http://www.sjmercury.com/drugs/postscript929.htm [Welcome to Mercury Center] [Postscript]

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

http://www.sjmercury.com/drugs/postscript929.htm [Welcome to Mercury Center] [Postscript] [Dark Alliance] Frames: [ Enable | Disable ] Gag order concealed possible CIA drug ties But records were copied secretly Published: Sept. 29, 1996 BY GARY WEBB AND PAMELA KRAMER Mercury News Staff Writers A legal motion filed in a 1990 police corruption trial in [Other stories] Los Angeles indicates that the drug ring of former Nicaraguan government official Danilo Blandon -- which South helped fuel the crack cocaine explosion in black America Central -- was connected to the Central Intelligence Agency and residents efforts to launder drug money to finance anti-communist condemn Nicaraguan rebels. CIA's reported Ten pages of records seized from a money launderer tied to role Blandon were ordered sealed in that case. Court records Published: show the defense attorney who had the papers was hit with Sept. 29, a gag order shortly after he revealed their existence. 1996 U.S. Representative Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, said she will immediately seek to have the documents made public Activist since they could provide evidence of government vows to involvement in cocaine trafficking. continue protests Los Angeles attorney Harland W. Braun said Friday he was over alleged given the documents by an officer who had participated in CIA-crack their seizure and copied them without the government's link knowledge. Braun said he read the documents before turning Published: them over to the court, and that he based his motion on Sept. 27, the records, and from statements from two of the officers 1996 who conducted the search. Previously The exact nature of Blandon's connection to the CIA has published been a matter of considerable debate since a Mercury News postscript series last month revealed his role in flooding South stories Central Los Angeles with cocaine in the 1980s. Blandon, a Last marketing expert who now works as an informant for the updated: Drug Enforcement Administration, has testified that he was Sept. 28, one of the founders of the Los Angeles branch of the 1996 Nicaraguan Democratic Force, a guerrilla army created and run by the CIA. Gary Webb radio and TV He has testified that after he met with the CIA agent who appearances ran the army's military operations in late 1981, he began Last selling cocaine in South Central to raise money for that updated: army. His biggest customer, he testified, was legendary Sept. 28, L.A. drug dealer ''Freeway'' Rick Ross, who turned 1996 Blandon's cocaine into crack and sold it to the Crips and Bloods street gangs. The original series CIA director John Deutch has said that Blandon had no Published: relationship with the CIA, and a CIA spokesman has called Aug 18-20, the Mercury News series ''ludicrous.'' 1996 But the motion filed six years ago in the corruption trial of former L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy Daniel Garner says [document link] Blandon's drug operations were aligned with the spy Biographical agency. information on Oscar Danilo Blandon and Rick Ross [document link] Motion regarding government's request for restraining order Drug raid In late October 1986, Blandon's home and several other locations in suburban Los Angeles were raided by L.A. County narcotics detectives. According to the search warrant affidavit, the deputies believed Blandon was selling cocaine and laundering large sums of money ''to buy arms for the Contra rebels in the war in Nicaragua.'' Blandon, his wife, Chepita, and several other Nicaraguans were arrested on narcotics and weapons charges. Deputy Garner participated in those raids, according to Braun, a prominent defense attorney who has handled cases ranging from the Rodney King civil trial, where he successfully represented an officer charged in the beating, to the fatal Twilight Zone accident case. Garner and several other members of the 1986 raid team were later caught up in a corruption scandal that swept the sheriff's drug units. He and nine other officers were indicted in 1990 on charges of stealing more than $1.4 million in seized drug cash. During Garner's trial, according to an Oct. 24, 1990 story in the Los Angeles Times, Braun told reporters that he could prove ''that the U.S. government was laundering drug money for South American cartels and siphoning some of the cash for its own clandestine operations abroad.'' Braun said he hoped that by making the CIA an issue in the case, federal prosecutors would drop the charges against Garner. But prosecutors immediately asked U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie to issue a gag order to keep defense lawyers from talking about the case, records show. Braun filed an unsuccessful motion to fight the order. The gag order expired at the end of the trial. In the motion, Braun stated Garner's raid team burst into the house of a ''money launderer who they knew was associated with a major drug and money laundering ring connected to the Contras in Nicaragua. Notification was made to the federal government that the search warrant was going to be served ... When the search warrants were served, the houses were found substantially vacated.'' Lots of evidence But the police hardly came away empty-handed. ''Officers discovered films of military operations in Central America, technical manuals, information on assorted military hardware and communications and numerous documents indicating that drug money was being used to purchase military equipment for Central America,'' Braun's motion stated. ''Officers also discovered blown-up pictures of the suspect in Central America with the Contras showing military equipment and military bases ... Officers also pieced together the fact that this suspect was also working with the Blandon family, which was importing narcotics from Central America into the United States.'' When the police first arrived at the house, Braun wrote, ''the suspect identified himself as a CIA agent, gave the name of his CIA contact in Virginia and requested that the (police) confirm his status and leave the premises. The suspect was allowed to call Virginia and notify the Central Intelligence Agency, but the officers took the position that they had a search warrant and they would continue to obey the orders of the court.'' In the 1990 Times story about the gag order, a CIA spokesman said the agency ''has not and has never been directly involved in laundering money.'' Within 48 hours of the man's records being seized, Braun's motion stated, ''federal agents swooped down on the sheriff's headquarters and removed all the recovered property. Mysteriously, all records of the search, seizure and property also "disappeared' from the sheriff's department.'' When the Mercury News requested the case files last year, a sheriff's department spokesman, Ron Spear, said they could not be found. Documents preserved ''Unbeknownst to the federal government,'' Braun wrote, [document link] ''10 pages of the documents seized from the CIA operative Mention of were copied and preserved. These documents give the name State of CIA operatives in Iran, specifically mention the Department Contras, list various weaponry that was being purchased, in Senate and even diagram the route of the drug money out of the Committee United States, back into the United States purchasing Report on weaponry for the Contras as well as naming the State Drugs, Law Department as one of the agencies involved.'' Enforcement and Foreign Copies of the 10 pages seized from the money-launderer Policy were submitted to Judge Rafeedi under seal, according to Braun, who said they are still being held in secret. Braun said he did not keep copies. While Braun's motion doesn't identify the suspect by name, the 1986 search warrant affidavit for the raids identifies two men who police believed were laundering and transporting money for Blandon's cocaine operation. They are: --- Nicaraguan businessman Orlando Murillo, an economist and former Miami resident now running for the Nicaraguan Congress. Murillo, an uncle of Blandon's wife, was the Nicaraguan representative of two Swiss banks for more than 12 years and was a member of the Central Bank of Nicaragua -- similar to the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank -- under the government of the late dictator Anastasio Somoza. Corporate records show Murillo was a vice president of a Miami-area brokerage firm identified in the 1986 search warrant affidavit as the bank through which Blandon laundered money for the Contras. ''I have never been involved in drugs and I have never been involved in the Contras,'' Murillo said in an interview Friday from Managua. ''I am a serious person and I have a good reputation.'' Corporate records show one of the Los Angeles companies raided by the deputies was owned by Murillo and the Blandons. --- Former Laguna Beach burglary detective Ronald J. Lister, who quit the police force in the early 1980s. He started a security firm that, according to a former company official, had a U.S. government contract to protect a military airbase in El Salvador. ''Ronald Lister ... sells cocaine for the Blandon operation and transports money to Miami. He has turned over a residence at 796 Deer Trail, Crestline, to Blandon. The house now belongs to Orlando Murillo, Blandon's uncle and money laundered (sic) in Miami. Cocaine is regularly stored at this Crestline location,'' the affidavit states. Murillo acknowledged knowing Lister, calling him ''a drug dealer'' he met through Blandon. Murillo also confirmed that the house was in his name, but said Blandon did that without telling him. Recently declassified FBI records say Lister claimed in late 1986 to be a CIA agent and said he was raising funds for the Contras. Shortly after the raids, FBI records say, Blandon's [document link] defense attorney, Bradley Brunon, called the sheriff's FBI Teletype office and told them the ''CIA winked at this sort of regarding thing ...(Brunon) did not specifically discuss drug conversation trafficking or arms sales but only referred generally to with Ronald the activities of Blandon and Lister.'' Lister's real estate Neither Lister nor Garner, both recently paroled from agent federal prison, could be reached for comment. Lister pleaded guilty to cocaine trafficking in January 1991 and Garner was convicted of the corruption charges in December 1990. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Go to: Home | Dark Alliance: ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- [Toyota] | Mercury Center Home | Index | Feedback | NewsLibrary | 1996 Mercury Center. The information you receive on-line from Mercury Center is protected by the copyright laws of the United States. The copyright laws prohibit any copying, redistributing, retransmitting, or repurposing of any copyright-protected material.

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank