by Celerino Castillo
March 8, 2003
posted at DrugWar.com
March 21, 2003
photo- Preston Peet
For several years, I fought in the trenches
of the front lines of the Reagan-Bushs drug war. I was trying
to stamp out what I had considered Americans greatest foreign
threat. While our government shouted, Just Say No,
entire Central and South American nations fell into what was known
as Cocaine Democracies.
The man that brought us this epidemic is
none other than former Lt. Col. Oliver North. Recently, I read
an advertisement in the Monitor where an invitation was extended
to Oliver North to speak at the annual meeting of the McAllen/Hidalgo
County Salvation Army. The fundraiser is to be held on April 5,
2003 at the McAllen High School.
Oliver L. North, a Marine lieutenant colonel,
was assigned to the National Security Council staff beginning
in 1981 until he was fired on November 25, 1986. He was the White
House official most directly involved in secretly aiding the Contras
by selling arms to Iran. It was best known as; the Iran-for-Hostages
weapons deal. The allegation was that he diverted Iran arms sales
proceeds to the Contras' accounts. However, it was later determined
that the diversion was not to the Contras but from the Contras
to our governments' agents own Swiss bank accounts. It was also
clear that Norths job at the NSC was to implement two of
the Presidents (Reagan) most important policy goals: the
sustenance of the Contras despite the Boland prohibition on U.S.
aid, and the release of American hostages being held by pro-Iranian
terrorists in Beirut. It was clear that North worked tirelessly
in pursuit of these goals.
During the Contra operation, Vice-President
George H. Bush designated North and CIA Director William Casey,
to coordinate the re-supply operation out of Ilopango airport
in El Salvador. This he did, using assets already in place around
General Richard Secords airlift operation at Ilopango. Former
CIA agent Felix Rodriguez, and Cuban terrorist Luis Posada Carriles
ran the operations out of hangars 4 and 5. In 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, Luis Posada was arrested
in a plot to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro.
At the height of the Contra war, I was stationed
in El Salvador for 5 years as the only DEA agent. 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, utilized hangars 4 and 5 to transport
monies and drugs. 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.
North had additional protection from Felix
Rodriguez who ran hangar 4. By that time, Rodriguez had built
an apparatus outside the CIA, for the purpose of not having to
answer to Congress. I repeatedly warned the U.S. Embassy and DEA
Headquarters that my intelligence revealed that the drug profits
were being utilized to support the Reagan-Bush backed right-wing
Contras in Nicaragua and surrounding countries. I
was warned several times by DEA and the State Department to shut
down my Contra investigations. I ignored the repeated threats
and continued to file DEA 6s (Field of Investigative Report) and
telex/cables to Washington D.C. My reports not only named the
traffickers, but their destination, tail numbers, cargo, and times
and dates of each flight. Some Contra files were reported on DEA
case file # TG-87-0003, General Files #s GFTG-86-9999, Air
Intelligence at El Salvador, and GFTG-86-9145 (El Salvador). A
senior DEA agent (Sandy Gonzales) in Costa Rica advised me to
check out Hangers 4 & 5 because he had received intelligence
that a large shipment of cocaine had been stored in said hangers.
The July 9, 1984 entry in Norths diary
obligingly published by Senator John Kerry, states, in Ollies
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 million 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 Norths defense has always been
that he allegedly turned all of the drug information over to the
DEA. On Saturday, October 22, 1994, The Washington Post reported
that, North Didnt Relay Drug Tip: DEA Says It Finds
No Evidence Reagan Aide Talked to Agency. As late as 1991,
the Washington D.C. DEA office opened a general drug case file
(GFGD-91-9139) on Oliver North, smuggling weapons to the
Philippines with known drug traffickers.
Oliver North was indicted in March 1988
on Iran-Contra charges.
During Norths testimony, he revealed
· North had difficulty on cross-examination
explaining why he destroyed some NSC records, as he claimed, to
protect the lives of individuals involved in the Iran and Contra
operations, but had taken with him from the White House more than
a dozen notebooks containing 2,000 pages of names and details
on operations, including some highly classified information.
· North claimed no awareness of a
$200,000 investment account that Secords business partner,
Albert Hakim, set up for North in Switzerland. He did admit that
he sent his wife Betsy to Philadelphia in March 1986 to meet with
Willard I. Zucker, the Secord-Hakim Enterprises 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 a bribery attempt by Hakim. Hakim pleaded guilty in November
1989 to attempting to supplement the salary of North, based partly
on the establishment of the $200,000 investment account.
On May 06, 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.
Judge Gesell sentenced North on July 05, 1989 to two years probation,
$150,000. in fines and 1,200 hours community service. He told
North that a jail sentence would only harden your misconceptions
about public service and how he had tarnished it.
Norths convictions were vacated on
July 20, 1990, after the appeals court found that witnesses in
his trial might have been impermissibly affected by his immunized
congressional testimony. Despite the dismissal of Norths
convictions, the prosecution of the case showed that even individuals
entrenched in national security matters can be held accountable
for crimes committed in the course of their official duties. It
was not classified information, after all, that caused North to
prevail on appeal. It was Congresss political decision to
grant immunity to North, despite the danger it posed to prosecution.
For decades, the American leadership has fought hard to bring
to justice what it calls the tyrants that spread terror around
the globe. It has called upon nations to set up a permanent institution
similar to the Nuremberg Tribunal, to free the world from the
Saddam Husseins and Slobodan Milosevics. In Rome, Italy 120 countries
voted to create the first International Criminal Court, that in
theory will supersede legal jurisdiction over some American citizens.
The US bailed out from the vote, along with
China, Iraq, Libya, and three other countries. Analysts say Washington
realized that the possibility of its servicemen - like Lt. Col.
Oliver North, widely-believed to have masterminded the so-called
Iran-Contra scandal - could also be prosecuted for war crimes.
If it was proven that Oliver North knew about the atrocities
that were committed by the Contras, yes, he could also have been
held accountable before the ICC, had it existed at the time,
says William Pace, head of the Coalition for an International
In July of 1989, Costa Rica officially declared
that Oliver L. North and other Americans were barred from the
country because they were part of an organization made up
of Panamanians, Colombians, Costa Ricans, and citizens of other
nationalities who dedicated themselves to international cocaine
In conclusion, I asked the McAllen/Hidalgo County Salvation Army
to have better judgment in selecting their speaker. We all know
that this is a free county and you can invite anyone you wish
and pay him/her thousand of dollars to speak to your organization.
However, there are better-qualified individuals who have done
so much for the unprivileged. Take for example Rigoberta Menchu,
a recipient of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize. As I stated before,
if our citizens want to pay $50.00 or $100.00 per plate to support
a great cause, then its their God given right. However,
lets not ignore the fact that if they bring an individual
like Oliver North, they will also be supporting the atrocities,
the direct results of which were our 9-11. Let us not forget the
thousands of innocent lives that were murdered in Central and
South America by our own trained Death Squads. We may forgive,
but we will NEVER forget.
In 1974, Oliver L. North had to be hospitalized
in Bethesda Naval Hospital after he was found running around naked,
waving a .45 caliber pistol and babbling incoherently.
On January 24, 1993, The Monitor ran one
of its most intense investigating reporting on Oliver Norths
alleged drug trafficking operation. For the full story go to www.drugwar.com
Beware of false prophets, which come
to you in sheeps clothing but inwardly they are ravening
Celerino Cele Castillo, 3rd is
a former DEA agent and author of the book: Powderburns: Cocaine,
Contras, & The Drug War. He can been reach at email@example.com
or contact him at 956-345-5779.