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By Celerino "Cele" Castillo, 3rd
Former Federal Drug Agent and Author of:
Powderburns- Cocaine, Contras & the Drug War

posted at
May 12, 2004

"Armed speedboats and a helicopter launched from a CIA 'mother ship' attacked Nicaragua's Pacific port, Puerto Sandino, on a moonless New Year's night in 1984. A week later, the speedboats returned to mine the oil terminal. Over the next three months, they laid more than 30 mines in Puerto Sandino and in the harbors at Corinto and El Bluff. In air and sea raids on costal positions, Americans flew-and fired from-an armed helicopter that accompanied the U.S. financed Latino force, while a CIA plane provided sophisticated reconnaissance guidance for the nighttime attacks. The operation, outlined in a classified CIA document, marked the peak of U.S. involvement in the four-year guerrilla war in Nicaragua. The most celebrated attack, by armed speedboats, came Oct. 11, 1983, against oil facilities at Corinto. Three days later, Latino frogmen sabotaged an underwater pipeline at Puerto Sandino. The message wasn't lost on Exxon, Esso unit, and the international giant informed the Sandinista government that it would no longer provide tankers for transporting oil to Nicaragua."
The Wall Street Journal-March 6, 1985


Top Secret-
Office of
Independent Counsel
File # IC-600-1

Record of FBI Agent Michael S. Foster's interview with Walter L. Grasheim
Date of Transcription: January 3, 1991

"Grasheim came up with the idea to prepare a military raid on an airport in Nicaragua, using Tamarindo as a staging base. Grasheim told General Gorman this and then right after, Rodriguez came to see Grasheim without warning and asked to talk about the idea…Rodriguez told Grasheim that he was talking to the White House and the NSC…"

On September 10, 1985, NORTH wrote in his notebook:
"…Introduced by Wally Gresheim/Litton Calero/Bermudez visit to Ilopango to estab."

December 21, 1982, the first Boland Amendment became law. "None of the funds provided in this Act [the Defense Appropriations Bill] may be used by the CIA or the Dept. of Defense to furnish military equipment, military training or advice, or other support for military activities, to any group or individual…for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Nicaragua. This act went into effect until Oct. 3, 1984, when it was superseded by a stronger prohibition known as "Boland II."

This "Boland II" amendment was designed to prevent any conceivable form of deceit by the covert action apparatus: "During fiscal year 1985, no funds available to the CIA, the Dept. of Defense, or any other agency or entity of the United States involved in intelligence activities may be obligated or expended for the purpose of which would have the effect of supporting, directly or indirectly, military or paramilitary operations in Nicaragua by a nation, group, organization, movement, or individual." The law was effective from October 3, 1984, to December 5, 1985, when it was superceded by various aid-limitation laws which, taken together, were referred to as "Boland III."

North was brought into the National Security Council staff in August 1981. One of the first assignments was to serve as the NSC staff liaison to the Kissinger Commission on Central America beginning in the summer of 1983.

After October 1984, Vice President Bush designated North to coordinate the re-supply operations for the Contra network. At the same time, he was involved in various schemes to ransom U.S. hostages being held in Lebanon, by providing arms to Iran.

For the past ten years, I've been invited to lecture in different parts of this country in regards to the criminal activities of Oliver North. This will be the second time that I know of that the Salvation Army has invited Oliver North to be their key speaker for another Republican fundraiser. During the McAllen fundraiser, the alleged reason for the invitation was that the Salvation Army captain claimed that North has saved his father life in Vietnam. I don't know what the reason is this time around, but I do know that he is once again being paid $25,000 for his lecture.

At the height of the Contra war, I was stationed in Central America for 5 years as the lead DEA agent in El Salvador. It was there that I came face to face with the contradictions of my assignments. I started to record intelligence on how known drug traffickers, with multiple DEA files, were utilizing hangars 4 and 5 at Illopango airbase in El Salvador, to transport monies and drugs. Those hangars were owned and operated by the CIA and NSC. The Contra supply operations utilized the most readily available capabilities: drug-smugglers, who had the planes and pilots to conduct clandestine flights from South and Central America to all parts of the United States. "Guns down, drugs back," was the formula.

During that period, I was warned several times by the DEA and the State Department to shut down my Contra investigations but not to close the files. The reason was that if I did not close the investigation, then the committees would not be able to have excess to the files under the Freedom of Information Act. However, I continued to file my reports on the Contras to DEA HQS. These reports on members of the Contra operators went on for several years.

During the 1980s, Felix Rodriguez was in charge of the Contras' supply network in El Salvador for Oliver North. In addition, Rodriguez hired a Cuban terrorist by the name of Luis Posada Carriles to help him run the operation. On October 1976, after an explosion sent a Cuban jetliner plummeting into the sea off Barbados, it was revealed that the mastermind behind the bombing was no other then Luis Posada. In late 2000, Posada was arrested in a plot to assassinate Cuban president Fidel Castro.

The July 9, 1984 entry in North's diary obligingly published by Senator John Kerry, states, in Ollie's own hand, "Wanted aircraft to go to Bolivia to pick up paste, want aircraft to pick up 1,500 kilos."

The July 12, 1985 entry reads, "$14 millions to finance [arms] Supermarket came from drugs."

August 9, 1985: "Honduran DC-9 which is being used for runs out of New Orleans is probably being used for drug runs into U.S." All told, Ollie referred to CIA drug dealing in more than 250 entries. Oliver north's defense has always been that he allegedly turned all of the drug information to the DEA.

"North Didn't Relay Drug Tips: DEA Says It finds No Evidence Reagan Aide Talked to Agency," reported the Washington Post on Saturday, October 22, 1994.

Several years ago, the extreme right arm of the Christian Coalition selected to support Oliver North for U.S. Senate. Their support backfired and North became one of two Republicans who lost the elections that year. During North's campaign, I traveled to the Virginia to educate concern citizens on Oliver North. I went out to "grassroots" communities, and educated them on the criminal activities that Oliver North had been involved in during the 1980s. I went as far as challenging North to a debate. Of course, he refused.

During his failed 1994 campaign, he frequently claimed that there was no basis for any charges of his complicity in drug running, because as he keeps saying, "I'm the most investigated man on this planet." The truth of the matter is that the Iran-Contra special prosecutor, Lawrence Walsh, never investigated the drug trafficking allegations, because he did not consider it part of his mandate. The special prosecutor's original mandate from Congress was defined very narrowly, concentrating on the Iranian arms sales, the "diversion" of funds from the Iranian arms sales to the Contra operation, and on the Contra support operation as a violation of U.S. law.

During all the misdirected hoopla about Iran-Contra, the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee (known as the "Kerry committee") continued its work. Jack Blum, an investigator for Senator Kerry, testified to the committee on Feb. 11, 1987 that the Contras move drugs "not by the pound, not by the bag, but by the ton, by the cargo planeloads."

In 1987, Henry Hyde, as a member of the congressional Iran-contra committee and a defense attorney, helped steer the panel away from any serious investigation of the contra-cocaine connection. His focus was to spare President Ronald Reagan and his vice president, George Bush from possible impeachment over the Iran-contra scandal and related drug crimes implicating the Nicaraguan contra army.

More help for North came from an Iran-contra committee staff member Robert A. Bermingham, in a 1987, 900-word memo, claiming that a thorough investigation into drug-trafficking charges had found no evidence that the contra leadership was implicated in narco-trafficking. However, Bermingham's memo offered virtually no documentation from - or even identification of - the "hundreds" of witnesses supposedly questioned. There were no excerpts from depositions, no quotes from the files, no references to specific records examined, no citation of which foreign governments had cooperated or how, no detailing of the witness accounts alleging contra-drug trafficking and how those stories were debunked.

Nevertheless, in March 1998, Oliver North was indicted on Iran-contra charges.

During North's testimony, he revealed the following:
· North claimed no awareness of a $200,000 investment account that Secord's business partner Albert Hakim set up for North in Switzerland. Although, he did admit that he sent his wife Betsy to Philadelphia in March 1986 to meet with Willard I. Zucker, the Secord-Hakim Enterprise's financial manager. North said he assumed that in the event of his death, something would be done "that was proper and honorable and nothing wrong in any way," denying that the investment account was bribery by Hakim. Hakim pleaded guilty on November 1989 to attempting to supplement the salary of North, based partly on the establishment of the $200,000 investment account.

On May 6, 1989, North was found guilty on three counts, which included: (1) aiding and abetting obstruction of Congress, (2) shredding and altering official documents, and (3) accepting an illegal gratuity from General Richard V. Secord.

Oliver North had teamed up with four companies owned and operated by drug traffickers - and North helped arrange State Department contracts to pay all four for shipping non-lethal supplies to the contras.

According to government documents, the companies were:

SETCO Air owned and operated by the notorious Honduran drug trafficker Ramon Matta Ballesteros and the brains behind the killing of DEA agent Kike Camarena.

DIACSA, the Miami-based headquarters for major traffickers, Floyd Carlton and Alfredo Caballero.

Vortex, an air service partly owned by drug trafficker Michael Palmer, described in court records as "working for the largest marijuana cartel in the history of the country."

Frigorificos de Puntarenas, a Costa Rican seafood exporter established by the Medellin cartel and operated by Cuban-American drug trafficking. Oliver North knew that the Cuban had a criminal record as a drug trafficker, according to the inspector general's report.

NOTE: On March 24, 1986, according to my journals, I initiated a case general file: GFTG-86-4003 on Frigorificos de Puntarenas. A day later I wrote a report on Juan Mata-Ballesteros, FGTA-78-8001: Operation Tigere.

A DEA informant, Lawrence Harrison testified that he had been present who two of the partners of Felix Gallardo and Matta Ballesteros, met with American pilots working out of El Salvador providing arms to the Contras. The purpose of the meeting was to work out drug deals. He further related that Nicaraguan contras were being trained at a ranch in Vera Cruz, owned by Rafael Caro Quintero. It was at Quintero's ranch that DEA agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena, and his pilot were interrogated, tortured and buried alive.

It will surprise many to know that the Nobel Prize winning President of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias, because of an in-depth investigation by the Costa Rican congressional commission on narcotics, found "virtually all [U.S. supported] contra factions involved in drug trafficking." The government banned Oliver North and other American diplomats by Executive Order, from ever entering Costa Rica for their roles in utilizing Costa Rican territory for cocaine trafficking.

Former President Bush once stated, "All those who look the other way are as guilty as the drug dealers."

Just recently, diaries, e-mail, and memos of Iran-contra figure Oliver North, posted on the Web by the National Security Archive, directly contradict his criticisms a couple of weeks ago of Sen. John Kerry's 1988 Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee Report on the ways that covert support for Nicaraguan contras in the 1980s undermined the U.S. war on drugs.

Mr. North claimed to talk show hosts Hannity & Colmes that the Kerry report was "wrong," that Sen. Kerry "makes this stuff up and then he can't justify it," and that "The fact is nobody in the government of the United States, going all the way back to the earliest days of this under Jimmy Carter, ever had anything to do with running drugs to support the Nicaraguan resistance. Nobody in the government of the United States. I will stand on that to my grave."

There are several Reports on files that will contradict North's allegations:

· Documentation of Official U.S. Knowledge of Drug Trafficking and the Contras
· Evidence that NSC Supported Using Drug Money to Fund the Contras
· U.S. Officials and Major Traffickers
· Kerry Report - Iran/Contra North Notebook Citation Bibliography
The above documentation can be located here

As Kerry's final report summarized "It is clear that individuals who provided support for the contras were involved in drug trafficking. It is also clear that the supply network of the contras was used by drug trafficking organizations, and elements of the contras themselves knowingly received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers.

The report also cited former DEA administrator John Lawn, who testified that North himself had prematurely leaked a DEA undercover operation, jeopardizing agents' lives. North did it for political advantage in an upcoming congressional vote on aid to the Contras.

A government official can be found guilty of violations of The Federal Drug Conspiracy Laws, if he fails to take appropriate action in reporting drug trafficking activity.

In 1974, according to Parade magazine (Nov. 13, 1994) North spent an evening running through a suburban neighborhood naked, waving his .45 automatic pistol and screaming, "I'm no good!" North mentions his subsequent three week stay at Bethesda Naval Medical Center's psychiatric ward in his autobiography, "Under Fire".

"It is said that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel but in Oliver North, it was the first one…"
Tony Jones- ABC

"I believed that he is one of the best actors that I have seen, he is able to deal in his fantasies rather then the real world…he is a habitual liar and he is just not able to tell the truth…"
"He has that ability to sell himself as a dedicate, patriotic, religious, American who only is interesting in doing what is absolutely right and he is convincing, that is why snake oil salesman, sale snake oil."
"…I am very distress by the fact that we are able, through the media to create images of people that are not true."
Gen. John Singlaub, who worked hand in hand with North

"I will tell you right now, council and all the members here gathered, that I mislead the Congress, at that meeting, face to face… I did"
Lt. Col. Oliver L. North Under Oath before congress.

"He knows better and you know better, because I didn't lie to Congress and you know I didn't."
Oliver L. North

"…It came to a disaster, including the loss of life. I wanted out of it more than anybody, but they kept urging me, the director of CIA, North and the others. North admitted to this in his testimony before Congress, to the extent of even lying to me."
Gen. Richard Secord, Oliver North's partner during the Contra years

"In every case, in every case, when there was a hint that somebody might be running drugs into this country, we turned it over to the DEA, every single time."
Oliver North

In 1991, a DEA General File (FGFD-91-9139) was initiated on Oliver North in Washington D.C. "Smuggling weapons into the Philippines with know drug traffickers."

We, Americans, are not hated by other third world countries because we practice democracy, value freedom or uphold human rights. We are hated because our government denies these precious ingredients to people in third world countries whose resources are coveted by our multinational corporations. That hatred we have sown has come back to haunt us in the form of terrorism. War crimes also come easily because the U.S. considers itself the vehicle of a higher morality and truth and can operate in violation of law without cost. Just recently look at how we have abused the POWs in Iraq. This past week, a government official made the comment, in reference to the abuse, "this is not what America has done in the past."

Finally, yet importantly, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly they are ravening wolves."
Mathew 7:15


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