Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Great Heroin Coup - Chapters 9, 10, 11 and 12

In the following chapters Kruger tells us how the French heroin distribution connection was destroyed when President Nixon and French President Pompidou worked together to wipe out the ties between refineries in Marseille and their distribution points belonging to the Corsican mafia. This "adjustment" in distribution of drugs was referred to by Kruger as an unnoticed "political coup." The term "coup" implies that governments were already involved in the the existing drug network, most likely the political group which assisted Luciano in 1947. Alfred W. McCoy stated in The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia:
The Guerinis gained enough power and status from their role in smashing the 1947 strike to emerge as the new leaders of the Corsican underworld. But while the CIA was instrumental in restoring the Corsican underworld's political power, it was not until the 1950 dock strike that the Guerinis gained enough power to take control of the Marseille waterfront. This combination of political influence and control of the docks created the perfect environmental conditions for the growth of Marseille's heroin laboratories, fortuitously at exactly the same time that Mafia boss Lucky Luciano was seeking an alternate source of heroin supply.

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:


As the 1970s began the French were the undisputed kingpins of the international narcotics traffic. Opium, the raw material, was extracted from the poppy harvest by the Turks, who either converted it themselves into morphine base, or sent it to refineries in Syria and Lebanon. Essentially all morphine base made from Turkish opium went to Marseille's heroin laboratories. Until around 1966 it went by sea. But Marseille's harbor was too easily patrolled, and so after 1966 roughly 70 percent of the morphine base went via Bulgaria and Yugoslavia to Munich.

For the first half of this century, most Marseille heroin was sent to Tangiers, Morocco, the main embarkation point for drugs bound for the United States. Tangiers eventually gave way to such European ports as Barcelona, Lisbon, and Antwerp. In addition some of the heroin went by air.

At the close of the sixties there began what at first resembled a routine adjustment in the narcotics traffic. As time would show, however, this one involved such a colossal upheaval, that it might better be described as a tremendous political coup—yet a coup that apparently went unnoticed. At its source lay shifts in international politics, and friction between the CIA and the French SDECE. Later I will support this claim with a myriad of circumstantial evidence.

The United States, during the first presidential administration of Richard Nixon, began cracking down on Turkish opium cultivation.

While it slowed the delivery of morphine base to Marseille, the Corsicans then — and now — had other sources to tap. They had long been connected closely with the Chinese Mafia. The latter organized the production of enormous quantities of opium on the rugged hillsides of the Burma‑Laos‑Thailand junction known as the Golden Triangle.[1]

The sale of harvested opium is in the hands of well‑organized Chiu Chao Chinese from the region between Canton and Fukien in southeast China. Hundreds of thousands of these Chinese emigrated to Southeast Asia, where they have resisted assimilation and control by local authorities.

The Golden Triangle accounted, until very recently, for some two-thirds of the world's illicit opium production, or 1300 tons of opium annuallyenough to produce 130 tons of heroin at a retail value on the U.S. market of between 50 and 120 billion dollars. Conservative estimates place the yearly heroin consumption of U.S. addicts between twelve and twenty tons. The New York street price lies in the neighborhood of $300,000/kilo (1 kilo = 2.2 pounds), but many pushers dilute the heroin up to three or four times. The same kilo can then bring in close to $1 million.

        A major slice of the profits of organized crime in the U.S. derives from the wholesaling of illegal drugs. The trafficking of heroin, co­caine, morphine base, etc., along with marijuana, hash, LSD and other hallucinogens, yields an annual turnover estimated as high as $75 billion.[2] That is an enormous sum, even in the context of the U.S. economy.                                

A very large portion of the U.S. market can be covered by derivatives of Southeast Asian opium. However, as late as 1969 only Marseille Frenchmen produced snow‑white heroin in quantities large enough to satisfy the American market. Obtaining absolutely pure white no. 4 heroin is no easy matter. The chemist generally ends with slightly brownish no. 3 heroin, or "brown sugar." Though the Chinese Mafia had ample opium, they could not produce no. 4 heroin in sufficient quantities. Excluding them from direct entry onto the U.S. scene, it limited the Chinese to delivery of raw materials to Marseille and sale of second‑rate products elsewhere.

In the golden era that culminated, at the start of 1970, with Christian David joining the Ricord gang hierarchy, Marcel Francisci and Dominique Venturi led the Corsican Mafia, and Jo Cesari was the wizard of the Marseille labs. They were but the visible portion of the iceberg. The other 99 percent was comprised of politicians and men of responsibility and influence in French intelligence.

"Mr. Heroin" Francisci was the man with the international perspective, with direct connections to politicians and the capos of the Italian Mafia. When international agreements were to be made, Francisci usually did the negotiating. Venturi and Joseph Orsini were in charge of effectively all drug import and export.

Distribution is the Key

There were five main heroin export routes to the U.S.A., two by air and three by sea. The shipping lanes emanated from Barcelona, Lisbon, and Antwerp and either ended in Brazil/ Paraguay, Haiti and the French West Indies, or went directly to the east coast of the United States. Heroin smuggled into the U.S. from the French Antilles and Haiti, like that from Paraguay, went via Florida or Mexico.

The busiest air lanes were from Luxembourg and Madrid to either Montreal or Nassau.[3] Dominique Venturi's brother Jean received the shipments in Montreal, but was obliged to pass them on to the Cotroni family. Led by brothers Giuseppe, Vincent and Frank, the latter clan transported the heroin to the U.S.A., and distributed it to the big time pushers in New York.

Heroin leaving Haiti, the Antilles, Nassau, and the Paraguay-based Ricord Mob wound up in Florida, where Santo Trafficante, jr. and the Cuban Mafia controlled the drug business in an axis that became the U.S.A.'s most powerful narcotics organization.

For years the Corsicans had tried setting up their own U.S. network, but were repeatedly foiled. It might have been easier for them to get around the Italians and Cubans by way of Mexico, had the Cotroni and Trafficante organizations not also decided to enter the picture there. At a grand assembly of mobsters from Marseille, Montreal, New York and Miami, the rules were fixed for smuggling via Mexico. The site of the meeting was Acapulco, the time was early 1970. Representing the French were Jean Venturi, Jean‑Baptiste Croce and Paul Mondolini. Croce and Mondolini became the Corsicans' permanent men in Mexico.

The tight control over the U.S. market wielded by the Cotronis of Montreal and Trafficante of Tampa was a legacy of Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano's reorganization of the U.S. heroin market. Lansky built himself a fantastic empire headquartered in Havana, and literally governed Cuba over the head of the dictator Fulgencio Batista. Lansky became the world's uncrowned narcotics king. His decisions affected everyone, including the bigwigs in France and Italy. He invested in the Marseille labs and had the Corsicans reorganize themselves more efficiently. When Castro drove him from Cuba, Lansky created a similar gambling paradise in Nassau.

Nassau became a focal point in more ways than one. Besides the gambling take, the greater part of the incredible bonanza from U.S. narcotics deals-‑the Corsicans' share included-‑was laundered via Lansky's Miami National Bank, to Nassau, and on to numbered accounts in Switzerland and Lebanon.

The Lansky fortune is estimated at $2 billion. Unable to reenter the U.S. in 1970, Lansky took temporary refuge in Israel, which eventually refused him citizenship. It is difficult to say how much of his power he retains. His operation has apparently been taken over by former subordinates. In narcotics they are the Montreal Cotroni family and, above all, Santo Trafficante, jr. in Florida, the man to whom the Ricord/David Mob consigned enormous quantities of heroin.


1. In the 30 August 1963 issue of Life, Stanley Karnow named Bonaventure Francisci the kingpin of opium smuggling from Laos. According to Alain Jaubert (Dossier D ... comme Drogue, Alain Moreau, 1974), it was impossible to determine whether Bonaventure and Marcel Francisci were related.

2. F.A.J. lanni: Black Mafia (Simon and Schuster, 1974) lanni's estimate is the highest I have seen. The wide range of estimates demonstrates that no one really knows, or is even close to knowing, how great the narcotics handle is. 3. It was often little things which made a smuggling route especially attractive. For example, former French heroin smuggler Richard Berdin recalls his colleague Andre Labay's description of the important role played by the men's room at Nassau airport: "It's a small airport, and there's a common waiting room, which means that after I've gone through English customs I go straight to the American side, armed with apiece of hand luggage containing nothing but toiletries and the usual knick‑knacks. There I check my baggage through to Miami. Assuming they check my hand bag, they'll wrap some kind of selfadhesive ticket around the handle to show it's been OK'd. I'll arrange my flight schedule so that my plane for Miami doesn't leave for at least an hour after our arrival in Nassau. So now I go back to the passenger lounge to wait for my flight. We meet in the men's room, where we exchange the contents of our hand luggage. Now I've got the merchandise, safely stashed in a piece of luggage bearing the customs seal of approval. When my flight is called, I climb aboard the last leg of the trip without a worry in the world. I don't see how it could miss." (R. Berdin: Code Named Richard, Dutton, 1974).



When Charles de Gaulle retired, and Georges Pompidou was elected president of France in 1969, improvement of Franco‑American relations was high on Pompidou's agenda. In early 1970 he flew to Washington. There he met with President Nixon and, on several occasions, publicly cautioned against U.S. withdrawal from Europe. 

Subject of Dec. 1971 talks in Portuguese Azores was the "international monetary crisis."

 Upon returning to France he went straight to work eliminating the greatest obstacle to Franco‑American partnership. He appointed Alexandre de Marenches head of the SDECE and told him to clean it up. De Marenches responded by firing 815 men throughout the intelligence agency. He then chose Colonel Paul Ferrer alias Fournier as his right‑hand man, and the two began to reorganize.

Pompidou himself despised several longtime espionage figures, primarily because of their role in a ruthless smear campaign waged against him prior to the 1969 election. In the course of the campaign tampered photos were circulated showing Madame Pompidou in the company of film star Alain Delon's bodyguard, Stefan Markovic— who had been murdered in 1968—and in compromising positions with men and women alike. Names that turned up repeatedly throughout the scandal included Colonel Roger Barberot and SDECE agents Captain Paul Santenac and Roger Delouette, three arch‑Gallists from Jacques Foccart's inner circle.[1] Santenac had promoted the presidential candidacy of de Gaulle's son, Rear Admiral Philippe de Gaulle, who eventually refused the nomination. Barberot, who had returned from Uruguay in 1968 to help smother the May student insurrection, directed the Bureau pour le Developpement de la Production Agricole (BDPA), a front for Foccart's secret financial transactions.[2]

Pompidou had to watch his step while eliminating powerful enemies because most of them enjoyed the support of a large segment of the Gaullist party. Still, with U.S. help, he used the next couple of years to choke off the worst of the resistance. The SDECE was ordered to cooperate with the CIA; SAC was cut back severely, the brunt borne by its criminal contingent; and the Corsican Mafia's power was systematically reduced.

Foccart himself was too formidable to take on frontally. His economic power, great influence, and dossiers on other politicians made him effectively untouchable. Nevertheless, he apparently compromised and went along with Pompidou on several counts.

Pompidou struck at the gangsters and shadier elements of the SDECE and SAC through their most vulnerable point-‑their wallets. One subject Pompidou had discussed with Nixon on his U.S. tour was the war on drugs. Nixon had described the dimensions of the problem and asked for Pompidou's assistance in stopping the heroin flow from Marseille. Since it suited his plans perfectly, Pompidou had agreed. Reducing the Corsican Mafia's profits would also limit its political influence. But a project of that magnitude could not be accomplished overnight. Preparations had to be made.

Had Pompidou suspected what really lay in store internationally, he would certainly have had second thoughts. The, outcome of that pact slowly began to emerge in 1970. In the two years that followed it struck home with the force of an avalanche.

Auguste Ricord

On 18 October 1970 a Cessna four‑seater landed at Miami International airport. Registered in Argentina, the plane was one of hundreds of Paraguayan "contrabandistas" smuggling goods to and from eighty landing strips in Florida. U.S. customs agents, tipped off that the plane would be worth inspecting, emerged from hiding as the pilot crawled from the cockpit.

"No bandito!" screamed the pilot, Cesar Bianchi.

But he was just that, as the agents discovered three cases containing a total of forty‑five kilos of heroin in the tail of the plane. To save his skin, Bianchi agreed to cooperate. He continued on his normal route, but with agents now on his tail. First he met his Miami contact, Felix Becker. Then Bianchi, Becker and a third man, Aron Muravnik, flew to New York to meet Pierre Gahou of the Ricord network, and finally the U.S. wholesalers.

By October 27 the heroin deal was closed and Gahou was about to fly to Paraguay with the money. But before he could depart, agents moved in and caught six men in their net. The catch was better than anticipated. Bianchi shot off at the mouth like a machine‑gun as wide-eyed customs agents heard the story of Ricord's elaborate narcotics ring.

In the ensuing four months stacks of proof were assembled against Ricord. Finally, in March 1971 the United States demanded his extradition. But a military plane dispatched to Asuncion for the gangster kingpin returned without its prize. Paraguayan President Stroessner had decided that if Ricord were imprisoned it would be in Paraguay. "El Viejo" Ricord was then set up in a comfortable cell containing a spring mattress, radio and TV, and was allowed visits any time night or day. Waiters brought food from his own restaurant, and he continued managing his businesses in the quiet of prison.

Stroessner only capitulated in the summer of 1972 when the United States threatened a sharp cutback in aid to Paraguay. On September 3, Ricord was extradited. The man who put the pressure on Stroessner had been Henry Kissinger. According to international spook Luis Gonzalez‑Mata, himself a party to the affair, the pressure began in late 1968, a year in which one of Kissinger's friends also happened to be in Paraguay on a "weapons deal."[3] The man was CIA. agent /double agent Fernand Legros, a close acquaintance of several members of the Ricord gang.[4]

Roger Delouette

The case of Roger "French Connection" Delouette involved the greatest international fireworks and was recreated in print and on screen.

On 5 April 1971 a U.S. customs agent discovered eighty‑nine packets of heroin hidden in a Volkswagen van on board the Atlantic Cognac, a freighter docked in Port Elizabeth, New Jersey. They contained forty‑five kilos of the white gold. Delouette was arrested that same day when he came for the car.

Under interrogation Delouette claimed to be working for French intelligence agency SDECE, and that his journey with the heroin had been ordered by Colonel Ferrer alias Fournier, de Marenches' righthand man in the SDECE. Furthermore, he had been instructed to contact SDECE agent Donald McNabb, who was working at the French consulate in New York.[5] While that was sensational in itself, the scandal was far greater than press and public could know. What really inflamed the Americans was that they had agreed with French authorities to cooperate against narcotics trafficking, and a key link was the supposedly reorganized and cooperative SDECE. If Delouette's story were true, then the SDECE had not only broken its agreement, it had also pulled the rug from under Pompidou, and much of the Americans' preliminary work would have been wasted.

French Defense Minister Michel Debre, under whose auspices the SDECE operated, officially denounced Delouette's claim as a fabrication. While he admitted that Delouette had earlier taken on occasional assignments, he was no longer attached to the SDECE.

The Americans subjected Delouette to two lie detector tests, both of which he passed with honor. Prosecutor Herbert Stern's request to interrogate Fournier was then refused. As for the French, their three‑day investigation of Fournier absolved him of all suspicion.

At this stage Delouette's past becomes of interest.

He began working for French intelligence in 1946 at age twenty-three. His first assignment was keeping tabs on a Greek election, under the supervision of Colonel Roger Barberot. Although their paths appeared to split, the two stuck together. While Delouette remained with the SDECE, Barberot shuttled about on various jobs according to the needs of de Gaulle and Foccart. They were reunited in Algeria, with Delouette an agent and Barberot the leader of the Black Commandos. They again crossed paths in the Central African Republic, where Barberot served as French ambassador from 1961 to 1965. When Barberot became the head of the BDPA after the May 1968 riots, he immediately hired Delouette, who proceeded to marry his boss's secretary.

In the fall of 1968 Delouette and Barberot went on a mysterious trip to Cuba, during which Delouette was approached by the SDECE and asked to become its agent on the island. He agreed and remained an SDECE agent for nearly one year, after which he and Barberot journeyed once again to Africa.[6] In late 1969 Delouette suddenly contacted the SDECE's Colonel Fournier to demand back pay and request reinstatement. Both requests were filled.[7]

Following Delouette's arrest in the United States and official refutation of his statement, Barberot surprisingly told Radio Luxembourg that he believed the operation to have been led by Paris SDECE figures seeking to do away with both Delouette and his troublesome past. The Americans evidently believed Delouette and Barberot more than they did Defense Minister Debre and Colonel Fournier. For a crime punishable by twenty years imprisonment, Delouette got off with five.

At the close of 1972 a new chapter was added to the Delouette saga. Claude‑Andre Pastou of Christian David's Latin American organization was arrested and began to sing for the CIA and U.S. narcotics agents. Pastou claimed David had ordered him to New York at the beginning of April 1971. On April 4 he was supposed to meet Roger Delouette at the Park Sheraton Hotel to discuss Delouette's delivery of the forty‑five kilos of heroin to Pastou, who would then pass them on to the wholesalers.[8]

Pastou said he met Delouette as planned and that the two agreed on a delivery the following evening. When Delouette, with good reason, ad not appear, Pastou got the jitters and returned to Latin America.[9]

It's also possible that the above‑mentioned forces were aware of the Nixon‑Pompidou narcotics agreement and saw their own financial stakes in jeopardy. They might have sought to thwart its implementation by splitting the SDECE and its CIA colleagues.

Finally, Fournier, who was "old school" SDECE, might also have been running drugs and, therefore, not been keen on carrying through the policies of his boss de Marenches.

Michel‑Victor Mertz

On 5 July 1971 a Paris court sentenced two men to five years imprisonment for trafficking in narcotics. They were Michel‑Victor Mertz, fifty‑one, and Achilles Cecchini, forty‑nine. Considering that since 1960 they had smuggled some $3 billion (street value) worth of heroin into the U.S.A., their sentences were mild to say the least. Moreover, their trial would never have taken place had French authorities not been under intense American pressure in the wake of Roger Delouette's expose.

Since 1961, in fact, U.S. authorities had known that Mertz and Cecchini were smuggling large quantities into the country. Several times the U.S. had asked the French to act, but to no avail. There were very special reasons for French resistance.

Michel‑Victor Mertz was born in the Mosel region's French community. In 1941 he was drafted into the German army. Two years later he deserted to join the French resistance. A man who cherished no great love for the Germans, Mertz soon became an underground legend as "Commandante Baptiste." His squad became famous for its daring, Mertz himself killing 20 Gestapo agents, freeing 400 prisoners and escaping 4 times in all from the Axis powers.

In 1945 General de Gaulle awarded him the Legion of Honor, which was soon joined by a Resistance medal and War Cross. Mertz was a hero. After the war he entered French intelligence with the rank of captain and was stationed abroad.

In 1960, while in the employ of the SDECE, Mertz began smuggling heroin from France to the U.S. together with Achilles Cecchini, a Marseille gangster tied to the Francisci‑Venturi clan. In 1961 the trade was interrupted when nearly all of France's top gangsters joined de Gaulle's forces in Algeria. Mertz was among them.

The SDECE sent him on a spy mission to infiltrate the OAS in Algeria. His mission proved a great success, even though he was mistakenly arrested by his own side and placed in a detention camp for OAS ringleaders in July 1961. On July 14 SDECE chiefs were notified that Mertz had important information. He was brought before Jacques Foccart himself. He informed Foccart that the OAS was planning to blow up the president's car near Pont‑sur‑Seine, a bridge across which de Gaulle was driven each day. Mertz was returned to the camp to determine the exact time of assassination.

At the last moment he succeeded. De Gaulle's car drove over Pont‑sur‑Seine as usual, but swerved into another lane, just as the bomb exploded in the lane normally taken. De Gaulle owed Mertz his life. Following the mission, with both the president and Foccart indebted to him, Mertz returned to the trafficking of narcotics.

On 12 January 1962 he shipped an automobile to New York loaded with 100 kilos of pure heroin. The procedure he followed was a standard one. A sheet‑metal worker opened up the chassis, placed the heroin beyond the scrutiny of customs officials, and then rewelded the plates. The car was sent to the U.S. under a fictitious name and picked up by a man with a forged passport in that name.

Over the next eight or nine years Mertz and Cecchini operated without interruption and bagged a huge fortune. Their bankroller, a man of high standing, remained anonymous.

Through the years, Cecchini, like Mertz, had been of great service to the Gaullist party, UDR, in the SO du RPF as well as SAC, which explains the reluctance to prosecute them. Despite his five year sentence, Cecchini was deemed too ill for imprisonment and remained a free man. Mertz first began serving time in July 1972, but appears to have been secretly released shortly thereafter.[10]

Ange Simonpieri

On 13 September 1971 the fifty‑six year old Ange Simonpieri was arrested at a private clinic in Ajaccio, Corsica, for smuggling large quantities of heroin into the U.S. between 1960 and 1970. His partner in crime was the Swiss banker Andre Hirsch.

Simonpieri had worked for both the SDECE and SAC. Like Christian David, he had been a barbouze in Algeria directly under Pierre Lemarchand. He became so close to Lemarchand that, as a local SAC leader, he managed the "physical" part of Lemarchand's 1963 Parliamentary campaign. Because of his political connections Simonpieri was known in his birthplace Corsica, and among Marseille gangsters, as "The Untouchable."

On 31 August 1967 the freighter Frederico C docked in Miami. Customs agent John Wroth spotted a hunchback on his way down the gangplank. Finding the hunch suspicious, Wroth slapped it and jokingly asked if it was a burden. The man stiffened and sprang towards a taxi in which a sunglassed woman was waiting. But the cabby refused to depart and Wroth nabbed the couple.

The man was the Swiss banker William Lambert and the woman was Josette Bauer, an escapee from a Swiss prison where she had been serving time for murdering her rich father. Customs agents discovered twelve kilos of heroin in Lambert's hunchback and the couple was slapped with seven‑year sentences by a Miami court. Both claimed to be couriers for a Corsican known to them as Monsieur Small. They were to have taken the heroin to Boston and handed it to one Robert Mori of Switzerland. The trail led from Mori to the Swiss banker Andre Hirsch, but U.S. narks lacked the evidence to nail him.

After this episode, Hirsch and his partner Monsieur Small started the Panamanian Food and Chemical Company, which exported canned paella to the U.S.A.—only some of the cans were filled with heroin. Hirsch was finally trapped in 1969 when U.S. customs agents opened the wrong cans. He was brought before a Geneva court, but it wasn't until 29 April 1971 that he was sentenced to six and a half years in prison. On that day his lawyer, the famous Raymond Nicolet, announced that Monsieur Small was the Corsican Ange Simonpieri.

The court in Geneva had been pestering French police to question Simonpieri since 1970, but had been told Simonpieri was in a clinic with a bad heart and could not take the questioning. When Nicolet's assertion hit French newsstands, Simonpieri was quickly readmitted into the Grandval clinic with severe heart pains.

But Simonpieri's number was up. After four months of haggling, on 8 September 1971, with full press coverage, French Interior Minister Raymond Marcellin ordered court‑appointed doctors to examine the patient. Five days later police put Simonpieri under arrest. In July 1972 a French court sentenced him to five years imprisonment—a penalty, like those of Mertz and Cecchini, that bore no relation to the crime. Hirsch and Simonpieri each got less time than their hapless couriers, Lambert and Bauer.

Once again there was the scent of CIA agent Fernand Legros, an acquaintance of the Hirsch family, who was seen with Madame Hirsch in Geneva after her husband had been put away.[11]

Andre Labay

On Sunday, 26 September 1971 U.S. customs agents arrested the Frenchman Richard Berdin on his way out of the Abbey Victoria Hotel on Fifty‑First Street in New York City. His arrest grew out of the discovery of eighty‑two kilos of heroin aboard the Italian liner Rafaello in New York harbor. Though Berdin was a small fish in the drug ring they were tracking, the customs agents had followed him for five days to several of his contacts.

In fact the arrest was a slip caused by fierce rivalry between agents of customs and the BNDD. For half a year the BNDD had been cooperating with French narks in search of Berdin's bankrollers and New York customers. Much to the narks' chagrin, customs agents struck without warning their rivals. However, luck was with customs. Weeks later Berdin, seeking a reduced sentence, fingered a French all‑star drug ring that included gangsters Laurent Fiocconi, Jo Signoli, Jean‑Claude Kella, Alexandre Salles, Jean Dumerain, Felix Rosso, Jean Demeester, Raymond Moulin, Patrick Lorenz, Jacky Martin, Francois Scapula, and Andre Andreani; plus U.S. mafiosi including Louis Cirillo, Lorenco d'Aloisio, Frank Rappa, and Giuseppe Ciacomazzo.[12]

Their sentences ranged from five to twenty‑five years, while Berdin got away with three and served only one and a half. Today he's living in the U.S.A. with a new name and a new face, but still fearful of underworld revenge.

On 5 October 1971 one Andre Labay visited the Paris BNDD office, said he was working for the SDECE, and offered to help bring 100 kilos of heroin into the United States. He would then make another trip with the same quantity and lead the BNDD to the wholesalers. As the BNDD well knew, Labay was a ringleader of the gang on which Berdin had stooled. After telling him to return the next day, they phoned the French narcotics police. On October 6, French police arrested Labay and three other heroin traffickers, and found 106 kilos of heroin in Labay's Volkswagen.

Why did Labay show up at the U.S. narcotics office, and what did he really propose? There has been no lack of answers. Some say Labay was employed on the same side as Delouette, by forces seeking either to discredit the new SDECE leadership or to destroy the transAtlantic drug crusade. Others believe the contrary — that Labay was a CIA‑SDECE double agent made into a scapegoat when Berdin sang.

Andre Labay had been another of Pierre Lemarchand's barboutes in Algeria. Not known for his fighting, he was sent to spy behind OAS terrorist lines. In late 1961 Jacques Foccart sent him to Kinshasa (in the Congo), the Ivory Coast and Gabon. Back in France he immediately joined SAC as a fund‑raiser.

For reasons unknown Labay began going his own route in the mid‑sixties. With his close friends, CIA agent Fernand Legros and Thierry de Bonnay, he had his Ring in the international art trade. He got involved with a Belgian insurance company that collapsed with $6 million in debts, and, like Legros, he also produced several movies.

Labay and de Bonnay ran the Parisian hotel at which the Moroccan Colonel Dlimi stayed in the aftermath of the Ben Barka affair. It was also the hotel that doubled as a mercenary recruiting station for the Katangese army of Moise Tshombe, whom the Labay/Legros/de Bonnay threesome helped abduct to Algeria. And in his Geneva apartment, Labay once hid the Algerian revolutionary, Belkassem Krim, who was later murdered. [13]

In 1968 Labay went to Haiti, where he made a small fortune from a factory. He was often visited there by Legros, and the two became personal friends of the Haitian dictator Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier. Labay ingratiated himself with Duvalier's daughter Marie-Denise, leading some to suspect he was her lover. In Haiti he served as an SDECE‑CIA double agent. He stayed in close touch with U.S. gangsters Joe Bonnano and Max Intrattor, and one of his Geneva contacts was the Lansky syndicate's financial brain, John Pullman.[14]

Marcel Boucan

Late in the evening of 29 February 1972 the sixty‑ton shrimpboat Caprice de Temps sailed out of the cozy harbor of Villefrance on France's Mediterranean coast. The ship was registered in Guadeloupe. Its skipper was the fifty‑eight‑year‑old former parachutist Marcel Boucan, a Hemingway type in more ways than one.

Boucan was a charming old soldier. Since the war he had smuggled alcohol and cigarettes from Tangiers to France, and weapons the other way, first on board l'Oiseau des Iles and later the Caprice de Temps. To strangers he was just another shrimp fisherman. In fact, until 1957 he was the chairman of the Cagnes fisherman's union, and was also an extraordinarily well‑read and clever man whose cabin featured the works of Kafka, Balzac, Camus, and Kant. He was married to a woman from Guadeloupe and in his later years he often sailed through the French West Indies.

As he was steaming out of Villefrance on 28 February 1972 the customs cruiser Sirocco was leaving Nice. Hours later customs agents hailed down the Caprice de Temps. Boucan ordered full steam ahead, but changed his mind when the Sirocco fired a salvo. Aboard the shrimpboat the agents found 425 kilos of heroin, the largest single shipment ever confiscated. The size of the load suggested desperation among smugglers following the 1971 roundup of several narcotics rings. The heroin had been destined for Santo Traffiicante, jr.'s Florida‑based Cuban Mob.[15]

Boucan was slapped with a fifteen‑year sentence on 5 January 1973. His courtroom arrogance and noble coolness irked judges so much, that his appeal brought three more years. Such severity was unheard of in France. A dozen Marseilles gangsters were also locked up in the aftermath. They were all from the same circle of crooks that had participated in the Labay affair, which made it likely that the men upstairs, who needless to say went untouched, were also from the same political faction.

The Laboratories

In August 1971 John Cusack, the head of the U.S. Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), declared in Paris that eight Marseille heroin laboratories, financed by influential backers, were operating with complete immunity from prosecution. In return for his frankness Cusack became persona non grata in France and was recalled to the U.S.A. But his words sank in. Pressure was put on French authorities by the Americans, who wondered what good it did to round up narcotics rings when the heroin production itself went on unabated.

On 27 January 1972 French police stormed a heroin lab in Marseille's Montolivet quarter. The laboratory, which produced forty kilos of good quality heroin each week, was run by Marius and Marie-Antoinette Pastore. Marius got fifteen years on 29 September 1972 while Marie‑Antoinette got five.

On 16 March 1972 the police made an impressive arrest that broke the heart of many a politician, bankroller, and cop. The catch was heroin's grand old man, Jo Cesari, reputedly the best heroin chemist in the world.

Born in Bastia, Corsica in 1915, Cesari was first a sailor, then a grocer, bartender, and farmer. In the early fifties he apprenticed himself to his half‑brother Dominique Albertini, the manager of several Marseilles heroin labs. In 1962 Cesari purchased a luxurious Aubagne estate, La Roseraie, that included an enormous mansion, a park, a swimming pool and a tennis court. No one could figure out where the old sailor had gotten his money.

Cesari would leave his estate for long stretches of time. In 1964 narcotics police shadowed him for several months, and converged on Clos Saint Antoine, an abandoned estate where he had set up two heroin labs and put four assistants to work. Police stormed the estate, arresting Cesari and his staff. They also made an interesting discovery in one of the back rooms: the nephew of Marcel Francisci.[16] Months earlier the boy's father, on an unannounced trip back to Corsica, had discovered his wife with a lover, whom he proceeded to shoot through the throat before returning to France with his son Jean-Francois.

As head of the family, Marcel Francisci looked after his nephew. He placed him under the wings of a Cesari laboratory worker and his wife. This is the same Francisci who denies any involvement with heroin.

Cesari was sentenced to seven years in prison, but was released a lot sooner. As soon as he was out he returned to the synthesis of his favorite organic compound, and consulted for several laboratories besides his own. His 1971 production was estimated at twenty kilos of heroin daily, which means large lots were shipped to the United States. Cesari most probably produced the huge cargos that, according to narcotics police, reached Miami via Marcel Boucan and the Caprice de Temps.

In March 1972, as Cesari was setting up a lab in the Suzanne building in Aubagne, police traced him through an assistant and arrested him. Their prisoner was a haunched, sickly old figure, ruined by years of acid gas inhalation. Cesari was only fifty‑eight. On March 22 he hanged himself in his Baumettes prison cell, overcome, no doubt, by the spectre of a long sentence. He knew he'd never come out alive.

Cesari left behind letters making it clear he had planned to settle down in Latin America and experiment with cocaine, most likely in partnership with Christian David, whose ring survived as one of the larger remnants of the once great French narcotics empire. Cesari's death was a hard blow to Marseilles' heroin industry. No one could fill his shoes.[17] French and American police alike tried in vain to duplicate his process for producing pure heroin.

On 15 July 1972 French narks closed out a series of raids leading to the closing of three labs, all belonging to the Long brothers.

A few days later President Nixon telegrammed congratulations to Pompidou for the great strides he had made.

Marseille has never been the same.

pps. 91-103


1. The same threesome turns up in several other circumstances, including Barberot's mysterious trip to Cuba in 1968. He was joined then by Santenac, Delouette and Gilbert Beaujolin, a well‑known financier closely tied to Jacques Foccart.

2. P. Chairoff: Dossier B ... comme Barbouzes (Alain Moreau, 1975). 3. L. Gonzalez‑Mata: Cygne (Grasset, 1976).

4. R. Peyrefitte: La Vie Extraordinaire de Fernand Legros (Albin Michel,

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

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

7. There is doubt as to whether Fournier ever knew Delouette was formally readmitted into the SDECE. In 1972 Newsday reporters got hold of a 27 October 1969 letter from Defense Minister Debre to Colonel Barberot in which Debre, vowing to take care of the matter, asked that Delouette's application and demand not be discussed with other SDECE leaders.

8. A. Jaubert: Dossier D... comme Drogue (Alain Moreau, 1974).

9. If Pastou's testimony is correct, then Delouette lied about delivering heroin to an SDECE agent named McNabb, and there's no truth to Colonel Fournier's alleged involvement. What remains are one man's word against anothers and several possible explanations. First, Fournier might not have wanted Delouette back in the SDECE because he knew him to be Barberot's man and, therefore, tied to forces purged from the SDECE. Fournier could also have been pressured from above to rehire Delouette, and then seen the heroin affair as an opportunity to get rid of him.
That seems rather farfetched, since SDECE narcotics network with the CIA and BNDD was Pompidou's pet idea. Fournier would hardly have risked his job to get rid of a single agent. Another possibility is that Barberot, or forces he represents, welcomed the opportunity to compromise their opposition within the SDECE ‑above all Fournier and chief‑of‑staff de Marenches. That Fournier later made amends with the Americans is suggested by his opening a restaurant in New York in 1978.

10. The Newsday Staff, op. cit.

11. Peyrefitte, op. cit.

12. R. Berdin: Code Name Richard (Dutton, 1974).

13. The exiled Algerian politician Belkassem Krim was a former leader of the revolutionary movement, FLN. After Algeria won its independence, he came into conflict with the country's first chief‑of‑state, Ahmed Ben Bella. Together with the latter's minister of finance, Mohammed Khider, Krim fled Algeria, while refusing to hand over the FLN's $20 million war chest to the Algerian regime. Khider had deposited the money in his own name at Geneva's Banque Commerciale Arabe, and only he and Krim knew the account number. On 3 January 1967 Khider was shot down in Madrid. Krim was murdered in a Frankfurt hotel room on 20 October 1970. Both had been closely connected with Morocco's interior minister Oufkir.

14. E. Gerdan: DossierA ... comme Armes (Alain Moreau, 1974). The Mafia's activities in Cuba were controlled by Joe Bonnano, whose close partners today in the so‑called Southern Rim Mafia are Santo Trafficante, jr. and Carlos Marcello. Labay was also closely tied to Intra‑Bank founder Yussef Beidas.

15. Jaubert, op. cit.

16. L'Express, 14 October 1968.

17.1979 was the year of the rumor. Not only was Christian David alleged to be back in France, it was also said that the old French Connection was about to resume the shipment of heroin from Marseilles to the U.S.A. When the heroin chemist Jacques Masia was arrested in August 1979, French newspapers went so far as to speculate that he was a revitalized version of Jo Cesari himself! The latter, it was explained, had not really committed suicide, but had been "sheepdipped" and used as an undercover agent by the DEA and French narcotics police (Politiken, 28 August 1979).



Auguste Ricord's March 1971 imprisonment in Paraguay taught Christian David and Lucien Sarti that it was time to move on. Their choice of location was Brazil, in particular Ilha Bella, an island off the coast north of Santos, conveniently only two hours from Sao Paulo and five from Rio de Janeiro. It also provided a small harbor and landing strip. The two holed up in the Bordelao, a small hotel run by Haide Arantez and Claudio Rodriguez, friends of Sarti's Brazilian mistress, Helena Ferreira.

Beau Serge was by then the undisputed boss of "The Brazilian Connection." Its other leaders were Sarti, Michel Nicoli, Andre Condemine, Francois Canazzi, Jean Lunardi, Francois Chiappe, Robert Bourdoulous, and Francois ("Fan Fan") Orsini. Most had known David through SAC. Some had been with Ricord in Paraguay. Newcomers Orsini and Canazzi were wanted in France for attempted murder.

Not all the capos lived on Ilha Bella. Some were strategically placed elsewhere —Chiappe in Buenos Aires, Pastou in Sao Paulo, Sans in Barcelona. Loosely connected to the permanent core was a long string of collaborators. The organization was solid. Heroin flowed steadily from Marseille to Ilha Bella and on to Miami or New York. But Beau Serge ran into a major obstacle: the Italian Mafia.

Tomasso Buscetta, one of the Sicilians' most notorious thugs, was ordered to Brazil in 1970 to prepare a takeover of the narcotics traffic-‑a logical step in a larger plan to be described later. Buscetta was wanted in Italy for murdering twelve people, including seven policemen, in the Cisculli massacre in Sicily.[1] He's also alleged to have been responsible for the disappearance of reporter Mauro de Mauro, who had stuck his nose into the murder of the Italian oil magnate Enrico Mattei.[2]

Within a year of his arrival in Sao Paulo, Buscetta had his legitimate cover: 250 taxis, a chain of snack bars, and an aluminum plant. It was all a front, and when Ricord was put away Buscetta decided the hour had arrived to move in on the multi‑million dollar dope business. However, he hadn't reckoned with Beau Serge. Following an extended struggle that ended with David still on top, Buscetta was forced to play ball like anyone else, and brought with him into the organization his son Benedetto, Paulo Lilio Gigante, and Guglielmo Casalini.

Life, though, was not all hard work for David and company. They also found time for night life in Rio and Sao Paulo, threw lavish parties, and mixed with film stars, singers and other international celebrities. And still there was time for politics. David and others took part in the Argentine Anti-communist Alliance's (AAA) massacres in Argentina, and remained on good footing with the Brazilian Death Squad. At the same time SAC agents from David's coterie lent their expertise to the torture chamber of Sergio Fleury, head of Sao Paulo's infamous Death Squad.[3]

However, like all other good things David's came to an end. For Beau Serge and his Brazilian Connection, 1972 was a fateful year in more ways than one. It began with the arrest in January of Sarti and his girl friend Helena on suspicion of passing counterfeit money. That proved to be only a police calling card, as the couple was soon back on the streets.

The late‑1971 plugging of French drug smuggling routes had made things difficult for their U.S. buyers. Aware that Franco-American forces were bent on crushing the entire French network, New York and Miami Mafia dons treaded cautiously. Moreover, the arrest of several dealers left the Brazilian Connection short of customers in early 1972.

In February, shortly before carnival in Rio, David, Sarti, Buscetta and Nicoli spent three days with Carlo Zippo, a Mafia emissary from New York.[4] At the meeting, which transpired at Rio's plush Copacabana, Palace hotel, the mobsters developed a new network and buyer system. Sarti, jittery after his arrest, would move to Mexico City, the new transit point.

In March Sarti went to Mexico City, where he was joined by his wife Liliane in an attractive residential district apartment. Sarti had no notion that the police had been trailing him ever since his entry into Mexico. Somebody had tipped them off. The Guatemalan authorities were after him for an armed attack on a bank; he was also wanted by the Bolivian police; and Interpol had issued descriptions of him everywhere. In the evening of April 17, Sarti and Liliane left their hideout to go to the movies. Before they got to their car, they were surrounded by police. Sarti was unarmed, but the police shot and killed him, and arrested Liliane.[5]

The next day the Mexican Minister of Justice declared that the international drug trafficker had been killed in a confrontation with the police. A couple of months later, French newspapers added that Christian David had been in Mexico City at the time of Sarti's death, but that he had escaped and made it all the way back to Brazil.[6]

On 7 May 1972 Brazilian police found the body of a young woman washed ashore on an Ilha Bella beach. It was Haide Arantez, owner of the Bordelao, the David gang hideout. Examination revealed the cause of death as strangulation. Another body appeared in the same place the next day. This time it was Haide's boy friend and partner, Claudio Rodriguez, who'd had his head busted in. The double‑murder suspect was naturally Beau Serge, who was believed to have knocked off the hotel owners for disclosing the Mexican locale.

Sarti's mistress Helena Ferriera was jailed for her own safety while Brazilian police, egged on strongly by U.S. narcotics agents, hunted after the David gang. Besides entertaining the police with stories of the gang's escapades, Ms. Ferreira also claimed they met frequently with the French millionaire/playboy/art dealer Fernand Legros.

Whether because of corruption in Brazilian police ranks or an agreement involving the CIA and BNDD, David's gang remained at large for the time being, notwithstanding the police manhunt. If he was to be extradited, they would have to catch him in the act. David, in the meantime, was ensconced in a Rio villa where he'd set up his mistress Simone Delamare.

In early October 1972 the CIA and BNDD were finally ready to strike when, in Rio de Janeiro harbor, they discovered sixty kilos of heroin about to be shipped by the gang to Miami aboard the freighter Mormac Altair. Police picked up Michel Nicoli in Sao Paulo, and nabbed most of the other members within days. On October 17, a large police force was dispatched to Simone Delamare's house, where David's presence was no longer a secret. But Beau Serge was tipped off and managed to slip away one more time.

On October 21, two alert policemen noticed an obviously nervous young woman shopping in Salvador, in the Brazilian state of Bahia. They followed her to a third class hotel in the seedier side of town. She looked too well‑dressed and sophisticated to stay at such a dive, so the two officers brought her in. At headquarters they soon determined she was David's girl friend Simone.

Shortly thereafter Beau Serge was packing up when six policemen smashed through the door to his room. He lunged for a pistol, but was grabbed before he could fire a shot. What followed was a tussle the officers won't forget.

"He was a master of karate," one of them later reported. "He threw us around like balls. If there had only been four of us, I don't see how we could have handled him."

Handcuffs and foot chains were needed to restrain Beau Serge. Nor did he relent as he lay on the floor, battered and exhausted, but rather tried bribing the Brazilian officers to release him. He offered each $100,000 plus tickets anywhere for their entire families. Leaving the hotel room, he managed, handcuffs and all, to grab a drinking glass, smash it and cut deeply into his wrist. His goal was a hospital where opportunities for escape were numerous. But his hospital stay was too short. Guards kept close watch as he was sewn up in an emergency room before being thrown into a cell. By the next day he was in a prison in Sao Paulo.

In Beau Serge's valise police found one 9 mm Browning, one silenced Beretta, one short‑barreled Smith and Weson revolver, three cartridges of a crippling poison, ninety bullet cartridges of various caliber,[7] and a Uruguayan diplomatic passport in the name of Edouard Davrieux, with a photo of Christian David.

The arrest was greeted with mixed reactions in France. Worry, anger, and anxiety were aroused in certain circles, joy in others. At least one person was delighted: police lieutenant Bellemin‑Noel, who looked forward to finally settling the score with the murderer of his predecessor Galibert —or so he thought.

Just how great an effort the French made to have David extradited remains in doubt. Certainly some wanted him back to stand trial. Others preferred that he never again have the opportunity to talk. There were representatives of each persuasion in the highest political echelons. Since international law placed France in the driver's seat, its efforts at extradition must have been meek at best. Many were dumbfounded when Brazil extradited Christian David to the U.S.A. without first notifying the French government.

Before extradition to the U.S.A., however, David shocked the world by "admitting" his complicity in the Ben Barka affair. He also cut the artery in his wrist a second time, and on the day before his transfer to the U.S.A., he got hold of a light bulb, crushed it, and swallowed the fragments. However, he received no medical treatment before arriving in the United States. According to his own later testimony, he was unaware of his destination when U.S. narks came for him. Presuming it was France, he resisted violently. The Americans, he claimed, pumped him so full of drugs he didn't know what was happening.

During the trial that began within days of his arrival in Brooklyn, newspapers reported he had been a victim of torture. David himself said: "I was tortured by Brazilian police for thirty days and fed nothing for twenty‑six. They stole all my money. Today I can't afford a lawyer, I haven't a cent."

David and Michel Nicoli, who, with Claude‑Andre Pastou, had been extradited to the U. S. before David — each claimed they had been hung head down over a steam‑puffing pipe as the Brazilians administered electric shocks to their genitals. While David looked awful in court from his self‑inflicted wounds, not a trace of the alleged torture could be seen on Nicoli. The story of torture certainly doesn't fit David's later desire to return to prison in Brazil.

On December 1 the court handed down its sentences. Auguste Ricord, extradited from Paraguay two months earlier, had gotten twenty‑seven years. David and Nicoli now got twenty. Pastou, who gave the Americans important information on the Delouette affair, got seven. Other Frenchmen in David's gang were extradited back to France, where they were wanted for murder and other capital crimes. The only one to avoid arrest was Andre Condemine, who went underground only to be murdered. Francois Chiappe avoided extradition until 1976, when he was sentenced in New York to twenty years. Tomasso Buscetta and the gang's three other Italians were nabbed on 5 November 1972, nearly two weeks after David, and were shipped off to Italy.

Fernand Legros, the mystery man in this and earlier intrigues, was apparently placed under protective confinement in Rio shortly after David's sentencing in the United States. Officially he was arrested in connection with art frauds.[8] Each day, though, he was brought lavish meals including lobster, champagne, cognac, and fat Havana cigars. The big French underworld shakedown began just as Legros was "imprisoned." If Legros had aided the CIA in the David affair, he must have been high on the list of those to be taken care of on the other side of the Atlantic.

In 1974 SAC agents kidnapped Legros in Brazil, flew him back to France and locked him up.[9] Somebody was interested in the part he had played in certain affairs. However, Legros' friend Henry Kissinger, then secretary of state, came to his aid. Kissinger demanded his release, protesting sharply the kidnaping of a U.S. citizen.[10]

Legros still fears for his life. As recently as the spring of 1976 a nervous Legros, surrounded by bodyguards, said he had been threatened by Christian David's barbouze colleagues and had demanded police protection.

pps 105-110


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

2. J. Sarazin: Dossier M. . . comme Milieu (Alain Moreau, 1977).

3. P. Chairoff: Dossier B ... comme Barbouzes (Alain Moreau, 1975).

4. Zippo was a member of the New York Gambino family (Newsday, op. cit.), which is interesting insofar as the prime customers of the David/ Ricord organization were Santo Trafficante, jr. and his Cuban Mafia; it is especially interesting in light of the apparent rift between the so‑called Southern Rim or Sunbelt Mafia ‑an alliance mainly of Joseph Bonnano, Trafficante and Carlos Marcello— and the New York families; see D. Moldea: The Hoffa Wars (Charter Books, 1978). Bonnano, 75, and his nephew Jack DeFillipi, recently went on trial on federal conspiracy charges involving the laundering of Mafia money.

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

6. L'Aurore, 27 July 1972.

7. Le Nouvel Observateur, 13 November 1972.

8. L'Aurore, 31 May 1976.

9. French newspapers published varying conjectures as to the grounds for Legros' arrest. Most guessed he had been implicated in narcotics smuggling by association with David's gang. None supposed Legros might have helped lay a trap for Beau Serge, and therefore was in jail for his own protection.

10. Legros had become an American citizen while working for the CIA.


With Christian David behind bars in Illinois' Marion prison, only one important French narcotics ring remained active, and that was run by the Francisci‑Venturi mob. Their network consisted of such pillars of the Marseilles underworld as Paul Mondolini, Jean‑Baptiste Croce, Albert Bistoni and, until mid‑1972, Etienne Mosca. Intelligent, experienced gangsters who left nothing to chance, they were considered untouchable. Mondolini, the most highly respected of all, is considered Marcel Francisci's crown prince.

On 7 July 1972 Mosca was arrested in Lyons, stunning the entire French underworld. Were the untouchables really to be hit? But when there was no follow‑up, all sighed in relief.

Lightning struck six months later on 19 January 1973. French narks shadowed Croce and Bistoni to the Gondolier bar in Marseilles' old harbor quarter. Both were arrested on the way out of the bar, police having blocked the main road. Disbelief gave way to suspicion when Bistoni was released shortly thereafter. Had he talked?

Croce's arrest proved to be the trigger for a desperate, ruthless gangland war that measured up to prohibition Chicago. In the first half of 1973, thirty French mobsters were murdered ‑primarily in Paris, Marseilles, and Lyons.[1[

On March 31, Bistoni was at Marseille's Tanagre restaurant with two of his strongmen. The door opened and in walked three men, pistols drawn. Seconds later Bistoni, his thugs and the restauranteur were goners. The killings were common knowledge by the time police arrived.

Among the many sensational shootouts of early 1973, several were connected to Christian David.

      Police fished a drifting trunk from the Seine on 28 July 1973. Inside was the corpse of a man with bullets in his heart and neck. It was Andre Condemine, the David gang's minister of transportation and its only member to avoid arrest. Police investigation established he had been dead since February. Perhaps Condemine had had something to do with the arrest of Jean‑Baptiste Croce. It was no secret that Condemine had sought to reconstruct a Latin American narcotics network and had settled on Mexico, Croce's territory.

Among David's other friends who were knocked off in those hectic months, the first to go was Roger Dadoun. A former member of both Felix Lesca's gang and the international gunrunning Mob David had joined upon arrival in Latin America, Dadoun was shot down in the Paris suburb of Neuilly on 13 March 1973. Dadoun's best friend (and a close one of Beau Serge's as well) was Louis Nesmoz. He had sheltered Georges Figon during the Ben Barka affair and later helped the Orsini brothers smuggle heroin via Barcelona to David in Brazil. Nesmoz avenged Dadoun's death by shooting Joel Arfoiulloux and Raymond Elbaz in Paris's Clemence bistro on 7 April 1973.

Next it was Nesmoz' own turn to taste lead. On May 19, as he and two of his men dined at the Gentilly restaurant in Paris, two men entered and shot the three of them.

Yet another was killed on 15 June 1973. Jean Auge, the Lyons area SAC chief and crime syndicate boss who had been in touch with Ricord in Paraguay and on good terms with David, Nesmoz, and Dadoun, was found after a slow and painful death with eight bullets in his stomach.[2]

While the gangsters were cutting each other down, the police were not exactly on vacation. On 10 April 1973 the Marseille and Paris forces teamed up on a major drive that sent thirty mobsters behind bars.

The gang war subsided by mid‑1973, but has never completely ended. With heroin no longer a viable commodity, there are more pockets than can be filled by other underworld operations, and so the murders continue at regular intervals. The 1975 toll included gangland boss William Zemmour, who was given a royal burial and escorted to his grave by anything able to walk, creep, or crawl in the Parisian underworld.

Several big names resorted to untraditional means of survival. Francois Chiappe, the David gang heavy stationed in Argentina, was arrested in Cordoba. He was imprisoned in 1972, just as the rest of the gang was being nabbed in Brazil. But Chiappe had excellent connections in right wing Peronist circles. A former OAS Commando Delta member in Algeria, he had remained in touch with other OAS figures assembled in the Paladin group, a Fascist terrorist combine founded in Spain by the Nazi war criminal Colonel Otto Skorzeny.[3] It was among the organizations to which Juan Peron's grey eminence, Jose Lopez Rega, allied himself when he formed the dreaded terrorist group, the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance (AAA).

When the Peronist Hector Campora became president of Argentina in May 1973, Chiappe was released and immediately recruited into the AAA. When Peron himself returned a month later from eighteen years of exile in Spain, an enormous crowd gathered at Ezeiza airport on June 20 to greet him. Among them was a large contingent of Montoneros and other leftists. Security police were well aware of their presence. Police and AAA terrorists led by Colonel Jorge Osinde attacked the demonstrators with machine guns and hand grenades. Some 100 were killed and 300 were badly wounded. The AAA's prisoners were dragged to the airport parking lot and tortured. Two of the more zealous hatchet men were Chiappe and former OAS colonel Jean Gardes.[4]

On August 6, Chiappe's wife visited the Argentine prison commissioner on her husband's behalf, to request that he be placed in protective confinement.[5] Chiappe had gotten the jitters after the discovery of his friend Condemine in the Seine. Besides, he was in constant danger of abduction by the Americans, who had long been demanding his extradition. The prison commissioner contacted the highest political authorities, and Buenos Aires' Villa Devote prison soon opened its doors. There Chiappe led the same charmed life as Auguste Ricord in Paraguay, and Fernand Legros in Brazil. His "cell" was outfitted with elegant furniture, TV and a radio, and first class food was brought in from town. Naturally he was "paroled" whenever Lopez Rega or Isabel Peron threw a party, and the threat of extradition ended when the new Argentine regime, on orders from Peron, said a final no to the United States. Instead cooperation between the two countries took a different form. 

In May 1974 the U.S. ambassador in Buenos Aires, Robert C. Hill, and Lopez Rega —with whom he had worked closely for years — publicly signed an agreement to wage common war against the drug traffickers. At the signatory ceremony, Lopez Rega declared that the drug war would automatically be an anti-guerilla campaign as well, under the rationale that the Montoneros were the real traffickers. Pursuant to the agreement, the U.S. sent to Argentina a large number of narcotics agents trained at the CIA's special school in Georgetown.[6]

One year later, a report of Argentina military intelligence revealed a giant narcotics network responsible for smuggling cocaine to the U.S. market. Its leaders were none other than Lopez Rega; his son‑in‑law Raul Lastiri; Senator Juan Carlos Cornejo; Robert Romero, managing editor of Argentina's largest provincial newspaper, El Tribuno; and Colonels Osinde and Raul Lacabanne, both of whom fled to safety in Paraguay.[7]

When a military coup deposed Isabel Peron, who had assumed the presidency on the death of her husband, power was seized by General Jorge Videla, who professed a strict, albeit selective, morality. He refused to harbor a hardened criminal like Chiappe in spite of the many leftists he had disposed of. In late April 1976 Videla extradited Chiappe to the U.S.A. to share the fates of Ricord, David, Nicoli, and Pastou.[8]

Simultaneously with the 1972‑73 attrition in French underworld ranks, President Georges Pompidou took the opportunity to purge SAC of its undesirables. Though it seemed as if SAC was being eliminated altogether, such was not the case. No angel himself, Pompidou would call on the corps at election time and whenever else he saw fit. But Pompidou did eliminate those elements opposed to him personally, who had continued to make trouble for the new regime. Some 7000 men were weeded out, many of them criminals who had enjoyed SAC protection and now became easy marks for the police.

Many of the barbouzes booted from SAC fled to Spain to join the Paladin group, where they learned to work side‑by‑side with their former arch enemies, the OAS terrorists.

Not all SAC agents were as fortunate. Charles Lascorz, a charter member of SAC and its chief for southeastern France, was among the many hunted down by the police. Along with his SAC activities, he had also headed a large smuggling and swindling mob comprised exclusively of SAC agents, as had his colleague Jean Auge in Lyons.

Police tracked Lascorz; to a Paris apartment in early 1972 and sent two officers to fetch him. Just how he did it is not known, but Lascorz managed to lure them to a cellar and lock the door behind him. He then fled to Spain, taking the SAC archives with him. But Spanish police arrested him on 23 January 1972 and put him in Carabanchel prison. They extradited him to France two months later, but not before the Spanish intelligence agency DGS had photocopied the archives. Lascorz; was sentenced in France to three years in prison a4ong with eight of his SAC cohorts.

Between mid‑1971 and mid‑1973 the French espionage and underworlds suffered staggering losses. A succession of untouchables bit the dust, most prominent among them Joseph Orsini, Jo Cesari, Jo Attia, Georges Boucheseiche, Julien le Ny, Pierre Dubail, Andre Condemine, Lucien Sarti, Albert Bistoni, Jean Auge, Louis Nesmoz, and Roger Dadoun. Between forty and fifty gangsters perished in the French heroin war during that interim, only two of them of natural causes.

In addition, a horde of French heroin smugglers, the entire elite included, was put behind bars. The big names were Auguste Ricord, Christian David, Michel Nicoli, Roger Delouette, Andre Labay,[9] JeanBaptiste Croce, Jo Signoli, Ange Simonpieri, Jean Claude Kella, Jean Orsini, Roch Orsini, Martin Orsini, Laurent Fiocconi, Etienne Mosca, Marcel Boucan, and Richard Berdin.

A glance at French arrest figures reveals the magnitude of the slaughter of the French heroin Mafia. Twenty‑five traffickers were arrested in 1969‑70. In 1971 alone the number was 26 and in 1972 it shot up to 108. With the exception of a lone behind‑the‑scenes bankroller, all were active, professional smugglers. An even greater number of French traffickers were arrested in 1972 in the U.S. and elsewhere.

More than half the gangsters killed or imprisoned during those two fateful years were connected to intelligence agencies SDECE and/or SAC. Whether or not the two organizations had directly profited from heroin trafficking and actually managed and financed part of it remains a subject of speculation.

Iron collar around Marseille
Nearly all French narcotics syndicates then in existence were smashed beyond recognition. Those that tried comebacks did not succeed very well. Dead or imprisoned smugglers could be replaced with time. More serious was the shortage of heroin labs in the aftermath of the great raids. The good chemists, like the smugglers, were either deceased or behind bars.[10] Moreover, French narcotics police placed an iron collar around Marseille. Their force increased by more than 1000 percent between 1970 and 1973, and the French port became a stalking ground of U.S. narks.[11]

Equally disastrous, Turkey halted its illicit opium production by an agreement with the U.S. which ensured the Turks compensation. In 1973, of course, there were stocks of morphine base to be found in Turkey, Lebanon, and Marseille. However, the frequent seizure of heroin shipments had thinned them out badly.

In 1970 Marseille supplied roughly 80 percent of the heroin on the U.S. market. Fifteen percent came from Mexico and only five percent from Southeast Asia. By 1973 the French share had fallen below 50 percent, and in 1975 it was estimated at less than 15 percent. From the law enforcement standpoint, the French heroin Mafia was effectively crushed, and the U.S. narcotics intelligence agency, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), considered moving its European headquarters from Paris to Amsterdam.[12]

The French underworld and its more "respectable" bankrollers were deprived of an annual income of some $150 million for a quantity of heroin which when cut in the U.S. could bring a street price of $20 billion.

But did the supply of heroin to the international market really fall by an amount equal to the French share? Did it fall at all?

Wasn't it true that pure heroin could only be produced in Marseille and that the world's drug habit would be largely relieved if only one could smash the French and Turkish suppliers? Isn't that what Nixon told Pompidou?

Yes, but how often did Nixon tell the truth?

pps. 111-117


1. Various sources claim that some of these murders were "liquidations" executed by a special "assassination squad" set up by the White House and led by a former CIA agent, Lt. Col. Lucien Conein—see, for example, E.J. Epstein: Agency of Fear (Putnam, 1977); J. Hougan: Spooks (William Morrow, 1978); and chapter fifteen of this volume.

2. A fifth member of this circle, Didier Barone, was also involved in heroin trafficking with both Jean Claude Kella and Christian David. What is especially interesting about Barone is his connection to Fernand Legros, with whom he was involved in art deals.

3. P. Chairoff: Dossier B ... comme Barbouzes (Alain Moreau, 1975).

4. Liberation, 19 July 1976.

5. L'Aurore, 31 May 1976.

6. Counterspy, Vol. 3, No. 2, 1976.

7. Latin America Political Report, 19 December 1975. 8. L'Aurore, 31 May 1976.

9. Andre Labay and Jo Signoli got thirty and twenty years respectively in a Paris court on 7 December 1973.

10. The Long brothers were sentenced on 11 October 1973. Armand and Marcel each got eighteen years and Louis got twelve. Another "lab‑owner," Louis Ambrosiono, was sentenced to twenty on November 30.

11. The Newsday Staff: The Heroin Pail (Souvenir Press, 1974).

12. John Cusack in Drug Enforcement, Spring, 1976. The last two major trials of Corsicans were held in Marseilles. In July 1974, twenty‑seven men and two women were sentenced. They were the remnants of the Francisci empire run by Jean‑Baptiste Croce. Finally on 26 May 1977, eleven men were sentenced in connection with the Marcel Boucan affair.
A key figure in the last‑mentioned case was Laurent Fiocconi. With the aid of a prison chaplain he fled from Manhattan's Federal House of Detention in 1974 together with six other major narcotics traffickers--Ernest Malizia, Enrique Barrera, Gilbert Fornsztejn, Mario Perna, Nelson Garzia, and Amado Lopez. Fiocconi was arrested in Bogota, Colombia in 1975 only to escape once more (New York Times, 14 April 1977).
The last of the Ricord organization to be arrested was Dominique Orsini. In 1975 he was tracked down in Senegal, Africa by DEA agents and brought back to the U.S. On 12 April 1978 he was found murdered in his isolation cell in the Federal pen in Atlanta (France Soir, 13 April 1978). Months earlier his cellmate Vincent Papa had been murdered, as had their lawyer, Gino Gallina. Like Orsini, Papa had been mixed up in The French Connection. He was the key to the theft of 398 pounds of heroin from the New York City Police Department's property room (Boston Globe, 10 August 1978). Orsini and Papa had allegedly been negotiating with the FBI via Gallina for reduced sentences in return for information (France Soir, 13 April 1978). Perhaps the information concerned policemen involved in the theft. Ironically, all three men were rubbed out shortly before the publication of P. Rosenberg and S. Grasso's Point Blank (Grosset and Dunlap, 1978), in which Papa's name has clearly been changed to "Larry Boston."

Continued here.

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