Other Individuals Involved in the Contra Program
What drug trafficking allegations was CIA aware of, and when, involving other individuals supporting the Contra program? How did CIA respond to this information, and how was this information shared with other U.S. Government entities?
- Background and Relationship with CIA. The individual who was known by the alias "Ivan Gomez" was at various times a CIA independent contractor, spouse of a CIA employee, and a rejected applicant for staff status. Gomez was an Independent Contractor for Latin America (LA) Division by June 1982.
- According to a September 1982 cable from Headquarters, Gomez returned to Central America on permanent assignment in September 1982 and continued to work as a trainer, coordinator and general liaison to ARDE and related groups.
- A January 1983 cable to Headquarters described Gomez' ability to engage with others, his effective reporting and his hard work. The Station cable, however, also raised concerns that Gomez was too close to ARDE.
By the fall of 1983, the problem of Gomez' close ties to Pastora and ARDE that had been mentioned in the January evaluation of Gomez became an issue. An October 1983 Headquarters cable noted that:
. . . we have become concerned over indications of a loss of objectivity and increasing signs of "clientism" on the part of [Gomez] toward [ARDE] and [Pastora] in particular . . . . [w]hile his own performance to date has been of extraordinary value . . . it is absolutely necessary for us to ensure the strictest clarity and accuracy in our reporting on and communications with the [ARDE].
- According to a September 1984 Headquarters cable, Gomez was under consideration for reassignment in the fall of 1984. This was in part because there had been reports that he was on a Sandinista target list for assassination. In October 1984, he was reassigned to another country where he served for the next two years and received favorable performance evaluations.
- In May 1986, Gomez married a CIA staff employee. As a result, CIA decided that he could no longer continue to serve in the field.
- A March 1987 Headquarters cable discussed Gomez' future employment with CIA as a result of his marriage to a staff employee. The cable stated that Gomez had been nominated to a career officer program. His file had been reviewed and it was wished to pursue additional processing, including questioning by Security. The cable further noted that his questioning by Security was scheduled for March 1987.
- An undated document concerning Gomez's FY 1988 activities that was prepared, probably in September 1987, noted that CIA was continuing to pay his salary "until such time as he is either picked up by another Agency component or is terminated." According to a similar undated document for FY 1989, Gomez' relationship with the CIA ended on March 31, 1988.
The Security/Counterintelligence section of an undated document for FY 1989 concerning Gomez, probably written in August or September 1988, noted that Gomez' use in Central America:
ended in late May 1987 after he married an Agency employee and subsequently initiated processing for U.S. citizenship. Efforts were made to use [Gomez] in other Agency programs; however, he was unable to [provide credible answers regarding drug trafficking]. Consequently, [Gomez] was amicably terminated effective 31 March 1988.
- A CIA officer reported having met with Gomez socially on December 20, 1989 in the United States and that Gomez was bitter and unhappy about his termination from CIA and was threatening to take his complaint to President George Bush. The CIA officer also reported that Gomez had outlined a plan to expose the identity of CIA personnel serving abroad.
- In 1992, Gomez reportedly claimed he had information about a weapons shipment and was put in touch with a CIA officer. The officer observed that Gomez "seemed reluctant to meet with him. Gomez reportedly advised that he still harbored bad feelings regarding how and why his relationship with CIA was terminated." A March 1992 Headquarters cable instructed cognizant CIA officers to have no further contact with Gomez.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. In conjunction with his marriage to a CIA officer and possible employment by CIA as a staff officer, Gomez underwent a number of polygraph examinations in 1986-1988. During a March 1987 polygraph examination, Gomez stated that in March or April 1982, prior to his employment with CIA, he had provided some assistance to family members engaged in drug trafficking and money laundering in the United states. In the first instance, he had written a check, in exchange for cash, for a cousin who was traveling from the United States to Latin America. Gomez said he believed the cousin was a drug money launderer, but did not believe he was engaging in a money laundering operation by writing the check. In the second instance, Gomez said that a brother who lived in Miami was a drug trafficker and had asked his brother-in-law to transfer some cash from New York to Miami. Gomez accompanied his brother-in-law to New York, where they picked up a bag containing $20,000 to $22,000 in cash and transported it to Miami. Gomez said that, at the time, he told his brother-in-law that "this was probably drug money." Gomez' response as to whether he had aided his brother in his trafficking activities and whether he had been involved in trafficking after he began working for CIA were in doubt.
Gomez was subjected to another polygraph examination by CIA in April 1987. According to that report, Gomez changed his story somewhat concerning the bag of cash he had reported obtaining in New York for his brother:
[Gomez] increased his estimate of cash from somewhere between $30,000 to $40,000. [Gomez] indicated he and [his brother-in-law] met an individual who was identified by the wearing of a yellow jacket. This individual then approached [them], struck up a conversation, and then provided the cash to [Gomez]. During later discussion of this incident, [Gomez] stated he knew this act was illegal at the time, but he consummated the act nevertheless. At the completion of [Gomez'] second session, testing in this area remained incomplete.
- According to a March 1988 polygraph examiner's report, Gomez was subjected to another polygraph examination on two days in March 1988 as staff employment processing. During discussions with the examiner, Gomez reportedly said that his brothers had accumulated a business debt of about $2 million. According to Gomez, one had gone to Miami to run a money laundering operation for a group of drug traffickers to pay off the debt. Another handled the funds in Latin America. According to Gomez, when he visited his brother in Miami, Gomez saw that "his brother had many visitors whom [Gomez] assumed to be in the drug trafficking business . . . . However, . . . he never saw his brother either receive or distribute any drugs and/or money."
According to the March 1988 examiner's report, Gomez provided yet another account of his acquisition of cash in New York:
[Gomez'] brother-in-law informed [Gomez] that [his brother] had requested that he pick up $30,000 in a bar in New York City. [Gomez] stated that he accompanied his brother-in-law to the bar whereupon the brother-in-law stayed in the car while [Gomez] entered the bar and made contact with the individual who was to turn over the money. This individual took [Gomez] to an apartment where he gave him $15,000 and offered him some cocaine. [Gomez] stated he refused . . . . [Gomez] shortly thereafter, began to work for this Agency. . . . In June 1982, . . . [His brother] was arrested for drug trafficking. [Gomez] stated he had not had any involvement in narcotic trafficking activities.
Based on the interview, the interviewer believes Gomez directly participated in illegal drug transactions, concealed participation in illegal drug transactions, and concealed information about involvement in illegal drug activity.
- According to the March 1988 examiner's report, the examiner discussed the different reasons Gomez had provided for his brother giving him money, differing and conflicting ways Gomez had said money was raised for his brother's legal expenses, and the differing accounts of the story concerning the passing of the money in New York--the amount was $20,000 or $30,000 or $15,000; the brother-in-law went into the cafe with Gomez to meet the person making the exchange or the brother-in-law did not go into the bar with Gomez to meet the person; the passage of the money took place in the cafe/bar or in an apartment. According to the report, Gomez tried to dismiss these discrepancies as inconsequential. However, "when the examiner continued to question [Gomez], he suddenly stood up, thanked the examiner, shook his hand and said words to the effect, 'that's all' and walked out."
According to a March 1988 report of a CIA official who observed the March 1988 polygraph examination of Gomez, CIA was "especially concerned about any possible involvement with drug trafficking on the part of [Gomez]." The official's report also stated that "the impression was that [Gomez abruptly departed from the examination] because he was being questioned about drug activities which were unacceptably threatening to him, so he called it quits." The official's report concluded:
the net impression . . . is that [Gomez] probably is concealing at least much more personal and direct involvement in drug smuggling than he can report . . . . The further impression is that . . . he probably never had any intention of revealing his true involvement in drug activity. . . .
The December 12, 1996 edition of the British newspaper, The Independent, commented on an Independent Television program that was being broadcast that night. According to The Independent, Carlos Cabezas, a convicted drug trafficker associated with Julio Zavala in the San Francisco Frogman Case, said:
. . . he had met a CIA agent, Ivan Gomez, in Costa Rica who, he said, was there to make sure that all the profits went to the Contras and not into the back pockets of the drug dealers and smugglers. "They [not specifically identified] told me who he was and the reason he was there, . . . It was to make sure the money was given to the right people and nobody was taking . . . profit they weren't supposed to."
(Ellipses in original.)
- Cabezas was interviewed twice in 1997 and initially stated that a man named Ivan Gomez was present at least once in 1981 or 1982 when Cabezas met with drug traffickers Horacio Pereira and Troilo Sanchez in Costa Rica to deliver funds derived from drug trafficking. Cabezas also stated that Gomez said he was with the CIA. According to Cabezas, Gomez participated in the meeting when Pereira and Sanchez discussed their drug smuggling activities on behalf of the Contras. Cabezas described Gomez as a Latin American, and, based on his accent, possibly from the Dominican Republic.
- In the second interview, Cabezas provided more details concerning his reported meeting with Gomez. He said the meeting took place in either April or May 1982 at a hotel in San Jose, Costa Rica. Cabezas stated that both Pereira and Gomez told him that Gomez was "the CIA's man in Costa Rica" and that "Gomez was there to ensure that the profits from the cocaine went to the Contras and not into someone's pocket." Cabezas again said that Gomez appeared to be a native of the Dominican Republic. Cabezas gave a physical description of Gomez and said he would recognize Gomez if he saw him again. Cabezas was then allowed to examine 16 photographs of Latin males. Cabezas identified one of the individuals in the photograph as being Gomez and a second person, who resembled the first, as also a possibility.
- Two of the 16 photographs shown Cabezas were of Ivan Gomez. Neither was identified by Cabezas as being Gomez. Moreover, the physical description of Gomez that was provided by Cabezas was three to five inches in height, and 40 pounds in weight, different from Gomez' actual physical characteristics. In addition, Gomez is not a Dominican. According to CIA records, Gomez also was not in Costa Rica in May 1982 when Cabezas says the meeting with Pereira occurred there, but was in the Washington, D.C. area being interviewed by CIA for potential employment. Further Gomez was not hired by CIA until June 1, 1982, nor has any information been found to indicate that he traveled to Costa Rica prior to June 1982.
- Finally, the name "Ivan Gomez" was not recorded as his alias, and the passport and employment letters necessary for use of that alias to travel to Central America were not provided to Gomez, until June 1982. According to a CIA officer helping process him for his assignment, Gomez had suggested another name--"Juan Gomez"--as his alias and that suggested name was submitted for processing by the officer. However, Gomez' unclear handwriting resulted in "Juan" being read as "Ivan" during the approval process. Therefore, Gomez was not even aware until June 1982 of the Ivan Gomez alias that CIA ultimately provided to him.
- Cabezas mentions that he also saw Doris Salomon, wife of Julio Zavala, when he reportedly met Gomez at the Costa Rica hotel and that she was several months pregnant at that time. Salomon acknowledges that she stayed at that same hotel and did see Cabezas there and was pregnant with her son. However, the son was born in July 1981. In the spring of 1981 Gomez was still serving in the military of his home country.
- Ivan Gomez says that his physical appearance never matched that given by Cabezas. He also says he has never stayed at the hotel in San Jose identified by Cabezas as the meeting site and that the name Carlos Cabezas is not familiar to him. He acknowledges that the name Ivan Gomez was not the name he picked for his alias and that it appeared as a surprise to him on his alias documents. Gomez confirms that he was in the United States in March-April 1982. Gomez says that a former lover of Pastora named Nancy(24) provided his name to the Sandinista newspapers.
- Other public mentions of the name of Ivan Gomez appeared in the media prior to the 1996 and 1997 allegations by Cabezas regarding meeting Gomez in Costa Rica. For example, the name was included in the 1994 book Hostile Acts: US Policy in Costa Rica in the 1980s by Martha Honey, an American journalist. The book states, "the Agency . . . had a group of Costa Rican-based agents working directly inside Pastora's organization . . . . The head agent was Ivan Gomez, a Venezuelan . . . . "
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. Agency records include an undated, unsigned document describing the June 29, 1982 arrest of Gomez' brother. The document was not in an official form and was poorly typed on a sheet of newsprint paper. The charge against the brother was, according to the document, participating in a continuing criminal enterprise, and search warrants had "lead [sic] to arrest of 2 others and seizure of 2 [kilograms] of coke and $160,000." The document also stated that the brother had delivered 54 pounds of cocaine in 1982 to undercover agents of an unidentified law enforcement agency. The document appearing adjacent to this one in the file is dated August 26, 1982.
- The CIA desk officer from 1981 until late 1984 who dealt with Gomez says that she had heard sometime in 1982 that Gomez' brother had been arrested for involvement with drugs. She comments that Gomez did not appear to make any effort to hide his brother's arrest from CATF officers. It appeared to the desk officer, as she recalls, that several other Agency officers knew of the situation, but it fell into the category of a family problem and not one affecting Gomez professionally.
- The desk officer also recounts a conversation she had with Gomez sometime prior to the end of 1984 in which she asked Gomez directly, "Did you know anything about your brother's drug activity?" According to the desk officer, Gomez reacted strongly to the question and indicated he had nothing to do with his brother, drugs, or the incident that led to his brother's arrest. Gomez reportedly stated to her that he had no intention of visiting or helping his brother. Gomez reportedly also told the desk officer that he did not want to see his brother and that he had fought hard not to be tainted by drugs.
- An officer who participated in Gomez' interview for employment and later worked in CATF, says that he was aware that Gomez' brother had been arrested and convicted on narcotics charges. It is this officer's recollection that Gomez characterized his brother as "dumb" and said that he had a "disastrous lapse in judgment." The officer says he recalls that the charges against the brother may have related to a "money laundering deal" and adds that Gomez made no secret of his brother's arrest. The officer says he has no reason to believe that Gomez had anything to do with the brother's activities and expresses doubts that Gomez would have been personally involved in such activities. In any event, the officer says he did not believe that the brother's conviction was a factor relating to Gomez' suitability for CIA employment. Whatever responsibility there may have been for documenting the information regarding the brother, he says, would have rested with Gomez' CIA supervisors.
- Gomez says that he told his COS about his brother's arrest when it happened. As Gomez recalls, he informed the COS while they were riding in an automobile.
- Gomez says that the COS made no particular comment at the time, only that Gomez should not worry about the matter. Gomez says that he probably also told another operations officer and that he also told the Costa Rica desk officer and at least two other CATF officers. Nonetheless, according to Gomez, no CIA officers ever said anything to him about the situation involving his brother.
The former COS recalls Gomez telling him about his brother's arrest, but says he recalls that the brother was arrested for a visa or immigration matter. The former COS says that, if the brother had been arrested on a narcotics charge, "there is no way that I wouldn't have made it part of the record." He says he recalls that the narcotics aspect of Gomez' brother's arrest came up in 1986, and his recollection is that it was raised by Agency security personnel. He says:
It is inconceivable to me that on hearing this information I--or someone else--would not put it on record. Why would I have covered it up? I would have no reason to do so. [Gomez] was an employee.
- The person who was DCOS at about the same time recalls that he spoke only briefly with Gomez about his brother's arrest. No details were ever discussed, he says, and Gomez seemed very sensitive about the subject and did not want to discuss it. The former DCOS says that, when knowledge of Gomez' brother's arrest became known to the Agency, there was no thought of looking closer into Gomez' background because he was a strong performer and the allegations concerned his brother, not Gomez. The former DCOS says that he never knew Gomez picked up money for his brother in New York City that may have been drug related. He adds that the former COS was more closely involved with Gomez than either he or the Costa Rica desk officer.
- The Agency's Office of Security (OS) prepared an October 1986 memorandum outlining information known about Gomez and Gomez' career with the CIA. The memorandum noted that "record traces on [Gomez'] immediate family members revealed possible hits as possible drug traffickers and/or members of leftist organizations in [a Latin America country]." The memorandum also referred to trace results that identified one of Gomez' brothers as a drug trafficker, although the information appears to refer to a person who had a name similar to that of Gomez' brother but who was not related to Gomez. The memorandum also summarized information Gomez had furnished about the association of two brothers with narcotics trafficking during two 1986 Agency polygraph examinations that were part of the marriage review process.
- The source of the information in the OS memorandum relating to Gomez' family may have been, in part, a November 1985 FBI document that reported information from an informant. The FBI informant reportedly said that the informant learned while he was incarcerated that two of Gomez' brothers were both money launderers and large-scale cocaine importers. One brother was identified by the informant as arranging for cocaine shipments with well-known narco-trafficker Roberto Suarez. The FBI document made no mention of Ivan Gomez. The FBI document was included in OS, but not DO, files. No information has been found to indicate that officers in the DO who were responsible for Gomez' management and administration ever saw the FBI document.
The polygraph examiner's report of Gomez' March 1987 polygraph noted that Gomez said he had attempted to "arrange a deal for his brother with U.S. authorities after his brother's 1982 arrest." According to the report, Gomez said that he discussed his brother's case with officials at the U.S. Embassy in his home country:
In discussions with an agent of the . . . [Drug Enforcement Administration] at the U.S. Embassy . . . [Gomez] tried to arrange immunity for his brother in exchange for his testimony against DEA agents allegedly involved in narcotics trafficking.(25) Furthermore, [Gomez] stated that he discussed his brother's case with unidentified members of the Office of Security at the U.S. Embassy . . . . Finally, [Gomez] was told by unidentified Headquarters personnel to stop pursuing the matter because he was "causing problems."
CIA personnel say they do not recall giving advice to Gomez to stop contacting U.S. Government agencies in an effort to help his imprisoned brother.
- Gomez acknowledges that, after his brother was arrested, he contacted a U.S. DEA agent who was a good friend. Gomez says he asked the DEA agent whether his brother could volunteer to "help out," i.e., to cooperate with U.S. authorities. Gomez says the DEA agent called another one of Gomez' brothers, but Gomez says he does not know the details of that conversation. Eventually, the arrested brother decided not to cooperate because, according to Gomez, there were "lawyers in Miami" who said he would be killed if he did. Gomez also says that he may have told CIA officers that he was trying to put his brother in contact with DEA.
- The DEA agent with whom Gomez says he spoke recalls that Gomez told him about the brother's arrest. According to the DEA agent, Gomez thought that his brother could be a potential source for DEA and asked the DEA agent to talk to the family. The DEA agent recalls meeting with another of Gomez' brothers and that he appeared to be making some headway in ascertaining the facts surrounding the arrest. However, a sister walked in and entered the conversation. She became hostile and said that they did not need any help. The DEA agent says he left and did not have any further contact with the family.
- The DEA agent says he never learned the reason for the brother's arrest, and the family did not provide records of the arrest as the DEA agent had requested. Gomez' brother with whom the DEA agent met indicated only that the arrested brother had information that could be useful to DEA. The DEA agent could not remember whether he wrote a report concerning the contact with the brother, and says he did not contact the responsible DEA case agent. The DEA agent indicates that Gomez came from a good family that was not involved in drugs, except for the one brother. The DEA agent says he spoke to Gomez about his confrontational meeting with Gomez' brother and sister and that Gomez never pushed for another meeting or assistance for his brother. The DEA agent states that the assistance requested by Gomez was not unusual, and most times some assistance can be rendered in such circumstances.
- On May 20, 1987, an Employee Review Panel (ERP)(26) was convened to discuss Gomez and his wife. A May 20, 1987 memorandum describing this ERP was written by the representative of the Counterintelligence Branch of the OS Special Activities Branch who presented the case to the ERP. That memorandum indicated that the meeting was characterized by the chairman as a "fact finding" session and that the discussion was detailed. An attachment to the memorandum described the issues to be considered by the ERP as including Gomez' travel to New York to "pick up approximately $30-40,000 for [his brother]. . . ," The brother's arrest and Gomez' cousin involvement in "laundering drug money." The ERP recommended, according to the memorandum, that "if the opportunity arises to repolygraph [Gomez], he should be directly confronted with the issues of personal affiliation with drug activities . . . ." The question of whether a crimes referral should be made to DoJ was discussed and left for OGC action--an OGC representative was present at the ERP. The memorandum recorded that "CMS representative [the Chief of CMS, Gomez' former COS] noted that [there] is still interest in [Gomez] as [career] candidate and that his application might be reinitiated in June 1987."
The former Chief of CMS recalls that he did say at the ERP that there was still interests in Gomez, but notes that the memorandum describing the ERP may or may not accurately present the chronological order of the actual discussion at the ERP. He says:
One could attribute to the memorandum the sense that [I] was fighting to keep [Gomez] on. That's not my style. Interest attenuated [in Gomez] in reality if it were going to be reported to DoJ. We were not going to the bitter end to protect him. Foreshortening of these notes could give this impression. This was not my mindset.
- In a June 26, 1987 memorandum to OS, the LA Division Chief commented on a briefing LA Division had received regarding Gomez' "difficulty" with his questioning by CIA Security. The memorandum stated that "it will be the policy of LA Division to not accept [Gomez] for any assignment to Latin America until . . . any additional security processing is favorably resolved."
A July 8, 1987 memorandum to the Chief of SAS from the supervisor mentioned previous in connection with Gomez, recommended several actions regarding Gomez. They included: no further polygraph examination until after Gomez' wife had completed her pregnancy period so as not to create "adverse stress on [Gomez] and spouse, affecting her pregnancy and possibly leading to miscarriage;" continuing Gomez' salary through February 1988, shortly after the birth of his child, while his wife was on Leave Without Pay; fund Gomez' language training in English; and polygraph Gomez after his wife's pregnancy in order to:
. . . resolve all outstanding issues if possible. C/CMS wishes to clarify situation as it pertains to [Gomez], and future employment of spouse who also is due normal reinvestigation- sticky situation. . . . SAS should initiate action [for] further polygraph testing in early 1988 to resolve outstanding issues. If favorable results are obtained . . . and clarification of any prior narcotics activities are resolved, LA [Division] can then decide if in fact they desire to employ [Gomez].
The recommended actions were concurred in by the Ground Branch Chief, the SOG Chief, the SAS Chief, and the CMS Chief, who wrote, "Concur fully with this approach."
- The former Chief of CMS says he does not recall specific discussions with the SAS supervisor, but notes that he and the supervisor were in regular contact concerning Gomez. In regard to the recommendation not to initiate action for another polygraph until Gomez' wife's baby was born, the former Chief of CMS says, "As I recall, the conversations focused solely on [the wife's] medical condition. It was a difficult pregnancy." He says he was not thinking at the time in terms of "cutting our losses" and terminating the relationship with Gomez. Asked if he thought that Gomez would pass the polygraph at this juncture, the former Chief of CMS comments that "anyone with this depth of a problem, the likelihood of passing is not good." He says Gomez was continuing to receive his salary and his wife was on Leave Without Pay. He says he wanted to create every opportunity to clarify the situation.
The supervisor, in an undated MFR, reported that he and Chief of CMS met with Gomez and his wife on July 16, 1987. The meeting was to brief them on the plans to delay further polygraph testing until after the birth of their child and to sponsor Gomez' English language training. The memorandum noted that Chief of CMS:
. . . reemphasized his intentions to reinitiate action with both OS and [Office of Medical Services], after the pregnancy period, to desensitize [Gomez] to any issues of concern and conduct the next polygraph sessions in Spanish language. It is hoped that a combination of OS and OMS efforts would favorably produce desired results.
The former Chief of CMS says that he recalls the July 16, 1987 meeting with Gomez and his wife.
It was an extra step. There wasn't any other agenda. Here's a guy who worked directly for me. We owed it to him. I was directly involved as his former COS. It would not be seemly if I hadn't. I don't want [Gomez] to think when the going gets tough, the senior guy won't be there. I had been involved previously. It would have been very inconsistent if I hadn't continued.
- The amendment to Gomez' contract providing for a termination bonus and a month's salary for each year of service was requested by the SAS SOG Chief on August 3, 1987 and approved by the EPS Chief on September 18, 1987. The request made no mention of the ERP recommendations, Gomez' possible involvement in his brother's drug trafficking activities, or the problems Gomez was having passing the polygraph examination.
- A September 1, 1987 cable to Headquarters submitted a Performance Appraisal Report (PAR) regarding Gomez. Gomez' Grade and Title were entered as "agent" and "covert action asset." The PAR gave Gomez an overall grade of "5," described as indicating "Performance occasionally exceeds the work standard and is good." The reviewing officer summarized Gomez' performance in the PAR by writing, "Subject is a dedicated, hardworking professional who contributed significantly to Station's overall intelligence mission." The PAR was identified as a "special request," but no information has been found to indicate that this PAR was requested by Headquarters. An undated, unsigned, handwritten note attached to the Headquarters copy of the cable noted, "Unusual to have PAR on asset."
A January 6, 1988 MFR written by an OS officer reported on a January 5, 1988 meeting to discuss further polygraphing of Gomez. Attending the meeting were the then-DO Grievance Officer who had attended the May 20, 1987 ERP and who worked in CMS; the SAS supervisor; and the SAS desk officer who supported the surrogate operations officer program. The memorandum recorded that supervisor and the SAS desk officer:
. . . stated that they are desirous of finding suitable Agency employment for [Gomez] outside of SAS. They feel that [Gomez] has shown extreme dedication and courage in his work with SAS . . . they also understand that [Gomez] walked out on his last polygraph test and that he had admitted to two instances of assisting in the laundering of drug money in the United States.
A February 19, 1988 OS MFR noted that the LA Division Chief was asking for a memorandum that summarized Gomez' polygraph admissions. The OS officer wrote, "Apparently, C/CMS is trying to get LA Division to sponsor [Gomez] for Agency employment, which the LA Division Chief does not want to do." The memorandum also noted that another OS official had advised that LA Division should be told that:
[the LA Division Chief should look to C/CMS/DO for information in the case, as [Chief of CMS] had been fully briefed. If [the LA Division Chief] wanted to talk with someone else, he may want to discuss the case with [the DO Grievance Officer] . . . .
The former Chief of CMS confirms that he was trying to have LA Division sponsor Gomez for Agency employment. He says that the February 1988 OS memorandum reflected the position he had consistently taken regarding Gomez. He explains his general view of the Gomez situation in the following way:
In light of the 1997 context, I'd do things differently. Strictly speaking, the situation with his brother makes [Gomez] an accessory. This was a high risk, dicey, fuzzy situation. [Gomez] was a guy who served [CIA] well. He was loyal to us. I was supportive of him throughout. My view was: Let's get to the bottom of this--whatever was bothering him on the [polygraph]. And let's salvage a good officer. What comes across now is the lack of focus on the legal aspects. I wasn't alone, obviously. It is a striking commentary on me and everyone that this guy's involvement in narcotics didn't weigh more heavily on me or the system. We were looking more heavily on this officer's contribution than this incident, accidental or not.
He points out that his characterization of Gomez as "an accessory" is "from a lay perspective, since I am not an attorney."
Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. Potential Referral to DoJ. During the May 20, 1987 ERP that was convened to discuss Gomez and his wife, the OS representative, according to the May 20, 1987 memorandum regarding the ERP, "voiced strong sentiments that the drug related information [concerning Gomez] should be passed to the Department of Justice regardless of the legal requirement, or lack thereof." In response, "the OGC representative requested a written referral in order to initiate possible passage to DOJ." The memorandum also stated that Gomez:
. . . has never been an employee of this Agency. He . . . is currently working as a[n] Independent Contractor; but he has never had a Contract External clearance. [Gomez'] employment status has been a matter of interest to OGC and the issue of required passage to DOJ hinged on this status (there is now no apparent requirement to pass to DOJ either in true name or as a John Doe). . . . It is recommended that a Memorandum for the Record be routed to OGC for their interest and final decision on passage of pertinent information to DOJ.
(Underlining in original.)
The former Chief of CMS says that he does not specifically remember the OS representative saying at the ERP that Gomez' narcotics-related activity should be reported to DoJ. The former Chief of CMS states:
the issue of getting DoJ involved seems perfectly logical, reading through [the record regarding the ERP]. My reaction now is that [the OGC representative's] view that Gomez is not technically an employee and therefore reporting may not be required is slicing it pretty thin. With today's standards, yes we should report it [to DoJ].
He does not recall seeing a document in response to OGC's request at the ERP for a written referral. He says that his recollection is that the alleged violation was referred to DoJ.
A June 12, 1987 memorandum from the Deputy Director for Personnel Security, to the OGC lawyer who had attended the May 20 ERP, outlines Gomez' "association with the Agency and his admissions of possible criminal activity." The OGC attorney addressed the question of reporting information concerning Gomez to DoJ in an August 20, 1987 memorandum for then-Associate Deputy General Counsel for Administrative Law and Management Support Gary Chase. The memorandum requested Chase's concurrence with the OGC attorney's recommendation that the information concerning Gomez not be reported to DoJ. In the memorandum, the OGC attorney reasoned:
While [Gomez] could be guilty as a principal, accessory after the fact, or of conspiracy if he knew the money was part of a drug transaction, we have no evidence that he did know that critical fact. While the receipt of $35,000 cash in a paper bag should have (and probably did) raise his suspicions, I do not feel that the information available to us is sufficient to provide a basis for inferring criminal intent. The offense that might be involved, moreover, is not a non-employee offense required to be reported under the procedures [established by the 1982 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between DoJ and CIA regarding reporting of potential crimes]. (Although [Gomez] . . . has . . . been an independent contractor, he has never been an "employee" as defined in the [DoJ-CIA MOU]).
On August 11, 1987, Chase concurred with the OGC attorney's recommendation, adding a note that his concurrence was "pursuant to delegation from the General Counsel of 25 June 1986 . . . ."(27)
- The OGC attorney says that he believes that the standard at the time was properly applied. Gomez, as an Independent Contractor, was not an "employee." Therefore, whether a possible crime involving him should be referred to DoJ was covered by the non-employee portion of the 1982 DoJ-CIA MOU. Under that portion of the MOU, he says, this information regarding a possible narcotics violation was not required to be reported.
- The OGC attorney also comments that, at the time, OGC carefully reviewed cases to determine whether all elements of a crime were present as part of the consideration of whether to refer a matter to DoJ. Now the practice is to refer most matters and let DoJ make such determinations.
- Chase explains that the General Counsel had delegated authority to him to make crimes referral decisions and that Chase's signature noting his concurrence with the OGC attorney's recommendation reflected Chase's approval of the decision not to refer the matter to DoJ. Chase, commenting on the OGC attorney's memorandum, agrees that Gomez did not meet the criteria of an "employee" and that the offense in question, a possible narcotics violation, was not a reportable offense under the section of the 1982 DoJ-CIA MOU on crimes reporting that dealt with non-employees. Chase opines that, therefore, there was no obligation to make a report to DoJ. Chase further notes that he does not view the conduct by Gomez that was described in the OGC attorney's memorandum as the kind of issue that should be rushed to DoJ. He notes that the incident in question had occurred five years prior to the date of the OGC attorney's memorandum, and the statute of limitations may have played a role in his decision not to refer the matter to DoJ.
- Chase, concerning the discussion in the OGC attorney's memorandum of Gomez' intent, says that whether intent is a factor in making a crimes referral depends on the specific potential crime and that specific intent crimes would require an intent finding. Chase states that the OGC attorney must have believed there had to be some kind of intent in order for there to be a crime. Chase says that transporting money, unlike transporting drugs, is not illegal on its face. Chase says, however, that he thinks the intent element might have been overemphasized in the OGC attorney's memorandum because OGC should only be interested in reporting facts in a crimes referral.
- No information has been found to indicate that the OGC attorney/Chase memorandum was ever distributed to the ERP members. The OGC attorney says that the crime referral itself was not an ERP issue, since that group focuses on employee actions. In retrospect, the OGC attorney says it "might have been wise to see that the ERP got a copy."
- FBI Trace Request. A May 19, 1989 cable to CIA from a Supervisory Special Agent in the FBI's Counterterrorism Section requested the status of traces the FBI had requested from CIA concerning Ivan Gomez on April 14, 1989. The May 19 cable was directed to the External Inquiries Branch in the DO's Information Management Staff (IMS) for action.
- A June 28, 1989 cable to CIA from another Supervisory Special Agent in the FBI's Counterterrorism Section requested trace information and "all information contained in your files" regarding Ivan Gomez. The responsibility for responding to the cable also was assigned on June 28, 1989 to the External Inquiries Branch in the DO's Information Management Staff.
- A June 30, 1989 letter to the CIA's Deputy Director of Security from the Chief of the FBI's Counterterrorism Section requested "all information contained in your files" concerning Ivan Gomez. An August 30, 1989 letter from the Chief of the FBI Counterterrorism Section to the Deputy Director of OS requested a response to its June 30, 1989 letter for all information in CIA files on Gomez. A handwritten note appears in pencil in the margin that "FBI-reviewed file on 14 June."
- A handwritten October 31, 1989 note to the Information Management Staff from a Special Assistant to the Associate DDO for Counterintelligence states, ". . . enclosed is the correspondence with FBI indicating we had 'no record' on [Gomez]. . . ." Subsequently, however, the Chief of the IMS Information Services Group, Information Research and Retrieval Branch wrote to the Chief, Information Services Group on November 2, 1989 and explained that the traces on Gomez for the FBI had been done by a person who had previously worked in the section, but was now helping with traces on an overtime basis. The memorandum noted that the search for records relating to Gomez had been conducted in at least one instance by his given name, not his surname. This reportedly explained why the Agency had produced a "no record" response to the FBI. The memorandum commented that the "consequences of missing a record for . . . the FBI . . . could be particularly severe" and, therefore, "effective immediately, all FBI material will be handled by full-time . . . staffers. As individuals who work with name tracing . . . full-time staffers . . . generally have a sharper sense for the accuracy of results . . . . "
A November 1, 1989 memorandum from the OS, Special Activities Division, Special Investigations Branch to the Special Activities Division Chief described an interview of Gomez' wife concerning his activities. The memorandum indicated that OS officials had met with FBI agents on June 14, 1989 and:
The FBI advised that they were aware of the fact that [Gomez] had worked for the Agency but that they had not traced him until May 1989.
The OS memorandum noted that OS had provided the FBI with an oral "summary of the security issues affecting" Gomez. According to the memorandum, "The FBI was, prior to this point, unaware of the fact that [Gomez] left the Agency under less than favorable conditions, that he had a brother convicted in federal court on felony drug charges or that [Gomez'] family was involved in the drug trade."
According to the November 1 OS memorandum, an additional meeting between OS and FBI officials and also Gomez' wife had reportedly been held on July 31, 1989. The FBI acknowledged that the June 30 FBI trace request had been initiated as a result of the June 14, 1989 meeting with OS and that:
. . . no reply was necessary as the requested information was passed on 14 June 1989 . . . . On 30 August 1989 the FBI sent a trace request referencing the 30 June 1989 request . . . . Contact with the FBI Supervisory Agent . . . confirmed that the 30 June 1989 and 30 August 1989 traces request [sic] were for information already received in the 14 June 1989 meeting and were merely formalities. [The Supervisory Agent] advised that no new requests were being made and that it appears to be a clerical error in sending the follow-up request.
An October 26, 1989 CIA cable to the FBI's Counterterrorism Section states that Gomez:
. . . served for the CIA . . . . from 1983 to 1988 when he was terminated amicably. During Subject's polygraph, [the results] precluded his continued use by this Agency. . . . FBI agent[s] . . . reviewed all available information on [Gomez] on 14 June 1984. The Office of Security reiterates that all available background on Subject has been made available to your [Headquarters].
- A November 13, 1989 OS letter to the Director of the FBI, for the attention of the Intelligence Division, confirmed that "all information contained in our files concerning" Gomez was provided to FBI Special Agents "in a meeting that occurred on 14 June 1989. Subsequent contact with these Agents disclosed no additional requests for information."
No information has been found to indicate that information relating to possible involvement in drug trafficking by Ivan Gomez was provided to the Congress by CIA.
A CIA Independent Contractor
- Background and Relationship with CIA. A January 1983 cable to Headquarters first brought this future CIA independent contractor to the attention of CIA. An overseas DEA office had reportedly informed the CIA that he, a principal informant in a major U.S. drug case, had finished his work for DEA and wanted to work for the Agency. The cable described him as recommended highly by DEA. It also noted that he had spent three years in prison in connection with membership in an insurgent organization and that he had been "involved in narcotics-related affairs" after his release from prison.
- A March 1983 cable described this independent contractor's previous activities. It reported that he had been sentenced to a long prison term for plotting against the State, insurgency, use of false documents, desertion, stealing military property, being commander of a group of armed insurgents, and destroying public buildings with explosives. He was not convicted of an additional charge of assassination. He served, according to the March 1983 description, six years of his sentence and was the beneficiary of an amnesty.
- A March 1983 request by a CIA officer to employ him noted that he had told the Agency that he became aware, as a private businessman in Latin America in 1980, of guerrilla groups using profits from drug trafficking to buy weapons. He claimed to have decided to conduct his own investigation of these activities. He said he had thereafter become the associate of a major drug trafficker and made four or five trips to Miami in 1980 to relay arrangements for various drug deals. In the fall of 1980, he had reportedly accompanied a group of traffickers moving drugs to Miami. He also claimed to have subsequently sought employment outside Latin America, where he initially contacted DEA and provided information on the drug trafficking with which he had been involved. He also later testified in a U.S. court against the leader of the group. In addition, he claimed that he was under the impression that DEA would offer him a job after he had given his testimony. Instead, he was provided a monthly stipend by DEA. The March 1983 description made no comment about his drug trafficking activities, except to note that there was no reason to doubt they occurred.
- A November 1983 cable stated that this independent contractor had been on a CIA mission in July and August outside of Latin America and that he was then deployed to Central America where he would be used for the foreseeable future.
- The contract officer was reassigned within Central America in 1986, but Headquarters was informed of insubordination on his part, and he was again reassigned. In early 1987, after questioning by CIA Security, CIA concluded that the contract officer probably was not fully cooperating and by early March 1987, his employment had been terminated.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. No information has been found to indicate that any allegations were received by CIA of drug trafficking by this independent contractor during the time he was employed by CIA.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. The only information that appears to have been available to CIA concerning this independent contractor's involvement in drug trafficking related to his activities in the early 1980s, before he was brought to CIA's attention. The information regarding those activities that was provided by DEA, in addition to the further details offered later by the independent contractor, himself, was evaluated at the time that CIA established its relationship with him in March 1983. No information has been found to indicate that the Agency took any steps to collect further information or investigate his involvement in drug trafficking prior to his relationship with CIA.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. In an August 1987 cable, CIA Headquarters described this independent contractor's background, previous association with DEA, work for the CIA, and the details of the termination of his relationship with CIA, and indicated that the information should be shared with the local DEA office.
- An August 1997 Headquarters cable included a description of the CIA's relationship him for passage to the DEA.
- No information has been found to indicate that information concerning his involvement in drug trafficking before he came into contact with CIA was provided to the Congress by CIA.
- Background and Relationship with CIA. According to a file review, CIA hired this independent contractor in January 1983 to serve in Central America to participate in supporting the Contras. From 1983 to 1989, he was assigned to two Central American countries. From 1989 to 1994 he was assigned outside of Central America.
- No specific date for the termination of his relationship with CIA has been found. However, according to a July 5, 1994 cable, the relationship was terminated in 1994 for poor performance.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. On January 24, 1983, he was questioned by CIA Security as part of Agency security processing. According to the Security Officer's report, the contractor reported that in August 1980, prior to his first contact with CIA, he had accepted $1,000 from drug traffickers who were delivering cocaine paste from a port to an airstrip. He said he shared the money with two subordinate officers. He reportedly explained that the "only reason he had taken the money was because of [the U.S. military advisor to his unit] telling him to do so in order to be in a better position to obtain drug information."
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. A February 8, 1983 cable to Headquarters stated that his admission that he had accepted a $1,000 bribe from a narcotics smuggler was disturbing. However, the cable added:
A Second CIA Independent Contractor
. . . to put the best face on a truly ugly development, we could only point out that had [he] chosen to do so, he could have accepted these payments on a daily basis, thus enriching himself to an unimaginable degree. He chose not to, however, and became the bane of the narcotraffickers' existence at great personal risk to himself and to the detriment of his military career.
No information has been found to indicate that the U.S. military advisor was ever asked by CIA about the contractor's claim that the advisor had told him to accept the bribe.
- A March 11, 1985 Headquarters cable noted his comments from the 1983 security interview. The cable stated that "it would be prudent to arrange for [interviews by CIA Security] at regular intervals."
- He was questioned again by CIA Security on June 18, 1986. The Security Officer's report stated:
Regarding the issue of narcotics trafficking since his [last interview] in 1983, [he] stated that he has never engaged in narcotics trafficking. The one incident previously reported was done only to locate drug factories . . . and ultimately raid those factories. He did relate that he had learned that members of [the Contras] had been using the private aircraft belonging to [Pastora] to smuggle cocaine into [San Jose, Costa Rica]. He denied actually seeing this activity. He stated that this was reported to him by members of [the Contras].
He was specifically [questioned] regarding any narcotics trafficking he may have engaged in since his [interview] in 1983. [CIA Security was satisfied with his answers and did not have any further questions regarding illegal drug trafficking.]
No information has been found to indicate that his allegation during the questioning concerning the use of Pastora's plane to smuggle cocaine into Costa Rica was further investigated by CIA.
- A February 16, 1995 cable to Headquarters reported that an anonymous letter had been received by "numerous individuals and the press . . . charging various present and former military personnel with involvement in narcotics trafficking." The letter reportedly included the specific allegation that this contractor had, prior to 1981, murdered a drug trafficker who had been bribing him.
- The cable commented that the anonymous letter might have been "a way for some group or individual to get revenge on personal enemies." In the cable the Station also noted that it did not know the "veracity of the claims made in the letter." No information has been found to indicate that these allegations against the contractor were pursued further by CIA.
- An August 13, 1997 cable to Headquarters discussed a meeting to terminate the Station's relationship with a contact who had no connection with the Contra program. According to the cable, the contact alleged during the meeting that the contractor in the early 1980s (note: prior to his becoming a contractor with CIA) had raided a cocaine lab, seized an amount of cocaine, and staged a destruction of the cocaine, but actually sold it for himself. The Station commented that the contact and his source for his information were not reliable.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. No information has been found to indicate that CIA reported the drug trafficking allegations against the contractor to other U.S. Government intelligence and law enforcement entities or the Congress.
A Third CIA Independent Contractor
- Background. The third independent contractor was interviewed by CIA Security on January 24, 1986, according to the October 1995 cable. After serving in a Central American country, in 1990 he was reassigned and in 1993, he was assigned to other Latin American countries. He was also questioned by CIA Security in 1995 and 1996.
- As a result of his inability to provide satisfactory answers concerning narcotics trafficking, CIA decided to terminate his employment.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. In a January 1986 Security Officer's report, his responses to questions about drug trafficking were less than satisfactory. A February 28, 1996 memorandum from LA Division to the ADDO suggested that he be questioned again.
- According to a July 1995 report, he was questioned again in 1995 with similar results.
- He was questioned for a third time in 1996 with similar results. According to a report of the third round of questioning, the contract employee could provide no explanation for his lack of credibility in his answers. However, he said that several years in the past, in the course of his work, he had received assistance from a person whom he subsequently learned was a drug trafficker.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. No information has been found to indicate any efforts by CIA to resolve or verify the drug trafficking issues that arose in the 1986, 1995 and 1996 questioning of this contractor. The Agency decided in March 1996 to end his employment.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. No information has been found to indicate that information relating to this independent contractor's possible involvement in drug trafficking was shared with other U.S. Government intelligence or law enforcement entities or the Congress.
John Floyd Hull
- Background. John Hull, (a.k.a. John Hull Clarke and Juan Clark), a dual U.S. and Costa Rican citizen, resided during the period of the Contra resistance in Muelle De San Carlos, Costa Rica, where he owned one ranch and had a shared interest or management authority regarding five other properties. He allowed the Contras to use the airstrips and storage facilities on his properties and, over the course of the 1980s, was in contact with the Agency and senior Contra leaders—especially of the Southern Front—wealthy U.S. businessmen and senior U.S. Government officials.
- A former Agency officer says he received a visit after his retirement from Hull in 1989. This was after Hull left Costa Rica. According to the retired officer, Hull talked about his escape from Costa Rica and his pending extradition request. He also says that Hull said he was in Washington, D.C. to see a member of Congress.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. In November 1984, a cable to Headquarters reported an allegation that an ARDE pilot had alleged Hull's airfield "has been used for smuggling in the past and that some of the people who live in the area have been associated with contraband/drug smuggling." The report did not specify whether Hull had knowledge of the trafficking, nor did it indicate the source of the information, when the alleged trafficking took place, or any other details. Hull denies knowing the pilot who made the allegation, and he denies having knowledge of such activities. No information has been found to indicate that the pilot was ever present at any of Hull's airstrips in Costa Rica.
- A January 1985, cable informed Headquarters that Hull had said that the FBI was "investigating" his "relationship with Frank Castro." According to the cable, Hull said that "he has no contact or working relationship with Castro," although he was "aware of Castro's background--past involvement in terrorist activities and possible involvement in drug trafficking."
- Hull admits having met Frank Castro and says that Castro visited his ranch once with some Cuban-Americans. Hull notes that the Cuban-Americans had told him that Castro gave a lot of money to the Contras. Hull also says that it was rumored that Castro was involved in the drug business, but Hull does not know whether the money Castro gave to the Contras came from drug trafficking.
- According to a February 1985 cable to Headquarters, it was reported that Moises Ruiz Nunez had been interviewed by the FBI about Hull's relationship with Castro. Nunez said he told the FBI that "[Hull] has nothing to do with Castro and added that [Hull] knows that Castro should be avoided."
- On March 7, 1986, FBI Headquarters sent CIA a cable that provided information from an FBI interview of Jack Terrell. The cable reported that Terrell alleged that an airplane carrying cocaine arrived at Corn Island, Nicaragua from Colombia twice weekly. According to the cable, the aircraft was refueled at Corn Island before flying to Rama, Nicaragua, for unloading. Terrell had further alleged that, after unloading the cocaine, Cuban-Americans Rene Corvo and another individual would bring the cocaine to Hull's ranch for shipment to the United States. According to the FBI cable, both Terrell and Costa Rican authorities also believed that Dr. Hugo Spadafora, a former ARDE commander, was connected with drug trafficking at Hull's ranch.
- Hull says that he does not recall the name of the other individual, but he says he met Corvo several times and transported medicine and supplies to Corvo's training camps on the Northern border of Costa Rica from 1983 to 1985. According to a May 1986 cable to Headquarters, Hull:
. . . said that he met Rene Corvo twice, once in San Jose and once along the border area. Those meetings took place approximately six/eight months ago. [Hull] said that both Corvo and Terrell are "loose cannon" types whom he avoids at all cost.
Hull says that it was "not possible" for Corvo and the other individual to ship cocaine from his ranch without his knowledge. Hull states, "If it were going on, I would have known." Hull also notes that there were no patterns of activity at his ranch that would have been similar to the twice weekly schedule of flights that was alleged by Terrell. Hull reiterates that he is "10,000 percent" certain that he would have known about any such narcotics shipments from his ranch.
- In April 1986, a Headquarters cable stated that Senator John Kerry of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had "assigned several staff members to conduct an intensive investigation of allegations of [Contra] involvement in illegal activities." According to the cable, the scope of the SFRC investigation included, among other things:
. . . . An on going [sic] drug smuggling operation connecting Columbia [sic], Costa Rica, Nicaragua and the United States, in which Resistance members and their American supporters, . . . handled the transport of cocaine produced in Columbia [sic], shipped to Costa Rica, processed in the region, transported to airstrips controlled by American supporters of the Resistance and distributed in the U.S.The cable did not allege misdeeds by Hull.
- According to the CBS West 57th Street broadcast on April 6, 1987, Gary Betzner said, "I took two loads, small aircraft loads of weapons to John Hull's ranch in Costa Rica and returned back to Florida with approximately a thousand kilos of cocaine." Betzner then stated that he returned with "500 each trip." He also alleged that personnel working for Hull "would load the aircraft. In both cases John Hull was there." Betzner also said that Hull "physically saw the bags" of cocaine that were loaded onto the aircraft. During this program, Betzner described a whistle as a means of communicating with personnel at Hull's airstrip before landing. Later in the program, Betzner said, "The second trip I went down, I didn't go back into John Hull's place. I went into another strip that was maybe 10 or 15 miles east of the place, but a little better strip." In denying these allegations on the same program, Hull said, "There's never been any drug movement through this zone or through any of our farms . . . . "
- Hull states that the allegations by Gary Betzner, including a "whistle" signal between pilots in the air and personnel at Hull's airstrip, are false. According to Hull, there was no air-to-ground communication system at his air strips that could be used as Betzner alleged.
- A December 1987 cable from Headquarters asked for background information concerning a U.S. pilot. According to the cable, this U.S. pilot had a "close relative" with "possible drug involvement . . . . [This U.S. pilot] normally based [his] aircraft at the Muelle De San Carlos private airfield in northern Costa Rica, which is owned by John Hull . . . ." Responses indicated no information had been found regarding this U.S. pilot.
- A January 1988, Headquarters cable advised, a Cuban-American, claimed he had been in contact with Hull. As of August 1986, the cable noted, the Cuban-American was being investigated by the FBI for smuggling and possession of marijuana.
- In October 1988, a cable to Headquarters stated that an individual, who had been accused of money laundering in Costa Rica, had threatened to implicate Hull, Agriculture Minister Alberto Esquivel and "U.S. intelligence in narcotics trafficking." Hull says that he does not know the individual and does not recall the threat.
- On February 10, 1988, Floyd Carlton testified before the Kerry Committee that Teofilo Watson piloted an aircraft carrying about 530 kilograms of narcotics to Costa Rica that ended up on Hull's ranch. The transcript stated:
Senator Kerry: And instead of appearing at that -- what field was it supposed to appear at?
Mr. Carlton: I can't recall the name, but I could locate it on a map.
Senator Kerry: Did you learn that that drug shipment appeared instead on another farm, another strip?
Mr. Carlton: That is what we were told by a member of the civil guard in Costa Rica.
Senator Kerry: Did he inform you that it landed on the strip and ranch of John Hull?
Mr. Carlton: Yes, that is correct.
Senator Kerry: And was Teofilo Watson, the pilot of the aircraft, at some time assassinated?
Mr. Carlton: Yes.
Senator Kerry: When was he assassinated?
Mr. Carlton: I can't recall the date, the exact date. But one of the people who was to meet Watson told him not to land at the appointed place, but to change and land elsewhere. It was supposedly waiting for him there. They killed him and then took the airplane and the drugs to Mr. Hull's ranch.
Senator Kerry: So this is the very occasion that he landed at the wrong field that he was killed. He was assassinated when he was met landing where he thought he was going, correct?
Mr. Carlton: Yes, that is correct.
- A January 1989 cable to Headquarters reported that the Costa Rican Government had arrested Hull on charges that included illegal arms and narcotics trafficking. According to the cable, the chief of the Costa Rican Office of Judicial Investigation had said that Hull's arrest was "based on testimony of known narcotics traffickers arrested in Miami." These traffickers had alleged that Hull allowed "aircraft to utilize his property . . . for transit of drugs to USA."
- Hull says that, after he was arrested, he was stripped of his clothing and asked to sign an affidavit stating that he was aware that CIA was smuggling drugs. According to Hull, he was told that he would have his clothing returned and be set free if he signed the affidavit. Hull says that he refused to sign the document and was placed in a cell with 16 other prisoners.
- Agency records contain a copy of a January 13, 1989 Reuters article that reported information provided by a spokesman for the "Costa Rican judicial investigation department." According to the article:
The investigation of Hull . . . began after a Colombian drug trafficker, George Morales, accused the American in a television interview of links with arms and drugs [sic] trafficking and of spying for the Contras.
- A January 13, 1989 Associated Press story reported that witnesses testifying before Congress had said "Hull's ranch was a way station for gun smugglers and cocaine traffickers." The Associated Press report also stated that "Convicted cocaine pilot Gary Betzner has testified that Hull once met his plane when it landed on the ranch to exchange Contra arms for Colombian cocaine." Hull responds that his grass airstrip was too short—only 1,600 useable feet—and situated so that it could not be used as claimed by Morales and Betzner—hills on one end and a river on the other.
- Hull says that it was "impossible—flat impossible!" that someone could unload weapons and load narcotics on his property. He further asserts that all of the allegations about drugs being shipped from facilities controlled by him in Costa Rica came from convicted felons and that his airstrip was too short to accommodate the aircraft alleged to have used his airstrip. Hull states that, according to information he obtained from a representative of the manufacturer, the Cessna 402B aircraft, loaded as Betzner alleged, would have been 800 pounds over the gross weight to take off safely from a grass strip such as Hull's.(28) Hull says that Betzner's allegations are "not true, not true! He made it up. He was coached."
- March 7, 1989 reporting explained that a Costa Rican judge had issued a ruling that charged Hull with "hostile acts" and "drug trafficking." Costa Rican court documents claimed that Hull and Contra pilot Gerardo Duran had met Morales in Miami to discuss the sale of drugs and weapons. Thereafter, planes piloted by Duran and Marcos Aguado had reportedly landed at Hull's airstrips carrying military supplies and, with his knowledge, left loaded with drugs. Allegedly 400 kilograms of cocaine had been transported to Miami from Hull's ranch at one time. On another occasion, according to Betzner, 1,000 kilograms had been transported from Hull's ranch to Florida. The court had ordered Hull's "preventive imprisonment."
- A July 1989 cable advised Headquarters that Hull had fled Costa Rica in mid-July. Hull says that he arranged his departure from Costa Rica and was flown to Haiti by a DEA pilot he knew. According to Hull, a Canadian pilot flew him from Haiti to Miami. Hull says that in Miami he stayed in the apartment of Moises Nunez.
- In August 1989 reporting indicated that Hull had been reindicted by the Costa Rican Government for "hostile acts" stemming from his Contra-related activities. An August 1991 cable to Headquarters, stated that "The drug charges [against Hull] have since been dropped, but Hull is now formally charged with being a conspirator in the 1984 La Penca bombing, and is the subject of a Costa Rican extradition request in the hands of the U.S. Department of Justice." Hull remains the subject of an extradition request by the Costa Rican Government.
- Hull says that the narcotics trafficking charges were dropped in July 1989. This occurred, he says, after the Costa Rican judge went to his farm, measured the landing strip and saw for himself that it was too short to be used as alleged.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. A November 1984 cable stated that a Station Officer was "quite confident that [Hull . . . has not] supported any drug trafficking activity." The cable provided no further explanation regarding the basis for this statement.
- A February 1985 Headquarters cable noted that Hull "has become a political liability to the [Costa Rican Government] and a subject of interest to [U.S.] law enforcement agencies." A responding cable noted that the Station does not believe that Hull is involved with Frank Castro in any narcotics trafficking activities.
- A May 1986 cable from Headquarters stated:
- On 2 May 1986 [CATF] personnel met with representatives of [FBI] to review the status of their investigation into plan to blow up embassy in Costa Rica . . . . Figuring prominently in investigation is [Hull], according to information provided by Jack Terrell. . . . Nonetheless this allegation as well as one that [Hull's] driver "David" had been killed possibly by [Hull] figure prominently in Senator Kerry's staff's investigations into alleged improprieties in Central America. . . . . Request Station provide answers to the following questions:
- Does station have any information on [Hull] that indicates that [sic] he might have violated U.S. laws. Terrell alledges [sic] that 42 kilo[gram]s of cocaine were smuggled into the U.S. from [Hull's] farm. This cocaine allegedly is smuggled into Nicaragua by Columbia [sic] drug smugglers with the knowledge of the Nicaraguan government and the assistance of Rene Corbo.(29) Corbo gets a cut of the shipment to Nicaragua for his help and allegedly has an arrangement with [Hull] to move the drugs to [Hull's] farm and then into the U.S. . . .
- No one is alledging [sic] that [Hull] actually did anything wrong at his [sic] time, but we must have . . . any information that Station has which might shed light on the questions raised . . . . It is our hope by doing our homework now to shut down allegations of improprieties by Senator Kerry's staff and avoid public hearings where it will be difficult if not impossible to disprove the allegations being made.
- According to a May 1986 cable, Hull denied all allegations by Terrell regarding cocaine movements through his property and "stated that to the best of his knowledge he has never violated any aspect of U.S. neutrality laws." Further, the cable stated, "to the best of Station knowledge, [Hull] has not been involved in any type of smuggling operations."
- A September 1986 cable stated that Hull "has . . . contact . . . with senior [U.S. Government] officials and wealthy [U.S.] businessmen supportive of his anti-Communist activities."
- Hull says that he was polygraphed by a private firm on February 20, 1992. According to a copy of a polygraph examination report from that private firm, Hull's negative answers to three questions concerning whether, "from 1982 to about 1985" he made "arrangements to fly out cocaine," "ship[ped] cocaine out of one of your airstrips" or "knowingly permit[ed] anyone to use your airstrips to fly out cocaine" were deemed to "correspond to truthfulness."
- Eden Pastora says that there was "bad blood" between himself and John Hull, but states that he has no knowledge of drug trafficking by Hull. Pastora says that he recalls rumors of drug trafficking on Hull's ranch, but he says there were no facts. Pastora allows that Gerardo Duran may have misled Hull and used Hull's airstrip for some drug flights under the guise of humanitarian aid. Pastora also identified another pilot known as "Condorito" or "Condor" who was alleged to have been involved in drug running and who used Hull's airstrip. Pastora says that, if drug trafficking occurred on Hull's airstrips, he does not believe that Hull knew about it.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. In April 1982, CIA requested FBI traces regarding Hull. A June 1, 1982 Memorandum For the Record (MFR) noted that the FBI had replied that "there were no identifiable FBI traces." In February 1985, several months after the first allegations arose that Hull was engaged in drug trafficking, Headquarters stated in a cable that it was "making discrete inquiries with appropriate law enforcement agencies as to derogatory information on [Hull]."
- On March 21, 1985, two months after Hull had said that his relationship with Frank Castro was being investigated by the FBI, a Headquarters cable stated that U.S. Government law enforcement agencies had no ongoing investigations of Hull. The cable noted that DoJ was curious as to why Hull believed he was being investigated.
- On March 7, 1986, the FBI sent a multi-part cable to CIA regarding neutrality matters in Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. These cables summarized the FBI interview with Jack Terrell in which he had made allegations regarding Hull's involvement in narcotics trafficking. On April 1, 1986, CIA responded to the FBI that, "If it would be germane to the FBI's neutrality matters investigation, this Agency is ready to provide a comprehensive briefing on Hull and his activities." No information has been found to indicate whether the FBI accepted this offer.
- A May 3, 1986, Headquarters cable stated that, on May 2, 1986, "[CATF] personnel met with representatives of [the FBI] to review the status of their investigation into plan to blow up [the U.S.] embassy in Costa Rica and blame it on the Sandinistas." The Headquarters cable noted that Hull figured prominently in that investigation, based on information provided by Terrell.
- On May 8, 1986, a cable noted:
[Hull] stated that to the best of his knowledge he has never violated any aspect of U.S. neutrality laws. All allegations by Jack Terrell regarding cocaine movement on a farm belonging to [Hull] are false.This cable continued by stating:
To the best of Station knowledge, [Hull] has not been involved in any type of smuggling operations. His greatest sin has been to employ Nicaraguan refugees in menial jobs on his farm.
- According to a May 9, 1986 Headquarters cable representatives of CIA, DEA, FBI, DoS, the NHAO, and DoJ met with SFRC Staff members on May 7, 1986 to review allegations regarding Hull's alleged involvement in arms trafficking, drug trafficking and murder. According to the cable:
Both [DoJ] and [DEA] were specifically asked if they have ongoing investigations of [Hull]. They both told the Staffers that there are no investigations presently in progress. However, because of the breath [sic] of the allegations made and our inability to respond to them, it is possible that [DoJ] may open an investigation of [Hull].The cable characterized the meeting as "largely unproductive as Kerry's Staffers were unwilling to provide details and sources of information that had provided information that pointed to violations of U.S. laws."
- CATF Legal Advisor Louis Dupart wrote an undated MFR concerning the May 7, 1986 meeting which noted that DoJ had said "there is an active and ongoing investigation" underway with regard to one alleged shipment of lethal weapons that arrived at Hull's ranch. According to the MFR, the CIA representatives stated that "Our sources reported [the shipment] only consisted of non-lethal supplies." With regard to the allegations of murder, Neutrality Act violations, conspiracy to commit murder, and drug smuggling, the MFR stated that "Both Justice and the DEA told the Staffers that they do not have ongoing investigations of Hull." As for the allegation that Hull "is some how [sic] responsible for the death of David [Hull's driver]," the MFR noted that "The Staffers were told that a thorough search of [CIA] records did not reveal any information on a driver named David." The MFR stated that "in a recent San Jose newspaper article, Rojas [the source of the allegation about David's murder] had repudiated the statements attributed to him." According to the MFR, "The Staffers out of hand rejected the information provided on Rojas saying they had another source, who they would not identify."
- A May 9, 1986 Headquarters cable referred to the May 7, 1986 meeting and stated that DoJ and DEA had reported that they had no current investigations of Hull. However, the cable noted that "it is possible that [DoJ] may open an investigation of [Hull]."
- According to an undated MFR by Dupart, CATF Chief Fiers and OGC representatives met on July 9, 1986 with HPSCI Staff member Michael O'Neil regarding Hull. The MFR indicated that CIA reviewed and the allegations that Hull had violated U.S. law. According to the MFR, Fiers told O'Neil that CIA had "no information of Hull having been involved in violations of U.S. law" and that, since CIA was "not a law enforcement agency, we have not collected or sought any information on this." The MFR also noted that Fiers stated that "while it is possible that Hull had in fact violated the law, we have no knowledge of any violations."
- Sometime in October 1986, according to a November 25, 1987 memorandum from Agency Office of Congressional Affairs Director David Gries to DCI Webster, Fiers briefed Senator Kerry on Hull.
- An October 16, 1986 MFR by OCA Deputy Director for Senate Affairs Alvin K. Dorn stated that Fiers briefed Senator John Kerry on October 15 regarding questions that had resulted from Fiers' October 10, 1986 briefing concerning the Contras. The MFR noted that Fiers presented "a series of prepared sheets responding to the questions to Senator Kerry, who read each one carefully and occasionally asked additional questions. These sheets concerned: [among others] John Hull."
- On July 31, 1987, Fiers briefed the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) about Hull's alleged relationship with Jorge Morales. According to an SSCI transcript of the briefing, Fiers stated:
Morales saw John Hull in his, Morales' office, with [Marcos] Aguado in 1983. However, Morales didn't meet him. He didn't want to. Hull is very well know [sic] in columbia [sic] and Central America for his activities and his reputation dealing [sic] with CIA. Morales did not want any more dealings with government people other than what he had with Chamorro and Cesar.
The SSCI transcript also noted that Fiers recounted the drug trafficking allegations by Morales against Hull:
[Morales] also claims to have unloaded--that Hull's airstrip was used in loading and unloading of drugs [and that] Morales first heard about John Hull in 1981 from a Columbian [sic] friend. Morales said it was very well known John Hull's ranch was a facility for refueling and storing drugs. John Hull was in Morales' office in July 1983 with Gustavo Velez, a Columbian [sic] friend of Morales, to arrange delivery of 40 grenade launchers from Opaloca, Florida, to El Salvador. Morales' cargo airliner flew the launchers for Hull.
According to the transcript, Fiers also said:
It is possible that John Hull's ranch was used as a transshipment point for drugs. We never had any hard proof of that other than the claims made by various convicted narcotics traffickers. It is possible it could have been used without Hull's knowledge. It is also possible he could have been a willing accomplice in using it. We just don't have any significant information about that.
- On August 20, 1987, a CIA officer met briefly with the SFRC's Special Counsel to advise him that Headquarters was willing to brief him on matters related to Hull. According to a November 20, 1987 OCA MFR, Louis Dupart and an OCA Legislation Division officer met with the SFRC's Special Counsel on November 20, 1987. The MFR stated that Senator Kerry was seeking a meeting with DCI Webster because "the Senator needed to convey his concerns about the matter on a 'political' level to a 'political' figure in the government . . . ." On December 22, 1987, DCI Webster advised Senator Kerry by letter that he had directed appropriate Agency officials to conduct "an in-depth review" concerning Hull and that the Agency was prepared to assist Kerry's investigation. The letter noted that further comment concerning Hull's activities was "appropriately left to the Department of Justice and [Iran-Contra Independent Counsel] Judge Walsh's office." No information has been found to indicate that the in-depth review referred to by DCI Webster was ever conducted.