Monday, December 23, 2013

The Great Heroin Coup - Chapter 16

While you read chapter 16 it is advisable to get the feel of Florida, feel the ocean spray in your face as it were. Therefore, I perused through city directories to locate some of the important characters in our story, especially for Richard Danner and members of the Rebozo family. It would be interesting to know for sure, exactly, when did they meet and where did they get together. What did they talk about? Without that knowledge, we can only surmise.

Selected Excerpts from
By Henrik Kruger; Jerry Meldon, Translator
South End Press©1980: Box 68 Astor Station, Boston, MA 02123
ISBN 0-89608-0319-5
240pps - one edition - out-of-print; Orginally published in Danish
Smukke Serge og Heroien; Bogan 1976

Previous chapters:



Richard Nixon's connections to the Syndicate and its stooges are a matter of record. The only question is when they began. Some say it was 1946, when Nixon ran for Congress in California and Murray Chotiner, a top Syndicate defense attorney, ran his campaign with support from the gangster Mickey Cohen.[1]

Others place the Nixon‑underworld wedding as early as 1943, when Nixon was working in the Office of Price Administration, at a desk responsible for controlling the market in rubber goods. There he allegedly met his future pals George "The Senator from Cuba" Smathers and the Cuban‑American Bebe Rebozo, who later struck it rich in real estate. The two were then small time: Smathers a lawyer for a Syndicate front smuggling auto tires from Cuba, Rebozo the owner of a gas station that sold the tires.[2]
Rebozo family in Miami's 1942 directory
[Note from QJ editor: Rebozo's Havana-born parents Francisco Matias and Carmen (Sarmiento) Rebozo had come to Florida with their family in 1904, to work in the cigar plants in Tampa. Charlie was the youngest child, thus the nickname "Bebe," Spanish for "baby." By 1923, the family had relocated to Miami, and all his siblings worked in different industries. The eldest, Edward, was a metal worker while Albert became assistant manager for Western Auto stores. By 1940 Bebe, his parents and sister, Carolyn, a buyer for Miami department store, Burdine's Inc., had bought a nice house in Coral Gables. Their father died before 1942. Bebe operated a gas station near Woodlawn Cemetery, less than a mile from Albert Rebozo's apartment and 2.5 miles from Edward's modest residence near the Western Auto store on SW 8th. There were no apparent criminal connections in the Rebozo family. Around 1923 Bebe's sister Margaret had married a man named Harold Latham Barker, who worked for Florida Power and Light. They named their son Junior, and, like his father, he went to the University of Florida. Barker, Sr. was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity in 1921, located then where today's Smathers Library is found. In 1951, Margaret Rebozo Barker's son, Harold Jr., made an application to the Sons of the American Revolution, based on his father's maternal ancestor, Jacob Whitmarch, and he gave his address at that time as 1460 W. 21st Street, Miami Beach. In 1934 the directory shows the Barkers living in Coral Gables, two miles from the mansion of Mrs. Solomon G. Merrick and that of her son George Merrick, who had begun developing his family's "Coral Gables Plantation" into a resort community. This blog explored certain connections of Merrick's company previously. Thinking this family of Barkers may have been related to Bernard Barker, the friend Howard Hunt first met in Coconut Grove during the Bay of Pigs, I researched both families' genealogy and determined there was, in actuality, no existing connection--just an amazing coincidence.
Smathers in Miami directory, 1944
George Smathers was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon House at the university in Gainesville, Florida, where his roommate in 1933-34 was Philip Graham (future publisher of the Washington Post). Phil Graham withdrew from the college, but returned in the fall of 1934 and graduated in the 1936 class with Smathers. Coincidentally, this is the same fraternity Harold Barker, Jr. (Bebe Rebozo's nephew) had joined a decade earlier. While Graham left Florida, Smathers continued law school in Gainesville until 1938, where Paul Helliwell, also a law student there, completed his law studies a year behind the future U.S. Senator from the state of Florida, who opened a law firm in Miami. Phil Graham and George Smathers both married in 1939, and Paul Helliwell graduated from law school that year and married Majorie Mae Muller, whose father sold insurance while her mother managed the Astoria Apartments in Miami at 1367 S.W. 5th Street (about 2 miles from where the Rebozos all either lived or worked). By 1945 Paul and Marjorie Helliwell also lived in Miami with his parents. Paul had joined the military during the war and was already a Lieutenant Colonel, while his father still worked as a Customs inspector. Miami was a small town in those days. Perhaps their paths crossed.]
The Florida clique was a happy family. Nixon liked to take fishing jaunts with the likes of Rebozo, Meyer Lansky's associate Tatem "Chubby" Wofford,[3] and Richard Danner, who would later manage the Sands casino in Las Vegas for Howard Hughes.[4]

[Note from QJ editor: The Wofford Hotel was located at 2400 Collins Ave. in Miami Beach, and the Tatem Hotel was farther north in 4300 block of Collins. Dick Danner's full name was Richard Garden Danner. He had been born in Indiana in 1911 and was a graduate of Georgetown University's class of 1933, where he had played football and later joined the FBI. In 1940 he had been Special Agent in Charge in the Atlanta office. His name was listed in Miami's 1942 directory as residing on 82nd Terrace, while FBI offices were at 1300 Biscayne Tower at 19 W. Flagler. 
FBI Musical Chairs


A year later he was special agent in charge of the Dallas FBI office, housed on the 13th floor of the brand-new Mercantile National Bank Building at 1700 Main Street. The bank's founder, Robert L. Thornton, who helped found the Dallas "Citizens Council" and also served as Dallas mayor for many years, lived in a stately old neighborhood of elegant homes near White Rock Lake--the type of person with enough clout to convince the FBI to lease office space in his new building.
Georgetown University '33

Although Danner had grown up in Ohio, as early as 1930 his mother's father (Daniel Alexander Garden) had moved to Groveland in Lake County, Florida to run a saw mill, and by 1935 had been followed by Dick Danner's parents, who became farmers at nearby Mascotte, a rural area 30 miles west of Orlando. After Danner transferred back to Miami in 1944, he left the FBI to head the Senatorial election campaign of George Smathers and was rewarded with the job as city manager for Miami. (See Brian Lewis Crispell, Testing the Limits: George Armistead Smathers and Cold War America (1999, out of print), p. 17.) Danner had met Smathers in 1940 while both worked on the "white slavery" case, involving the La Paloma Club in Miami. Smathers was an assistant district attorney investigating and prosecuting the case while Danner's FBI office worked on federal connections. Smathers was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1946 with Danners' help. Smather was a prosecutor of the La Paloma Club's owners during the summer of 1941. Public records for 1947 show Danner in charge of Miami's department of Public Safety in the city hall, 74 W. Flagler, the heart of downtown Miami--across the street and a few paces from his 1942 office at the Miami FBI. He and his wife, the former Martha Dickey, now lived in Coconut Grove on Trapp Avenue (5 miles to the south of town). A newspaper column by Bill Baggs, which appeared in the Miami News in 1951 said he had been suddenly fired from his job as Miami's City Manager, and that led to his becoming a Ford automobile dealer in Vero Beach, Florida, as well as helping George Smathers with his election campaign. It would have been during this time that Danner met Richard Nixon, according to the book by Stephen E. Ambrose, Nixon, Vol. 1: The Education of a Politician, 1913-1962.

By1955, however, Danner had moved back to Texas to be president and general manager of a Ford dealership, Dick Danner Motors at 2424 W. Seventh Street in Fort Worth. He and wife Martha lived at 413 Ridgewood Road, two miles north of the River Crest Country Club built by the father of CIA agent, David Atlee Phillips.]

He also got to know people even closer to the Syndicate, who had extensive interests in Cuba. In 1952, one short month after the dictator Batista's comeback, Nixon and Danner joined throngs of tourists who unloaded their savings at one of the Syndicate's Cuban casinos.[5] Nixon would return frequently. He, Rebozo, and Smathers allegedly invested in the island during the fifties,[6] and in 1955, as vice president of the United States, Nixon would pin an award on Batista, with whom he was photographed in the dictator's palace.

Nixon also helped plan the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1959. Chairing the 54/12 Group, a National Security Council subcommittee in charge of covert actions, the vice president pushed for the plan's approval before his 1960 presidential race against John F. Kennedy.[7] According to Howard Hunt, Nixon was the invasion's "secret action officer" in the White House.[8] President Eisenhower, who would later plead ignorance of the plan's extent, assumed it was limited to support for anti‑Castro guerillas in the mountains.[9] When JFK took over the oval office, he was presented with a fait accompli.

If Eisenhower was really left out in the cold on the plan's magnitude, then William Pawley must have been among Nixon's co‑conspirators. As mentioned earlier, Pawley talked Eisenhower into arming the anti‑Communist Cubans.[10] Pawley was and would remain one of Nixon's most ardent supporters.[11]

When the invasion proved a bust, Nixon's voice was among the loudest accusing Kennedy of undermining it by refusing reinforcements. In the years that followed he continued to cultivate support among the Cuban exiles and other right wing constituencies. Cubans for Nixon and Asians for Nixon touted him as a man who would not forsake the cause of anticommunism. The Nixon of near‑hysterical anticommunism would win additional allies in the Syndicate and in powerful business circles tied in with the military and espionage.

Fortunately for Nixon, forces behind the above lobbies were also influential in organized labor, especially the Teamsters Union. Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa became a pawn of the Lansky syndicate, which borrowed millions from the union's pension fund. However, Hoffa's obsequiousness towards the Mob was dampened by Attorney General Robert Kennedy's aggressive investigation of Teamster policies. In 1967, prior to Nixon's decisive electoral campaign, Hoffa landed in jail with a thirteen‑year sentence for misuse of union funds. The new Teamster strongmen, Frank Fitzsimmons and Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano, were friends of Nixon and in the hands of the Syndicate.[12] When Nixon pardoned Hoffa just prior to Christmas 1971, Hoffa had to promise to stay out of organized labor.

In the sixties Nixon grew even closer to his friends in Miami, who by then had made millions in land speculation. Dade County north of Miami became known as "Lanskyville," as a string of seemingly legitimate real estate firms handled the Lansky Mob's enormous holdings. Among the more prominent firms were:[13]

1) The Cape Florida Development Co., run by Donald Berg and Nixon's pal Rebozo. The two worked closely with Al Polizzi, the former head of the Syndicate's Mayfield Road Gang in Cleveland, then in charge of the Syndicate's Florida contractors. An investigation into the placement of stolen securities at Rebozo's bank was nipped in the bud.

2) The Mary Carter Paint Co., which in 1967 became Resorts International, that now runs the world's most profitable casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and was purportedly the brainchild of Mr. Lansky. Resorts' Paradise Island casino in the Bahamas was managed by Ed Cellini, a longtime Lansky casino operator.

3) The General Development Corp., run by two Lansky strawmen, Wallace Groves and Lou Chesler. Its board of directors included Lansky broker Max Orovitz and the gangster Trigger Mike Coppola. Groves bought up half of Grand Bahama Island for the Syndicate and contracted with Nixon's law client, National Bulk Carriers, to construct a harbor there.

4) The Major Realty Co., whose controlling shareholders were Senator Smathers and Lansky's men Orovitz and Ben Siegelbaum.

Through his friends, Nixon acquired land on Key Biscayne and Fisher's Island, off the Florida coast. In return he readily made himself available for personal appearances. When Mary Carter in 1967 opened the Nassau Bay Club casino on Grand Bahama Island, Nixon was the guest of honor. One year later he was there when Resorts International opened its casino on Paradise Island.

Nixon also expressed his friendship in other ways. Hoffa was not the only one who did not have to pay his full debt to society. Neither did Leonard Bursten, Carl Kovens, or Morris Shenker, all Syndicate associates, the last two solid Nixon campaign supporters.[14] Robert Morgenthau, the federal attorney for the southern district of New York, became interested in some of Nixon's friends in 1968. He proved Max Orovitz guilty of willful violation of stock registration laws, and was investigating Syndicate money transfers to Switzerland. The latter threatened to lead to an indictment of Nixon's friend John M. King of Investor's Overseas Service (IOS).[15] Morgenthau, however, was removed from office.

Glancing at major contributors to Nixon's 1968 and 1972 campaign chests, one finds the names of Miami straw men Lou Chesler and Richard Pistell, Resorts' president James Crosby and John M. King, the Texas billionaire Howard Hughes, master swindler Robert Vesco, and the California millionaire C. Arnholdt Smith, a close associate of the gangster John Alessio and later convicted of misuse of bank funds.

The list of Nixon's major personal and political supporters starts with Rebozo, Smathers, Dewey, Hoffa, and Frank Fitzsimmons, all with their Syndicate associations; and goes on to include William Pawley and the China Lobby's Madame Anna Chan Chennault.

Nearly all of Nixon's major supporters in Florida were involved in one way or another in the Bay of Pigs operation. The same can be said of the top Syndicate figures, four of whom escorted the invasion force in a yacht for part of the voyage, while Trafficante's lieutenants in Miami and the Dominican Republic stood ready to seize the casinos.

Moreover, one cannot overlook Nixon's particular connection to IOS‑multimillionaire Vesco, who until recently was in exile in Costa Rica, where he allegedly financed the smuggling of narcotics.[16] Vesco provided covert financial aid to Nixon's reelection campaign, and was closely associated with Nixon's brother Edward and nephew Donald, Jr. Richard Nixon himself is alleged to have met secretly with Vesco in Salzburg, Austria.[17] The White House, finally, came to Vesco's aid in a case brought against him by the Securities and Exchange Commission,[18] just as an investigation of his narcotics activities was similarly choked off.[19]

pps. 153-157


1. H. Kohn: "Strange Bedfellows," Rolling Stone, 20 May 1976.

2. C. Oglesby: "Presidential Assassinations and the Closing of the Frontier," in Government by Gunplay, S. Blumenthal and H. Yazijian, eds. (New American Library, 1976).

[Editor Note: Related to Oglesby's theory about how the closing of the frontier led to a struggle between Eastern Capital and Cowboys, see this excerpt from a blog by Lee Barckmann:
The Yankee Cowboy War starts on the eve of World War II, as Meyer Lansky and Fulgencio Batista made a pact allowing the syndicate to control the molasses trade and the Havana Casinos. (See "The Godfather Part II"). It would later expand to black market rubber, which brings in Nixon, as a recent law school graduate working in Roosevelt's Price Control Bureau Board in the rubber section. One of the mechanics of the Syndicate's tire smuggling operations was Beebe [sic] Robozo, who it is postulated, met Nixon in these days and cemented Nixon's position into a possible 'group' that combines the darker sides of American clandestinity with Cowboy aggressiveness and Nixon's special talents. A case before Nixon's section is decided in favor of the 'importers', but all the notes are missing ... It proves nothing of course, as Oglesby is quick to point out. We aren't even sure that Nixon was involved ...but you have to wonder what Rebozo and Nixon had in common that would make Beebe his friend of last resort. (Later in the book, Oglesby returns to that period where Jack Ruby gets his start as a messenger boy for Al Capone in Chicago.)
3. The 1950 Kefauver investigation discovered that one of Lansky's largest back room casinos in Miami was set up in the Wofford Hotel run by Tatum "Chubby" Wofford.

4. Howard Hughes helped Nixon out as early as 1956 with a secret $100,000 donation, as well as a $205,000 loan to his brother Donald.

5. J. Gerth: "Richard Nixon and Organized Crime," in Government by Gunplay, op. cit.

6. Kohn, op. cit.

7. H.G. Klein in the San Diego Union, 25 March 1962.
8. Kohn, op. cit.

9. Oglesby, op. cit.
10. M. Acoca and R.K. Brown: "The Bayo‑Pawley Affair," Soldier of Fortune, Vol. 1, No. 2,1976.

11. J. Hougan: Spooks (William Morrow, 1978).

12. Time, 18 August 1975. Six months after an 88‑count indictment, Frank Fitzsimmons' son Richard, a Teamsters organizer, was recently sentenced to thirty months and a $10,000 fine for accepting bribes from trucking company officials (Boston Globe, 16 February 1980).

13. Information on the four firms is from the October 1972 NACLA Report.

14. Bursten, a friend of Hoffa's who was at one time a director of the Miami National Bank, saw his fifteen‑year sentence, in connection with the bankruptcy of a Beverly Hills housing development that had received a $12 million Teamster pension fund loan, reduced to probation after the intervention of Murray Chotiner. Kovens, another leading Florida Teamster official, was convicted in the same pension fraud case as Hoffa, but released from federal prison with the help of Senator Smathers. and then went on to collect $50,000 for Nixon's 1972 reelection campaign. Shenker, whom Life magazine in 1971 called the "foremost mob attorney," saw the Justice Department's multi‑year investigation of his tax violations turned down by Nixon's Attorney General Richard Kleindienst on the basis of "insufficient evidence," after which the files on Shenker at the offices of the U.S. Attorney at St. Louis disappeared; see Gerth, op. cit.

15. NACLA Report, op. cit.

16. Hougan, op. cit.

17. Ibid.

18. Time, 6 May 1974.

19. L.H. Whittemore: Peroff (Ballantine, 1975). As of November 1979, a federal grand jury in New York City was investigating Vesco's masterminding an alleged scheme whereby Libyan government officials were to pay off members of the Carter administration to facilitate Libya's purchase of American C‑130 transport planes; see the New York Times, 4 November 1979. Five months later, in the midst of Jimmy Carter's reelection campaign, an assistant U.S. attorney announced that a second federal grand jury in Washington had returned no indictments following its investigation of allegations that Vesco had attempted to bribe Carter administration officials to fix his long‑standing legal problems. The grand jury's foreman, Ralph Ulmer, immediately criticized the incompleteness of the announcement, charging that "the statement is incomplete and thus misleading, which is about par for the course for the Justice Department." (New York Times, 2 April 1980).
Ulmer had earlier charged that "cover‑up activities are being orchestrated within the Justice Department under the concept that the Administration must be protected at a costs... Among other things information was withheld from the grand jury... a witness was encouraged to be less than candid with the FBI." (Boston Globe, 30 August 1979.)


The man referred to below as Rebozo's partner, C. V. W. Trice, Jr. was more specifically, Cuthbert Van Wyck Trice, Jr., born in Norfolk, Va. in 1906, who made his application to the Florida Society of the Sons of the American Revolution two years after Rebozo's nephew, Harold L. Barker, Jr. At that time Trice was a flight navigation officer for the Air Transport Command in Miami. His father, who died in 1965, was head of a real estate firm, W.H.H. Trice and Co., in Norfolk, Va.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Great Heroin Coup - Chapter 15

Kruger ends the last paragraph of this chapter with the implication that President Nixon would work directly for Santo Trafficante and his mob, by saying:
Trafficante and company could agree that if the Corsicans were to be neutralized, it had to be done totally and effectively. That was a job for President Nixon and his WhiteHouse staff, the BNDD/White House Death Squad, and the Central Intelligence Agency.
Follow his research and see if he came up with the correct conclusion.

 Selected Excerpts from
By Henrik Kruger; Jerry Meldon, Translator
South End Press©1980: Box 68 Astor Station, Boston, MA 02123
ISBN 0-89608-0319-5
240pps - one edition - out-of-print; Orginally published in Danish
Smukke Serge og Heroien; Bogan 1976

Previous chapters:



Meyer Lansky, the Syndicate's financial wizard and its chairman from around 1947, began building his Cuban empire in the early forties. When free elections chased his close friend and dictator Fulgencio Batista from office in 1944, Lansky also left the island, entrusting his empire to the Trafficante family headed by Santo, Sr. Lansky and Batista settled in Hollywood, Florida, just north of Miami. Before long, Lansky was running an illegal casino empire on the coast, and in 1947 he eliminated Bugsy Siegel and moved into Las Vegas.

All the while Lansky expanded the narcotics trade founded by Lucky Luciano. The older Mafia dons deemed the trade taboo, so Lansky's wing of the Syndicate cornered the market, with Trafficante's eldest son, Santo, Jr., overseeing the heroin traffic.[1]
When Florida's illegal casinos were shut down in 1950, Lansky promoted Batista's return to power in Cuba. The drive bore fruit in 1952. With Trafficante, Sr.'s death in 1954, Santo, Jr. became Lansky's right‑hand man and manager of his Cuban interests. Until then, he had managed the Sans Souci Casino, a base for running Havana's tourist trade and keeping tabs on heroin shipments from Marseille to New York via Florida and Cuba.[2]
[Editor's Note:  In 1953, Santo, Sr. had been arrested in Tampa, as news headlines announced the overthrow of Mossadegh, the beginning of a blockade around Berlin, the Russians' acquisition of "the bomb," and the ouster by the French of the Sultan of Morocco, whose supporters went to exile in Corsica--all occurring on that one day--on August 23, 1953!]
Click to enlarge further.
Trafficante, Jr. has proven more talented than his father. Extraordinarily intelligent and energetic, he has handled the most acute crises with detached calm. Luciano characterized him as ". . a guy who always managed to hug the background, but he is rough and reliable. In fact, he's one of the few guys in the whole country that Meyer Lansky would never tangle with."[3]

In no time, Trafficante, Jr. ingratiated himself with dictator Batista, while remaining loyal to Lansky, who appointed him manager of his own Florida interests in addition to those in Cuba. Lansky needed to spend increasing amounts of time in New York, between travels to Las Vegas, Rome, Marseille, Beirut, and Geneva.

Many envied Lansky's ever‑increasing power and wealth, among them Murder, Inc. chairman of the board Albert Anastasia. In 1957 the latter tried enlisting Trafficante's aid in removing Lansky from the Havana scene. It was one of Anastasia's last moves. Trafficante arranged a "friendly" meeting in New York's Sheraton Hotel. An hour after Trafficante had checked out, Anastasia was murdered in the hotel's barber shop, shaving cream still on his face.[4]

According to Peter Dale Scott, "certain U.S. business interests collaborated with the narcotics‑linked American Mafia in Cuba-‑as they did with similar networks in China and later in Vietnam -‑for the Mafia supplied the necessary local intelligence, cash and muscle against the threat of communist takeover.[5] As Scott wrote those words in 1973, Cuban‑Americans recruited by the CIA were suspected by federal and city authorities to be "involved in everything from narcotics to extortion rackets and bombings."[6] The Church committee and other Senate and law enforcement reports would confirm these allegations.

Again we observe the Cuba/ Southeast Asia/ CIA triangle, and it's no secret who managed the Cuban side. There Trafficante, Jr. hired the fast‑learning natives, while dictator Batista's men made the empire safe for organized crime, often appearing more loyal to Trafficante than to Batista himself. In return the Cubans learned the business.

With Fidel Castro's 1 January 1959 ouster of Batista, Lansky and Trafficante were in trouble. Though they were expelled from their Cuban kingdom, nearly a year elapsed before the Syndicate departed and the casinos were closed. Along with Trafficante and Lansky, half a million Cubans left the island in the years following Castro's takeover. Some 100,000 settled in the New York City area, especially Manhattan's Washington Heights and New Jersey's Hudson County. Another 100,000 headed to Spain, others to Latin America, and a quarter of a million made their new home in Florida, the site of Trafficante's new headquarters.

Out of the Trafficante‑trained corps of Cuban officers, security staffers and politicians, a Cuban Mafia emerged under the mobster's control. It specialized in narcotics, first Latin American cocaine, then Marseille heroin. With his Cubans Trafficante also grabbed control of La Bolita, the numbers game that took Florida by storm and became a Syndicate gold mine.[7]

Besides the Cubans, who comprised the main wing of his organization, Trafficante also worked closely with the non‑Italian Harlan Blackburn mob, a break with Mafia tradition.[8] But the core of the Trafficante family remained Italian, and the Italians also dealt in drugs. In 1960 his man Benedetto "Beni the Cringe" Indiviglio negotiated the opening of a narcotics route with Jacques l'Americain, the representative of Corsican boss Joseph Orsini.[9] Benedetto and his brothers Romano, Arnold, Charles and Frederick eventually ran Trafficante's Montreal‑bound smuggling network, and were later joined by the notorious New York wholesaler Louis Cirillo.[10]

Trafficante settled in Tampa, but continued to run some of his activities from Jimmy Hoffa's Teamster Local 320 in Miami. Trafficante and David Yaras of Sam Giancana's Chicago mob were instrumental in founding Local 320, which, according to the McClellan hearings, was a front for Syndicate narcotics activities.[11]

After losing his Havana paradise, far‑sighted Meyer Lansky used straw men to buy up much of Grand Bahama Island and erected a new gambling center around the city of Nassau. But though Lansky and Trafficante each survived in style, neither they nor the Cuban exiles relinquished hope of a return to Cuba. Moreover, they were not alone in dreaming of overthrowing Castro. The CIA in particular let its imagination run wild to this end. Its covert operations expert, General Edward Lansdale, seriously planned to send a submarine to the shore outside Havana, where it would create an inferno of light. At the same time, Cuba‑based agents would warn the religious natives of the second coming of Christ and the Savior's distaste for Fidel Castro. However, "Elimination by Illumination" was shelved in favor of less fantastic suggestions for Castro's assassination. The latter brought together the CIA, Cuban exiles, and the Syndicate in the person of Santo Trafficante.

In 1960 the CIA asked its contract agent Robert Maheu to contact the mobster John Roselli. Roselli introduced Maheu to Trafficante and Sam Giancana, the Chicago capo, and the strange bedfellows arranged an attempt on the life of Castro.[12] The agency had previously stationed an agent on Cuba who was to flash the green light when assassination opportunities arose. He was Frank Angelo Fiorini, a one‑time smuggler of weapons to Castro's revolutionary army, to whom Castro had entrusted the liquidation of the gambling casinos.[13]

Through the latter assignment Fiorini had made the acquaintance of Trafficante.

Fontainebleu in 1961
In February 1961 Maheu, Trafficante and Roselli met at Miami's Fontainebleu Hotel. There Maheu gave the hoods untraceable poison capsules for delivery to a Cuban exile connected with the Trafficante mob.[14] 0ther Cubans were to smuggle them to the island and poison Castro; but the attempt failed. Trafficante engineered more attempts, including one in September 1962,[15] and his organization also provided Cubans for the Bay of Pigs invasion.[16]

Never before had there existed a more remarkable, fanatical group of conspirators than that assembled to create, finance, and train the Bay of Pigs invasion force. The top CIA figures were Lansdale protege Napoleon Valeriano, the mysterious Frank Bender, and E. Howard Hunt, who was himself involved in at least one of the attempts on Fidel Castro's life. They were supported by a small army of CIA operatives from four of its Miami cover firms.[17]

Runner‑up to Hunt for the Most Intriguing CIA Conspirator award is [Frank] Bender, a German refugee whose true identity remains a matter of speculation. Some contend that he had been an agent of the West German Gehlen espionage network under the name Drecher; others contend it was Droller.[18] The former security chief for Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo claims that Bender was in fact one Fritz Swend, a Gehlen collaborator and leader of ex‑Nazis in Peru. Prior to the Bay of Pigs invasion Swend was allegedly the CIA's man in the Dominican Republic as Don Frederico. There he purportedly planned the invasion along with mobster Frank Costello and ex-Cuban dictator Batista.[19]

Ambassador Pawley
The invasion's moral and financial supporters included many leading China Lobbyists. Most important was the multi‑millionaire behind Claire Chennault's Flying Tigers, William Pawley.[20] Pawley had been involved in the CIA's 1954 overthrow of Guatemala's democratically elected Arbenz regime. Like Lansky and Trafficante, Pawley had had a big stake in Cuba. Prior to Castro's takeover he had owned the Havana bus system and sugar refineries. He met with President Eisenhower several times in 1959 to persuade the president to assist Cuban exiles in overthrowing Castro. Pawley then helped the CIA recruit anti‑Castro Cubans.[21]
[Editor's Note: Pawley was President Truman's  non- diplomatic appointee in 1945 to be Ambassador to Peru, but the businessman had actually been "discovered" by FDR. In 1928 Pawley was president of a Cuban company, Nacional Cubana de AviaciĆ³n Curtiss, which was sold to Pan American Airlines in 1932. He then went to work for Curtiss-Wright's China Airways company in 1929 and then had organized an aircraft manufacturing company in China in 1933 for Curtiss-Wright. When Truman appointed him to be Peru's ambassador, he replaced John Campbell White, a man from a family of diplomats.] 
The key Cuban exile conspirators in the Bay of Pigs operation and the ensuing attacks on Cuba and Castro included Manuel Artime, Orlando Bosch, Felipe de Diego, and Rolando Martinez -‑the first a close friend of Howard Hunt's, the last two future Watergate burglars. The name of Bosch was to become synonymous with terrorism.

Distinguishing the noncriminal element among the Bay of Pigs' anti‑Castro Cubans is no easy matter, since so many emerged from Trafficante's Cuban Mafia. According to agents of the BNDD, nearly 10 percent of the 1500‑man force had been or eventually were arrested for narcotics violations.[22] Its recruiters included Syndicate gangsters like Richard Cain, the former Chicago policeman who became a lieutenant for Sam Giancana.

The Dominican Republic, a focal point in the invasion scheme, also became a transit point for Trafficante's narcotics traffic. Furthermore, the CIA, according to agents of the BNDD, helped organize the drug route by providing IDs and speedboats to former Batista officers in the Dominican Republic in charge of narcotics shipments to Florida.[23]

It is of paramount importance to note the close CIA cooperation with Trafficante's Cuban Mafia, whose overriding source of income was the smuggling of drugs.

One of Trafficante's personal CIA contacts for the Bay of Pigs was Frank Fiorini, Castro's liquidator of Mob casinos, who now preferred the name Frank Sturgis.[24] In late 1960 Sturgis ran the Miami‑based International Anti‑Communist Brigade (IACB), said to be financed by the Syndicate.[25] According to Richard Whattley, a brigade member hired for the invasion, "Trafficante would order Sturgis to move his men and he'd do it. Our ultimate conclusion was that Trafficante was our backer. He was our money man."[26]

Another detail from Sturgis's past is especially interesting in light of Frank Bender's alleged ties to the Gehlen organization. For a period in the early fifties Sturgis was involved in espionage activities in Berlin, serving as a courier between various nations' intelligence agencies, and was thereby inevitably in contact with the Gehlen network.[27]

The Bay of Pigs invasion was, of course, a fiasco. But that hardly stopped the CIA, the Syndicate, or their Cuban exile troops. Wheels were soon turning on new assassination attempts under CIA agent William Harvey, who again collaborated with the underworld. Within months, the Miami CIA station JM/Wave was again in full swing. It sponsored a series of hit‑and‑run attacks on strategic Cuban targets that spanned three years and involved greater manpower and expenditures than the Bay of Pigs invasion itself.

To head the JM/Wave station, the CIA chose one of its up‑and‑coming agents, the thirty‑four year old Theodore Shackley, who came direct from Berlin. His closest Cuban exile associates were Joaquin Sanjenis and Rolando (Watergate burglary) Martinez.[28] Some 300 agents and 4,6000 Cuban exile operatives took part in the actions of JM/Wave. As later revealed, one of its last operations was closed down because one of its aircraft was caught smuggling narcotics into the United States.[29]

Shackley is another contender for the Most Intriguing CIA Conspirator award. After years of collaboration with Trafficante organization Cubans, he and part of his Miami staff were transferred to Laos,[30] where he joined Lucien Conein.[31] There they helped organize the CIA's secret Meo tribesmen army, the second such army drummed up by Shackley that was up to its ears in the drug traffic.

Vientiane, where Shackley was the station chief, became the new center of the heroin trade. Later he ran the station in Saigon, where the traffic flowed under the profiteering administration of Premier Nguyen Cao Ky. When the agency prepared its coup against the Chilean President Salvador Allende, Shackley was its chief of covert operations in the Western Hemisphere. When William Colby became the director of the CIA in 1973, Shackley took over his job as chief of covert operations in the Far East. Eventually he was booted out of the agency as part of the shakeup ordered by its current director Stansfield Turner.[32]

In the JM/Wave period a great expansion in China Lobby‑Traffiicante‑Cuban exile‑CIA connections occurred. William Pawley financed a mysterious summer 1963 boat raid against Cuba in his own yacht, the Flying Tiger II. Besides Pawley himself, the crew included mafioso John Martino, who had operated roulette wheels in one of Trafficante's Havana casinos; CIA agents code‑named Rip, Mike, and Ken; the ubiquitous Rolando Martinez; and a dozen other Cuban exiles led by Eddie Bayo and Eduardo Perez, many of whom eventually disappeared mysteriously.[33] Loren Hall, another former Trafficante casino employee, claimed that both his boss and Sam Giancana had helped plan the raid.[34] CIaire Boothe Luce, a queenpin of the China Lobby, testified during Senate hearings on the CIA that she had financed an exile gunboat raid on Cuba after JFK had ordered the agency to halt such raids.

I will not wander deeply into the quagmire of circumstances surrounding the murder of President John F. Kennedy. However, it is worth repeating a few lines from the final report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations: "The Committee's extensive investigation led to the conclusion that the most likely family bosses of organized crime to have participated in such a unilateral assassination plan were Carlos Marcello and Santo Trafficante."[35]

Of the many connections between Trafficante and Dallas the most important are his association with Jack Ruby, who visited him in a Havana prison in 1959; his statement to Cuban exile financier Jose Aleman that Kennedy "is going to be hit"; and his close association with fellow Mafia capo Carlos Marcello. The Cuban exiles, drug racketeers, and the CIA had no shortage of anti‑Kennedy motives, which were all the more intensified as the three forces gradually welded together.

The anti‑Cuba actions continued well into 1965, at which time a crucial three‑year turnabout for the Lansky Syndicate began. Its money had been invested in the unsuccessful attempts at toppling Castro and in its new casino complex in Nassau, which was threatened by local anti-gambling forces. So when Southeast Asia began emerging as a new heroin export center, Lansky sent his financial expert John Pullman to check out the opportunities for investment. Close on his heels went Frank Furci, the son of a Trafficante lieutenant.[36]

From 1968 on, Trafficante's Cubans were in effective control of the traffic in heroin and cocaine throughout the United States.[37] The Florida capo's only gangland partner of significance was the Cotroni family in Montreal.

Trafficante carried out his business in a cool and collected manner. Never out of line with the national Syndicate, he enjoyed relative anonymity while other, less prominent gangsters wrote their names in history with blood. His organization was so airtight that when narcotics investigators finally realized how big a fish he was, they had to admit he was untouchable. The BNDD tried nabbing him in its 1969‑70 Operation Eagle, then the most extensive action ever directed against a single narcotics network. The Bureau arrested over 120 traffickers, wholesalers, and pushers, but made no real dent. Within days, well‑trained Cubans moved into the vacated slots.[38]

To the BNDD's surprise, a very large number of those arrested in Operation Eagle were CIA‑trained veterans of the Bay of Pigs and Operation 40. Among them were Juan Cesar Restoy, a former Cuban senator under Batista, Allen Eric Rudd‑Marrero, a pilot, and Mario Escandar.[39] Their fates were most unusual. Escandar and Restoy, alleged leaders of the narcotics network, were arrested in June 1970 but fled from Miami City Jail in August. Escandar turned himself in, but was released soon afterward when it was established that Attorney General John Mitchell had neglected to sign the authorization for the wiretap that incriminated Escandar. He returned to narcotics and was arrested in 1978 for kidnapping, a crime punishable by life, but for which he got only six months.[40] As this book went to press the FBI was investigating Escandar's relationship with the Dade County (Miami) police force.

Juan Restoy, on the other hand, turned to blackmail. He threatened to expose a close friend of President Nixon's as a narcotics trafficker, if not given his freedom and $350,000.[41] Restoy was shot and killed by narcotics agents, as was Rudd‑Marrero.

Daily Star Oneonta, New York
In late 1970, in the wake of Operation Eagle, Bay of Pigs veteran GuillermoHernandez‑Cartaya set up the World Finance Corporation (WFC), a large company alleged to be a conduit for Trafficante investments and for the income from his narcotics activities.[42] Duney Perez-Alamo, a CIA‑trained explosives expert involved with several Cuban exile terrorist groups, was a building manager for the WFC. Juan Romanach, a close Trafficante associate, was a WFC bank director.[43] As Hank Messick put it:
Escandar, of course, was a friend of Hernandez‑Cartaya, who was a friend of Dick Fincher, who was a friend of Bebe Rebozo, who was a friend of Richard Nixon, who once told John Dean he could get a million dollars in cash.[44]
In 1968 Trafficante himself went on an extended business trip to the Far East, beginning in Hong Kong, where he had located his emissary Frank Furci.[45] After a slow 1965‑66 start, Furci had made great headway. Through his own Maradem, Ltd. he had cornered the market on Saigon's night spots catering to GIs.[46] He even ran officer and soldier mess halls, and he had set up a chain of heroin labs in Hong Kong to serve the GI market.

From Hong Kong, Trafficante journeyed to Saigon, registering at the Continental Palace hotel owned by the Corsican Franchini family. His last stop was in Singapore, where he contacted a branch of the splintered Chinese Mafia.

     Several doors had to be opened to gain access to the opium treasure. The first led to the CIA‑ controlled Taiwan regime, the second to the Golden Triangle's KMT Chinese and Laotian Meo tribesmen. The latter door had already been opened by the CIA. Still another led to the Triads (Chinese gangster organizations) in Hong Kong. Traffiicante opened that door with the help of Furci, who gave him access to Southeast Asia's overseas Chinese. There was no way around the Nationalist Chinese suppliers and middle men. The world had long been told that the narcotics came from Red China, but the facts belied that propaganda claim.[47]

Trafficante liked what he saw in his Southeast Asian tour. With enough trained chemists, his Mob could be supplied with heroin at a fraction of what it was then paying out to the Corsicans. But first the smuggling networks had to be worked out and the Corsicans had to be eliminated.

Limpy Ho
So Santo Trafficante began his war against the Corsicans.[48] His major foe, Auguste Ricord in Paraguay, wasn't about to roll over and die. Ricord got hold of his own Hong Kong connection, Ng Sik‑ho,[49] also known as "Limpy Ho," a major Nationalist Chinese heroin smuggler well‑connected to the Taiwan regime.[50] After Ricord's emissaries had travelled twice in 1970 to Japan, where they met with Mr. Ho,[51] heroin shipments began going to Paraguay via, among other transit points, Chile. 62 When in 1972 Ricord was extradited to the U.S., Limpy Ho tried establishing his own smuggling route to the U.S. via Vancouver. But that failed when two of his lieutenants, Sammy Cho and Chang Yu Ching, were arrested in the U.S. with fifty pounds of pure heroin.

By early 1970, Southeast Asian‑produced heroin was ready to be tested on GI guinea pigs. Meyer Lansky, facing charges of business illegalities, turned over control to Trafficante and fled to Israel. On July 4 Lansky narcotics associates reportedly made their investment plans for Southeast Asia at a twelve‑day meeting with representatives of several Mafia families at the Hotel Sole in Palermo, Sicily.[53]

Weeks later the Corsican Mafia contemplated counter‑moves in a meeting at Philippe Franchini's suite in Saigon's Continental Palace Hotel. Turkish opium production was already waning and could no longer be relied upon. Unrest in the Middle East was destabilizing the production of morphine base. The Corsicans had to do something to regain control over their longtime Southeast Asian domain, a task made all but impossible by the U.S. presence. But the Corsicans still had large stocks of morphine, their Marseille labs, and a smoothly functioning smuggling network. Trafficante and company could agree that if the Corsicans were to be neutralized, it had to be done totally and effectively. That was a job for President Nixon and his White House staff, the BNDD/White House Death Squad, and the Central Intelligence Agency.

pps. 141-152


1. Santo Trafficante, Jr.'s first important appearance in his role as overseer of the heroin traffic might have been at a 1947 summit in Havana reportedly attended by Auguste Ricord, alias Lucien Dargelles, the French Nazi collaborator who became Latin America's narcotics czar; see V. Alexandrov: La Mafia des SS (Stock, 1978).

2. A.McCoy: The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia (Harper& Row, 1972).

3. M. Gosch and R. Hammer: The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano (Little, Brown & Co., 1974).

4. Lansky was not then entirely sure of Trafficante's loyalty. He had the latter swear a "holy" oath, witnessed by Vincent Alo: "With an ancient Spanish dagger — none from Sicily was available — Trafficante cut his left wrist, allowed the blood to flow, and wet his right hand in the crimson stream. Then he held up the bloody hand: 'So long as the blood flows in my body,' he intoned solemnly, 'do I, Santo Trafficante, swear allegiance to the will of Meyer Lansky and the organization he represents. If I violate this oath, may I burn in Hell forever.'" — H. Messick: Lansky (Berkeley, 1971).

5. P.D. Scott: "From Dallas to Watergate," Ramparts, November 1973.

6. New York Times, 3 June 1973.

7. E. Reid: The Grim Reapers (Bantam, 1970).

8. Ibid.

9. P. Galante and L. Sapin: The Marseille Mafia (W.H. Allen, 1979).

10. The Newsday Staff: The Heroin Trail (Souvenir Press, 1974).

11. D. Moldea: The Hoffa Wars (Charter Books, 1978).

12. U.S. Congress, Senate, Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with respect to Intelligence Activities, Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, Interim Report, 94th Cong., 1st Sess., Senate Report No. 94‑463, 1975. (Henceforth referred to as Assassination Report).

 13. P. Meskill: "Mannen som Ville Myrde Fidel Castro," Vi Menn, 1976.

14. Assassination Report, op. cit.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid.

17. D. Wise and T.B. Ross: The Invisible Government (Random House, 1964);
P.D. Scott: The War Conspiracy (Bobbs‑Merrill, 1972).

18. The name Drecher appears in T. Szulc: Compulsive Spy (Viking, 1974); Droller is used in P. Wyden: The Bay of Pigs (Simon & Schuster, 1979).

19. L. Gonzalez‑Mata: Cygne (Grasset, 1976). According to this source (the author was the chief of security for the Dominican Republic's dictator, Rafael Trujillo), Howard Hunt went to the Dominican Republic with the mobster John Roselli in March 1961.

20. Pawley eventually built five large airplane factories around the world. It is also likely that he was involved in the CIA's Double Chek Corp. in Miami, as he had similarly been in the Flying Tigers. The CIA's air proprietaries are said to stick together. When in 1958, CIA pilot Allen Pope was shot down and taken prisoner in Indonesia, he was flying for CAT. When he was released in 1962 he began flying for Southern Air Transport, another agency proprietary, which operated as late as 1973 out of offices in Miami and Taiwan. Southern's attorney in 1962 was Alex E. Carlson, who a year before had represented Double Chek when it furnished pilots for the Bay of Pigs invasion; see V. Marchetti and J.D. Marks: CIA and the Cult of Intelligence (Jonathan Cape, 1974). On 23 March 1980, just as Iran's revolutionary government was about to request that Panama extradite Shah Reza Palevi, the ex‑dictator who had been installed on his throne in 1953 by a CIA coup, he was flown off to Cairo on an Evergreen International Airlines charter. As reported by Ben Bradlee of the Boston Globe, (20 April 1980), in 1975 Evergreen had assumed control over Intermountain Aviation, Inc., a CIA proprietary. George Deele, Jr., a paid consultant for Evergreen, controlled the CIA's worldwide network of secret airlines for nearly two decades.

21. M. Acoca and R.K. Brown: "The Bayo‑Pawley Affair," Soldier of Fortune, Vol. 1, No. 2, 1976.

22. The Newsday Staff, op. cit.

23. H. Kohn: "Strange Bedfellows," Rolling Stone, 20 May 1976.

24. The main character in Howard Hunt's 1949 spy novel, Bimini Run, was "Hank Sturgis."

25 . H. Tanner: Counter‑Revolutionary Agent (G.T. Foules, 1972).

26. Kohn, op. cit.

27. Meskill, op. cit.

28. Shackley was also indirectly responsible for Martinez's participation in the 17 June 1972 Watergate breakin; see T. Branch and G. Crile III: "The Kennedy Vendetta," Harper's, August 1975.

29. New York Times, 4 January 1975.

30. Branch and Crile, op. cit.

31. J. Hougan: Spooks (William Morrow, 1978).

32. Shackley might also have been responsible for the CIA's tapping of all telephone converstions to and from Latin America in the first half of 1973 "in connection with narcotics operations" (see Newsweek, 23 June 1975). According to Branch and Crile, op. cit., Shackley, as chief of the CIA's Western Hemisphere Division of Clandestine Services, "had overall responsibility for the agency's efforts to overthrow the Allende regime in Chile."
In a recent article in which he refers to Shackley as one of "the CIA's most esteemed officers," journalist Michael Ledeen claims that Shackley left the agency voluntarily when "forced to choose between retirement and accepting a post that would have represented a de facto demotion." (New York, 3 March 1980). Ledeen, incidentally, is a colleague of Ray S. Cline at Georgetown's rightwing propaganda mill, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (see chapter 14, footnote 20).

33. Acoca and Brown, op. cit.

34. D. Russell: "Loren Hall and the Politics of Assassination," Village Voice, 3 October 1977.

35. The New York Times, ed.: The Final Assassinations Report (Bantam, 1979). In early 1980 the Justice Department was investigating allegations that Marcello had offered Mario T. Noto, the Deputy Commissioner of Immigration, a guaranteed "plush job" after retirement, in return for Noto's help in lifting Marcello's travel restrictions. Noto's attorney, ironically, is Myles Ambrose, who stepped down from his job at the head of the BNDD in the wake of corruption allegations. (New York Times, 11 February 1980).

36. McCoy, op. cit.

37. H. Messick: The Mobs and the Mafia (Spring Books, 1972). 38. The Newsday Staff, op. cit.

39. H. Messick: Of Grass and Snow (Prentice‑Hall, 1979); The Newsday Staff, op. cit.

40. Miami Herald, 30 March 1978.

41. Messick: Of Grass and Snow, op. ‑cit.

 42. Ibid.

43. Ibid.

 44. Ibid.

 45. McCoy, op. cit.

46. Ibid.

47. In the early seventies the opium bankrollers in Taiwan sent out, through their international lobby, the WACL, propaganda charging Red China with "the drugging of the world." The propaganda was directed at Nixon's rapprochement with mainland China. A 1972 BNDD report stated, however, that "not one investigation into heroin traffic in the area in the past two years indicates Chinese Communist involvement."

48. The existence of such a drug war is also mentioned in A. Jaubert: Dossier D ... comme Drogue (Alain Moreau, 1974).

49. S. O'Callaghan: The Triads (W.H. Allen, 1978).

50. F. Robertson: Triangle of Death (Routledge and Keagen Paul, 1977). 51. O'Callaghan, op. cit.

52. McCoy, op. cit.

53. F. Wulff in the Danish Rapport, 14 April 1975. A BNDD agent on the scene was reportedly discovered and liquidated. Apparently he hadn't known that the code words were "baccio la mano" — I kiss your hand. Subject number one of the meeting was Southeast Asia, which the conferees decided would replace Turkey and Marseille as the main source of opium and heroin. Mexico, to which Sam Giancana was sent, would be a safety valve. On one thing they were uananimous: the Corsicans had to be eliminated. To begin with, $300 million was to be invested in the bribery of politicians, as well as of military and police officers in Thailand, Burma, Laos, South Vietnam, and Hong Kong. Another nine‑figure sum was set aside to maximize opium production in the Golden Triangle.