Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Great Heroin Coup - Chapters Eighteen and Nineteen

Changing the Middleman
by Linda Minor

President Nixon had already announced the concern of the United States in fighting drugs by the summer following his initial inauguration in 1969. Needing an excuse to take federal action against what was essentially a state crime, he told Congress:
Effective control of illicit drugs requires the cooperation of many agencies of the Federal and local and State governments; it is beyond the province of any one of them alone. At the Federal level, the burden of the national effort must be carried by the Departments of Justice, Health, Education, and Welfare, and the Treasury. I am proposing ten specific steps as this Administration's initial counter-moves against this growing national problem.
Since three Cabinet officials were cooperating in this effort, a committee of those officials was created September 7, 1971, called the Cabinet Committee on International Narcotics Control (CCINC). The timing of this occurred almost simultaneously with President Nixon's revelation that he was considering a devaluation of the dollar as well as cutting the connection of the value of gold from the value of the dollar. (See article at bottom of this post.) The two issues--international narcotics trade and protecting the American trade balance were, in fact, inextricably intertwined, and the Central Intelligence Agency worked covertly on both issues through the various agencies administered by the executive branch of the U.S. government.

The history of how the new drug enforcement agency's need for intelligence about international drug traffickers began to draw upon the resources of other federal agencies was recounted to Chairman Otis Pike's Select Committee on Intelligence by Jerry N. Jenson, whose testimony began on November 13, 1975. When DEA developed its intelligence division, it first incorporated the Office of National Narcotics Intelligence set up in 1972 under former FBI agent William Sullivan. It also had at its disposal the Customs Agency's facilities along the border with Mexico, called El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), as well as Federal Aviation Administration's air intelligence. Jensen implied that once the CCINC was created, the DEA began to cooperate with the Central Intelligence Agency in acquiring information about international narcotics trafficking.

The truth, however, is that even more than the concern about the health and safety of drug users, the United States was much more anxious about how the organization of the drug traffic routes was affecting the international monetary structure. The following excerpt from an article by Christopher Matthew appeared in December 1971 of a magazine styled European Community:

The concern is clear. Every month $10 million was being sent from the United States to the French treasury and was helping to to create a devastating drain of America's dwindling gold supply into France. It was significant enough for the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to become involved in the issue of narcotics traffic since it was resulting in the collapse of the Bretton Woods system created in 1944.

As the United Nations, pursuant to 1532(XLIX) of 24 July 1970, began to take concerted action on 11 November 1970 to control international drug abuse, it acknowledged the need to establish a fund the UN could draw upon. To establish the fund, it added to its resolution a request to then Secretary General U Thant of Burma:
in keeping with the recommendation of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, to establish, as an initial measure and as a matter of urgency, a United Nations fund for drug-abuse control to be made up from voluntary contributions, such fund to be initially used for the purposes which were approved by the Commission and administered by the Secretary-General pending the development and consideration by the Council of the proposed long-term plan of action, including permanent arrangements for administration and financing...
President Nixon found himself as soon as he took office having to deal with a persistent deficit in the balance of payments, which did not fluctuate or disappear despite several actions which had been taken to alleviate it. His war against heroin was not technically an effort to end the drug trade per se. That would have meant ending the anti-Communist military actions in Indo-China, which were financed by opium produced there. Rather, President Nixon's administration was working toward changing the middleman from French heroin refineries to those controlled by Americans, i.e. through CIA proprietaries.

It's what I refer to as "following the money."

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:



In early 1973 the Department of Health, Education and Welfare estimated the number of U.S. heroin addicts at 600,000. By the end of that year, Dr. Robert Egebjerg, director of the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Health Administration, placed the number at 300,000. And in June 1974 DEA international operations chief John T. Cusack, testifying before the House Committee on International Narcotics Control, said that the addict population was down to 200,000.[1]

This giant cover‑up hid the fact that Nixon's heroin war was no more than window‑dressing. On 7 October 1974, six weeks after Nixon's resignation, the head of the White House Special Action Office on Drug Abuse Prevention, Dr. Robert Dupont, was pressured to release a secret report that the number of addicts had in fact risen, reaching even into formerly untouched middle class suburbs.[2]

On 27 April 1976 President Gerald Ford said in a message to Congress: "By mid‑1973 many were convinced that we had turned the corner on the drug problem. Unfortunately, while we had won an important victory, we had not won the war on drugs. By 1975 it was clear that drug use was increasing, that the gains of prior years were being lost, that in human terms narcotics had became a national tragedy. Today, drug abuse constitutes a clear and present danger to the health and the future of our Nation."

In February 1977 the House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control reported that the addict population totalled some 800,000. And in 1978 New York City's special narcotics prosecutor, Sterling Johnson, spoke of a heroin epidemic worse than that of the late sixties and early seventies.[3] But the cover‑up hadn't stopped in 1974.

DEA Lied about Source of Heroin

Cusack targeted the French, who made all the money.
From 1975 until the end of 1978 the DEA consistently maintained that between 80 and 90 percent of the heroin consumed in the U.S. was Mexican. However, the claim doesn't stand up against the following facts: 
  1. 80 percent of the world's heroin--exactly the figure exported from Marseille until 1972 --was, at least until late 1976, produced from opium harvested in the Golden Triangle and distributed via Bangkok, Singapore, and Hong Kong;[4] 
  2. the number of arrests of couriers en route from Southeast Asia increased steadily after 1973;[5] 
  3. reports from New York and other big cities testified to the arrival of large shipments of white heroin from Southeast Asia
  4. the market's supply of heroin did not dwindle despite aerial destruction of an estimated 60 percent of Mexico's poppy fields in early 1976;[6] 
  5. an effective tidal wave of Golden Triangle heroin began flooding Europe in 1973, while many couriers en route to the U.S. and Canada were nabbed by European police; 
  6. the DEA was aware of Santo Trafficante's dealings in Southeast Asia, as well as the later Mafia summit in Palermo where large sums of money were set aside for investment in the Golden Triangle; 
  7. it was easy to verify the narcotics flow from Mexico, since the border was subject to close surveillance, but to conclude that most of the heroin on the U.S. market originated in Mexico was a stretch of logic.
Even the DEA had to admit the tenuousness of its claims. On 24 February 1976, the DEA's John Cusack admitted that his agency's estimate that only 8 percent of U.S. heroin came from Southeast Asia was surprising, considering the region's prolific opium production. He added:
Jack Cusack, 1955
"We are also concerned about our detection during 1975 of substantial quantities of white no. 4 heroin moving directly from Bangkok to the United States. In December, for example, forty‑six kilograms of heroin were seized in Bangkok, concealed in the household effects shipment of a returning U.S. serviceman. Follow‑up investigation in the development of an extensive conspiracy prosecution has identified twelve additional shipments entering the United States since 1974."
Twelve such shipments meant 552 kilos, or more than the entire 470 kilos confiscated in the U.S. in 1975 ‑and from only one of many Southeast Asian smuggling networks. Cusack went even further:
 "It appears almost certain that the bulk of the white heroin found during 1975 in the inner‑city areas of our eastern cities has been Asian no. 4 smuggled from Bangkok."[7]
Why then did the DEA continue to overstate Mexico's role and minimize Southeast Asia-‑even after the publication, in 1972, of Alfred McCoy's The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia? Perhaps to justify the great expenditure in support of right wing military and police forces in Latin America. (The later boom in Colombian cocaine would also provide justification.) Southeast Asia was downplayed so as not to jeopardize relations with America's loyal, if corrupt, allies — most of all Thailand, Taiwan, and the latter's overseas agents. They were allowed to profit from opium and heroin in relative peace.

Another reason: the DEA could not expose the Southeast Asia connection without compromising the CIA. A secret 1977 House Government Operations subcommittee report accused the CIA of helping an Asian opium ring smuggle drugs into the United States and then lying about it to Congress. Puttaporn Khramkhruan, a Thai national, was arrested in 1973 for smuggling fifty‑nine pounds of pure opium into the U.S. via JFK airport. Citing national security interests, the agency had the case squelched, and Khramkhruan was sent back home. However, the House subcommittee eventually established that he was a CIA operative in Thailand.[8] In fact, he was on the payroll of a CIA proprietary using the Agency for International Development (AID) as a cover for training the corrupt Thai border police.[9] Furthermore, Khramkhruan told a DEA investigator that he had been an officer in the KMT army and guarded opium mule caravans. His CIA contact was the U.S. consul in Chiang Mai, Thailand.[10] In its report, the House Committee stated: "It was ironic that the CIA should be given the responsibility of narcotics intelligence, particularly since they are supporting the prime movers."[11]

The Thai Connection Origins
[Editor's Note: To understand the history of CIA action in Thailand, we turn to Dr. Peter Dale Scott. The following is an excerpt from his Operation Paper:
The United States Helps Rebuild the Postwar Drug Connection

To appreciate the significance of the connection we are discussing, we must keep in mind that, by 1956, the KMT had been driven from the Chinese mainland and that Chinese production of opium, even in remote mountainous Yunnan, had been virtually eliminated. The disruptions of a world war and revolution had created an opportunity to terminate the opium problem in the Far East. Instead, U.S. covert support for the Thai and KMT drug traffickers converted Southeast Asia, for more than two decades, into the world’s major source of opium and heroin.

The origins of the U.S. interface with these drug traffickers in Thailand and Burma are obscure. They appear, however, to have involved principally four men:
  • his British ally Sir William Stephenson, the organizer with Donovan of the World Commerce Corporation (WCC);
  • Willis Bird (both veterans of OSS China). After World War II, Sir William Stephenson’s WCC “became very active in Bangkok,” and Stephenson himself established a strong personal relationship with King Rama IX.31 [footnotes at bottom of paper]
Stephenson recruited James Thompson, the last OSS commander in Bangkok, to stay on in Bangkok as the local WCC representative. This led to the WCC’s financing of Thompson’s Thai Silk Company, a successful commercial enterprise that also covered Thompson’s repeated trips to the northeastern Thai border with Laos, the so-called Isan, where communist insurrection was most feared and where future CIA operations would be concentrated.32 One would like to know whether WCC similarly launched the import-export business of Willis Bird, of whom much more shortly.
In the same postwar period, Paul Helliwell, who earlier had been OSS chief of Special Intelligence in Kunming, Yunnan, served as Far East Division chief of the Strategic Service Unit, the successor organization to OSS.33 In this capacity he allegedly “became the man who controlled the pipe-line of covert funds for secret operations throughout East Asia after the war.”34 Eventually, Helliwell would be responsible for the incorporation in America of the CIA proprietaries, Sea Supply Inc. and Civil Air Transport (CAT) Inc. (later Air America), which would provide support to both Phao Sriyanon of the Northern Army in Thailand and the KMT drug camps in Burma. It is unclear what he did before the creation of OPC in 1948. Speculation abounds as to the original source of funds available to Helliwell in this earlier period, ranging from the following:

    1.  The deep pockets of the overworld figures in the WCC. Citing Daniel Harkins, a former USG investigator, John Loftus and Mark Aarons claimed that Nazi money, laundered and manipulated by Allen Dulles and Sir William Stephenson through the WCC, reached Thailand after the war. When Harkins informed Congress, he “was suddenly fired and sent back [from Thailand] to the United States on the next ship.”35

    2.  The looted gold and other resources collected by Admiral Yamashita and others in Japan36 or of the SS in Germany.

    3.  The drug trade itself. Further research is needed to establish when the financial world of Paul Helliwell began to overlap with that of Meyer Lansky and the underworld. The banks discussed in the chapter 7, which are outward signs of this connection (Miami National Bank and Bank of Perrine), were not established until a decade or more later. Still to be established is whether the Eastern Development Company represented by Helliwell was the firm of this name that in the 1940s cooperated with Lansky and others in the supply of arms to the nascent state of Israel.37

Of these the best available evidence points tentatively to Nazi gold. We shall see that Helliwell acquired a banking partner in Florida, [Edward Philip] E. P. Barry, who had been the postwar head of OSS Counterintelligence (X-2) in Vienna, which oversaw the recovery of SS gold in Operation Safehaven.38 And it is not questioned that in December 1947 the National Security Council (NSC) created a Special Procedures Group “that, among other things, laundered over $10 million in captured Axis funds to influence the [Italian] election [of 1948].”39 Note that this authorization was before NSC 10/2 of June 18, 1948, first funded covert operations under what soon became OPC.
E. P. Barry and Helliwell
What matters is that, for some time before the first known official U.S. authorizations in 1949–1950, funds were reaching Helliwell’s former OSS China ally Willis Bird in Bangkok. There Bird ran a trading company supplying arms and materiel to Phin Chunhawan and Phin’s son-in-law, Phao Sriyanon, who in 1950 became director-general of the Thai Police Department. By 1951 OPC funds for Bird were being handled by a CIA proprietary firm, Sea Supply Inc., which had been incorporated by Paul Helliwell in his civilian capacity as a lawyer in Miami. As noted earlier, Helliwell also became general counsel for the Miami bank that Meyer Lansky allegedly used to launder proceeds from the Asian drug traffic.
Some sources claim that in the 1940s, Donovan, whose link to the WCC was by 1946 his only known intelligence connection, also visited Bangkok.40 Stephenson’s biographer, William Stevenson, writes that because MacArthur had cut Donovan out of the Pacific during World War II, Donovan “therefore turned Siam [i.e., Thailand] into a base from which to run [postwar] secret operations against the new Soviet threat in Asia.”41
William Walker agrees that by 1947–1948, the United States increasingly defined for Thailand a place in Western strategic policy in the early cold war. Among those who kept close watch over events were William J. Donovan, wartime head of the OSS, and Willis H. Bird, who worked with the OSS in China. . . . After the war, Bird, . . . still a reserve colonel in military intelligence, ran an import-export house in Bangkok. Following the November [1947 Thailand coup] Bird . . . implored Donovan:
Willis Bird
“Should there be any agency that is trying to take the place of O.S.S., . . . please have them get in touch with us as soon as possible. By the time Phibun returned as Prime Minister, Donovan was telling the Pentagon and the State Department that Bird was a reliable source whose information about growing Soviet activities in Thailand were [sic] credible.42
Bird’s wishes were soon answered by NSC 10/2 of June 18, 1948, which created the OPC. Washington swiftly agreed that Thailand would play an important role as a frontline ally in the Cold War. In 1948, U.S. intelligence units began arming and training a separate army under General Phao, which became known as the Thai Border Police (BPP). The relationship was cemented in 1949 as the communists captured power in China. The generals demonstrated their anticommunist credentials by echoing U.S. propaganda and killing alleged leftists. At midyear a CIA [OPC] team arrived in Bangkok to train the BPP for covert support of the Kuomintang in its continuing war against the Chinese communists on the Burma-China border. Later in the year the United States began to arm and train the Thai army and to provide the kingdom general economic aid.43
Walker notes how the collapse of the KMT forces in China led Washington to subordinate its anti-narcotics policies to the containment of communism: By the fall of 1949 . . . reports reached the State Department about the inroads communism was making within the Chinese community in Thailand as well as the involvement of the Thai army with opium. Since the army virtually controlled the nature of Thailand’s security relationship with the West, foreign promotion of opium control had to take a back seat to other policy priorities.44
On March 9, 1950, when Truman was asked to approve $10 million in military aid for Thailand, Acheson’s supporting memo noted that $5 million had already been approved by Truman for the Thai “constabulary.”45 This presumably came from the OPC’s secret budget: I can find no other reference to the $5 million in State Department published records, and two years later a U.S. aid official in Washington, Edwin Martin, wrote in a secret memo that the Thai Police force under General Phao “is receiving no American military aid.”46 [footnotes at bottom of paper]
Read this and other books by Alan A. Block.

In March 1977 the DEA began to speak of "major maneuvers in the international Asian narcotics market for a share of the U.S. drug scene" and of a "coalition between the U.S. Mafia, the Corsicans and the Chiu Chao Chinese Triad."[12] The coalition had, in reality, existed at least since 1970 and perhaps as early as Trafficante's 1968 journey to the East and it had functioned effectively, shipping large amounts of heroin to the U.S., since 1972‑73. The difference was that the Corsican arm of the coalition, their own umbrella organization having been smashed, was now essentially reduced to some 100 men working with the U.S. Mafia and the Chinese, most of them as chemists in Thailand's mobile heroin labs.[13]

Who has controlled the Golden Triangle opium traffic and heroin production since the establishment of the Mafia‑Chinese coalition — besides the CIA, that is? The answer is the Kuomintang (KMT) Chinese and overseas Chiu Chao syndicatemen such as Chang Chifu [Khun Sa], Lo Hsing‑han, Tsai Chien Cheng and older, more familiar figures like General LiMi.[14] Still head of what's left of the KMT forces, General Li resides in luxury outside Chiang Mai and received official visits there from the United States as recently as late 1976.[15]

In 1976‑77 a minor war was about to erupt over the control of the region's opium traffic and mobile refineries. Potential combatants were Chu Chi‑fu's United Shan Army (of rebels against the Burmese regime) and KMT forces under General Li. However, the opposing leaders were brought together by a senior Thai officer and an agreement was reached on the marketing of drugs and supply of arms to fight Communist forces in Burma's Shan states.[16] Again we see the connection between narcotics and anti‑Communist paramilitary operationsalbeit Chu Chi‑fu later pulled out of the agreement, was arrested in Thailand, and eventually extradited to Burma.

The DEA's Golden Triangle unit, SNO, [Special Narcotics Operation] made many whole and half‑hearted attempts to eradicate the narcotics plague. All failed. Production has been great, the world's heroin market having multiplied in the seventies. SNO won't say outright that the CIA is undermining them, nor that politics underlies their constant failures. A SNO agent, nevertheless, came close to doing so in this 1976 statement to Alfred McCoy:
"If they were selling shares in Golden Triangle Heroin, Inc. in five, ten and twenty‑year bonds, I would put my money on a twenty‑year bond. The only thing that would end the whole Golden Triangle business would be a communist takeover in Thailand. If that happened, I'd sell my stock."[17]
Southeast Asia was initially the sole supplier to the rapidly growing European market. Until 1972 heroin abuse was essentially an American problem. But since the heroin shift from Marseille to Southeast Asia, the European habit has rapidly worsened. In 1972 ten kilos of Golden Triangle "brown sugar" were confiscated in Europe. By 1975 the figure was up to 227 kilos. The country hardest hit has been West Germany, where the large U.S. troop concentration serves as a magnet for heroin, where it is estimated that some 60‑80,000 Germans use hard drugs, and where there were over 500 hard drug-related deaths in 1979.

In the summer of 1977, we might note, the administration of Jimmy Carter rejected a proposal by a consortium of rebel army leaders in northern Burma that the U.S. spend $36 million over a sixyear period to purchase and destroy the Southeast Asia opium crop.[18]

Among the official explanations was the alleged policy of the United States to deal only with recognized local governments — a policy which in its time had found a number of exceptions, like the overseas Kuomintang Chinese.[19]

pps. 171-176


1. 1. Frank and G. Richardson: "Epidemic," Penthouse, September 1977.

2. Ibid. In light of recent years' revelations of CIA mind control experimentation with LSD, it's worth noting the enormous spread of the hallucinogen in 1971‑72. Behind it was the cover organization, Brotherhood of Love, whose backers, like Gulf Oil heir William Mellon Hitchcock, exploited and manipulated self‑styled LSD prophets like Timothy Leary. The Brotherhood was directly connected to the Robert Vesco‑controlled Fiduciary Trust Company of the Bahamas. LSD proceeds were laundered through the usual Syndicate banks in Geneva. See Der Spiegel, No. 39, 1974.

3. B. Herbert: "The Fleetwood Kids," Penthouse, August 1978.

4. A. McCoy: "The New Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia," Oui, December 1976.

5. F. Robertson: Triangle of Death (Routledge and Keagan Paul, 1977).

6. Politiken, 27 March 1976.

7. Drug Enforcement, Spring 1976.

8. J. Anderson and L. Whitten, Boston Globe, 3 October 1977.

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

10. J. Burgess: "The Thailand Connection," Counterspy, Vol. 2, No. 4, 1976.

11. Anderson and Whitten, op. cit.

12. San Francisco Examiner, 9 December 1977; Robertson, op. cit.

13. Robertson, op. cit.

14. Lo Hsing‑han and his supporters at one time aided the Burmese government in its fight against Communist insurgents in northwest Burma. However, when the government asked him to disband his organization in 1973, Lo Hsing‑han refused and signed a pact with the rebels. The Burmese army eventually pushed him and his army into Thailand where he was arrested and extradited back to Burma. In the fall of 1977 he lost his final appeal to Burma's highest court to quash a death penalty for treason. (New York Times, 7 November 1977).

15. McCoy, op. cit.

16. Far Eastern Economic Review, 15 April 1977.

17. McCoy, op. cit.

18. New York Times, 13 July 1977.

19. According to High Times magazine (April 1980), the Shan States rebels have long been subsidized by Taiwan intelligence. Moreover, the article goes on, intelligence sources in Burma have suggested that the DEA, in an aboutface attempt to weld together a local force against right wing opium armies, has approached Burmese Communist guerillas — who, having been abandoned by the current, less revolution‑minded Peking regime, had themselves taken steps toward moving in on the opium trade.



The exaggeration of Mexico's and the downplaying of Southeast Asia's roles as suppliers of heroin to the United States does not mean that Mexico was unimportant. But the DEA and the U.S. press compound the distortion by constantly asserting that the production and smuggling of heroin in Mexico is strictly a Mexican business. No U.S. Mafia is supposedly involved, other than customers on the other side of the border. Heroin shipments are allegedly controlled by seven large Mexican families: the Herreras, the Maciaces, the Romeros, the Favelas, the Sicilia‑Falcons, the Valenzuelas, and the Aviles‑Quinteros. [1] Let's take a look at one of them.

Alberto Sicilia‑Falcon, leader of the Sicilia‑Falcons, is not a Mexican at all; he was born in Matanzas, Cuba. He and his family left the island immediately after Castro's takeover to become part of Miami's Cuban exile milieu. After the Bay of Pigs invasion he was trained by the CIA at Fort Jackson for Operation 40.[2] From there his trail is faint for several years. However, according to Mexican police, he was in Chile helping the CIA to undermine the government of Salvadore Allende.

In mid‑1973 he turned up in Mexico, where in record time he established a gigantic heroin and marijuana ring. According to DEA director Peter Bensinger, in 1975 the ring numbered more than 1600, including film stars and international businessmen. Sicilia‑Falcon himself resided in villas in Tijuana and San Diego. Heroin was transported to San Diego from a warehouse in Culiacan, marijuana from a processing plant in Mexicali to a U.S. distribution center in Coronado Kays.

In late 1973 one of Sicilia‑Falcon's truckers was stopped on his way back to Mexico. The truck was loaded with arms bound for Nicaragua. According to a later report of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, one illegal weapons dealer in Brownsville, Texas alone supplied Sicilia‑Falcon with 12 million rounds of ammunition in 1974.

The guns‑for‑drugs traffic proceeded unhindered until early 1975, when the government of then President Luis Echeverria discovered that Sicilia‑Falcon's weapons shipments went to groups in Mexico. "External forces are attempting to destabilize our country," said Echeverria in a 1975 speech, in obvious reference to his neighbor to the north.

Then the Mexicans began an intense surveillance of Sicilia-Falcon, who, they learned, often met and conversed by telephone with a mystery man in Cuernavaca, some ninety kilometers south of Mexico City. When a lemonade bottle bearing the man's fingerprints was sent to the FBI, the bureau informed Mexican authorities that the man was Sam Giancana, the Chicago Mafia capo, heroin trafficker, and CIA collaborator. The Mexicans agreed to a French extradition request for Giancana, but when his Paris‑bound plane stopped over in Houston, Giancana was whisked away by U.S. agents. Soon thereafter he was found murdered in his Chicago mansion. Mexican interior ministry officials claimed the CIA had done all it could to prevent the mobster's extradition.

On 2 July 1975 Sicilia‑Falcon was arrested. Under rough interrogation he claimed to be an agent of the CIA, and that his drug ring had been set up on orders from and with the support of the agency. Part of his profits were to go towards the purchase of weapons and ammunition for distribution throughout Central America for the destabilization of "undesirable" governments. If true, U.S. heroin addicts were again footing the bill for clandestine paramilitary operations and anti-Communist terror campaigns. And Sicilia‑Falcon and his Syndicate associates were not short of funds. In his possession police found two Swiss bank books to the tune of $260 million.

Still, the strange testimony of Alberto Sicilia‑Falcon did not end with his confession. His family's heroin and arms shipments continued and, on 26 April 1976, he and three of his lieutenants escaped from Lecumberri prison through an electrically lit, 100‑yard long tunnel dug from outside. They were recaptured three days later, at which time Sicilia‑Falcon, fearing for his life at the hands of the CIA, requested transfer to another prison and additional security.[3]

Echeverria and Sicilia‑Falcon each were right about the destabilization program. FBI documents released later disclosed that between 1970 and 1976 the FBI served as a secret link between the U.S.  embassy in Mexico City and the U.S. Border Patrol in California and Texas, "in order to help destabilize" the government of President Echeverria. J. Edgar Hoover had believed that Echeverria had surrounded himself with "old Communists and Communist Party sympathizers.[4] A memo from Hoover to the U.S. legal attache praises "the detonation of strategic and effective bombs in Mexico City" and "the wave of night machine‑gunnings to divide subversive leaders."[5]

Besides Echeverria's progressive attitude, another reason for U.S. hostility towards his government was the Mexican president's refusal to approve World Bank and International Monetary Fund plans for the exploitation of Mexico's newly discovered oil reserves. The first order of business of his successor Jose Lopez Portillo in 1976 was approval of the same plans. And the newspaper El Sol de Mexico wrote shortly after the latter's inauguration that year: "The new government is not interested in publicity regarding the Sicilia‑Falcon case. It will quietly extradite him to the U.S. as soon as the new extradition agreement between the two countries comes into effect."

In the Sicilia‑Falcon case the DEA and CIA struggled bitterly against one another. It was symptomatic of a split within the DEA's own ranks, a split rooted in the effective control of its narcotics intelligence division by transplanted agents of the CIA.

Since the DEA's emergence many of its agents have resigned in disgust with its modus operandi. Long‑standing conflicts between the CIA and BNDD and between the BNDD and Customs did not evaporate when all the narcotics agents were pooled in the DEA. Moreover, the CIA seems still to be guided by political interests incompatible with drug enforcement.

A 1975 Narcotics Control Action Plan for Mexico, drafted by the DEA, CIA and State Department, opened the way for new appropriations for fighting narcotics in Mexico through INC. Thirty helicopters as well as other aircraft and computer terminals were brought in, and extensive training programs were initiated. The notorious Operation Condor began in January 1976 with an army of DEA‑trained Mexican narcotics agents and their U.S. supervisors, mobilized to fight the drug traffic in the countryside. Reports of the operation reveal that U.S. taxpayers' money has in fact been used for political extermination; that DEA helicopters are used by private landowners to attack peasant revolutionaries with rockets, small‑arms fire and napalm;[6] that large groups of farmers and independent narcotics dealers have been murdered or tortured while the major narcotics families have been protected.[7]

House subcommittee investigators went to Mexico in 1975 to determine how organized internal corruption and payoff rings within the DEA had made possible the monopoly of Mexican heroin by a few powerful crime families. According to writer Ron Rosenbaum: "Some critics of DEA go even further than the subcommittee investigators and charge the protection of heroin profiteers is not caused by internal corruption but is, in fact, the true function of the agency under the present narcotics laws."[8]

DEA‑supervised killing and torture had not stopped as of 1978, when the Mexican Bar Association documented eighteen forms of torture applied by Mexican narcotics agents. Prisoners and Mexican agents alike affirmed that DEA agents not only knew of the torture, but at times were also present at the interrogations.[9]

pps. 177-180


1. D. Rosen: "The Mexican Connection," Penthouse, February 1977.

2. "Die gefahrlichen Geschafte des Alberto Sicilia," Der Spiegel, No. 20,1977. Much of the following story comes from this account.

3. Ibid.

4. High Times, August 1978.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. C. Pyes: "Legal Murders," Village Voice, 4 June 1979.
8. R.Rosenbaum: "The Decline and Fall of Nixon's Drug Czar," New Times, 5
September 1975.
9. Pyes, op. cit.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Great Heroin Coup - Chapter Seventeen

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:



Never had Richard Nixon's White House staff been so preoccupied with narcotics matters as in the summer of 1971. They were obsessed with two projects: a new White House intelligence and enforcement unit as envisioned by the Huston Plan, and a comprehensive narcotics control apparatus, similarly under direct presidential control. The two idees fixes converged in a conspiratorial and political‑criminal network of hitherto unimagined dimensions.

Office for Drug Abuse Prevention, 1971
That summer the White House set up the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention alongside the Special Investigation Unit, otherwise known as the Plumbers. [The Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE) would soon be incorporated into the DEA.]

 Several of the Plumbers also worked on narcotics affairs. The groups' key figures included:

Egil Krogh (chief Plumber) —who followed John Erlichman (for whose law firm he had worked part time) to the White House in 1968 within months of his graduation from the University of Washington Law School. He was named deputy assistant to the president for law enforcement, and within three years found himself in charge both of Nixon's narcotics and law enforcement campaign, and of the "Plumbers squad. His single‑ minded ambition surfaced in a declaration to the noted psychiatrist and narcotics expert, Dr. Daniel S. Freedman, when the latter refused to support one of Krogh's programs: "Well, don't worry. Anyone who opposes us we'll destroy. As a matter of fact, anyone who doesn't support us, well destroy."[1] Krogh would wind up in jail for the break‑in at the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist, Dr. Lewis Fielding.
Walter Minnick (temporary Plumber)—a young graduate of Harvard Business School and former agent of the CIA, who joined Krogh's narcotics staff in spring 1971 and later helped draft the reorganization plan that created the DEA [Reorganisation Plan No. 2 of 1973].

John Caulfield (Plumber)—a former agent of the New York City Police Department's Bureau of Special Services (BOSS), which specialized in narcotics and "monitoring the activities of terrorist organizations." In the 1960 presidential campaign he had been assigned to protect candidate Nixon in New York City. That and his close relationship with Nixon's personal secretary, Rose Mary Woods (of eighteen and one‑half minute tape gap fame), gained him a foot in the door of the White House.[2]

Myles Ambrose—the former Customs Commissioner, who was named head of the narcotics campaign's domestic strike force. He would later leave government service in disgrace.
On the afternoon of April 6, 1972 President Nixon arrived in Key Biscayne, Florida, to stay at his compound, next door to Bebe Rebozo's residence and swimming pool. The following morning he "directed the establishment of a nationwide toll-free telephone number to be manned on a 24-hour basis, 7 days a week. The Hot line, a phase of the Drug Abuse Law Enforcement program, was designed to provide citizens a direct line to help the national effort to eliminate heroin trafficking through the contribution of information anonymously." Nixon had chosen Ambrose less than four months earlier, announcing his appointment along with his new Executive Order 11641, which established ODALE. The first Myles Ambrose in America (wife Anna) was an Irish-born grocery clerk in the Bronx who arrived before 1900. The next Myles was born in New York in 1898, served in the Army during WWI, worked for the telephone company in the Bronx, and later managed a telephone company office in Teaneck, N.J. Our research shows there was a Myles J. Ambrose born into this family in 1926; however, the following listing from Marquis Who's Who identifies him as the son of Arthur P. and Ann Campbell Ambrose. There was an Arthur P. Ambrose of Dexter, Maine in the 1930 census, but he was married to Elizabeth--not Ann--and they had no son named Myles. Our Myles went to a New Hampshire prep school, then college in Manhattan before finishing with law studies at New York Law School, an adjunct to Columbia University, graduating in 1952, two years behind AIG's Maurice R. "Hank" Greenberg.
Myles Joseph Ambrose Occupation: lawyer;
Born: New York City, July 21, 1926
Grad., New Hampton School, New Hampshire, 1944; BBA, Manhattan College, 1948; LLD (hon.), Manhattan College, 1972; JD, New York Law School, 1952
Bar: New York 1952, US Supreme Court 1969, DC 1973, US Court Appeals (federal cir.) 1970, US Court International Trade 1970, DC Court Appeals 1973
Currently senior advisor, Sandler Travis Trade Adv. Service; Private practice law, New York City, New York, 1963-69
Executive director, Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, 1960-63; Assistant to secretary, US Treasury, 1957-60; Instructor economics and industrial relations, Manhattan College, 1955-57; Administrative assistant, US attorney Southern district, New York, 1954-57; Personnel manager, Devenco, Inc., 1948-49, 51-54; Of counsel, Arter and Hadden, Washington, DC, 1998—2002; Partner, Ross and Hardies, Washington, DC, 1988—1998; Partner, O'Connor and Hannan, Washington, DC, 1978—1988; Partner, Ambrose and Casselman, Professional Corporation, 1975—1978; Partner, Spear and Hill, 1973-75; Special consultant to President, special assistant attorney general, Washington, DC, 1972-73; U.S. commissioner customs, Washington, DC, 1969-72; Chief counsel, New York State Joint Legislative Committee for Study Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, 1963-65

Career Related:
US observer 13th session UN Commission on Narcotics, Geneva, Switzerland, 1958; chairman, US delegation to 27th General Assembly, International Criminal Police Organization, London, 1958, 28th Extraordinary General Assembly, Paris, 1959; US observer 29th General Assembly, Washington, 1960; member US delegation to Mexico City, 1969, Brussels, 1970, Ottawa, 1971, Frankfurt, 1972; chairman, US-Mexico Conference on Narcotics, Washington, 1960, member conferences, Washington and; Mexico City, 1969, 70, 71, 72; chairman US-Canadian-Mexican Conference on Customs Procedures, San Clemente, California, 1970; chairman US delegate to Customs Cooperation Council, Brussels, 1970; chairman, Vienna, 1971, US-European Customs Conference Narcotics, Paris and; Vienna, 1971; organized Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), 1973; honorary consul Principality of Monaco, Washington, 1973-98; member adv. committee on customs commercial operations US Treasury Department, 1988-91; past chairman American Bar Association standing committee on customs law.

Creative Works:
Author: Primer on Customs Law.

Decorated chevalier Order of Grimaldi (Monaco), knight Commander Order of Merit Italian Republic, Knight of the Holy Sepulchre; recipient Presidential Management Improvement cert. President Nixon, 1970, Secretary Treasury Exceptional Service award, 1970, Distinguished Alumnus award New York Law School, 1973, Alumni award for pub. service Manhattan College, 1972

Board directors University College of Dublin-Grad. Business School, 1996-2001; board member Daytop Village, 1973—; vice-chmn. Reagan-Bush Inaugural Committee, 1980; member adv. board Eisenhower Institute of World Affairs.

Fellow Am. Bar Foundation; member Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, Univ. Club (DC), Alpha Sigma Beta, Phi Alpha Delta (hon.)

Political Affiliation

Roman Catholic

son of Arthur P. and Ann (Campbell) A.; Married Elaine Miller, June 26, 1948 (deceased September 1975); children: Myles Joseph, Kathleen Anne, Kevin Arthur, Elise Mary, Nora Jeanne, Christopher Miller; Married Lorraine Genovese, June 3, 1994.
As revealed by the above resume, Ambrose quickly focused on international control of narcotics as his primary legal interest. Since 1925 the center of such control has been Geneva, with the Commission on Narcotic Drugs operated since 1949 under auspices of the United Nations, which replaced the role of the League of Nations Opium Advisory Commission. Harry Anslinger was appointed U.S. representative in 1946 and served through 1962.
G. Gordon Liddy (Plumber)a former FBI agent whose narcotics intelligence job at the Treasury Department had been terminated, only weeks prior to his recruitment by the White House, for his outspoken lobbying against gun‑control legislation. Eventually, he would get six‑to‑twenty for his role in the break‑in at the Watergate complex and one‑to‑three for the job at Fielding's office.

Howard Hunt (Plumber)—a former CIA agent closely connected to the agency‑trained Cuban exiles, many of whom had emerged from Santo Trafficante's Cuban narcotics Mafia. Hunt was employed as a special advisor on narcotics problems in Southeast Asia. In November 1973 Judge John Sirica would sentence him to two‑and‑a‑half to eight years — reduced from an initial thirty‑five — for the Watergate break-in.

Lucien Conein—a CIA agent, Ed Lansdale's right‑hand man in Vietnam, and an expert on Southeast Asian narcotics centers and the Corsican Mafia. He was brought into the White House by his old buddy Hunt.

David Young—a young lawyer who put up a sign outside his office, "Mr. Young, Plumber," when apprised that he would be plugging leaks and that the trade had run in his family. He came to Krogh's staff from Henry Kissinger's National Security Council.

It was a strange mix of novices and experienced agents with the most intriguing pasts.

Room 16 of OEOB
Hunt and Liddy were located in Room 16 of the Executive Office Building, headquarters for the Plumbers group's secret narcotics missions and other, crooked operations on behalf of the Committee to Re‑Elect the President (CREEP). 

The Plumbers' first assignment was the break‑in at the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist.[3] For the break‑in dirty work, Hunt enlisted Bernard Barker, Eugenio Rolando Martinez and Felipe de Diego, three of his Cuban friends who had been involved in the Bay of Pigs invasion. Martinez and de Diego also took part in the CIA's follow‑up Operation 40, and the ubiquitous Martinez was in on Trafficante‑masterminded boat raids on Cuba.[4]

By the summer of 1971 the White House Death Squad was well on its way. Hunt sought out Barker in Miami for what Hunt called "a new national security organization above the CIA and FBI." Barker would assemble a force of 120 CIA‑trained exiles for Operation Diamond, which, under cover of narcotics enforcement, would kidnap or assassinate political enemies. Barker signed up.[5]

In the fall of 1971 Hunt asked another of his Cuban friends, Bay of Pigs veteran Manuel Artime, to set up "hit teams" for the liquidation of narcotics dealers. As later revealed, Artime's primary target was to have been the Panamanian strongman, General Omar Torrijos.[6]

Krogh and his staff, meanwhile, tightened their grip on narcotics control. After the BNDD takeover of customs' international jurisdiction, Krogh pushed Bureau chief John Ingersoll for results to feed Congress and the press. In September 1971 Krogh was named to direct the newly formed Cabinet Committee on International Narcotics Control. In collaboration with the State Department, BNDD, CIA and Henry Kissinger's office, the committee coordinated the international struggle against narcotics. State Department narcotics advisor Nelson Gross, chosen to supervise the joint actions, was later sentenced to two years for attempted bribery and income tax evasion.[7]

Egil Krogh was less than satisfied with existing narcotics efforts, especially those of the CIA, whose intelligence reports, according to Ingersoll, were decisive for the work of the BNDD. Krogh wanted the White House instead to handle the BNDD's intelligence work. Nixon's staff would then decide which drug traffickers to pursue. Krogh's dissatisfaction was expressed to Hunt, who immediately proposed an Office of National Narcotics Intelligence (ONNI) where all narcotics intelligence reports would be analyzed and follow‑up actions decided.[8]

Hunt told Krogh he could enlist for the office experienced CIA figures, starting with Lucien Conein at its head.[9] Nixon, however, chose William C. Sullivan instead. Once second to J. Edgar Hoover in the FBI, Sullivan had managed Division Five, which investigated espionage, sabotage, and subversion.[10] He also directed Operation Cointelpro, the bureau's vendetta against dissident political and cultural groups (such as the Black Panthers), and had been Nixon's choice to direct the Huston Plan's elaborate surveillance of U.S. citizens.[11]

Hunt, nevertheless, found a niche for his friend. Conein was assigned to the BNDD as a "strategic intelligence officer," and came to control overseas narcotics intelligence, originally the domain of ONNI,[12] while Sullivan concentrated on domestic affairs.[13]

The White House now controlled narcotics intelligence at home and abroad. But that still wasn't enough. Nixon's staff also sought to control enforcement itself, and that required effective strike forces. In January 1972 the White House set up the Office for Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE) according to a plan conceived by Gordon Liddy. It became the domestic strike force under Myles Ambrose — whose government career ended with news of his pleasure trip to the ranch of a Texan indicted for narcotics and gun‑running.[14]

Time Out for a Little Texas History
Note from Editor: This Texas rancher who hosted Myles Ambrose at his ranch was none other than Richmond Chase Harper of Eagle Pass, a town on the Mexican border. Those historians and reporters not familiar with Texas history can be forgiven for skipping over this little tidbit without even a mention of the man's name, but Texans like me, who have worked for years to understand and dig up all the real dirt in this state, cannot overlook the importance of this man and what he represents.
Much of the story has been unknown until a recent book was published by Richmond's son, Rick Harper, ostensibly a biography of the first Mexican-American Texas Ranger, written in a whimsical style that might throw academics away from the scent of meat hidden within the tale. Rick reveals that Richmond's father, Ocie S. Harper, had moved to Tampico, Mexico, between 1908 and 1911, a decade or so before he purchased the Azulejo Ranch in Coahuila, Mexico, about 75 miles south of Eagle Pass.
J. R. Worthington, Jr.
The Harper ranch was, intriguingly, located in the same general area in which the Maverick County patron, County Judge Robert E.  Bibb, was born in 1905 to Thomas Bibb and his Mexican-born wife Maria. Thomas (Tomas) worked as an inspector for the U.S. Immigration Service, and his son would grow up to become the chief administrative officer for Maverick County. Judge Bibb's son, Robert Jr. (born 1930), would die of cirrhosis of the liver in 1971, two years after the judge's own death. Robert Sr.'s youngest brother, William, would become the father of Mary Evelyn Bibb, beauty queen and later the wife of Jack R. Worthington.
 Richmond Harper, born in 1923, married the daughter of Bruce Holsomback, mayor of Crystal City, allegedly hand-picked by John Nance Garner. The Holsombacks had the inaugural in Washington, D.C. of FDR and his Texas-born vice president, John Nance (Cactus Jack) Garner, in 1933 . Bruce had grown up at 416 N. Getty Street in Uvalde, and was said to have been the best friend of Tully Garner, the Congressman's son. Tully's father was appointed to Congress in 1896 to replace a deceased member of the House, and the family lived mostly in Washington, D.C., even though they still claimed Uvalde as home. Garner had quickly gerrymandered a new district to help him get reelected at the end of that term and went on to become Speaker of the House until he resigned when chosen by Franklin Roosevelt as his vice president. Garner no doubt expected FDR to quit after two terms to allow him to become his successor, but that did not happen, and Garner never forgave him for it.

In the 1920 census, Tully, single, was shown to be living, at both the Timberlake Hotel with his parents and on N. High Street, living with Mexican-born Manuel Santos while working as an abstracter. In 1930, having been married at least nine years, Tully lived with his wife and daughter in a modest white frame house, next door to his father's imposing brick residence, while employed as president of his father's bank, First State Bank.

One of his banking partners was Thomas Howard McNelly--brother of Leander McNelly, the famous Texas Ranger, and of Rose McNelly Black, Richmond Harper's grandmother. Rose McNelly Black's daughter Mary, who married Orceneth Samuel "Osie" Harper, was Harper's mother. Osie and his brother Paul Harper ran the Eagle Hardware Co. in Eagle Pass, exporters of guns and other hardware into Mexico since 1914, according to passport records in 1918.

Licensed by the War Trade Board since 1914 to export hardware to Mexico.

Tully Garner left the bank in 1934 and moved to Amarillo, about as far away from Uvalde as he could be and still live in Texas. Control of this bank would be sold to Dolph Briscoe, Jr. in 1960. The elder Garner died in November 1967, and according to his obituary:
Garner spent 46 years in public life; in the Texas Legislature, in Congress where he was Speaker of the House and when he was nominated to be Roosevelt's first vice president in 1932.  Twice he sought the presidential nomination. The first time was in 1932 when he finally threw his support to Roosevelt. The latter was in 1940 when he unsuccessfully opposed the third-term bid of Roosevelt, whom he then was calling "Boss".
After swearing in his successor, Henry A. Wallace, Garner left Washington.  He said he was through with politics.
Tully's friend, Bruce Holsomback, graduated from Vanderbilt in Tennessee, attempted to study dentistry, but soon dropped out of dental school and became a banker instead. He was hired by Garner to work at his bank in Crystal City (Zavala County) as early as 1920, then became the town's mayor in 1928.
Uvalde, Crystal City and Eagle Pass were all in Congressman Garner's district, and controlling the city and county elective positions was important to securing the vote--a major part of the patron system in south Texas.
As it turns out, Carrizo Springs had two banks, and in 1976 one of them (Citizens State Bank) was sold to a fellow named Enrique M. Salinas. Enrique's brother, Juan, was planning to marry a divorced woman named Alex Short, who had worked for Morris Jaffe for several years. Alex had a sister named Beth Horstmann, the girlfriend of Madeleine Duncan Brown's son, Steven:
In 1976, Madeleine Brown received a telephone call from Sam Park, a multimillionaire bachelor from Harris County at his South Texas ranch. He called regarding the collapse of the Salinas family  bank in South Texas. The bank had taken down several celebrities with them, including John Connally, Sammy Davis Jr. and Lt. Governor Ben Barnes. Connally and Barnes filed for bankruptcy.
Did Enrique Salinas have a Morris Jaffe connection?
Sam told Madeleine, "It sure looks like ol' Lyndon's carpetbagger, Morris Jaffe, has done in Steve's pretty little girlfriend, Beth Horstmann, and her sister, Alex Short." (15). Sam continued, "It was Jaffe, who introduced Alex Short to Salinas, wasn't it? The girls burned to death in a plane crash with $500,000 that the paper says is missing from the bank." (See Madeleine Duncan Brown, Texas in the Morning. The Love Story of Madeleine Brown and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Baltimore, MD: The Conservatory Press, pp. 222-223).
But that was by no means the whole story. Congressman Fernand St. Germain (D-R.I.), held hearings in San Antonio late in 1976 to investigate what was always referred to as the 'rent-a-bank scandal'. According to Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, by Stephen Pizzo, Mary Fricker, and Paul Muolo:
 A former executive vice president of Citizens State Bank testified at the hearing that an associate had attended a meeting between Herman Beebe and Richmond Harper and later told him "that Beebe was supposedly connected with the Mafia." Beebe denied the rumor.
Dolph Briscoe, Sr. (father of the man who would later purchase control of Garner's bank) moved to Uvalde in 1910, and Dolph Jr. was born there the same year as Richmond Harper was born in nearby Utopia--1923. In 1932 the elder Briscoe (who was already a partner with Humble Oil (Exxon) founder, Ross Sterling, in a ranch previously owned by Abner (Ab) Pickens Blocker, the Chupadera Ranch just outside Carrizo Springs, Texas) bought a half interest in the 222,000-acre Margarite ranch in Coahuila, Mexico. The following year this noted cattleman was elected to replace J. M. West of Houston as president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, for which Blocker began working in 1912. Blocker sold the Chupadera Ranch to this same J.M. (Jim) West, who later sold it to Sterling and Briscoe. Part of the ranch lies in Mexico.
 Many of Richmond Harper's ancestors and their kinsmen would qualify for membership in the Sons of the Republic of Texas: Orceneth Fisher, for example, a Methodist Chaplain of the Republic of Texas Senate; Fisher's daughter, Judith, married Albert Buckner Harper of Hallettsville, Texas, and they became grandparents of Richmond Chase Harper. After a year of college, Richmond joined the Army Air Reserves in 1943. His first name came from his mother's father, Augustus Richmond Black, who married a niece of Leander Harvey McNelly, organizer of a special force of Texas Rangers. 
Back to the Demise of the French Connection 
That Made Way for the Mexican Connection

Harper was an associate of Barry Seal.
 ODALE soon became notorious for its record of illegal raids, no‑knock entries into private homes, and beatings of innocent people.[15] Some called it the American Gestapo.

Overseas, as well, the White House was dissatisfied with the BNDD's enforcement powers. Dr. J. Thomas Ungerleider, a member of the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, noted in a record of his conversations with BNDD officials: "There was some talk about establishing hit squads (assassination teams), as they are said to have in a South American country. It was stated that with 150 key assassinations, the entire heroin refining operation can be thrown into chaos. 'Officials' say it is known exactly who is involved in these operations but can't prove it."

Hunt, Liddy and others in Room 16 did not confine themselves to narcotics campaigns and political assassinations. On behalf of CREEP they raised campaign funds from more or less shady sources and sabotaged the campaigns of George Wallace, Hubert Humphrey, Edmund Muskie, and George McGovern. Hunt's CIA colleagues are among those who suspect he spiked Muskie's lemonade with an LSD-like substance prior to the candidate's famous tearful speech.[16]

Besides Hunt's Cubans, the familiar Frank Sturgis, who had earlier taken orders from Santo Trafficante, took on narcotics work and special assignments for CREEP.[17] According to a 1972 FBI report, sources in Miami had claimed Sturgis was then associated with organized crime activities. He later told an interviewer that he had aided Hunt in a 1971 investigation of the drug traffic reaching the U.S. from Paraguay via Panama.[18] He was in on several actions connected with the investigation, which focussed exclusively on Auguste Ricord's Grupo Frances.[19]

Sturgis was everywhere in the hectic spring of 1972. In May he was among the men who assaulted Daniel Ellsberg on the steps of the Capitol. Later that month he and Cubans including Bernard Barker arranged a Miami demonstration in support of Nixon's decision to mine Haiphong harbor. Sturgis himself was at the wheel of the truck leading the procession. He helped recruit agitators to disrupt the Democratic national convention, and in the June 17 Watergate break‑ in Sturgis joined CIA/ Trafficante Cubans and White House narcotics conspirators.[20]

As the noted Berkeley researcher Peter Dale Scott put it in 1973: 
"In my opinion it is no coincidence that the key figures in Watergate — Liddy, Hunt, Sturgis, Krogh, Caulfieldhad been drawn from the conspiratorial world of government narcotics enforcement, a shady realm in which operations of organized crime, counter‑revolution and government intelligence have traditionally overlapped."[21]
In July 1973 Nixon's narcotics forces were essentially consolidated according to Reorganization Plan Number Two worked out by former CIA agent Walter Minnick and Egil Krogh. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was formed out of the BNDD, ODALE, ONNI and Customs Intelligence. Four thousand operatives, including fifty CIA agents (many of them Cubans from the ODALE hard core), five hundred customs agents and most of the BNDD staff made the DEA a powerful new agency.

Ingersoll of the BNDD, Ambrose of ODALE and Sullivan of ONNI all resigned as John R. Bartels became the DEA's first director. His was no small task. Earlier rivalries persisted. The strange brew of agents with widely varying backgrounds and assignments made the DEA difficult if not impossible to steer. U.S. narcotics enforcement has a history of corruption, scandal and exposure of agent collaboration with the criminals it has been assigned to police.

Still, no bureau has been as plagued by scandal as the DEA has in seven years of existence. The exposes and charges run the gamut from trafficking in drugs, teamwork with the Mob and protection of major traffickers, to thievery, gunrunning, torture, and assassination of drug traffickers.[22]

When Lucien Conein became the head of the DEA's Special Operations Branch he allegedly carried out an assassination program after setting up the DEA's Special Operations Group (DEASOG), under cover of the B.R. Fox Company and housed on Connecticut Avenue in Washington.[23] DEASOG's twelve members—the Dirty Dozen—were hard‑nosed and experienced Latino CIA agents transferred over to the drug agency for the occasion. Prior to DEASOG, Conein had set up another DEA "intelligence" operation, Deacon I, employing Cuban exile veterans of CIA training camps, who were supervised by thirty other Cubans, all formerly of the CIA's Clandestine Services.[24]

In response to the claim that DEASOG was a "hit team," Conein told journalist George Crile: "That is a big ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑ lie. That is bull ‑‑‑‑‑. However, a DEA official had told Crile: 
"When you get down to it, Conein was organizing an assassination program. He was frustrated by the big‑time operators who were just too insulated to get to." DEA officials also told Crile that "meetings were held to decide whom to target and what method of assassination to employ. Conein then assigned the task to three of the former CIA operatives assigned to the Connecticut Avenue safe house."[25]
DEASOG shared its Washington office with an old friend and colleague of Hunt and Conein's from OSS China, the weapons dealing soldier of fortune and specialist in assassination, Mitch WerBell III.26 WerBell told Crile he had been a business partner of Conein's as late as 1974, and that he and Conein had worked together on providing the DEA with assassination devices.[27] Among WerBell's other associates were Frank Sturgis, Cuban exile leaders, and Robert Vesco, who, like WerBell himself, has been charged with bankrolling narcotics smuggling.[28] Carlos Hernandez Rumbaut, the bodyguard of Vesco's close friend and business partner, former Costa Rican President Pepe Figueres, is a former Conein agent who fled the country to avoid imprisonment on a drug conviction.[29] He has reportedly reentered the U.S. twice with a U.S. diplomatic passport.[30]

Assassination, it can be argued, became a modus operandi under Richard Nixon. The CIA carried out assassination and extermination campaigns in Vietnam, Guatemala, Argentina, and Brazil[31]—aided in Latin America by the local Death Squads. The White House appears to have‑sponsored a secret assassination program under cover of drug enforcement. It was continued by the DEA, which seemingly overlapped with the CIA in political rather than drug enforcement.

Until 1974 the training of torturers and members of Latin American death squads came under the auspices of the CIA and USAID's Office of Public Safety. Some 100,000 Brazilian policemen, for example, were trained and 523 of them were chosen for courses in the U.S.A.[32] They were trained at the International Police Academy in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. and at a secret CIA center in the same city on R Street, under cover of International Police Services, Inc. When school was out the prize pupils returned home to work, beside CIA advisors, as functionaries or torturers in such effective repression apparatuses as Sao Paulo's Operacao Bandeirantes.[33] Many would moonlight with the Death Squads.

After Tupamaros guerillas kidnapped and killed U.S. police advisor Dan Mitrione in Uruguay, Washington's schools for foreign police came into the limelight and Congress cut off their funding.[34] Nonetheless, the training program and direct assistance and supervision continued. A 1976 investigation authorized by Senator James Abourezk revealed that the U.S. torture academies had not in fact been completely closed down. According to Jack Anderson, Abourezk found such a school had been in operation since 1974 in Los Fresnos, Texas [far south Texas near Matamoros, Mexico] at the site of a former "bomb school." Another journalist, William Hoffman, later confirmed the existence of a school for torture in Los Fresnos, which had since moved to Georgia, where it was known as the Law Enforcement Training Center.[35] Interestingly, Conein's friend WerBell runs his own large training center in Georgia, The Farm. It's used for, among other things, the training of law enforcement officers.[36]

Much of the old police support apparatus was simply transferred to AID's International Narcotics Control program (INC), which really spelled DEA. In 1974 the DEA had some 400 agents in Latin America, or roughly the number of advisors recalled from the OPS program. INC's budget for technical equipment abroad, meanwhile, jumped from $2.2 million in 1973 to $12.5 million in 1974.

The politics of the new drug effort were exposed when, in 1974, the man behind Argentina's death squad (the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance), Social Minister Lopez Rega, appeared on TV with U.S. Ambassador Robert C. Hill to publicize the two nations' antinarcotics collaboration with the words: "Guerillas are the main users of drugs in Argentina. Therefore, the anti‑drug campaign will automatically be an anti‑guerilla campaign as well.”[31]

It's striking how close the various extermination and repression campaigns have been to the narcotics traffic. The Meo Army deployed by the CIA in Laos smuggled large quantities of opium. Lopez Rega and his Argentine AAA henchmen were eventually exposed as keys to a cocaine ring.[38] One of the chief AAA hatchet men, Francois Chiappe, was a lieutenant in the Ricord/David heroin network.[39] Paraguay's most ruthless high‑ranking officers were exposed as heroin profiteers. Christian David took part in extermination campaigns in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. Operacao Bandeirantes' chief, Sergio Fleury, and several of his colleagues pocketed large protection payoffs.[40] Fleury's number two man in the Sao Paulo Death Squad, Ademar Augusto, de Oliveira, alias Fininho, fled to Paraguay after he was charged with murder. There, under the name Irineu. Bruno da Silva, he worked for the Ricord gang.[41] When David's successor, the Brazilian narcotics dealer Milton Concalves Thiago, alias Cabecao (The Brain), was arrested in 1975, it was learned that he had been paying off the entire Rio de Janeiro Death Squad, which included four narcotics police lieutenants .42 And finally as we go to press we learn that the dictator, Pinochet, assumed control of Chile's cocaine trade, then turned it over to his secret police, DINA, which shared the profits with its Cuban exile henchmen.[43]

The political violence set in motion by the White House narcotics offices ran smoothly. But what of actual drug enforcement? From its inception it focussed on dismantling the French narcotics network. When that was done, America would be free of the heroin plague, or so said Nixon and his staff. Reports of increasing amounts of heroin from Southeast Asia and Mexico were obscured by the great public relations campaign on the struggle against the Corsicans.

The Turkey/ Marseilles/ U.S. heroin pipeline was indeed shut down, and the French Corsican Mafia was almost totally decimated. But major new suppliers in Southeast Asia and South America were left untouched — despite warnings and reports — and despite the many CIA "experts" on the Latin American drug scene. Not only were most major heroin suppliers in the two regions left alone, they were protected. And they were aided by the arrest of small‑time competitors.

At home the story was nearly the same. ODALE and DEA nabbed only minor distributors and sidewalk pushers.

pps. 159-169


1. L. Lurie: The Impeachment of Richard Nixon (Berkeley, 1973).

2. J.A. Lukas: Nightmare (Viking, 1976).

3. It is interesting to speculate whether Ellsberg's knowledge of top‑secret operations in Vietnam touched on narcotics. His supervisors in Southeast Asia had been General Lansdale and Lieutenant Colonel Conein. Ellsberg and Conein were apparently quite close in Vietnam. Conein reportedly saved Ellsberg's life when the latter got romantically involved with the mistress of an Corsican Mafia capo. The gangster threatened to kill Ellsberg. Conein, in turn, told the gangster it would lead to his own funeral and war between the CIA and the Corsicans ‑see J. Hougan: Spooks (William Morrow, 1978).

4. See chapter fifteen.

5.1977 CBS interview of Bernard Barker; see also G. Crile III in the Washington Post, 13 June 1976.

6. J. Marshall: "The White House Death Squad," Inquiry, 5 March 1979.

7. E.J. Epstein: Agency of Fear (Putnam, 1977).

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.

10. D. Wise and T.B. Ross: The Invisible Government (Random House, 1964).

11. S. Blumenthal: "How the FBI Tried to Destroy the Black Panthers," in Government by Gunplay, S. Blumenthal and H. Yazijian, eds. (New American Library, 1976).

12. H. Messick: ‑Of Grass and Snow (Prentice‑Hall, 1979).

13. A 1971 New York investigation revealed that 47 percent of the city's 300,000 addicts were Black, 27 percent Hispanic and only 15 percent White‑see C. Lamour and M.R. Lamberti: Les Grandes Maneuvres de l'0pium (Editions du Seuil, 1972); i.e., there were some 150,000 Black addicts in New York City alone. Still, Nixon named as director of ONNI, William C. Sullivan. The man who had planned and executed Operation Cointelpro would now battle the forces doping the potentially troublesome elements of the Ghetto. Ironically, Malcolm X and the Panthers, prime Cointelpro targets, had been the only ones to make significant headway against ghetto drug addiction.

14. T. Meldal‑Johnsen and V. Young: The Interpol Connection (Dial, 1979).

15. Epstein, op. cit.

16. M. Copeland: Beyond Cloak and Dagger (Pinnacle Books, 1974).

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

18. True, August 1974.

19. In his book Cygne (Grasset, 1976), intelligence agent Luis Gonzales‑Mata describes being assigned a special task by CIA agent "Robert Berg." He was to convince the Paraguayan dictator Stroessner that Ricord was behind a planned coup attempt against him financed with heroin from Red China. Stroessner was in a bind, since he very well knew that the source of the heroin was not Red China but his bosom buddies in Taiwan.

20. C. Bernstein and B. Woodward: All the President's Men (Warner Books, 1975).

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

22. U.S. Justice Department DeFeo Report, 1975; the list of DEA abuses has recently been expanded to include a computerized information system covering 570,000 names (a number which may be compared with the 8000 federal drug arrests each year)‑see E. Rasen: "High‑Tech Fascism," Penthouse, March 1980.

23. Hougan, op. cit.

24. Ibid.

25. Crile, op. cit.

26. Another OSS China hand, Clark McGregor, replaced John Mitchell as the
head of CREEP.

27. Crile, op. cit.

28. T. Dunkin: "The Great Pot Plot," Soldier of Fortune, Vol. 2, No. 1, 1977;
L.H. Whittemore: Peroff (Ballantine, 1975).

29. Hougan, op. cit.

30. Crile, op. cit.

31. Cuban exiles took part in an extermination campaign in Guatemala between 1968 and 1971. According to Amnesty International, 30,000 people were murdered there between 1962 and 1971, most of them in the last three years. Similarly, anti‑Castro Cubans had their hand in the Argentine AAA's murder campaign believed to have claimed 10,000 lives. In Brazil the Sao Paulo Death Squad alone is estimated to have assassinated 2000 between 1968 and 1972, while many others perished in the torture chambers.

32. Skeptic, January/ February 1977.

33. A.J. Langguth: Hidden Terrors (Pantheon, 1978). 34. Ibid.

35. Gallery, May 1978.

36. Dunkin, op. cit. Among other antiterrorism trainees at WerBell's camp in Powder Springs have been several members of U.S. presidential candidate Lyndon Larouche's U.S. Labor Party. The Marxist turned extreme rightist and anti‑Semitic U.S. Labor Party has voluntarily sent the FBI and local police forces "intelligence" reports on left wing movements, and regularly exchanges information with one Roy Frankhouser, the self‑proclaimed Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan in Pennsylvania and active member of the American Nazi Party — see the New York Times, 7 October 1979.

37. P.Lernoux: "Corrupting Colombia," Inquiry, 30 September 1979. In July 1978, DEA chief Peter Bensinger strongly recommended that Colombian authorities militarize the Guajira Peninsula, home of the marijuana/cocaine traffic. Two months later, newly elected (and current) President Julio Cesar Turbay issued a security statute empowering the military to arrest any Colombian deemed subversive, without recourse to habeas corpus or other constitutional guarantees. In April 1980, the Colombian Army was about to abandon its U.S.‑financed multi‑million dollar drug war, its failure connected, no doubt, to an estimated $110 million in protection money distributed annually by the smugglers (New York Times, 3 April 1980). Meanwhile, the military has assumed the dominant position in what was one of Latin America's few remaining democracies. U.S. military aid to Colombia — where, according to Amnesty International's April 1980 report, military personnel torture political prisoners in thirty‑three locations throughout the country, resorting to fifty identifiable techniques ‑totalled $155 million between 1946 and 1975; 6200 Colombian military personnel were trained by the U.S. in the same period (N. Chomsky and E.S. Herman: The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism, South End Press, 1979). U.S. military aid for 1979 was $12.7 million, the highest amount in Latin America.

38. Latin America, 19 December 1975.

39. L'Aurore, 31 May 1976; Liberation, 19 July 1976.

40. Le Nouvel Observateur, 21 May 1973; A. Lopez: L'Escadron de la Mort (Casterman, 1973); H. Bicudo: Meu Depoimento sobre o Esquadrao da Morte (1976).

41. Le Nouvel Observateur, 21 May 1973. 42. Diario, de Noticias, 7 May 1975. 43. See the foreword, footnote 52.