickers.
According to the DEA, the Costa Rica connection was another way station along
the cocaine highway. Additionally, the Medellín cartel's Miami accountant,
Ramon Milian Rodriguez, testified that he funneled nearly $10 million to Nicaraguan
contras through long-time CIA operative Felix Rodriguez, who was based at
Ilopango Air Force Base in El Salvador.
"The contras provided both protection and infrastructure (planes, pilots,
airstrips, warehouses, front companies, and banks) to these CIA-linked drug
networks. At least four transport companies under investigation for drug trafficking
received US government contracts to carry nonlethal supplies to the contras.
Southern Air Transport, "formerly" CIA-owned and later under Pentagon contract,
was involved in the drug running as well. Cocaine-laden planes flew to Florida,
Texas, Louisiana, and other locations, including several military bases. Designated
as "Contra Craft," these shipments were not to be inspected. When some authority
wasn't apprised and made an arrest, powerful strings were pulled to result
in dropping the case, acquittal, reduced sentence, or deportation.
Mid-1980s to early 1990s, Haiti
"While working to keep key Haitian military and political leaders in power,
the CIA turned a blind eye to their clients' drug trafficking. In 1986, the
Agency added some more names to its payroll by creating a new Haitian organization,
the National Intelligence Service (SIN). SIN's mandate included countering
the cocaine trade, though SIN officers themselves engaged in trafficking,
a trade aided and abetted by some Haitian military and political leaders.
1980s to early 1990s, Afghanistan
"CIA-supported Moujahedeen rebels engaged heavily in drug trafficking while
fighting the Soviet-supported government, which had plans to reform Afghan
society. The Agency's principal client was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of the
leading drug lords and the biggest heroin refiner, who was also the largest
recipient of CIA military support. CIA-supplied trucks and mules that had
carried arms into Afghanistan were used to transport opium to laboratories
along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
"The output provided up to one-half of the heroin used annually in the United
States and three-quarters of that used in Western Europe. U.S. officials admitted
in 1990 that they had failed to investigate or take action against the drug
operation because of a desire not to offend their Pakistani and Afghan allies.
In 1993, an official of the DEA dubbed Afghanistan the new Colombia of the