From the Illumi-Net BBS Decatur, GA Conspiracy Theory Conference 404-377-1141 CONTRAS USED

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From the Illumi-Net BBS Decatur, GA Conspiracy Theory Conference 404-377-1141 CONTRAS USED COCAINE TO BUY ARMS BY VINCE BIELSKI and DENNIS BERNSTEIN WASHINGTON--Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) and his staff said recently they are "confident" that money from the sale of narcotics helped finance the contras and that the arms network set up by Lt. Col. Oliver North could be involved. North was fired from the staff of the National Security Council by President Reagan this week after the Administration discovered that North arranged for the transfer $30 million from the sale of arms to Iran to Swiss bank accounts controlled by the contras. "I'm confident that the contras have received drug money. They have received illegal shipments of weapons and that U.S. officials knew of it," Kerry said, in calling for a special prosecutor to look into these other allegations. John Weiner, a Kerry aide, said while congressional investigators do not know if North was directly involved, they do have evidence linking the "North network" to the cocaine-arms operation. According to a report produced by Kerry's staff, North established a network, involving retired Army Gen. John Singlaub, U.S. mercenaries and Cuban-Americans, to provide arms to the contras during the two-year congressional ban on U.S. support. After the downing of the C-123 cargo plane over Nicaragua, Administration officials also acknowledged that North set up the private arms operation to the contras. Weiner and several other sources charge that individuals involved in the network traffic in cocaine to help buy weapons for the contras. "We have received a variety of allegations about drug connections to the contras and to parts of the North network. As to whether Oliver North was directly involved in that I can't say. But parts of the North network allegedly were. And that needs to be looked at very seriously," he said. The Senate Foreign Relations committee is expected to investigate these charges when Congress reconvenes in January. The role that cocaine played in funding the network has been part of a two-year investigation carried out by the Christic Institute, a Washington- based law firm. Dan Sheehan, the attorney directing the investigation, said the proceeds from the sale of cocaine has been "one significant source of funding for the contras. He said he has subsantial evidence to prove that the contras and their Cuban-American supporters are smuggling one ton of cocaine into the United States each week. The Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that one ton of cocaine has a street value of between $26 and $50 million. Sheehan said a portion the profits are used to purchase weapons. The cocaine ring, involving mostly major Columbian cocaine trafficker, or "cocaine lords," and Cuban-Americans from Miami had been operating for years before the North network began in 1984. John Mattes, an attorney for one of the Cuban-Americans involved in the North network, said that the cocaine traffickers and the arms network "got together as a marriage of convenience." "The Columbians saw that the contra base in Costa Rica was an ideal transhipment point. Their planes would land there and refuel. They also benefit from the pilots, planes and intelligence information which the arms suppliers had and which they make extensive use of," Mattes said. In return, Mattes said the Columbians paid the contras $10,000 to $25,000 for each plane carry cocaine which landed in Costa Rica for refueling. The Christic Institute's allegations are all contained in a civil suit filed in May 1986 in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida. The suit is brought by two U.S. journalists, Martha Honey and Tony Avirgan, who charge that the cocaine/arms conspiracy was responsible for the May 1984 assassination attempt on contra leader Eden Pastora in La Penca, Nicaragua. The journalists are sueing for personal injuries they suffered resulting from a bomb explosion at a press conference which killed 8 people and injured Pastora. "As amazing as it sounds," Sheehan said, "the conspiracy is continuing to bring about one ton or 1,000 kilos of cocaine into the United States each week." Jesus Garcia, a former corrections officer in Dade County, Florida, said he was actively involved in the cocaine-arms operation. He is one of Sheehan and Kerry's main sources of information. In a telephone interview from prison, where Garcia is no serving a three-year term for possession of a firearm, he said "it is common knowledge here in Miami that that this whole contra operation in Costa Rica was paid for with cocaine. Everyone involved knows it. I actually saw the cocaine and the weapons together under one roof, weapons that I helped ship to Costa Rica." In May of 1983, according to the suit, two Cuban-Americans, Rene Corbo and Felipe Vidal joined forces with John Hull, a U.S. citizen who owns 1,750 acres of land in northern Costa Rica, "to recruit, train, finance (and) arm" a Cuban-American mercenary force to attack Nicaragua. To finance the mercenary force, the Cuban-Americans, Hull and others made arrangements with two known Columbian cocaine trafficers, Pablo Escobar and Jorge Ochoa, "to provide hundreds of pounds of cocaine on a regular basis," according to the suit. Garcia said that individuals involved in the arms supply operation told him that Ochoa was supplying cocaine to the contras. The cocaine was flown from Columbia to Hull's ranch, Sheehan said, where the planes would refuel. Sheehan said he has obtained records of Corbo buying huge gasoline tanks in Costa Rica which are used for refueling the planes. The Christic Institute learned about the cocaine shipments from members of Costa Rican Rural Guard, workers on Hull's land who unloaded the illegal substance from the small planes, and the pilots who transported the cocaine. Corbo and Vidal belong to the Brigade 2506, an anti-Castro group in Miami whose members were recruited and hired by the CIA to fight in the Bay of Pigs invasion agaisnt Cuba. Kerry's staff report charges that "Hull... has been identified by a wide range of sources, including Eden Pastora, mercenaries, Costa Rican officials, and contra supporters as "deeply involved with military support for the contras...and has been identified by a wide-range of a CIA or NSC liaison to the contras." According to Steven Carr and Peter Glibbery, two mercenaries based on land operated by Hull who were captured by the Costa Rican Rural Guard in 1985, Hull introduced himself to them as "the chief liaison for the FDN (National Democratic Force) and the CIA." Hull received $10,000 a month from the NSC, according to the report. The NSC denies having made payments to Hull. Hull has denied that he is assisting the contras and that he is working for the U.S. government. Sheehan said that the cocaine is flown from the land operated by Hull to Memphis and then to Denver. The drug is also packed into container ships at the Costa Rican port of Limon and transported to Miami, New Orleans and San Francisco. Francisco Chanes, a Cuban-American, is the major importer and distributor of the cocaine coming in from Costa Rica, according to the suit. Sheehan said he learned of Chanes' role from Drug Enforcement Administration agents who investigated Chanes, Corbo and Vidal. During a January 1986 interview with FBI agents, Garcia said he told the agents that Chanes and Corbo were also involved in the contra supply operation. Garcia said the agents responded by saying that Chanes and Corbo were already the subjects of a FBI narcotics trafficing investigation. Mattes, Garcia's attorney who was present at the interview, said he also heard the agents say that the FBI was investigating Chanes and Corbo. Sheehan said money from the sale of cocaine is deposited in one bank in Miami and two in Central America and then withdrawn to purchase weapons and explosives. Garcia said he was personally involved in a March 1985 shipment of 6 tons of arms to Costa Rica from Miami. In July 1986, an official from the U.S. Attorney's office in Miami confirmed to the Miami Herald that "we now believe there were some weapons" illegally shipped to the contras by their U.S. supporters from the Fort Lauderdale International airport in 1985. Garcia said he saw both these weapons and three kilograms of cocaine stored at the home of Chanes in Miami in the company of Chanes and Carr. "They cocaine was kept in a dresser, about ten feet away from the weapons. Carr told me that the three keys (kilograms) was what was left from a larger shipment," Garcia said.[EP He said he had no direct evidence that the weapons in Chanes' home were purchased with the proceeds from the sale of cocaine. He said that Carr told him that the three kilograms were part of a larger shipment of cocaine brought to the United States from Costa Rica in container ships belonging Ocean Hunter, a seafood importing company owned by Chanes. Garcia said he helped load the weapons into a van which were then taken to the aiport in Miami. Glibbery said he witnessed the arrival of these weapons on airstrips located on land operated by Hull in Costa Rica, according to the Kerry report. The suit also names Theodore Shackley, former CIA associate deputy director for world wide covert operations, and retired Army Gen. John Singlaub as the main weapons suppliers. According to the suit, Shackley "knowingly accept(ed) the proceeds from illegal sales of narcotics in payment for illegal arms shipments." Singlaub has made "admissions to various reporters that he has sent guns and bullets to the contras," according to the report. ******************** Reasearch and Editorial Assistance: Connie Blitt Articles by Vince Bielski (San Fransisco-based) and Dennis Bernstein (new York) have appeared in Newsday, Philadelphia Inquirer, Plain Dealer, Denver Post, Dallas Times Herald, Dallas Morning News, Baltimore Sun, San Fransisco Examiner, Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury, Arizona Daily Star, Seattle Times, Minnieapolis Star and Tribune, and others. --------------------------------------------------------------------------


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