As blogger and editor, reading over the following chapters, I looked up the names in the news and was intrigued to find that the first newspaper which reported about the Moroccan leader, Ben Barka, was NANA (see news clip below). Readers should keep in mind that this news syndicate was headed by Ernest Cuneo, whose career has best been covered, in my opinion, in Thomas E. Mahl's book, Desperate Deception: British Covert Operations in the United States, 1939-44:
Selected Excerpts from
Selected Excerpts from
THE GREAT HEROIN COUP - DRUGS, INTELLIGENCE AND INTERNATIONAL FASCISM
By Henrik Kruger; Jerry Meldon, Translator
South End Press©1980: Box 68 Astor Station, Boston, MA 02123
240pps - one edition - out-of-print; Orginally published in DanishChapter Six
NIGHTMARE OF THE AGENTS:
THE BEN BARKA AFFAIR
The October 1965 kidnaping of the Moroccan exile leader Mehdi Ben Barka was the most controversial and daring affair involving Christian David. Of the twentieth century's most consequential political melodramas, the Ben Barka case ranks with the murder of John F. Kennedy. It remains an unsolved puzzle, with unexploded fireworks that still haunt spooks on both sides of the Atlantic.
There is a semiofficial scenario, but it is full of holes. To make the story hold water many of the involved have been killed, threatened, or ruined. In 1980, fifteen years after Ben Barka's disappearance, that story remains as dubious and full of holes as ever.
The current version goes something like this:
The Moroccan King Hassan II, Interior Minister General Mohammed Oufkir, and his security chief, Colonel Ahmed Dlimi, conspired with members of the French government and its intelligence arm, the SDECE, to lure Ben Barka to Paris, where he would be turned over to Moroccan espionage agents.
The abduction was executed as planned on October 29. Ben Barka was taken to a house in the Paris suburb, Fontenay‑le‑Vicomte. The following evening General Oufkir, Colonel Dlimi, and Moroccan intelligence agents arrived. Soon thereafter Ben Barka was tortured and killed by Oufkir himself, and buried by hired crooks.Implicated were the Moroccan government, certain leading French politicians, the French intelligence agency SDECE, and gangsters connected to it; no one else, according to the official version, was involved.
De Gaulle believed, with good reason, that he had been hoodwinked by some of his own men who had been in cahoots with the CIA, which he blamed for the entire affair. Amazingly, though, the CIA came out smelling like a rose. The only ones to be disgraced in the ensuing trial were the Moroccans and French intelligence, their underworld allies having long since been compromised. Not coincidentally, the trial was punctuated by interruptions, postponements, the liquidation of two star witnesses, the disappearance of a number of the implicated, and the deaths of three French attorneys for the Ben Barka family.
|Earliest story in America was syndicated by Ernest L. Cuneo's North American Newspaper Alliance in 1965.|
Oufkir and members of his security staff were sentenced in absentia to life in prison. Several Frenchmen, among them police and intelligence agents, receiived‑up to eight years. SDECE chief Paul Jacquier was sacked. Prime Minister Georges Pompidou, Interior Minister Roger Frey, and de Gaulle's son‑in‑law‑, member of Parliament Pierre Lemarchand, were all blasted by de Gaulle.
To the stunned populace that was as far as the scandal went, and it was far enough. But what really happened? Why did so many struggle so desperately to keep the lid on? So far the succession of theories and rumors have all lacked credibility. However, in recent years additional aspects of the Ben Barka affair have come to light through scattered details in many books and articles. Alone, these facts seem insignificant. Together they form a lead that can be followed.
I emphasize strongly that the following scenario is my own. My linking of the many facts is hypothetical. The following, therefore, is not necessarily "the truth about the Ben Barka affair" nor an exhaustive account of what occurred, because this is not a book about the Ben Barka affair. Rather, I try to show that we still haven't been told the truth, that the CIA was involved, and that the Ben Barka affair has to this day left some unfinished business in the netherworld of spooks. Furthermore, this will clarify one reason for Christian David's anxieties in jail.
Mehidi Ben Barka wa's forty‑four years old when he disappeared. From an early age he had been a zealous champion of Moroccan independence and of a Socialist future for his country. For a period in the late forties he was the mathematics instructor of Hassan, son of Mohammed V, who became the present King Hassan II. In 1952, with Morocco still under French rule, Ben Barka was banished to the desert, and there he devoted much of his time to study.
In 1956 Morocco gained its independence. Three years later Ben Barka founded the Union Nationale des Forces Populaire (UNFP). In 1961 Hassan was crowned and appointed himself the prime minister.
In the 1963 National Assembly election Ben Barka's party, the UNFP, won twenty‑eight seats, while another reformist party, Istiqlal, gained forty‑one. The two were expected to form a coalition, which was a threat to the king's ruling party, FDIC, which itself claimed sixty‑nine seats.
|Oufkir worked with CIA.|
Whether or not the plot was Oufkir's fabrication, its uncovering was a boon to his career. From 1964 on he was Morocco's interior minister and strong man, the man the CIA supported and worked with in Morocco. At the time Ethiopia and Morocco were America's two most important African allies. They received the lion's share of U.S. economic and military aid, and Morocco's Kenitra air base was a focal point of CIA activity in Africa and the Middle East.
The U.S. ambassador to Morocco [stationed at Rabat until 1969] in 1965, Henry J. Tasca, later became known for his service in Greece [appointed by Nixon in 1969], where he supported the colonels' junta. The CIA station chief, Robert Wells, coordinated CIA assistance to the Moroccan security police in eradicating political opponents of the regime.
[Note from editor: Tasca arrived in Rabat on three years after Ambassador Philip W. Bonsal had been stationed there. Philip Bonsal was from a diplomatic family, and his father Stephen Bonsal also had a notable career in the foreign service. Ancestors also included Gouverneur Morris and Thomas Jefferson. At the age of Morris married Anne Cary ("Nancy") Randolph, who was the sister of Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr., husband of Thomas Jefferson's daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph. (see ancestral chart). Thus the Bonsal ancestors were institutions in the Department of State and knew "where all the bodies were buried," so to speak. Tasca would merely have been following his orders.]
The Americans took a keen interest in Ben Barka in 1965 when he set up a Geneva base for his Third World travels. Ben Barka had been elected chairman of the steering committee for the first Tricontinental Congress, to be held 3‑10 January 1966 in Havana, Cuba. The conference was slated to be a Third World milestone, demonstrating solidarity and brotherhood in the battle against imperialism. It was a thorn in the side of the U.S. in more ways than one. The Americans hadn't given up hope of "liberating" Cuba. Moreover, Washington had good reason to fear that the budding Third World solidarity would lead to a strong, united front against the U.S. and American business interests abroad.
In 1965 King Hassan began airing the possibility of pardoning Ben Barka and allowing him to return to participate in politics, under the king's conditions. Hassan went so far as to send an emissary to Geneva to negotiate with Ben Barka. It's impossible to know whether the king's gesture was sincere. Hassan might have been part of the plot from the very beginning. More likely, though, the king was hoping to entice Ben Barka back to Morocco of his own free will, but needed the help of the French.
The hoodwinking grew out of discussions between Oufkir and the CIA. Ambassador Tasca inquired at CIA Paris headquarters about the possibility of helping return Ben Barka to Morocco. The CIA was primarily interested in preventing Ben Barka's attendance at the Tri‑continental Congress, and in learning of preparations already under way. Moreover, the CIA wanted to keep Ben Barka out of Moroccan politics. All three goals could only be realised by liquidating him or taking him to Morocco and putting him under permanent house arrest.
Oufkir was most concerned with ensuring Ben Barka's permanent absence from Moroccan politics. His second priority was serving the CIA. The possibility cannot be overlooked that the CIA and Oufkir had already made plans for Morocco's future. . . plans that led to Oufkir's catastrophic coup attempt seven years later.
And what of the affair's scapegoats? How did France feel about Ben Barka's return to Morocco and his trip to the Tricontinental Congress? In my opinion France was led by the nose by its own intelligence agents who were actually cooperating with the CIA. After all, the Ben Barka affair took place at the nadir of Franco‑American relations. De Gaulle, intent on strengthening France's Third World relations to the detriment of the USA's, had just returned from Latin America, where he had expressed whole‑hearted support for Third World nationalism.
De Gaulle was very much interested in the Tricontinental Congress, and even more so in Ben Barka's reconciliation with King Hassan and subsequent return to Moroccan politics. That would undermine the U.S. position in North Africa and weaken Oufkir, whom de Gaulle despised for aiding OAS figures following the war in Algeria. It was not in France's official interest to have Ben Barka killed. But within de Gaulle's own party hierarchy were people who went their own way, at times working with the CIA.
As usual, one can't help suspecting de Gaulle's grey eminence, Jacques Foccart [de Gaulle's top intelligence adviser], who was going his own way, at the time, in Latin America. However, Foccart had just seen his African policies backfire, and would likely hesitate before risking another major blunder. Moreover, until then Foccart had been secretly supplying Ben Barka with money and arms.
It must have been either King Hassan or his trusted Colonel Dlimi who, in search of French assistance, presented a plan for collaboration to the likes of Interior Minister Roger Frey, Jacques Foccart, and Pierre Lemarchand. The plan, however, was hardly as elaborate as the one hatched by Oufkir and the CIA, with or without King Hassan's consent. The plan shown to de Gaulle's people probably was limited to bringing Ben Barka to Paris and holding him there on suspicion of narcotics smuggling, until he and the Moroccans had reached an agreement on Hassan's offer. What's most important is that the plan involved the French and the Moroccans only. Judging from appearances, Hassan even asked Lemarchand at the start to negotiate with Ben Barka. Papers later found on a murdered key witness indicate that Lemarchand had jotted down the king's conditions for presentation to Ben Barka.
The French agreed to lure Ben Barka to Paris, in the belief it would help both the king and the exiled leader. Foccart and Lemarchand also anticipated viewing plans for the Tricontinental Congress so that they could suitably adjust French policy.
According to plan, both Moroccan and French espionage agents shadowed Ben Barka in Geneva. [See excellent, albeit expensive, book called Historical Dictionary of Middle Eastern Intelligence.] But Oufkir sought independent intelligence-‑intended neither for Hassan nor for the French. Had he assigned the job to the CIA, it would have been too risky, since it would quickly have aroused French suspicions. He requested instead the aid of the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad. Though it might sound strange today, Israel and Morocco were on excellent terms in the sixties-‑so excellent that Moroccan espionage agents were trained in Israel.
Oufkir, claiming his own men were not up to the assignment, requested the loan of Israeli agents from Mossad chief Meir Amit. Amit agreed and sent a team of agents to shadow Ben Barka in Geneva. A few days later they phoned in a report that French and Moroccan agents were stumbling over one another's feet. The Mossad chief called off his men and told Oufkir he didn't need three sets of agents to spy on one man.
Oufkir entrusted his business in France to his agent Mohammed Miloued, code-named "Chtouki". The two spun a web of conspiracy involving exclusively Frenchmen who either were deceived by or were working with the CIA. Getting Ben Barka to Paris would be taken care of by de Gaulle's unsuspecting staff. For the practical details the French hired the gangster Georges Figon, an acquaintance of Lemarchand's who moved in many different circles.
Quite casually they located the film director Georges Franju, who was then planning an anti-imperialist film and fancied having Ben Barka in a starring role. It was excellent bait, for if Ben Barka agreed to come to Paris to discuss the film, he would bring his file on the approaching Tri‑continental conference. The go‑between was reportedly Phillipe Bernier, a friend of Figon's who knew Ben Barka personally.
Ben Barka took the bait. Enthusiastic about the movie, he agreed to meet in Paris with Franju, Bernier, and Figon on 29 October 1965 at the "Drugstore" restaurant on Boulevard Saint‑Germain‑des‑Pres.
Prior to Ben Barka's arrival, however, Georges Figon caused trouble. Nervous, he asked to be remunerated for services rendered. In Jo Attia's bar, Le Gavroche, he confided to acquaintances that he'd soon be paid a small fortune. Among those acquaintances was Christian David. Oufkir decided he'd had it with Figon, who he most likely knew was working for Lemarchand. Oufkir offered him a lucrative job in Morocco, but Figon declined, having been ordered to hang on.
Around noon on October 29, Ben Barka was walking through Paris with his friend Azemouri, a Moroccan student. The two were on their way to meet with the filmmakers. A patrol car pulled up in front of the Brasserie Lipp restaurant on Boulevard Saint‑Germain‑des‑Pres. Two men hopped out, flashed police badges, and asked Ben Barka to join them.
There were already three men in the car: Orly airport chief Antoine Lopez, French narcotics
lieutenant Louis Souchon, and the latter's assistant, Roger Voitot. An agent for the SDECE, Lopez was close to Oufkir, who had promised him the directorship of Royal Air Maroc if anything went wrong. Georges Pompidou had Lopez working closely as a special agent with America's Paris narcotics office, a beehive of CIA activity. Souchon and Voitot were similarly collaborating with U.S. narks. Lopez, however, had apparently convinced them the action was sanctioned by Jacques Foccart.
The abduction was initially camouflaged as a drug raid. Had anything misfired at the start, they could always have claimed, truthfully enough, that Ben Barka was a suspected trafficker.
The car with Ben Barka and the three cops headed out of Paris, followed closely by another containing Georges Boucheseiche, Julien le Ny, Pierre Dubail, and Jean Palisse — all from Jo Attia's gang. Like Attia, Boucheseiche had worked for the SDECE. However, his true loyalty was to General Oufkir, under whose wing he ran nightclubs and brothels in Morocco.
[No doubt, Oufkir was shocked, shocked! to find vice going on in his establishments.]
The two cars drove twenty kilometers out of Paris to Fontenay‑le‑Vicomte, where Ben Barka was led into a house owned by Boucheseiche. Lopez, Souchon, and Voitot drove away immediately, leaving behind the four gangsters and two Moroccan agents. Shortly thereafter Lopez phoned Commandant Finville of the SDECE, alias Marcel Leroy, and delivered the message: "Pedro to Thomas‑the package has been delivered."
At the time, Marcel Leroy, who was later fired and imprisoned for his complicity in the Ben Barka affair, was highly valued by the Americans. The CIA got him out of jail by blackmailing the SDECE and French politicos through Phillipe Thyraud de Vosjoli, the French spy who became friendly with the CIA after uncovering the Soviet rocket bases on Cuba. De Vosjoli's Le Comite, which the French press speculated was ghostwritten by Leroy, discloses the previously mentioned French murder committee whose job under de Gaulle was to cut down the president's enemies. In the book de Vosjoli insists that Colonel Marcel Mercier, not Leroy, was the "evil SDECE man" in the Ben Barka affair.
In a curious chapter apparently added to Le Comite at the eleventh hour, Leroy describes being summoned, shortly before the Ben Barka incident, to the Matignon building where Pompidou had his offices. There, to his surprise, he was ordered by a certain Monsieur Legros to collaborate with Antoine Lopez on a drug control measure, Ben Barka's abduction. Leroy claims to have refused unless the order came directly from his immediate supervisor, which it later did.
The Legros whom Marcel Leroy met in the Matignon office may well have been Fernand Legros, the playboy, millionaire, art dealer, CIA agent, and member of Pompidou's entourage who later crossed paths with Christian David under unusual circumstances. Legros was a double agent. Appearing to work for both the SDECE and CIA, his loyalty rested with the Americans. A personal friend of Henry Kissinger's, Legros was the man the CIA assigned to snoop on UN secretary general Dag Hammarskjold. Legros helped the CIA kidnap the African leader Moise Tshombe. And in 1965 Legros was in personal contact with Ben Barka in Geneva, where Legros maintained a residence and a large art gallery.
When Leroy receives the "Pedro to Thomas" message, a big question mark arises. Was the "package" delivered to the appropriate place? Should Ben Barka have been taken to an altogether different location by agreement with the French? And did Lopez really tell Lemarchand that Ben Barka had been "freed" by passengers (Boucheseiche's mugs) in another car and hidden from the police?
Everything suggests something happened which the police could do nothing about. Telephone wires began humming and the Moroccans dashed into Paris, perhaps to appear as much overcome by panic and dismay as were the French. First came Chtouki, then, hours later, security chief Dlimi. Finally, a day after the kidnaping, General Oufkir himself arrived.
From here on no one seems to agree on anything. There's absolutely no proof for the official version that put Oufkir in Fontenay‑le‑Vicomte to murder Ben Barka that same evening. The only basis for that theory is a 10 January 1966 L'Express article in which Figon recounts seeing Oufkir torture and murder Ben Barka in the Paris suburb on the evening of October 30. However, the article's origin is a mystery. A copy of Figon's account was delivered to the editors of L'Express by gangster Joseph Zurita of the Felix Lesca mob, whose members had strong ties to Pierre Lemarchand. Figon's eyewitness account of Oufkir murdering Ben Barka was later disavowed by the magazine, but not before it gained acceptance. Moreover, there was no official disavowal by the French government.
One thing is certain. Oufkir would not have murdered Ben Barka before the eyes of someone like Figon — whom he mistrusted and had tried to eliminate, whom he knew would run to Lemarchand. Had the unthinkable in fact occurred, had Figon accidentally seen Oufkir murder Ben Barka, then Figon would not have lived to tell about it.
One more thing about Figon's article sounds implausible. It says he took a taxi to Boucheseiche's house. In such a delicate matter, that would have sufficed to seal not only Figon's fate but the taxi driver's as well. I believe the article can be discounted.
Alternatively, Chtouki, Dlimi, and Oufkir might well have come to France to ensure Ben Barka's transfer to Morocco. Either Dlimi or Oufkir were to have held the French in check as Ben Barka was taken away, and it would have to have been Dlimi, since he was the one who later avoided prosecution.
The French might have become suspicious, with Figon panicking and running to Lemarchand. The Lesca gang, with Christian David, could then have entered the plot at this early stage. Lemarchand might have tried to prevent the abduction to Morocco by sending his Lesca gang barbouzes to Fontenay‑le‑Vicomte. That could easily have led to conflict. Ben Barka could have been killed during the struggle, or someone could have murdered him and made it appear an accident.
Ben Barka could have been killed by Oufkir, a Moroccon security agent, the CIA, one of Boucheseiche's hoods, or one of Lemarchand's barbouzes. All were candidates, but the French, naturally, were most suspicious of Oufkir.
Moreover, none of the following, publicly aired hypotheses can be totally disregarded: that the French murdered him because he possessed information embarrassing to high‑ranking individuals — perhaps regarding international narcotics trafficking; that Ben Barka committed suicide upon realizing he was bound for Morocco; or that he was murdered not in France, but in Morocco. Each contains a grain of plausibility.
In an interview published on 19 October 1966 in the Lebanese daily El Hayat, Colonel Dlimi maintained that Ben Barka was still alive when he and Oufkir left France, and was to have been flown to Morocco on the evening of 3 November 1965. He allegedly waited in vain that entire night at a tiny airport in the town of Msili.
Eleven days passed before rumors of Ben Barka's disappearance began to leak out. He could have been kidnaped or murdered any time within those eleven days, and by any of the parties involved. Among them, however, Oufkir and the CIA had by far the strongest motives.
It's my firm belief that the CIA was behind the whole affair, that Oufkir and possibly some of his men were CIA tools, and that the French, with stunning naivete, allowed themselves to be duped into the CIA's ingenious scheme ... all of which, of course, could only happen because a number of French agents were working with the CIA. Whether Oufkir, a gangster, or a CIA agent killed Ben Barka is secondary. What's important is that the agency was behind it.
In order to back up this claim it's essential to focus on the period immediately following the murder. All the participants were busy covering their tracks. Only the CIA succeeded, because the agency had made exclusive use of Moroccans and Frenchmen. The French, on the other hand, appear to have been caught with their pants down.
De Gaulle was fuming. "Somebody's taken me for a complete idiot," he raged, vowing to get to the bottom of the affair. He was convinced the CIA was involved, but could not touch them. All he could do was crack down on Frenchmen he suspected were CIA lackeys. Collaboration with the CIA went beyond certain French intelligence units to the highest government circles‑the men closest to de Gaulle. That is precisely what the president suspected, and why he felt so powerless.
If one believes Leroy when he says his orders to cooperate with Antoine Lopez on the Ben Barka affair came directly from "a certain Monsieur Legros" in a Matignon office, then one can't help but trace CIA tracks directly to Prime Minister Pompidou. The connection becomes crystal clear in light of the clash between de Gaulle and Pompidou that grew to implacable hate in de Gaulle's last years ‑and in light of Pompidou's later cooperation with the Americans ‑especially in the area of narcotics.
Why, then, didn't Lemarchand step forward to tell his story and pull the French out of the fire? In the first place, until the affair leaked out he was busy camouflaging his own role and trying to determine what really happened to Ben Barka. He knew very well that the French had been woven into the web, and probably feared it was worse than it seemed.
Furthermore, Lemarchand's CIA counterparts had better cards to play. They knew all about Lemarchand's hiring Georges Figon to entice Ben Barka to Paris, since the Moroccans had talked Lemarchand into doing so. If that information slipped out, Lemarchand, Foccart, and de Gaulle would all be up the creek without a paddle. There would be no way for them to retaliate. And that wasn't the only trump in the hand of the Americans. They could finger Lopez, Souchon, and Voitot ‑all French cops ‑ as Ben Barka's kidnappers. But the ace up the CIA's sleeve was the uncertainty of de Gaulle's people about what really happened to Ben Barka. All the French could do was clam up and try to cut their losses.
Gangster Figon, a key to the mystery surrounding the actual Ben Barka kidnaping, remained a question mark in the ensuing drama. Though the Moroccans had promised him a fortune, Figon never saw a cent. While fellow thugs Boucheseiche, le Ny, Dubail, and Palisse had their pockets full and enjoyed asylum in Morocco, Oufkir refused to pay Figon. This again underscores that either Figon had given Oufkir reason for suspicion, or that Oufkir simply didn't bother paying a Lemarchand man who was not a sworn conspirator.
Money had been Figon's only motive. As to Lemarchand, he now had to think twice before passing out traceable funds. Figon became increasingly embittered and finally decided to make the best of the situation.
I suspect Figon committed two major blunders. His first was to speak to reporters, not seriously, but enough to cause some confusion. The second was to put the squeeze on Lemarchand for money. Judging from appearances, Lemarchand responded by having his Lesca gang barbouzes soften up Figon, who then decided it was time to become scarce. Though Figon had given several acquaintances the impression he feared the Lesca gang, he went into hiding with Joseph Zurita and Louis Nesmoz, two thugs who claimed they'd broken with Lesca in anger. That was mistake number three, because Zurita and Nesmoz never did lose touch with the mob and Lemarchand.
Meanwhile de Gaulle's crowd concluded, perhaps after gaining wind of certain "rumors," that Ben Barka had been knocked off by Oufkir. That suited them just fine. Moreover, someone, it seems, persuaded Figon to dictate his account into a tape later transcribed for an article. The article might also have been edited prior to delivery, since it was submitted by gangster Zurita and not Figon himself. On 10 January 1966 L'Express published the celebrated story which blamed Oufkir for killing Ben Barka in front of Figon.
Though the thought of Figon witnessing the murder was hard to swallow, the CIA could not rebuff him just then without coming out in the open. And Oufkir's own denial landed on deaf ears.
In a letter produced at a later trial, Newsweek's Paris correspondent, Edward Behr, claiming to have heard the Figon tape, said there was no mention on it of the latter's witnessing Oufkir murder Ben Barka. The tape itself proved useless, as something was later recorded over the conversation with Figon. Behr was transferred to Newsweek's Hong Kong bureau shortly after the Ben Barka incident.
As to Figon, he seems to have gone along with the article's fabrication. Immediately following its publication his finances took a sharp turn for the better. He sported a new false passport and told friends he'd either travel abroad or move to a luxurious apartment. He was called in for interrogation but never got a chance to explain the article to the police. On 17 January 1966 he was found in his 14 Rue des Renaudes apartment with a bullet in his head.
Rue des Renaudes had been swarming with police supposedly there to protect Figon, and no one else was seen entering his apartment. The police listed his death as a suicide and swept the loose ends under the rug. In Figon's suitcase they found King Hassan's conditions for the return of Ben Barka to Moroccan politics. They were on documents drawn up by Lemarchand.
During the trial of the Ben Barka case, orders were issued for the arrest of General Oufkir and Colonel Dlimi, both of whom were safely in Morocco. Nonetheless, on 18 October 1966 Dlimi came secretly to Paris and registered in a hotel, the Peter the First of Serbia. This hotel was distinguished as the haunt of spooks, and the home of a mercenary recruiting office for Moise Tshombe's Congolese army. The office's directors, Andre Labay, Thierry de Bonnay, Michel Leroy, and Lucien Swarm, were all close friends of CIA agent Fernand Legros. The next day, October 19, Dlimi reported to French police for interrogation.
In October 1972, following six uneventful years, a bomb exploded in far away Brazil. Mobster/ spook Christian David, one of Lemarchand's and Foccart's most trusted agents, confessed, allegedly under torture: "I saw to it Ben Barka's body disappeared. General Oufkir paid me 15 million old francs for the job ... and 1, together with a certain Monsieur X, broke into the apartment on Rue des Renaudes minutes before Figon 'committed suicide.' The police didn't notice us because we went through building no. 11 on the parallel Rue Theodule‑Ribot."
The confession of Beau Serge is nothing short of fantastic. It reveals how intelligence agents operate, especially under duress. Those few lines contain a gross lie, an important message, and a warning. And I would even insist that the confession was composed in detail by the CIA. It's puzzling how the French and American press could have swallowed it whole.
First there's the torture business. Newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic dwelt on David's mauled appearance upon arrival in the U.S., and on the agonies inflicted upon him in the torture chamber. I've learned enough about Brazilian torturers and police to know that these experts don't leave marks, and under no circumstances would they molest a prisoner bound for extradition to either France or the United States.
Another intriguing fact about David has never been mentioned. A few months after his extradition to the U.S., it was disclosed that the chief whipping‑boy for the Brazilian security force in Sao Paulo, Sergio Fleury, along with several of his men and their colleagues in the narcotics squad, had accepted bribes to protect David's drug ring. Moreover, three of David's SAC brethren were closely connected to Fleury. They served as advisors to, and more than once personally assisted the chief hatchet man in the torture of prisoners.
No, Christian David was not tortured in Brazil. His horrible appearance upon arrival in the U.S. stemmed, instead, from a desperate attempt--that included slashing his wrist and swallowing glass-‑ at hospitalization and access to escape. Something else, then, was in the air. Why would the Brazilians force a confession on a matter, like the Ben Barka affair, in which they had no interest? And why was the prisoner's statement immediately publicized when it had nothing to do with the charges levelled against him?
The revelation that David was tortured certainly did not come from the Brazilians, who to this day deny that such things happen. It could only have come from one source, the CIA. That is the only way to explain reports of a hardened criminal and experienced spook opening up on an ever‑explosive subject. Let us not forget that, in 1972, CIA agents were still sent out by the dozens to be interrogators and advisors in Brazilian police headquarters. According to Le Monde reporter, James Sarazin, CIA agents were in fact present at the interrogation of Christian David. No such important information could have unintentionally slipped through their fingers into print.
There remains another, even more important aspect that seems to have totally escaped notice: a very special agent of the CIA was then spending much of his time in Brazil. That agent was Fernand Legros, perhaps the same Legros whom Marcel Leroy eventually fingered as the man who gave the orders for the Ben Barka kidnaping.
Although Christian David's "confession" was probably composed meticulously to suit the aims of the CIA, that does not mean it contains no truth. That would not have been very smart. One thing, however, was astounding: Oufkir took the ultimate blame. That had happened often enough in the past — but never at the hands of his old bedfellows and protectors in the agency. Why?
For that there's a simple explanation: Oufkir's death two months earlier, on 16 August 1972, in the wake of an unsuccessful coup d'etat against King Hassan. The CIA, which had engineered the attempt, had nothing more to lose in Morocco. It was now in the agency's interest to bury the Ben Barka affair with Oufkir.
Furthermore, French President Pompidou had just cleaned house at the intelligence agency SDECE, which was now coming to terms with the CIA. Having David implicate Oufkir was the CIA's way of extending its hand to the French. Beau Serge, moreover, had been working not for Oufkir, but for Lemarchand.
All too little attention has been focussed on the latter underworld connection. The gangsters who it can be proven were bought and paid for by Oufkir — and therefore perhaps by the CIA ‑ all fled to Morocco. On the other hand, Lesca gang thugs, closely associated with Lemarchand, wound up in Latin America, where they regrouped around David and continued to work for SAC and the SDECE.
Oufkir's fate was shared by gangsters Boucheseiche, le Ny, Dubai, and possibly Palisse as well. All were executed in a Moroccan prison, on orders from Dlimi, for complicity in the Oufkir/CIA coup attempt. The witnesses closest to Oufkir in the Ben Barka affair, and protected by him afterward, were thus put out of the picture.
International spook Luis Gonzalez‑Mata, a close friend of General Oufkir's, claims the latter told him the CIA had planned to murder Ben Barka and had constantly plotted behind his (Oufkir's) back: "Ben Barka was alive when I left him in Paris," insisted Oufkir.
Another striking aspect of David's "confession" is its undisguised warning to Monsieur X. If X doesn't play ball, he'll be exposed; and Monxieur X certainly knows that the CIA is aware of his identity. If he believes the business about the torture, he's also aware that torturers don't deal in unknowns like X and Y. If he doesn't believe it, then he must know that the CIA made a deal with Christian David for information—a deal that saved David from extradition to France and a possible date with the guillotine. The fact that Monsieur X is mentioned at all can only mean he played an important role in the affair and perhaps in French politics as well. The CIA, furthermore, followed up the warning with reports that Figon's pistol was found in the possession of Christian David.
I won't hazard a guess as to Monsieur X's identity, only that he might well belong to the older wing of the Gaullist party that can't come to terms with rapprochement with the Americans. That is why he's told to watch his step.
In the interim there has been a notable shift in CIA posture on the Ben Barka affair. In 1975 Daniel Guerin published Les Assassins de Ben Barka, also alleging CIA involvement. Time magazine promptly published a curious article purporting to prove that Ben Barka had been murdered by either Oufkir or Dlimi. In fact, the article contained no new facts. What was new, though, was that the Americans were pointing the finger at Dlimi, without justification ‑ perhaps as a warning.
This caused matters to take a grotesque twist. As Guerin later informed me, both Antoine Lopez and the widow of Boucheseiche told him they would be willing to testify that Ben Barka had been kidnaped from Boucheseiche's house by other gangsters, and that Oufkir and Dlimi had never seen Ben Barka in Paris. Here we observe Dlimi hard at work defending himself against U.S. allegations. Having become good friends with the CIA, the French were suddenly out of the picture. Now the CIA's formerly good friends and presently not‑such‑good friends in Morocco had their turn to be run through the treadmill. Back to square one: the Moroccans and the CIA.
I believe Figon was murdered because nobody could count on his silence, under interrogation, about the fabrication of the story against Oufkir. Too much was at stake. If it leaked out that the prode Gaulle faction had fabricated the story, it would have been hard to convince people of the same faction's innocence in the Ben Barka assassination.
And I believe Christian David helped knock off Georges Figon. Otherwise the CIA's warning to Monsieur X would be meaningless. And otherwise David would not have acted the way he did on 2 February 1966 ‑fourteen days after Figon's "suicide." On that day, the head of the police department's antigangster squad, Lieutenant Maurice Galibert, received a tip that a man implicated in the Ben Barka case could be found at the Saint Clair restaurant.
Galibert dashed off with officers Gouzier and Gibeaux. Upon arrival at the Saint Clair, they spotted Christian David playing cards with Belkacem Mechere, the deputy prefect of the interior ministry police. When Galibert asked David to come downtown, Mechere protested. David flashed his SAC ID, but Galibert stood his ground. David shrugged his shoulders and fetched his coat from the checkroom.
Suddenly he stuck his hand in his coat pocket, drew a pistol and shot all three policemen. Galibert died on the spot. The other two were badly wounded.
And Beau Serge got away.
1. Time, 29 December 1975.
3. Some of the funds for Ben Barka's revolutionary activities allegedly came from the smuggling of morphine base.
4. Time, op. cit. 5. C. Clement: Oufkir (Editions Jean Dullis, 1974).
6. See chapter fourteen. 7. The book Le Comite is dedicated to the family of Marcel Leroy.
8. Le Comite hit the market just as the U.S. was deep into its investigation of the CIA. The strategy behind that was simple: it's easier to defend oneself from attack when one can claim the others are doing the same. The CIA, most
likely, was also behind de Vosjoli's first book, Lamia, which inspired Leon Uris's Topaz.
9. In an interview especially for this book, Legros confirmed that the Geneva gallery was a base for his espionage activities on behalf of the CIA; see also R. Peyrefitte: La Vie Extraordinaire de Fernand Legros (Albin Michel, 1976). 10. D. Guerin: Les Assassins de Ben Barka (Guy Authier, 1975).
11. A. Jaubert: Dossier D ... comme Drogue (Alain Moreau, 1974).
12. Guerin, op. cit.
14. Peyrefitte, op. cit.
15. Writer/philosopher Daniel Guerin, who has dedicated his life to unraveling the Ben Barka affair, and is gathering material for a reopening of the case on behalf of Ben Barka's son Bachir, told me he had tested out the claim in David's confession. He had confirmed that it's possible for an adroit man to go through the backyard of 11 Rue Theodule‑Ribot and then climb up cornices to Figon's apartment.
16. H. Kruger: Doktoren (Bogan, 1975) and Likvider Boilesen (Breien, 1978). 17. A. Lopez: L'Escadron de la Mort (Casterman, 1973). According to the 23 May 1973 Nouvel Observateur, Sergio Fleury led the group which did in the David gang in Brazil. It was also Fleury and his men who questioned David. 18. P. Chairoff: Dossier B ... comme Barbouzes (Alain Moreau, 1975).
19. LAurore, 20 November 1972.
20. CIA agents were not only advisors and interrogators in the traditional sense. In Latin America they were both instructors in and practitioners of torture ‑see A.J. Langguth, New York Times, 11 June 1979. Furthermore, those who have difficulties comprehending anti‑U.S. feelings in Iran will be interested to know that a senior CIA official instructed agents of SAVAK, the Iranian secret police created by the Shah in the late fifties with assistance from the CIA, on techniques for torture. According to Jesse J. Leaf, for five years the chief CIA analyst on Iran before his 1973 resignation, the CIA's methods "were based on German torture techniques from World War 11" ‑ see S.M. Hersh, New York Times, 7 January 1979.
21. J. Sarazin: Dossier M ... comme Milieu (Alain Moreau, 1977).
22. Oufkir ordered jet fighters into the air to shoot down the king's plane. According to French general Claude Clement (Clement, op. cit.), when that failed, Oufkir was executed by King Hassan himself. Colonel Dlimi first shot Oufkir in the back and shoulder, dropping him flat on his stomach. The king then took Dlimi's pistol and fired at Oufkir's neck. The bullet exitted through the general's left eye, shattering the sunglasses that had been his trademark.
23. LAurore, 24 August 1972.
24. L. Gonzalez‑Mata: Cygne (Grasset, 1976). 25. Chairoff, op. cit.
26. The Newsday Staff: The Heroin Trail (Souvenir Press, 1974).
BEAU SERGE, SCOURGE OF THE PARTISANS
The murder of police lieutenant Galibert caused a major sensation in France. Despite what seemed to be an all‑out manhunt, the wily Christian David, aided by friends, eluded Galibert's colleagues in the antigangster squad. In the Fetich Club of Neuville‑Sur‑Ain, outside Lyons, Beau Serge bided his time. A big‑time bordello and haunt of the Guerini clan, the Club was a frequent rendezvous of David's friends in SAC.
Reportedly, Meme Guerini at first favored delivering his body to the police. But powerful forces must have intervened, as Mafia bosses were persuaded to help Beau Serge flee from France.One day in March 1966 a car picked him up at the Fetich Club and drove him to a Guerini post on the outskirts of Marseilles.
In early May David sent word to Simone Mauduit, one of his Parisian mistresses, asking her to fly down to Marseilles with a bundle of money. From Marseilles David's friend Francois Orsoni drove her to a restaurant on the road from Cannes to Nice. There she handed Beau Serge the cash and bade him a fond farewell.
Later that month David was driven to Genoa, Italy, where he boarded a ship bound for Latin America. A new career in the shadows awaited him. Beau Serge had with him from Marseille a letter of introduction to the former French mafioso and Gestapo collaborator Auguste Ricord. The mobster was then organizing a major narcotics network that would smuggle heroin from Marseille to the U.S.A. via Argentina and Paraguay.
His reputation having preceded him in Latin America, David was welcomed into the Ricord organization with open arms and soon moved into its highest ranks. Also part of Beau Serge's reception committee were agents of the SDECE and SAC. His arrival coincided with a powerful French diplomatic offensive in Latin America. With the U.S. wading into a quagmire in Indochina and otherwise preoccupied with the Soviet Union, de Gaulle, and more so Jacques Foccart, sought to entrench themselves as deeply in Latin America as they had in Africa.
De Gaulle planned to come on like the Great White Father, the Third World's only friend, but Foccart felt that wouldn't suffice. He moved several of his most trusted men from Africa to Latin America. Between 1965 and 1968, for example, we find the notorious Colonel Roger Barberot as France's ambassador to Uruguay, and Dominique Ponchardier its man in Bolivia. If anyone stands for cloaks and daggers it's these two, whose names turn up in a string of France's most sensitive espionage scandals.
[Note: Barberot was prosecuted by Herbert J. Stern, who later wrote a book called Diary of a DA: The True Story of the Prosecutor Who Took On the Mob, Fought Corruption, and Won.]
Foccart's men moved where they saw the greatest openings: supporting right wing forces in a region already in the grip of military dictatorship. Barberot and Ponchardier offered to help these regimes break the back of left wing insurgency. For that they needed men without scruples, men like Christian David.
On arrival in Argentina, David met Francois Chiappe, wanted in France for a pair of murders. Chiappe, also known as "Big Lips," had worked for the Guerini mob and was on excellent terms with politicians and right wing militants in Argentina. He was also a top member of the Ricord organization.
The Ricord network was divided into four teams that operated independently out of separate headquarters. Ricord himself ran the main team from Asuncion, Paraguay, and oversaw the entire operation. Chiappe and Michel Nicoli led another team, Dominique Orsini and Louis Bonsignour a third, and Andre Condemine and Lucien Sarti a fourth. Other important names in the organization were Claude‑Andre Pastou, Didier Barone and Michel "Bouboule" Sans. It was Murder Incorporated in French. Nearly all had been sentenced to death in France.
Barone, besides belonging to the Felix Lesca gang, had teamed up on art swindles with the aforementioned CIA agent Fernand Legros and with Legros' forger, Elmyr de Hory. Pastou is similarly interesting. In December 1968 Enrico Passigli, a weapons‑smuggling friend of Christian David's, was murdered in Rome. Almost simultaneously, Thierry de Bonnay, another close associate of Legros', died in a mysterious auto accident. Italian police suspected Pastou in both killings, which were committed while he was on a trip back to Europe.
The Ricord network operated freely south of the border because its members helped repressive regimes fight the left and smuggle arms, sometimes combining the two profitably. While he was helping intelligence groups infiltrate guerilla movements, Christian David found new customers for his weapons. The major arms deals, though, were with militant fascist groups in Argentina and Chile.
Through connections, Chiappe secured David an Argentine passport in the name of Carlos Eduardo Devreux‑Bergeret. Beau Serge then went on secret missions for French intelligence. His first assignment to infiltrate Douglas Bravo's Venezuelan urban revolutionaries, led nowhere. In early 1967 Bravo was expelled from the Venezuelan Communist party and police smashed his organization. Once relocated in the hills, Bravo was wary of spies.
Following the false start in Venezuela, Beau Serge flew to Mexico and met with two African agents. They handed him a contract to eliminate African politicians. It's not clear whom he was to murder and whether or not he succeeded, but he was in Africa several months, and murder was a task he rarely muddled. Upon returning to Latin America he joined Ricord in Ascuncion before planting himself in Argentina.
In late 1967 David — alias Eduardo Devreux‑Bergeret — managed to infiltrate the Forcas Argentines de Liberacion (FAL), one of the most active guerilla groups in stormy Argentina from 1967 to 1971. Among other actions, it kidnapped Auguste Ricord's close friend and Paraguay's consul in Argentina, Waldemar Sanchez.
Relying on his experience with the instruments of death, David soon became the FAL's arms instructor and ingratiated himself with its members. In the end he made off with its files and a cashbox containing $250,000. While fleeing he allegedly slew an FAL leader and a lookout. He headed with his prize to Central America. Eventually the SDECE made a deal for the papers with the Argentine government, which led to the arrest of several guerillas and the death by torture of one.
Soon thereafter David went to Uruguay, where the French ambassador was Roger Barberot—the same Barberot who four years later would be associated with the French Connection heroin affair that also involved Beau Serge. In May 1968 Barberot and Dominique Ponchardier were unexpectedly rushed home to Paris to help quell French student unrest, forcing Foccart to put his plans for Latin America on hold. 
After 1968 Beau Serge was more or less a free‑lance agent. While remaining in close touch with the Foccart network, he also took on assignments for security police and political death squads in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, and thereby, inevitably, for the CIA. In Montevideo he reconnected with his mistress Theresa, who just happened to be a member of the Tupamaros. Through her Beau Serge infiltrated Latin America's best‑organized band of guerillas.
Uruguay's President Pacheco Areco had already begun a determined struggle against the revolutionaries. Assisting his police and armed forces was a squad of CIA agents expert at torture and antiguerilla warfare. Two of those agents, Dan A. Mitrione and Claude L. Fry, were captured by the revolutionaries. Mitrione was given the death penalty by a people's court, while Fry suffered a heart attack and was released.
Beau Serge appears at first glance to have done more for President Areco than the entire conventional CIA team. But on this job he probably collaborated with U.S. intelligence. Also assisting him was Jacques Foccart's full‑time man in Uruguay in Roger Barberot's absence, Jean‑Baptiste Listroni, who became David's go‑between with the Uruguayan government.
David must have been quite an actor, since he even fooled the legendary Tapamaros leader Raul Sendic. After robbing a bank, the guerillas handed Beau Serge $400,000 for the purchase of weapons. He then flew off, as if to complete the deal, to Foccart's personal fiefdom and beehive of the weapons trade, the African nation of Gabon. 
While he was away, however, the guerillas somehow learned, not of his escapades in Argentina, but of his role in the Ben Barka affair. They decided to set a trap for him. But once back in Uruguay, Beau Serge smelled trouble and rushed to the security police, who soon arrested 150 guerillas in the strongest blow they'd dealt the revolutionaries. It was a handsome feather in the cap of President Pacheco Areco.
For his troubles David was reportedly given $200,000 in addition to the $400,000 of which he had relieved the partisans, plus a Uruguayan diplomatic passport in the name of Edouard Davrieux. The passport made David the heir‑apparent of Auguste Ricord. With it he travelled freely to the U. S. and Europe, controlling and expanding the international narcotics network.
There's also a somewhat unbelievable story about David's departure from Uruguay. In the transit hall of Montevideo airport, a stewardess reportedly brought him a package. Suspecting a bomb, Beau Serge had the stewardess open it herself. She screamed when she did. Inside was the head of Theresa, a goodbye gift from the Tapamaros.
President Pacheco Areco's glee was short‑lived. Within two years nearly all the guerilla's David had sent to prison would escape. In March 1971, thirty‑eight Tupamaros women fled through a tunnel from a Montevideo jail. The president fumed. As to the police, they were sure the men locked up in Punta Carretas had similar plans. Within weeks they felt vindicated. At a river sewage outlet they discovered a package containing frogmen gear and a plan of the Montevideo sewer system. An escape by the Tapamaros had apparently been foiled. Jokingly, the warden told the press that the Tupamaros' map of the sewers was superior to the city's. Using it, the police had discovered electric drills and other tools meant for the escape.
The authorities took no chances. They reinforced surveillance of Punta Carretas with tanks and police dogs, as President Areco looked towards the approaching October election. If Sendic and his guerillas slipped away, he'd be finished.
At 4:10 AM on 6 September 1971, Billy Rial, a prison neighbor, phoned the prison to announce that a group of inmates had just run through his house.
"Yeah, tell us another one," was the answer. "Nobody runs off from our prison."
But Rial insisted and the watchman decided to check out the guard room.
"Everything quiet," was the response.
The watchman told Rial off for trying to make fools of the authorities. One hour later, though, his tune changed. An entire prison wing had been emptied of inmates, Raul Sendic included. The police dashed off to Rial's house. There they found 106 prison uniforms in a 6x3 feet heap. A 2‑foot wide, 100‑yard long tunnel ran from the basement of Rial's home, below the garden, the street, the prison walls and yard, to the building which had housed the fugitives. Their escape had taken nine hours.
According to Rial, his house had been overrun by partisans who held his family hostage. Equipped with walkie‑talkies, they were in radio contact with those still within prison walls.
"They treated us well," said Rial, "but wouldn't even have a cup of coffee."
As the prisoners gradually appeared, they had exchanged their uniforms for civvies. When all were present, they embarked peacefully in stolen busses.
The authorities were helpless laughing‑stocks and, to top it all, Areco lost the presidency to the equally incompetent Juan Maria Bordaberry.
By then Beau Serge was long gone.
1. L. Durand: Le Caid (Denoel, 1976).
2. J. Sarazin: Dossier M ... comme Milieu (Alain Moreau, 1977).
3. P. Galante and L. Sapin: The Marseilles Mafia (W.H. Allen, 1979).
4. R. Barberot: A Bras le Coeur (Robert Laffont, 1972); D. Ponchardier: La Mort du Condor (Gallimard, 1976); P. Chairoff: Dossier B ... comme Barbouzes (Alain Moreau, 1975).
5. L'Aurore, 31 May 1976.
6. Galante and Sapin, op. cit.
7. A. Jaubert: Dossier D. . . comme Drogue (Alain Moreau, 1974).
8. France‑Soir, 5 February 1973.
9. R. Peyrefitte: La Vie Extraordinaire de Fernand Legros (Albin Michel, 1976).
10. Jaubert, op. cit.
12. M. Acosta: "Smukke Serge," Kriminal‑Journalen, March 1978.
13. Sarazin, op. cit.
14. See chapter ten.
15. Chairoff, op. cit.
16. According to Manuel Hevia Cosculluela, a Cuban‑born CIA operative who worked with Mitrione in Uruguay's police program before returning to his homeland, Mitrione's instructions on torture included the following:
"When you receive a subject, the first thing to do is determine his physical state, his degree of resistance, through a medical examination. A premature death means a failure by the technician.
"Another important thing to know is exactly how far you can go given the political situation and the personality of the prisoner. It is very important to know beforehand whether we have the luxury of letting the subject die...
"Before all else, you must be efficient. You must cause only the damage that is strictly necessary, not a bit more. We must control our tempers in any case. You have to act with the efficiency and cleanliness of a surgeon and with the perfection of an artist..." (A.J. Langguth, New York Times, 11 June 1979).
17. Chairoff, op. cit.
18. Recently, Maurice Delaunay ‑France's ambassador to Gabon in 1965‑72 and again in 1975‑79 ‑was named the president of the Compagnie des mines d'uranium. de Franceville, and Maurice Robert ‑a former SDECE officer and chief of security for the oil company Elf‑Aquitane, which controls ElfGabon‑was named the new French ambassador to Gabon. Journalist Elie Ramaro (Afirique‑Asie, 7 January 1980) sees the appointments of the two close collaborators in Jacques Foccart's African network, as the mother country's way of reassuring Gabon's president Omar Bongo. The French had recently engineered a coup d'etat that toppled another of their African puppets, Emperor Bokassa, from the throne of the Central African Republic. (He had become expendable after revelations of his payoffs to French President Giscard D'Estaing). President Bongo, incidentally, purchased a house recently in the Beverly Hills movie colony largely populated by Arab sheiks and Iranian exiles, for the sum of $2.2 million, which was $300,000 above the asking price (New York Times, 15 October 1979).
19. According to certain sources it was in fact a French diplomatic passport;
see Sarazin, op. cit.
20. Acosta, op. cit.
21. Granma, 12 September 1971.
22. Sendic was eventually recaptured and subjected to severe torture. He
remains a political prisoner in Uruguay; see J. Da Veiga in Aftique‑Asie, 29
23. UPI and Reuters, 7 September 1971.
24. According to journalist Warren Hoge: "Juan Maria Bordaberry, the last elected Uruguayan President, dissolved Congress in 1973 under military prodding and then was replaced himself by the armed forces three years later. The Uruguayan military, until then relatively aloof from politics, had consolidated power through its campaign to crush the Tupamaro guerillas." (New York Times, 14 November 1979). U.S. military aid to Uruguay between 1946 and 1975 totalled $86 million. Between 1950 and 1975 2537 Uruguayan military personnel were trained by the United States; see N. Chomsky and E.S. Herman: The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism (South End Press, 1979). The Carter administration resumed military aid to Uruguay in the fall of 1979, reversing a 1977 halt in the name of human rights.
WITH "'THE OLD MAN" IN PARAGUAY
Auguste Ricord and his gang of heroin merchants were riding high when they were joined by Christian David in the latter half of the sixties. Each year they transported hundreds of kilos to the huge U.S. market, and without the noticeable losses that narcotics traffickers must normally contend with. Its street value, depending on competition, lay somewhere between $1 and $2 billion annually.
At the end of World War II Ricord fled from France and a death sentence for collaboration with the Gestapo. He wandered for several years in search of an underworld niche. By the end of the second year three of his companions in exile had been murdered. In 1947 Ricord arrived in Buenos Aires with the name Lucien Dargelles. Some say he had with him the millions he'd pocketed during the war, others say he had to start all over. What's certain is that he opened an exclusive restaurant in Argentina at the close of the fifties and soon had a chain of restaurants and motels throughout Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia, each with the name "Paris‑Nice" and an Eiffel Tower prominently out front. The motels evolved into a high‑class brothel chain, and Ricord quietly began trafficking in narcotics.
At the start of the sixties Ricord moved his headquarters from Buenos Aires to Asuncion, Paraguay. There he could feel at home among the old Nazi luminaries, who had found safe haven under President Alfredo Stroessner. Ricord also regained contact with an old acquaintance then residing in neighboring Bolivia, former Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie, the "Killer of Lyons." Ricord had much in common with Barbie, alias Klaus Altmann, inasmuch as the former had assisted the Gestapo at torture and the rounding up of French jews.
Since the disclosure of Barbie's whereabouts, French and German authorities alike have vainly sought his extradition for the murder of hundreds.
In 1966 Old Man Ricord enlarged his already immense narcotics network upon discovering how easily he could smuggle heroin into the U.S. via Latin America. For some reason, the U.S. Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD) largely overlooked the danger from the south until the seventies. It eventually grew wiser, estimating that 50‑60 percent of the Marseilles‑produced heroin on the U.S. market entered via Latin America, which generally meant by way of Ricord and company.
The old man surrounded himself with hard‑core thugs. By 1970 the Mob's leaders were Ricord, sentenced to death in absentia for treason, torture and murder; Lucien Sarti, wanted for the murder of a Belgian policeman; Christian David, sentenced to death in absentia; Andre Condemine, wanted for the murder of a policeman; Jean Lunardi, wanted for murder; Francois Chiappe, wanted for two murders; and French gangster and former SAC agent, Michel Nicoli. They also had a network of henchmen encompassing nearly every metropolis in Latin America.
The money poured in, some of it to be reinvested in restaurants and night clubs in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, and Caracas. But Ricord lost his grip on the reins. Before long David, Condemine and Sarti took over, reducing the old man to a figurehead who drank foaming Munchnerbrau with "Die Alte Kamaraden" in one of Asuncion's many German bars.
Marseilles heroin was transported to Paraguay from embarkation points in Barcelona, Lisbon, and Brussels. In charge of transportation were Condemine, as well as Chiappe, who often travelled between his Buenos Aires base and Barcelona, where his suppliers were the Orsini brothers of the Corsican mafia.
The heroin was transported by air and by sea. Part of it went via Brazil, then either overland to Paraguay or directly to the U.S.A. Some of it sailed up the Parana River to Asuncion. The greater part of the heroin sent north arrived aboard small planes known as MauMaus, which generally refueled in Panama before flying on to either Florida or Mexico. There they were unloaded and shipment was continued overland.
Paraguay had long been one of the great smuggling centers of the world. With 200 private landing strips scattered among the haciendas, it was impossible to monitor the enormous number of private flights. And no one seriously bothered to try, since numerous government officials pocketed shares of the take. According to Jack Anderson, Ricord's accomplices included some of Paraguay's highest‑ranking officers: Pastor Coronel, the intelligence chief; General Andres Rodriguez, leader of an elite 3000‑man force especially trained by the Americans; and General Vincente Quinonez, the Air Force chief‑of‑staff, who was responsible for Asuncion airport and other landing fields.
Soldiers from an elite corps, according to Anderson, were stationed to guard the contraband stores for Ricord and other big‑time smugglers. Worse still, in the wake of Anderson's sensational revelations came rumors that Paraguayan Air Force officers had even flown Ricord's heroin to the, United States in military aircraft.
Unlike Ricord, David didn't simply rake in the money. He thrived on danger. According to U.S. narks, in at least three instances Beau Serge himself transported large quantities of heroin into the United States, using the pseudonym "Jean‑Pierre," by which he was known exclusively among friends in the Ricord Mob.
David also maintained the organization's good relations with police and spooks in Latin America. He took on assignments for Argentina's terrorist organization, the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance (AAA), and probably did the same for Brazil's notorious Death Squad. Grupo Frances, as Ricord's network was known in Latin America, had found a prize in Christian David because of his connections to SAC and French intelligence. Through him there grew new branches in the narcotics network, including one centered about the Felix Lesca gang and the Lyons SAC chief Jean Auge, and another about Jo Attia's gang, SAC leader Ange Simonpieri, and the Swiss banker Andre Hirsch.
1. As early as 1947 Ricord is alleged to have made contact with America's future narcotics king, Santo Trafficante, jr., who was then running several Havana casinos for the Mafia. Ricord alias Dargelles reportedly headed that year to Cuba, where he sat in on a meeting with, among other notables, Ralph (brother of Al) Capone, Frank Costello, Albert Anastasia, Trafficante and Lucky Luciano; see V. Alexandrov: La Mafia des SS (Stock, 1978).
2. A Jaubert: Dossier D ... come Drogue (Alain Moreau, 1974). As of 1974, Barbie was the president of the state shipbuilding monopoly, Transmaritima Bolivia (Der Spiegel, 3 June 1974). Bolivia has few ships and no harbor, but had been negotiating with General Augusto Pinochet's Chile for a corridor to the Pacific, until recently when diplomatic relations between the two nations were severed. However, Bolivia's quest has the backing of the UN's Third World Group of 77, the non‑aligned nations, and the Organization of American States; see E.Z. Gibson, New York Times, 28 October 1979.
3. Washington Post, 24 May 1972.
4. At the start of the seventies Lesca built up a large inter‑European gangster network known as Eurogang and headquartered in Frankfurt, West Germany. Members of the gang were rounded up by West German police in 1975, but Lesca himself moved the operation to Tessin (Der Spiegel, 11 August 1975; see also Jaubert, op. cit.).