Southern Front Contras: The Contra Story
What drug trafficking allegations was CIA aware of, and when, involving Southern Front Contras? How did CIA respond to this information, and how was this information shared with other U.S. Government entities?
The Southern Front Trafficking Reports
Agency Knowledge and Handling of Allegations of Southern Front Involvement in Drug Trafficking
- General Summary and Background. In October 1984, CIA began receiving reporting that Southern Front ARDE leaders had agreed to assist a Miami-based drug trafficker in bringing narcotics into the United States. The information from this series of reports was furnished to senior officials of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
- CIA Records. In January 1984 Headquarters received information that indicated that helicopters purchased by Cuban-Americans on behalf of Eden Pastora's Contra organization--ARDE--were being held in a Miami warehouse owned by a businessman. A Miami-based Cuban-American was identified as the donor of the helicopters. In January a Headquarters cable noted that CIA had been advised by the FBI that Sarkis might be "subject to judicial [sic] investigation connected with alleged illegal activities." As a result, the Headquarters cable also advised that any Agency asset who was in contact with Sarkis be warned that "Sarkis may be involved in alleged drug trafficking."
- In May 1984, Headquarters received a cable regarding Carol Prado, a senior ARDE official. The cable noted that there was "little to add at this time to what has already been reported [concerning] Prado's involvement in illegal drug and gun activities." The cable noted that the Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Customs Service and the FBI were "aware of the activities of this group and are watching them closely."
- First Report. In October 1984, CIA received information indicating that senior ARDE officials, including several of Pastora's close associates--Adolfo Chamorro, Carol Prado and Gerardo Duran--had established a working relationship with a Miami-based drug trafficker. An October 1984 cable to Headquarters indicated that Adolfo Chamorro--Pastora's second-in-command--had just consummated a "mutual assistance agreement" with a Miami-based narcotics trafficker whose name was not known at the time of the report. The cable reporting this information to Headquarters noted that:
[ARDE] would provide [ARDE] operational facilities in Costa Rica and Nicaragua to facilitate the transportation of narcotics, and would obtain the assistance of Costa Rican Government officials in providing documentation, in exchange for financial support, aircraft, and pilot training for the [ARDE].
Further, the cable indicated that the unnamed Miami-based drug trafficker had:
- Turned over helicopters to ARDE and made arrangements for a C-47 to be flown to El Salvador; and
- Promised to pay ARDE $200,000 per month once the narcotics operations were underway. . . .
- In October 1984, a cable asked Headquarters for permission to share this information with the local Department of Treasury office. The cable noted that Treasury had an ongoing investigation of suspected arms smuggling by ARDE elements in the Miami area, and that the Department had previously said that ARDE representatives "were in contact with [a Miami-based Cuban-American]. . . who is suspected of trafficking in narcotics." No information has been found to indicate a Headquarters response to this cable. However the information was disseminated by Headquarters to a senior officer in the Department of Treasury and other senior U.S. Government, intelligence, and law enforcement officials in Washington shortly thereafter.
- October 1984 Sensitive Memorandum Dissemination. In October 1984, Headquarters disseminated a Sensitive Memorandum based upon the information that had been provided in mid-October. All the information was disseminated, except that a general reference to El Salvador as the destination for the C-47 flight was substituted for the specific reference to Ilopango Air Base.
- A "Headquarters Comment" was included in the disseminated Sensitive Memorandum that indicated it was not known "whether Pastora himself was aware of the narcotics angle of the agreement." An additional Headquarters Comment pointed out that confirmation had been received that the ARDE had recently acquired two helicopters and a DC-3 transport plane.
- The Sensitive Memorandum was disseminated to 13 senior U.S. Government, intelligence, and law enforcement officials by position title. Within CIA, this Sensitive Memorandum was also disseminated to senior officials.
- Second Report. An October 1984 cable to Headquarters reported that the name of the Miami-based drug trafficker with whom ARDE officials were dealing was Jorge Morales. The cable restated the terms of the mutual assistance agreement that had been reported in mid-October and added the following details:
- On October 31, Gerardo Duran, an ARDE pilot who was flying on Morales' behalf, was scheduled to fly from Miami to the Bahamas.
- Morales and Adolfo Chamorro were in the process of setting up "bank accounts in Miami through which to funnel the monthly payments to the ARDE once the working relationship between Morales and the ARDE is in full operation."
No mention was made of Pastora in this report, except to identify him as the head of the ARDE.
- November 5, 1984 Sensitive Memorandum Dissemination. On November 3, 1984, a Headquarters cable stated that the information provided on October 31 was being prepared for limited dissemination. Further, the cable advised that Headquarters intended to discuss with DoJ during the week of November 5 how to proceed regarding the handling of the source of the information--presumably in light of the information the source had provided regarding alleged narcotics trafficking. The cable advised that no direct action was to be taken with regard to Pastora. The Headquarters cable noted that:
Given the volume and the detail of the evidence we have received, it is difficult to believe that an operation of this magnitude could be conducted within the [ARDE] without [Pastora's] approval. We have been fastidious about insuring that all information is passed to appropriate agencies on a timely basis and we must avoid at all costs an accusation that [CIA] condoned narcotics trafficking by [ARDE].
- On November 5, 1984, the information provided on October 31 was disseminated in Sensitive Memorandum format to 16 senior U.S. Government, intelligence, and law enforcement officials by position title.
- CIA Report to DoJ. On November 7, 1984, CIA General Counsel Stanley Sporkin attached a cover memorandum to the October Sensitive Memorandum and forwarded it to DCI Casey. Sporkin's memorandum indicated that the information had already been shared with appropriate officials in the U.S. Government, but stated that he intended to have OGC directly contact DoJ Criminal Division Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mark Richard in order to protect "the public as well as the Agency's interests." On November 19, 1984, according to a January 15, 1985 OGC memorandum, an OGC representative orally briefed the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division regarding the information.
- A November 26, 1984 OGC memorandum for the record (MFR) indicated that OGC and DO officers had met with DoJ, FBI and DEA representatives on November 9 and November 19 to discuss the substance and implications of the information that had been disseminated in October and November. According to the MFR, DEA reported at the November 19 meeting that Jorge Morales was awaiting trial in Miami, along with 13 other defendants, on federal charges of engaging in a Continuous Criminal Enterprise. It was agreed at that meeting, stated the MFR, that DEA would brief an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) in Miami about the information and that the AUSA would be asked, in turn, to discuss the matter with the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. Further, the MFR stated that the CIA representatives had agreed to make the source of the information available to be debriefed by DEA, the FBI and the AUSA.
- Third Report. According to a November 1984 cable to Headquarters, Pastora, Adolfo Chamorro and Roberto Chamorro were scheduled to travel to Miami on that same day and that two ARDE pilots--including Gerardo Duran--had already arrived in Miami. The purpose of this travel was for Pastora and the two Chamorros to meet Morales. Reportedly the pilots were probably going to undertake a narcotics-related flight on behalf of Morales. The report also indicated:
- Adolfo Chamorro had established a bank account in Miami and that, to date, Morales had transferred approximately $30,000 to the ARDE.
- Morales appeared to be attempting to relocate his operations from the United States to Central America and the Bahamas.
- Morales had indicated that he occasionally met with Fidel Castro in Cuba.
According to a December 1984 cable to Headquarters, Pastora and his associates had arrived in Miami and were staying at the home of a Miami-based Cuban-American. Further, Pastora was scheduled to meet with Morales.
- December 1984 Sensitive Memorandum Dissemination. In December 1984, the information reported in November was disseminated in Sensitive Memorandum format to 13 senior United States Government, intelligence, and law enforcement officials by position title.
- A December 1984 OGC MFR by Assistant General Counsel Betty Ann Smith indicated that OGC and DO officers had met on December 6, 1984 with representatives of DEA and the United States Attorney's Office in Miami and briefed them regarding the information that had been provided in November. Further, according to the OGC MFR, the source of the information had been debriefed by a DEA agent during this same meeting.
- According to a December 1984 cable from Headquarters, CIA and DEA agreed during the December 1984 meeting that the source would report on any further ARDE/FRS narcotics trafficking. It was also agreed that subsequent information would be shared by CIA with the DEA and the Department of Justice.
- According to a December 1984 cable, Pastora had met with Morales, Sarkis and a Miami-based Cuban-American. Reportedly Pastora said that the meeting with Morales had not gone well. Pastora "did not like Morales' pressuring him to immediately meet [Pastora's] end of their arrangement, which is providing pilots and operational facilities in Costa Rica for Morales' drug operations." No information has been found to indicate whether this information was shared with U.S. law enforcement agencies or disseminated outside the DO.
- Background. Eden Pastora Gomez, whose "war name" was Commandante Zero, joined the Sandinistas in the early 1970s to seek the overthrow of Somoza. Especially popular after he stormed Somoza's National Palace in 1978, he was nonetheless excluded in 1979 from the Sandinista National Liberation Front's (FSLN's) nine-man Directorate and given relatively minor positions in the post-Somoza Sandinista Government. These setbacks displeased Pastora, and he also claimed to be dismayed by the leftward turn of the Sandinista regime. In 1981 Pastora broke with the Sandinistas, and he went into self-imposed exile in Costa Rica shortly thereafter.
- Pastora formed the FRS in early 1982 and allied his group with several other Contra organizations to form the Costa Rican-based ARDE in September 1982. Pastora led ARDE's military struggle against the FSLN until July 1984, when the organization's leadership replaced him. An ARDE spokesman attributed Pastora's replacement to injuries received in the May 1984 bomb attack against him at La Penca, but Pastora's leadership had also been undermined by his refusal to join forces with leaders of the Northern Front. Pastora left ARDE in 1986 and withdrew from the military effort.
- Between early 1982 and mid-1984, Pastora was the main recipient of the funds CIA channeled to Contras fighting on the Southern Front. However, the funding allocated by Congress for the Contras had been expended by August 1984, and CIA was forced to cease its material support. More comprehensive congressional restrictions on the Agency's ability to support the Contras took effect in October 1984 and remained in place until December 1985.
- The cutoff of U.S. funding led associates of Pastora to begin looking for alternative sources of funds. In October 1984, CIA began receiving the reporting mentioned earlier that Southern Front leaders allied with Pastora had agreed to help Miami-based trafficker Jorge Morales bring drugs into the United States in exchange for his material and financial help to the Southern Front. A subsequent October Headquarters cable instructed those dealing with Pastora:
. . . not to take definitive action to declare the relationship with [Pastora] terminated. Rather, we want to back away from the man leaving him guessing as to the status of his relationship with [CIA]. We do not want to initiate contact with him under any circumstances, unless it is done for the purpose of manipulating him towards some objective clearly consistent with [U.S.] policy in the region.
- The Agency's relationship with Pastora was one of its most significant with a Contra leader. While the drug trafficking allegations were a factor in the decision to terminate that relationship, the October 1984 Headquarters cable indicated that the Agency was responding to other factors as well. CIA also judged that the advantages of dealing with Pastora were outweighed by the poor performance of his Southern Front fighting forces, by counterintelligence issues arising from his contacts with the Sandinistas in Managua, and by operational restrictions imposed by Congress.
- In November 1984, Headquarters instructed that "no direct action is to be taken with [Pastora]. Ideally, you will be able to avoid him altogether." A November reply stated that only four meetings with Pastora had occurred since July 1984 and that the last of these was on October 18. At the last meeting, it had reportedly been made clear that CIA could no longer provide any support, direct or indirect, to Pastora's organization.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. An October 1982 cable to Headquarters reported that INS had received information indicating that a meeting of Contra members was to be held in Costa Rica to discuss an exchange in the U.S. of arms for narcotics. A November 1982 cable identified Pastora as one of those who would be attending.
- CIA began receiving reporting in October 1984 indicating that associates of Pastora in ARDE had agreed to work with known narcotics trafficker Jorge Morales. That same month Harold Martinez Saenz--a former deputy FRS commander--said that he could no longer support ARDE due to Pastora's ineffective leadership. Martinez had also stated that he did not want to become involved in drug and arms smuggling activities and corrupt handling of money, thus inferring that Pastora and his staff were involved in those activities.
- Regarding the arrangement allegedly worked out with Morales by Pastora's FRS associates in 1984, Adolfo Chamorro says that Pastora was not aware of Morales' drug trafficking activities until after the meetings in October 1984 and after Pastora himself had met with Morales in December 1984. Cables in 1985 indicate that Pastora "temporarily discontinued" the arrangement with Morales in early January 1985 when he realized the potential political fallout from dealing with narcotics traffickers. Pastora says that he ordered that the planes donated by Morales be returned when he learned that Morales was a drug trafficker.
- In April 1985, according to a Headquarters cable, the text of a February Sandinista radio broadcast from Managua alleged that Pastora and his associates were completing construction of three landing strips in the Guanacaste area of Costa Rica for light aircraft to be used for drug trafficking. The drug trafficking was being undertaken, the radio broadcast said, to substitute for the financing that was no longer available in the wake of a Congressional cutoff of Contra funding.
- An April 1985 cable to Headquarters reported that an employee of Alpa Airlines had said that the company was concealing cocaine in yucca shipments destined for the United States. The cable reported that two of the five persons reported to be owners of Alpa were Gerardo Duran and David Mayorga.(12) Duran had already been identified as a close associate of Pastora. In addition, one of the planes allegedly used by Alpa Airlines was reported to belong to Pastora and ARDE.
- A December 1985 Headquarters cable stated that Adolfo Chamorro had told a Southern Opposition Bloc (BOS) member that a Panamanian, Cesar Rodriguez, was gathering drug money for Pastora. Rodriguez was identified in this cable as a narcotics trafficker who had business ties to Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega.
- A January 1986 cable reported to Headquarters that a Costa Rican associate of Pastora reportedly said that he had 200 kilograms of cocaine he wished to use in helping to finance Pastora's Contra activities.
- In June 1986 and July-August 1987, CIA was told of a trip to Panama by Jose Davila, Carol Prado and Pastora. During the trip, Pastora reportedly had accepted $10,000 from Cesar Rodriguez, who was described as a narcotics trafficker from Colombia.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. CIA terminated its relationship with Pastora in October 1984, within two weeks of receiving the first reporting about ARDE's drug-related dealings with Morales. While other factors were involved, the drug trafficking allegations weighed in the decision.
- A February 1986 cable requested an inter-Agency review of the information implicating David Mayorga in narcotics trafficking because he was one of Pastora's closest advisors. The same cable noted that this information "needs to be made available to those still bent on seeing that [Pastora] is given . . . funding." No information has been found to indicate that such a review took place.
- On March 1986, a Station asked Headquarters for specific instructions regarding what role Pastora was to play in the Contra unification agreement. The Station outlined the drug allegations against Pastora's associates in the cable and stated that:
. . . .
in COS' view, a political or other kind of accommodation with [Pastora] in which [the Agency] plays a known mediating role places [the Agency] in an untenable and unjustifiable position for which, in COS' view, there can be no reasonable or acceptable explanation.
. . . .
We will work through one united command structure, built around the one which is currently in place. We [w]ill not work through the existing FRS structure because, simply put, it is too badly penetrated by Sandinistas and too many of the players have been associated with narcotics smuggling. We will be willing to incorporate members from the FRS structure into t[h]e unified structure, but only after they have been given a thorough security screening
. . . .
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. As explained earlier, the reporting tying Pastora and senior members of his group to drug smuggling operations into the United States was disseminated by CIA to a broad range of senior USG intelligence and law enforcement officials.
- OCA files indicate that the Agency forwarded to Steven Berry, Associate Counsel of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), on January 29, 1985, a response to a question regarding Pastora's possible consummation of a working arrangement with Colombian drug dealers. The Agency response noted that all relevant details had been reported in the program summaries to HPSCI. The response added that:
To summarize, intelligence reporting indicates that members of Pastora's organization (FRS) have agreed--either with Pastora's direct knowledge or tacit approval--to provide pilots and landing strips inside Costa Rica and Nicaragua to a Miami-based Colombian drug dealer in exchange for financial and material support. Information pertaining to Pastora's involvement in drug trafficking has been forwarded to the appropriate Enforcement Agencies. [sic]
- On August 1, 1986, CATF legal officer Louis Dupart forwarded to CATF Chief Fiers, LA Division Chief and LA Division Deputy Chief a MFR for a meeting with HPSCI Staffer Mike O'Neil held on July 9, 1986 in CATF Chief's office at O'Neil's request to discuss another topic. The memorandum stated that, in response to other questions from O'Neil, Chief/CATF said that Pastora had voluntarily renounced his role as a resistance leader.
- On April 25, 1986, Headquarters authorized the sharing with DEA of documents that described the October 1984 agreement between ARDE officials and Morales. DEA reportedly planned to use the documents as background information prior to debriefing Adolfo Chamorro in Miami.
- In July 1987, a Station reported to Headquarters that, unless advised otherwise, the Station intended to provide the local DEA office with a message from Octaviano Cesar. The message indicated that Marcos Aguado wanted to contact the CIA to provide specific information that tied Eden Pastora to "past drug trafficking."
- On July 31, 1987, CATF Chief Alan Fiers testified to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) concerning the allegations that Morales had made in testimony at the Kerry Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) regarding Contra involvement in narcotics trafficking. Fiers discussed what CIA knew about drug trafficking allegations concerning Pastora and a number of former FRS/ARDE members. Fiers stated that the Agency did not have knowledge that Pastora was directly involved in the Morales narcotics deal, but also said:
We have a significant body of evidence with regard to involvement of the former members of ARDE in the Southern Front--Pastora's people being directly involved in cocaine trafficking to the United States. . . .
- In addition, according to SSCI transcripts, Fiers used one of his biweekly meetings with the SSCI to share information with that Committee regarding allegations that Southern Front personnel were involved in narcotics trafficking. On October 14, 1987, Fiers stated to the SSCI regarding Pastora's plans to return to Nicaragua:
We frankly don't very much care what [Pastora] does right now. We don't think it would be a terrible problem for us. You must always remember that the Sandinistas know what we know. This guy is a cocaine runner. Period. He ran cocaine. And they know that and we know that and they don't want him back. He's a hot potato for anybody.
- A January 4, 1988 MFR drafted by Robert Buckman, OCA, indicated that CATF provided a summary briefing on the Nicaraguan program for SSCI on the same date. At that briefing, Senator Bill Bradley inquired about allegations of drug trafficking, and Fiers responded that "Pastora had been involved with a Colombian trafficker, but the FDN was clean."
- Background. Adolfo Jose Chamorro Cesar, also known as "Popo," is a Nicaraguan citizen currently residing in Managua. He had U.S. Permanent Resident Alien (PRA) status from 1983 until 1990, when he became the Nicaraguan Consul General in Miami. He is the nephew of Violetta Chamorro, the first elected president of Nicaragua after the Sandinista regime, and the uncle of Roberto "Tito" Chamorro, another Contra figure.
- Adolfo Chamorro fought in the revolution to overthrow Somoza. Following Somoza's ouster in 1979, he served as an official of the FSLN. Chamorro's tenure as a government minister was short-lived, however, due to his arrest in 1981 in connection with a counter-revolutionary plot against the Sandinista Government. He then went into exile in Costa Rica. There he joined forces with Eden Pastora, his former FSLN commander, and the anti-Sandinista organization ARDE. In June 1983, Chamorro became the chief of military intelligence for ARDE.
- In the summer of 1984, Eden Pastora left the ARDE and reorganized the FRS. Chamorro followed Pastora and became the FRS Deputy Military Commander. In October, Chamorro traveled to Miami to raise funds to support the FRS/ARDE coalition. In October 1984, Chamorro's name was linked with possible drug trafficking. On July 26, 1985, Chamorro broke with Pastora and the FRS and aligned himself with the newly formed BOS.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. The Southern Front trafficking reports that began to be received in October 1984 stated that Adolfo Chamorro had been instrumental in making the arrangement for drug trafficker Jorge Morales to supply monetary support and aircraft in exchange for the use of FRS pilots. Chamorro reportedly set up a bank account in Miami through which money from Morales could be transferred to FRS/ARDE.
- The reporting indicated that Chamorro and Morales had met again on October 30 to discuss their concerns about who within the Contras might have informed CIA about one of the aircraft that Morales had provided. Another meeting between Chamorro and Morales was reportedly planned for late November, this time to include Pastora. Chamorro says he was present at that meeting and that no conditions were attached to Morales' offer of support to the Contra cause.
- In January 1986 cables noted that Chamorro had a relationship with Gerardo Duran, an FRS pilot who was arrested in Costa Rica for smuggling cocaine. Although no direct connection could be made between Duran's smuggling activities and Chamorro, the relationship between the two men had been noted with interest by a Central American Station and the local DEA office.
- In October 1990, after the Contra war had concluded, the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald carried front-page articles charging that Chamorro, who was then serving as the Nicaraguan Consul General in Miami, had trafficked in narcotics from 1984 to 1986. The article stated that a Colombian pilot had testified during the trial of a Medellin drug lord that he had flown arms to Contra forces in Central America and cocaine shipments to Florida and that Chamorro was part of this arms/drugs network.
- Chamorro characterizes his meetings with Morales in late 1984 as appropriate since he was the director of logistics for FRS/ARDE. He maintains that the purpose of the meetings was to discuss support to FRS/ARDE and that neither he nor anyone in FRS/ARDE knew at that time of any drug trafficking allegations against Morales. Chamorro states that FRS/ARDE contact with Morales was terminated when the drug allegations became known. Chamorro says that none of the members of FRS/ARDE were involved in drug trafficking and they never knowingly accepted drug money. While Chamorro admits to having met Duran on several occasions, he states that he was not aware of any agreement between Duran and Morales. He explains, however, that Duran may have made his own deal with Morales to ship drugs.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. By September 1986, Chamorro was one of the five BOS directorate officers. CIA was no longer opposing BOS and was providing support. A September 1986 cable to Headquarters had noted a suggestion made to BOS leader Alfredo Cesar that Chamorro should be interviewed by CIA Security because of his alleged involvement with drug trafficking. In January 1987, Headquarters instructed that it was to be emphasized to Cesar that U.S. Government funds could not be used to support Chamorro until the allegations against him were resolved.
- Chamorro thereafter agreed to be interviewed by CIA Security. Based on the results of that interview, CIA Security was led to believe it was highly probable that Chamorro was involved in drug trafficking. A February 1987 cable reported that BOS had accepted Chamorro's resignation and removed him from the BOS payroll.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. As explained earlier, the 1984 Southern Front trafficking reporting was disseminated by CIA to a broad range of senior U.S. Government intelligence and law enforcement officials. The reporting noted that Chamorro had reached an agreement with a Miami-based drug trafficker to provide FRS facilities to transport narcotics in exchange for financial support, aircraft and pilot training, named the narcotics trafficker with whom Chamorro had struck the deal as Jorge Morales, and stated that another meeting was planned between Morales, Chamorro and Pastora.
- In January 1986, Chamorro was scheduled to travel to Washington, D.C., as part of a BOS delegation lobbying for support for the Contra movement. CIA Headquarters stated in a January 1986 cable that it was "attempting to highlight [Chamorro's] known involvement in drug activities to convince appropriate parties to forego meetings with BOS in [Washington]." On January 22, 1986, Acting DCI John McMahon sent letters to the Chairmen of the SSCI and HPSCI informing them that Chamorro would be visiting members of Congress during that week. McMahon wrote, "While I would not normally comment on visitors to Congress, I believe it essential that I provide you with some highly derogatory information on Chamorro. . . . Our information indicates that Chamorro. . . has been involved in drug smuggling to the United States." The letter went on to detail Chamorro's association with Jorge Morales. In addition, it gave information about other contacts Chamorro had with suspected drug traffickers and offered a briefing concerning Chamorro's activities.
- On January 24, 1986, a Central American Station informed Headquarters that it had discussed Chamorro several times with local DEA officers. The January 8, 1986 arrest of FRS pilot Gerardo Duran on drug charges in Costa Rica, explained the cable, made Chamorro's connection with Duran highly suspect. The Station stated that it had informed DEA of its interest in what Duran might have to say about that relationship when DEA questioned him after his release, which was "expected momentarily due to lack of Costa Rican willingness to prosecute."
- On January 6, 1986, the SSCI requested Agency comments regarding a December 27, 1985 article in The Washington Post alleging a link between the Contras and drug trafficking. The information from the 1984 reporting about Chamorro and his dealings with Morales was included in CIA's January 13, 1986 reply.
- On April 25, 1986, a Station requested that DEA officials be alerted that Chamorro was due to arrive at Miami Airport after being arrested and expelled for illegally entering Costa Rica. The Station suggested that DEA officers in Miami might want to question Chamorro about possible drug trafficking. According to an April 1986 cable to Headquarters, Chamorro had been interviewed by DEA in Miami on April 25 and named others whom he alleged to be trafficking in narcotics, but did not incriminate himself. DEA chose to maintain contact with Chamorro, but a July 1986 Headquarters cable declined CIA participation, asking only that DEA keep the Agency informed.
- On April 15, 1986, a Memorandum entitled "Contra Involvement in Drug Trafficking" was prepared by CIA in response to a request from then-Vice President Bush. This Memorandum, which was delivered to Bush by a CIA officer on April 15, 1986, was a summary of the 1984 Southern Front trafficking reporting concerning Chamorro's and Pastora's contacts with Jorge Morales. The CIA analyst who drafted the Memorandum says that there was no request for follow-up regarding the reporting that was summarized in the Memorandum. The analyst also says she was aware of no further mention of the Contras' involvement in drug trafficking in Agency intelligence disseminations until early 1987.
- On January 21, 1987, ADCI Robert Gates provided Morton Abramowitz, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, with a Memorandum that had been prepared by CIA to address all allegations then known to CIA regarding alleged Contra/drug trafficking connections. The Memorandum included the information from 1984 regarding Chamorro and his connections to Morales. DoS responded on February 9, 1987 by demanding that Chamorro be removed from BOS membership, stating that "the law specifically directs that no funds are to be distributed to or through any resistance group that retains in its ranks any individual who has been found to engage in drug smuggling." CATF Chief Fiers replied to DoS, in an undated Memorandum, that CIA had taken immediate steps on learning of Chamorro's affiliation with BOS to have Chamorro removed as a member or affiliate of BOS. Fiers' Memorandum went on to say that CIA believed it was highly probable that Chamorro was involved in drug trafficking, and that all relevant information known to CIA had been shared with DEA and the FBI.
- On March 10, 1987, CATF provided CIA's OGC with two cables from February 1987 and March 1987, concerning Chamorro's "suspicious activities." These activities reportedly included dealing in stolen electronic equipment and allegedly warning his employees to inspect all incoming packages for drugs because he thought the FBI was watching him. CATF recommended on a routing sheet attached to the cables that OGC "report this information to the Department of Justice." A handwritten, but unsigned, note attached to the cables stated that the drug-related information was "probably reportable but does [Chamorro] have a direct role in the activity--he hasn't admitted to involvement." No information has been found to indicate how or whether this question was resolved. As explained in further detail below, this information was not reported to DoJ by OGC until January 1988.
- On March 5, 1987, according to an OCA Memorandum for the Record written by Robert Buckman, CATF Chief Fiers briefed the SSCI on the situation in Nicaragua. Fiers told the Committee that CIA believed it was highly probable that Adolfo Chamorro was involved in drug trafficking and that BOS risked losing its U.S. aid "if it did not fully sever its ties with Chamorro."
- On July 31, 1987, CATF Chief Fiers testified before the SSCI and stated that CIA had "unimpeachable" information that Chamorro had planned to meet Morales in November 1984.
- On January 5, 1988, CIA General Counsel David Doherty sent a letter to William Weld, Assistant Attorney General for DoJ's Criminal Division, informing him that the Agency was forwarding information concerning Adolfo Chamorro in accordance with Section 1.7(a) of Executive Order 12333. The letter stated that Chamorro might be involved in smuggling drugs into the United States and that the Agency had information that Chamorro might have been involved in the sale of stolen electronic merchandise in Miami. The letter went on to say that "although this non-employee crime is not required to be reported, . . ." the Agency thought it sufficiently serious to share the information with DoJ. The General Counsel's letter was brought to the attention of the Iran-Contra Independent Counsel and DEA by Associate Attorney General Stephen S. Trott as an enclosure to a March 17, 1988 letter to Associate Independent Counsel Guy Struve.
- Background. Roberto "Tito" Jose Chamorro, a nephew of both former Nicaraguan President Violetta Chamorro and prominent Contra leader Adolfo Chamorro, was a Contra commander associated with the Southern Front forces. CIA records indicate that Roberto Chamorro first came to the attention of the Agency in 1984 when he was FRS Chief of Operations under Pastora's command. As of mid-1985, Chamorro reportedly was one of the FRS commanders who favored unification with other member groups in the anti-Sandinista forces. However, he reportedly believed that Pastora would have to be removed from military command for this to occur. By August 28, 1986, Chamorro had aligned himself with Alfredo Cesar's BOS organization.
- According to a March 1, 1989 Department of Defense (DoD) cable, Roberto Chamorro "retired from the fight" in 1986 after learning that he would not be a commander in UNO.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. The October and November 1984 reporting indicated that Roberto Chamorro--along with Adolfo Chamorro and Eden Pastora--would be attending a late November meeting with indicted drug trafficker Jorge Morales. No information has been found to indicate that Roberto Chamorro was actually present when the meeting took place in December 1984.
- In August 1985, Headquarters requested immediate "talking points" regarding U.S. objectives in Nicaragua. Included in the undated response were allegations of narcotics trafficking by some members of the FRS. This included Roberto Chamorro, but no details were provided to substantiate the allegation against him.
- In April 1987, a cable informed Headquarters of information from a DoS Embassy officer who reportedly had heard from a contact that Chamorro was part of a group involved in shipping cocaine from Nicaragua via Costa Rica to the United States. The cable reported that it had no way to evaluate the authenticity of the information.
- In July 1987, Jorge Morales testified before the SFRC Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations that he had met Roberto Chamorro in Costa Rica in 1984. He said he had asked Chamorro to supply him with bodyguards, but the bodyguards were never provided. When asked whether he had discussed drug trafficking while in Costa Rica, Morales replied affirmatively. However, he did not identify Roberto Chamorro as one of those with whom he reportedly had such discussions.
- CIA Responses to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. In August 1986, Chamorro was interviewed by CIA Security. On the basis of that interview, CIA Security did not have concerns about Chamorro's possible involvement in drug trafficking. Based on subsequent security interviews in January 1987, Security continued to not have concerns about Chamorro and drug trafficking.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. As explained earlier, the 1984 Southern Front trafficking reporting included Robert Chamorro among those meeting with drug trafficker Morales. This information was disseminated by CIA to a broad range of senior U.S. Government intelligence and law enforcement officials.
- On July 31, 1987, CATF Chief Fiers testified before the SSCI that CIA had a "brief period of contact" with Roberto Chamorro, the purpose of which was "damage limitation." Fiers further stated that the Agency was aware of Chamorro's "checkered background" but opted to "take that tack [of having contact with him] to limit [Chamorro's] potential to do damage" to the unification process.
- A July 1987 cable to Headquarters indicated that senior ARDE/FRS pilot Marcos Aguado wished to discuss alleged drug trafficking within Pastora's group because Morales had reportedly implicated Aguado and Roberto Chamorro. The Station reported that it was not going to meet with Aguado due to counterintelligence concerns but had shared this information with the local DEA office.
- Background. Marcos Aguado was a Sandinista Air Force pilot (1979-1980) and then an Aeronica Airlines commercial pilot until his defection in 1983 when he joined the Contra resistance. By September 1984, he was appointed Chief of Air Operations for the FRS/ARDE and was a personal pilot to FRS/ARDE leader Eden Pastora. Aguado made numerous flights over Nicaragua to supply FRS/ARDE troops and later was named Chief of Staff of the FRS/ARDE General Staff. Aguado, according to Eden Pastora, is also Pastora's son-in-law. According to an April 1983 Headquarters cable, Aguado had been offered a job flying an aircraft for the Southern Front.
- A December 1984 cable advised:
. . . .
. . . [Aguado] actively assisted [two individuals], Duran and Carol Prado in disruption of ARDE/MDN flight activities, and according to [another asset] was being sent to Ilopango to destroy the Islander aircraft, circa July 84. In addition, [Aguado] assisted in the [Pastora] [sic] search for the Cessna 310 that crashed 9 August on [Hull's] property, and the search for the pilot and helicopter stolen from [Pastora]. During this period, hostile threats against [CIA], [John Hull] and the former [Southern Front] pilot were noted.
. . . .
The cable also pointed out that Aguado had not flown any missions inside Nicaragua since September 1983. The cable also noted that Aguado "is closely associated with" Pastora, Adolfo Chamorro and Duran; "as such he may very well be actively participating in alleged narcotics activities . . . or at least aware of such activities."
- According to a December 1984 cable to Headquarters, Aguado "has been designated by Pastora as one of his 18 commandantes, to be in charge of air operations and logistics at Ilopango."
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. The first indications to CIA of Aguado's possible involvement in drug trafficking were included in the October 1984 Southern Front trafficking information that:
1. During a mid-October 1984 visit to Miami, Florida, Sandino Revolutionary Front (FRS) official Adolfo "Popo" Chamorro, reached an agreement with an unidentified Cuban narcotics trafficker whereby the FRS will provide operational facilities in Costa Rica and Nicaragua plus assistance with Costa Rican government officials in obtaining documentation in exchange for financial support, aircraft and pilot training for the FRS. The Cuban . . . made arrangements for a C-47 to be flown from Haiti to El Salvador by FRS pilot Marco [sic] Antonio Aguado Arguello on 16 October 84.
2. The agreement with the Cuban also includes the training of two FRS pilots in Miami. The pilots will continue their FRS duties after the training but will also serve the traffickers by flying narcotics from South America to the FRS provided landing fields in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. From these staging areas the narcotics will be moved to the U.S.
. . .
In April 1985, a Station reported to Headquarters that Aguado had used a DC-3—the civilian designation for a C-47—to deliver supplies to FRS/ARDE forces in southern Nicaragua on March 29, 1985.
- A January 1986 cable stated that:
[Marcos Aguado] should have knowledge of the recent arrest of Gerardo Duran Ayanegui regarding his alleged involvement in a shipment of 600 kilo[gram]s of cocaine from Jorge Morales (Colombian Mafia) to the U.S. Duran and Morales are closely associated with [Eden Pastora], [Aguado], Carol Prado, David Mayorga,. . . and others, all of whom, including [Aguado], are listed in Duran's phone book. Morales supplied [Pastora] with a C-47 aircraft and other air support; [Aguado] has piloted the C-47 for [Pastora] and is believed to maintain close contact with the above personnel.
- The next Agency reporting of a drug-related allegation against Aguado came in an April 1986 cable to Headquarters. According to that cable, Adolfo Chamorro "plans to denounce Carol Prado, Eden Pastora and Marco [sic] Aguado as being the ones involved in drug-trafficking activities. Chamorro claims to have the evidence to prove this allegation." Headquarters was informed in an April 1986 cable that DEA had debriefed Chamorro on April 25, 1986 and obtained no information concerning narcotics trafficking. According to the cable, "all Chamorro wanted to talk about were politics and war."
- In April 1987, a Station relayed to Headquarters information provided by a U.S. Embassy officer. The Embassy officer reported being told by a contact that Aguado, along with Carol Prado, David Mayorga, Adolfo Chamorro, Gerardo Duran, and another individual "are presently involved in shipping cocaine from Nicaragua via Costa Rica to the United States."
- In March 1988, a cable reported to Headquarters that a suspected Guatemalan drug trafficker--Reyner Veliz Cruz--had recently been traveling with Aguado and described Veliz and Aguado as "new inseparable friends." Although not specifically alleging drug trafficking, the cable reported that Veliz, with co-pilot Aguado, arrived at Ilopango air base from Guatemala in February 1988, in a twin engine aircraft. The cable also reported that the two arrived at Ilopango from Pavas in another twin engine aircraft later in February 1988. Finally, the cable reported that Veliz and Aguado arrived at Ilopango in March 1988 in the same twin engine aircraft after customs officials had departed and the airfield was supposedly closed. The same cable noted that Aguado could not obtain a U.S. visa due to his suspected links in the past with drug traffickers. However, Aguado reportedly "has bragged that he still works for CIA" and "the customs personnel at Ilopango assume that Aguado has connections with drug trafficking, as well as good contacts within the Salvadoran Air Force. . . ." In this cable, the Station stated its approval to share the information with DEA personnel in Guatemala.
- Enrique Miranda Jaime, a convicted drug trafficker, claims that Aguado flew weapons to Medellin, Colombia, during the 1980s and returned with cocaine that he stored at Ilopango. Miranda also alleges that Aguado was involved with Norwin Meneses and the movement of narcotics through Nicaragua. No information has been found to support Miranda's allegations.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. No information has been found to indicate that CIA ever attempted to develop additional independent information that would confirm or refute the allegations against Aguado. No information has been found to indicate whether CIA considered, or the reasons why they may have decided not to take, such steps.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. The October 1984 reporting included information about Aguado's alleged role in moving a C-47 from Haiti to El Salvador. This information was disseminated as a sensitive memorandum to senior U.S. Government intelligence and law enforcement officials.
- According to a SSCI transcript entitled CIA Briefing on Drug Running, CATF Chief Alan Fiers, briefed SSCI Staff members on July 31, 1987 concerning allegations of Contra involvement in drug trafficking. The transcript shows that Fiers included information relating to Aguado in this briefing and described Aguado's alleged involvement in the October 1984 Morales-Chamorro agreement.
- The transcript shows that Fiers also detailed for the SSCI Staff members Aguado's role in taking possession in Haiti of the C-47 aircraft provided by Morales that was later used by Aguado in March 1985 to deliver supplies to ARDE forces. In the briefing, Fiers also provided the SSCI Staff members with a summary of information concerning four or five flights by Gerardo Duran to Miami on behalf of Morales.
- Background. Gerardo Duran was a Costa Rican national who had close ties to Southern Front Contra personalities, including Eden Pastora, Carol Prado, Adolfo Chamorro, Jose Robelo, and Marcos Aguado. He served as a personal pilot for Pastora from 1984 until sometime in early 1985. He was employed as chief pilot for the Costa Rican-based aviation company, Alpa Aerolineas del Pacifico Fumigacions (Alpa Airlines), between 1985 and 1986.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. CIA first received allegations of Duran's possible involvement in drug trafficking in the October 1984 Southern Front trafficking report. That report included information that Duran was scheduled to make a flight for Jorge Morales in October 1984 from Miami to the Bahamas.
- In November 1984, a cable informed Headquarters that Duran and another pilot were in Miami. According to the cable, the presence of Duran indicated a flight to move narcotics from Colombia to the Bahamas was imminent.
- In December 1984, a cable advised Headquarters of allegations that Duran had recently returned to Costa Rica, had access to a Cessna 404 Titan aircraft and appeared to be involved in drug trafficking.
- A February 1985 cable to Headquarters reported a possible connection between Duran and Pedro Portu, who "has a well-known background in narcotics trafficking." In February 1985, a Station reported to Headquarters that, according to "Popo" Chamorro, Duran was aboard an FRS Baron aircraft that had crashed in the Pacific Ocean while transporting an aircraft generator from Pavas airfield in Costa Rica to Ilopango air base in El Salvador. According to the cable, Marcos Aguado "believes that Duran was on another type of mission, possibly drug related."
- A March 1985 cable to Headquarters reported that "both [Adolfo] Chamorro and Geraldo [sic] Duran have accompanied [Jorge] Morales to the Bahamas to look over his operations." The cable noted that a belief "that Duran and Quesada [sic] travelled to the Bahamas from Miami and made flights for Morales."
- In March 1985, a cable noted that Duran had been suspected of making drug running flights to Miami and the Bahamas. Further, the cable stated that the "local [DEA] rep[resentative] reported that Duran is on their records as a trafficker and also for involvement in running Cubans into Mexico."
- An April 1985 cable to Headquarters reported that Marcos Aguado had said that "Duran is suspected of being involved in drug trafficking. . . ." The cable did not, however, state why Duran was suspected of drug trafficking.
- An April 1985 cable listed several names and noted that the majority of the reporting available to CIA concerning the listed persons, including Duran, had to do with alleged connections to narcotics trafficking. Also in April 1985, a cable to Headquarters reported that an employee of Alpa Airlines suspected that the company was transporting cocaine to the United States in yucca shipments and noting that Duran was the "chief pilot" for Alpa Airlines.
- In May 1985, a Station sent a cable to Headquarters that summarized reporting from two sources regarding the involvement of FRS personnel in narcotics trafficking. It noted that, although there was "a lack of hard evidence," Duran was one of "the two individuals consistently named by both sources" as being involved in narcotics trafficking.
- A May 1985 cable to Headquarters noted that, according to a contact, "Duran was on a drug flight when he ditched the Baron . . . in the Pacific [Ocean]." This was an apparent reference to the crash of an FRS-owned Baron aircraft while en route from Costa Rica to Ilopango air base in El Salvador that was described in a February 1985 cable.
- A July 1985 cable to Headquarters noted suspicions that Alpa "is being used as a front for narcotics operations," and that reportedly on June 8 David Mayorga had said that:
. . . the 150 kilograms of cocaine that were captured near Barra Del Colorado, Costa Rica . . . in a Cessna Citation . . . were destined for Frudaticos to be packed into yucca for delivery to the U.S.
The cable also reported that there were suspicions "that Sergio Sarcovik and [Carlos] Vikes arranged for the pilots of this aircraft to leave the country, probably in the Cessna 206 . . . with Gerardo Duran as the pilot."
- In January 1986, Duran was arrested by the Costa Rican Office of Judicial Investigation (OIJ) for his alleged involvement in cocaine trafficking. His arrest was the focus of a number of cables. A January 1986 cable advised Headquarters that:
[Marcos Aguado] should have knowledge of the recent arrest of Gerardo Duran Ananegui regarding his alleged involvement in a shipment of 600 kilo[gram]s of cocaine from Jorge Morales (Colombian Mafia) to the U.S.
- In January 1986, Headquarters sent a cable asking for a query to be made to the local DEA offices for information they might have linking Gerardo Duran, "Popo" Chamorro, Jorge Morales, and David Mayorga to narcotics trafficking. A January 1986 cable to Headquarters stated:
. . . Gerardo Duran, who is presently in jail after witnesses put him at the scene of a 600 kilo[gram] coke deal in Guanacaste, is Costa Rican, not Nicaraguan. We have reported on his recent arrest.
- In January 1986, Headquarters sent a cable that stated:
Please provide whatever details are available . . . on ref[erenced] arrest of Gerardo Duran for alleged involvement in smuggling of 600 kilo[gram]s of cocaine to the United States. FYI: [w]e reported [Chamorro's] involvement in drug smuggling to Co[n]gress via [DCI] letter to Intelligence Committee Chairmen. Letter included reference to Duran arrest and we would appreciate details in event there is follow up inquiry from Congress.(13)
- In January 1986, a cable to Headquarters noted obtaining from DEA a copy of the OIJ report of Duran's arrest and provided information based on that report. The cable stated that Duran was arrested on January 8, 1986 and had admitted to loading "bundles"—the cable did not specify that the bundles included narcotics—onto an aircraft at Tamarindo airport in Guanacaste Province in December 1985. The cable stated further:
[OIJ] is still holding Duran but the decision to try him is pending. [Headquarters] will recall that [Manuel "Pillique"] Guerra and [Pastora] are quite close. In any event, [DEA] is certain they can get an indictment of Duran in Miami and they are pursuing that goal.
- A cable to Headquarters in March 1986 stated:
Gerardo Duran, a [Pastora] pilot who [DEA] says was introduced to major narcotics trafficker Jorge Morales by [Pastora], is known by [DEA] to have participated in the air shipment of several hundred kilo[gram]s of cocaine from Liberia (Costa Rica) airport to the West Indies for onward shipment to the U.S. Duran himself was arrested by Costa Rican authorities for in-country possession of seven kilo[gram]s of cocaine and [DEA] is pursuing that case . . . and with the U.S. attorney.
- According to an April 1987 cable, the Costa Rican press reported that "Duran was re-arrested this last week as a suspect in having helped transport 450 kilo[gram]s of cocaine through Costa Rica." The cable did not specify the destination of the cocaine. According to the cable, Duran was "first arrested in December 1985 with the same charge, but skipped bail." The cable also noted that Costa Rican "authorities suspect Duran of having ties with a smuggling ring which has used numerous airstrips in Guanacaste Province (Costa Rica) for clandestine drug flights."
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. In May 1985, a cable advised Headquarters that "the Station is attempting to gather solid evidence . . . to confirm alleged weapons and/or narcotics trafficking by Duran and his [Contra] associates." The cable also suggested that:
It would be useful if future messages regarding alleged narcotics/weapons trafficking indicate approval of passage to [DEA], or whether the data is already shared with [DEA] office.
No information has been found to indicate that Headquarters responded to this suggestion.
- In January 1986, Headquarters sent a cable asking Stations to "query local [DEA] offices for information they may have linking the following [including Duran] to involvement in narcotics trafficking." A Station responded in January 1986, saying:
[DEA] is aware of our interest in what Duran has to say about [Eden Pastora] and [Popo Chamorro] involvement in trafficking and will question him again after he is released. His release is expected momentarily due to lack of Costa Rican willingness to prosecute. However, [DEA] plans to prosecute him under a . . . law dealing with international trafficking; they think they can make the case stick, whereas [the Costa Ricans do] not.
A January 1986 response from another Station stated:
[DEA] records indicate that Gerardo Albert [sic] Duran Ayaneque, [sic] . . . was arrested for cocaine smuggling in January 1986. He had previously been suspected of smuggling drugs via aircraft in September 1985 . . . . Additional information on Duran is available to [DEA]/Miami case agent. If desired, please advise.
No information has been found to indicate any response by Headquarters to the cable.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. As explained earlier, the 1984-85 reporting that included information about Duran's alleged participation in the Morales-ARDE narcotics trafficking discussions was disseminated to a broad range of senior U.S. Government intelligence and law enforcement officials.
- A January 24, 1986 letter from ADCI John McMahon notified the SSCI and HPSCI that CIA had information concerning Adolfo Chamorro's involvement in narcotics smuggling. The letter reported Duran's arrest in Costa Rica for his alleged involvement "in a shipment of 600 kilo[gram]s of cocaine from [Jorge] Morales to the U.S." This letter was followed by a Headquarters cable requesting:
. . . whatever details are available to Station on ref[erenced] arrest of Gerardo Duran for alleged involvement in smuggling of 600 kilo[gram]s of cocaine to the United States. FYI: [w]e reported [Popo Chamorro's] involvement in drug smuggling to . . . Intelligence Committee Chairmen. Letter included reference to Duran arrest and we would appreciate details in event there is follow up inquiry from Congress.
As mentioned earlier, the Station responded in January 1986 with a cable providing Headquarters with details regarding Duran's arrest.
- An April 1986 CATF cable included detailed information concerning the 1984 arrangements between Chamorro and Morales. The cable also detailed Duran's 1986 arrest in Costa Rica as background material for an interview of Chamorro and authorized sharing the information with the local DEA office.
- On January 21, 1987, ADCI Robert Gates forwarded to Ambassador Morton Abramowitz, Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, a memorandum that discussed allegations in CIA's possession regarding connections between drug traffickers and members of the Contras. This memorandum included Duran's connection with Morales, as well as his arrest in January 1986 "by Costa Rican authorities for his alleged involvement in transporting 600 kilo[gram]s of cocaine to the United States for Jorge Morales."
- On November 2, 1988, DEA sent a request to CIA for any information in CIA's possession concerning four people, one of whom was Duran. On December 14, 1988, CIA responded that it had no relevant information that had not been provided previously to DEA.
- Background. Alfonso Robelo was active in Nicaraguan politics for over 30 years. He was an original member of a five-person ruling junta of the Sandinista Government, a Southern Front Contra political leader and later Ambassador to Costa Rica during the presidency of Violetta Chamorro. Robelo's opposition to the Sandinistas crystallized in mid-1980 when he resigned his position on the Sandinista Council of State to protest the Council's expansion and addition of FSLN members. By early 1982, Robelo--along with Eden Pastora and Brooklyn Rivera--formed ARDE.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. An October 1984 cable to Headquarters reported that a Sandinista newspaper, El Nuevo Diaro, had stated on October 10, 1984 that Robelo and ARDE had accepted help from an unidentified drug trafficker in Miami. The article also said that two FRS/ARDE helicopters had been painted with a black substance to make them invisible to radar.
- In June 1987, CIA learned that Robelo had been contacted by two Bolivians--Enrique Crespou and Fernando Perou--who had offered to make a "significant" monetary contribution to the Contras. Robelo said that they offered $150 million to the Contras with "no strings attached." Robelo said that the Bolivians were evasive in their answers about the origins of the funds. Robelo was advised not to accept any money from the Bolivians until its origins could be determined.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. No information has been found to indicate that CIA took any actions to follow up on the 1984 Sandinista newspaper allegation that Robelo and ARDE were involved in dealings with a drug trafficker.
- In October 1988, a cable reported to Headquarters that Perou and Crespou had been accused during a press conference by Roberto Suarez Levy, son of imprisoned cocaine "king" Roberto Suarez Gomez, of being CIA agents. Suarez Levy also alleged that CIA and DEA were operating a cocaine lab in "Huanchaca," Bolivia. A Headquarters response stated that the only relevant information it had regarding Perou and Crespo was that they had met with Robelo in June 1987 and offered him $150 million for the Contras.
- Robelo says he does not recall the meeting with the Bolivians or their reported offer of $150 million. He does not deny that the meeting may have taken place, but states that he participated in approximately 10 situations when people offered to donate large sums of money to the Contras but did not do so.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. No information has been found to indicate that CIA informed U.S. law enforcement or other agencies or the Congress about the 1984 Sandinista newspaper allegation. CIA informed Congress about the alleged offer of $150 million from the Bolivians in 1997 in the context of another matter.
Jose Salvador Robelo
- Background. Jose Salvador Robelo Ortiz was a major figure in the Sandinista Party, serving first as an insurgent and later as a Sandinista Government official. By 1981, he devoted his full attention to Nicaraguan Democratic Movement (MDN) activities in San Jose with his cousin, Alfonso Robelo. His brother was Silvio Robelo, who was imprisoned by the GRN. Circa 1983, Jose Robelo became the Air Operations Coordinator within ARDE. He was later put in charge of maritime operations. Robelo gained a reputation for being disruptive and was considered to be of dubious reputation by the FDN. In September 1985, he was suspended indefinitely as Chief of UNO/Nicaraguan Revolutionary Armed Force (FARN) operations as a result of an internal investigation that held Robelo fully responsible for ordering the torture and execution of an alleged Popular Sandinista Army collaborator in August 1985. Although it is unclear when, Robelo later became active with the Southern Front again.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. The first allegations of Robelo's involvement in drug trafficking were received by CIA in December 1984 when he was identified as a continuing associate of Jaime Ibarra Pasos, a.k.a. Pachelli. Pachelli was reportedly a known drug dealer in San Jose who trafficked approximately two kilograms of cocaine each month within Costa Rica. Pachelli was reportedly a close associate of Sebastian Gonzalez.
- Also in December 1984, a CIA contact said that Gerardo Duran, a part-time FRS pilot, had recently returned to Costa Rica and had access to a Cessna 404. According to the contact, Duran reportedly had flown missions for Pastora and Robelo and might be involved in drug trafficking activities.
- In April 1985, a cable reported that Robelo was associated with David Mayorga and another individual. Mayorga and the other individual reportedly were involved in drug trafficking.
- In May 1985, a cable provided Headquarters with a summary overview of involvement of FRS personnel in narcotics trafficking. According to that overview, an ARDE Islander aircraft had made several trips to Miami and one to the Dominican Republic carrying Adolfo "Popo" Chamorro, who was implicated in drug trafficking. This aircraft reportedly was under the control of Robelo at the time. There was no indication of involvement by FRS personnel.
- The April 17, 1989 edition of the Nicaraguan newspaper La Republica included a story that international agencies had published statements, based on information from the SFRC, that Robelo was involved in drug trafficking. The accusations of his involvement were based on comments made to the SFRC by Robert Owen. In the story, Robelo reportedly denied participation in any drug-related activities and criticized Owen because his statements were unfair and Robelo could not defend himself. Robelo also reportedly emphasized that he always adhered to the laws and would be willing to answer any questions in order to prove his innocence.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. A January 1987 cable to Headquarters noted that Robelo had been alleged historically to be involved in narcotics trafficking and that the Station had successfully obtained Robelo's severance from all Contra elements. A September 7 cable to Headquarters describing Robelo noted that "in the past [Robelo] has been accused of possible involvement in narcotics trafficking to support the Nicaraguan resistance military efforts."
- Sharing of Information with Other U.S. Government Entities. No information has been found to indicate that any of the information available to CIA regarding Robelo's alleged involvement in drug trafficking was shared with other U.S. Government agencies or the Congress.
- Background. During the 1980s, Octaviano Cesar, brother of BOS leader Alfredo Cesar, played a role in the Southern Front. Agency officers met occasionally with Cesar--usually in the United States--to gather information and to help promote unity among the Southern Front groups. These infrequent meetings ended after Cesar was interviewed by CIA Security in April 1987. Based on this interview, CIA believed it was highly probable that Cesar was involved in drug trafficking.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. The October 1984 Southern Front trafficking reporting noted that Miami-based drug trafficker Jorge Morales had a relationship with Octaviano Cesar and that Cesar had unsuccessfully sought to sell Morales blank Nicaraguan passports for $5,000 each. A second report claiming that Cesar had a relationship with Morales was received by Headquarters in January 1985 when Morales reportedly had described Cesar as a close friend.
- On April 6, 1987, the CBS television program West 57th Street related allegations by Morales that Octaviano Cesar was his link to high levels of the U.S. Government regarding drug and arms smuggling. Further, the program reported that Cesar had accompanied Morales and Adolfo Chamorro on a trip to the Bahamas in late 1984, with Cesar and Chamorro agreeing to Morales' request that they carry checks for large sums of money through U.S. Customs on their return.
- An April 1988 cable notified Headquarters that Octaviano Cesar had been arrested by Costa Rican authorities. The charges were described as credit payment default to a local business. There was a suggestion made that the arrest was part of a harassment campaign by Costa Rican authorities due to Cesar's alleged ties to drug trafficking.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. As mentioned earlier, CIA disseminated the October 1984 information regarding Octaviano Cesar's links to Morales as a sensitive memorandum. Cesar was forced by CIA to resign from BOS, although he continued for some time thereafter to be involved in the group's affairs. In April 1987 CIA received a letter from Octaviano Cesar in which he denied the accusations by Morales and put himself at the disposal of the U.S. Government to proceed with any investigation that would clear his name.
- In April 1987, Octaviano Cesar was interviewed by CIA Security. Cesar was asked about his past association with Morales and allegations of drug trafficking. He reportedly stated that he had first been introduced to Morales around 1984 by Adolfo Chamorro's former wife, Marta Healy, and that he had been involved in additional meetings concerning Morales' offer of aircraft to the Southern Front forces. Regarding the 1984 trip to the Bahamas, Cesar said that the purpose was to test the flying skills of Marcos Aguado, and that he did not know of any other specific purpose until the return flight when Morales asked Cesar and Chamorro to claim when clearing U.S. Customs that several checks were theirs. Cesar reported that he had suspected that Morales was involved with drug money, but that his desire to help the Southern Front drove him to work with Morales. Cesar reportedly denied ever using or taking any money from Morales, except reimbursement for travel expenses. Cesar reportedly also said that Marta Healy had contacted him in late 1986 with a request from Morales that Cesar testify in the United States that Morales' drug trafficking had been undertaken to assist the Contra resistance. Cesar said that he had refused this request.
- Based on Cesar's interview, CIA Security believed it was highly probable that Cesar was involved in drug trafficking and involved in taking money from Morales. On May 4, 1987, CATF Chief Fiers prepared and sent a detailed report to Elliott Abrams, Assistant Secretary of State and Chairman of the Interagency for Nicaragua, regarding concerns about Cesar and drug trafficking.
- On July 21, 1987, Headquarters instructed several Latin America Stations to advise all personnel who were talking with Alfredo Cesar that Octaviano Cesar must avoid even the appearance of being involved in BOS activities. That same month, Alfredo Cesar agreed to bar Octaviano from serving in any official or unofficial BOS capacity.
- A cable notified Headquarters in September 1988 that Cesar had informed Southern Front leaders that he intended to return to a prominent role in the resistance. This was reportedly because he had received a letter from the SFRC, signed by SFRC Chairman Senator John Kerry, absolving Cesar of all drug trafficking charges.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. As explained earlier, the 1984 reporting, which included the information connecting Cesar to drug trafficker Jorge Morales, was disseminated to a broad range of senior U.S. Government intelligence and law enforcement officials.
- An unsigned memorandum dated April 15, 1987 indicated that CIA had notified DEA's Miami office in January 1985 of Cesar's close association with Morales. The Agency informed DoS of suspicions regarding Cesar's involvement in drug trafficking in a July 20, 1987 memorandum from the Deputy Director for of the Office of African and Latin American Analysis of the CIA Directorate of Intelligence (DI), to Ambassador Morton Abramowitz, Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research. The memorandum responded to a DoS request for information concerning alleged Contra-drug trafficking connections and stated that Cesar was probably involved in the Morales and ARDE narcotics-related arrangements. It further stated that Cesar had resigned from BOS following public accusations of his involvement in drug trafficking. Attached to the memorandum was a copy of the January 21, 1987 memorandum concerning alleged Contra-drug trafficking connections that had been sent to Abramowitz by ADCI Gates.
- On April 30, 1987, CATF Chief Fiers briefed the SSCI regarding the Contra program. As described in a May 1, 1987 Memorandum for the Record, Fiers explained the background of allegations of Contra involvement in drug trafficking dating back to November 1984. He added that Octaviano Cesar had a close relationship with Morales, was interviewed by CIA Security when this connection became known and that the focus of the interview related to concerns about drug trafficking.
- According to a July 31, 1987 Memorandum for the Record, Fiers briefed the SSCI and a HPSCI Staff member that same day and stated that Cesar had been interviewed regarding drug trafficking when the Morales allegations arose. Fiers said CIA believed it was highly probable that Cesar was involved in drug trafficking. Fiers noted that this was reported to DoS and that the Agency had informed Cesar's brother Alfredo that Octaviano Cesar must step down from his BOS leadership role immediately.
- Background. Edmundo Chamorro was, like his brother Fernando Chamorro, one of the principal members of the Eleventh of November movement that was involved in armed opposition to the Somoza regime in Nicaragua in the 1970s. A March 1981 cable informed Headquarters that Edmundo Chamorro had become one of the leaders of UDN/FARN.
- In a July 1, 1982 cable, Headquarters expressed "grave doubts" about Edmundo Chamorro's reliability and security consciousness. A January 1983 cable informed Headquarters that a senior UDN/FARN member had expressed concerns that Edmundo Chamorro was engaged in the "misuse of [resistance] funds and inciting the people to premature guerrilla and sabotage acts." In early February, Fernando reportedly removed Edmundo from the movement. In April 1983, a Headquarters cable indicated that Edmundo Chamorro had "no leadership position of any sort in the UDN and has been excluded from active participation in the group's activities." The cable went on to say that Edmundo had "some serious character defects" and that his remarks were "often motivated by insecurity and vindictiveness."
- In response to a January 1986 request from Headquarters for updated information concerning Chamorro, a cable provided background information regarding Chamorro's "baggage." No information has been found to indicate any CIA contact with Edmundo Chamorro after 1983.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. A June 1986 cable to Headquarters stated that a local newspaper had published an article linking Edmundo Chamorro with drug traffickers. The Costa Rican Judicial Police reportedly had wiretapped conversations between convicted drug trafficker Horacio Pereira and Contra commander Sebastian Gonzalez Mendieta. The transcripts of the wiretaps allegedly indicated that Pereira and Gonzalez discussed the participation of several Contra leaders, including Edmundo Chamorro, in drug smuggling operations. In one conversation, Gonzalez reportedly advised Pereira to seek Edmundo Chamorro's assistance in providing logistics for drug transport.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. Upon learning of the Costa Rican newspaper allegations against Edmundo Chamorro, a June 1986 Headquarters cable asked for copies of the Pereira/Gonzalez wiretap transcripts that were mentioned in the article. Headquarters commented that "as it stands now it appears we are dealing with innuendo rather than hard facts about Edmundo and his connection to Gonzalez." In July 1986, Headquarters again cabled and stated, "Allegations of drug trafficking continue to plague our operations. Request status of . . . attempt to obtain [referenced] transcripts." A July 1986 reply expressed doubt that they could be obtained since they were being held as evidence to be used in court. No information has been found to indicate that the transcripts were pursued any further.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. No information has been found to indicate that any information regarding Edmundo Chamorro's alleged involvement in drug trafficking was shared by CIA with any other U.S. Government entity or the Congress.
- Background. Fernando "El Negro" Chamorro Rappaccioli, brother of Edmundo Chamorro, began his revolutionary career in the 1960s as the leader of a militant anti-Somoza organization known as the Eleventh of November. Although Fernando Chamorro's group was non-Marxist in doctrine, it worked closely with the FSLN to oust Somoza. In September 1978, Chamorro was arrested by the Somoza Government for anti-government activities. He was released, along with other political prisoners, in response to demands by FSLN activists who took over the National Palace in Managua. Upon his release, he left Nicaragua and was granted political asylum in Costa Rica.
- As of January 1982, Fernando Chamorro was based in Honduras and was playing a major role in the Contra movement. He was a leader of both the UDN and FARN--the military arm of UDN.
- CIA contact with Chamorro began in 1982, but according to a March 1985 cable to Headquarters, Fernando Chamorro's "ineffective actions" had negatively influenced his relationship with the Agency. Thus, Station suggested that CIA sever its contact with him.
- An April 1986 cable informed Headquarters that Carlos Calvo, a former member of UDN/FARN, had been arrested at the Miami airport in October 1984 for attempting to leave the United States with $250,000 concealed in his clothing. According to the source, Calvo told the U.S. Customs Service that the money had been raised to support UDN/FARN and Fernando Chamorro had written a letter corroborating Calvo's story. A September 1986 cable verified to Headquarters that, although Fernando Chamorro reportedly had no previous knowledge of the money and no claim to it, he wrote a letter on Calvo's behalf on March 22, 1985 informing Customs that the money was meant to "help in the vital costs of the armed struggle for the liberation of Nicaragua." The letter also asked for assistance "in obtaining these, our sacred funds back." The money was not released by Customs. According to the September 1986 cable, Chamorro admitted that he believed Calvo was involved in a money laundering operation, but said that he did not believe that the money was drug-related. He rationalized that "if the money was going to be lost, it might as well go to a worthy cause."
- A December 1986 cable to Headquarters reported that Chamorro had become the Southern Front Commander for UNO in December 1986. According to a December 29, 1986 cable to Headquarters, that "difficult as it may be to understand, [Chamorro] continues to hold considerable sway on most of the [UNO] commanders in the south." Fernando Chamorro resigned from UNO's political and military structures in March 1987.
- A December 1987 cable informed Headquarters that Chamorro's wife had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. In August 1988, Chamorro was hospitalized after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage and subsequently died. Later that month, his wife died.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. On March 16, 1986, the San Francisco Examiner published a story alleging that a UDN/FARN official--Francisco Aviles--had three years previously been involved in writing a letter to the San Francisco U.S. Attorney requesting that $36,000 seized from California-based drug trafficker Julio Zavala be returned to Zavala because it was Contra money. An April 1986 cable to Headquarters stated that Chamorro had questioned Aviles about the allegation after learning of the story. When Aviles could not provide satisfactory answers, Chamorro reportedly expelled him from the UDN/FARN. No information has been found to indicate that Chamorro was aware of Aviles' actions prior to 1986, or that Chamorro himself had ever been tied to California-based drug trafficker Julio Zavala.
- A June 1986 cable stated that reportedly in August or September 1984 "Costa Rican drug trafficker Norvin [sic] Meneses sought the cooperation of 'El Negro' [Fernando Chamorro] to move drugs" to the United States.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. In March 1986, when the San Francisco Examiner published its story linking Aviles to Zavala and a California drug trafficking ring, CIA began an immediate inquiry into the matter. An April 1986 Headquarters cable was sent to several Stations asking for all available information regarding the allegation that Aviles, a member of UDN/FARN under Fernando Chamorro, provided funds to Zavala. The cable stated that "we must act swiftly to ascertain the true facts. . . . We need to get the entire story immediately." In April 1986, a Station informed Headquarters that it had ascertained that Aviles was not personally associated with Chamorro, but served in the UDN/FARN as a human rights representative. Another Station reported in April that the FBI had found no evidence to link Zavala and the other arrested drug traffickers with Contra groups. A third Station also reported to Headquarters in April that its inquiry indicated that Chamorro had no links with, or knowledge of, any of those who had been arrested in connection with the California drug trafficking ring. According to an April cable to Headquarters, Chamorro stated that:
UDN/FARN has never accepted large denominations of monies from any organization which did not first state the source of the contributions; Francisco Aviles was not involved in Southern Front activities in 1983 - the timeframe [of the California arrests]; . . . and Aviles has been informed verbally that he has been expelled from UDN/FARN, a written order to follow shortly.
- No information has been found to indicate that CIA took any actions to follow-up or verify the June 1986 allegation that Costa Rican drug trafficker Norwin Meneses had sought Chamorro's cooperation to move drugs to the United States.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. An April 1986 Headquarters cable stated that DoS had been advised of the San Francisco Examiner story and of the Agency's findings regarding Chamorro's actions against Aviles. According to an April 1986 Station cable to Headquarters, the story was also the subject of discussions between that Station and the FBI's Field Office.
- In February 1988, Chamorro was the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI that reportedly had been initiated on the basis of information that a Station had provided to Headquarters in a July 1987 cable for passage to DoJ. According to the July cable, Chamorro allegedly had purchased several vehicles with funds that were intended for humanitarian aid. The cable requested that Headquarters "inform [FBI] and [DoJ] of [Chamorro's] appropriations of [Contra] property." No information has been found to indicate whether or how this request was acted upon by Headquarters.
- No information has been found to indicate that information regarding Chamorro's alleged involvement in drug trafficking was shared with other U.S. Government entities or the Congress.
- Background. Sebastian Gonzalez Mendieta (a.k.a. "Commandante Wachan") was a veterinarian by training who was involved in the effort to overthrow Anastasio Somoza in the late 1970s. He served briefly--in assignments relating to agricultural issues--in the post-Somoza Government established by the Sandinistas. However, Gonzalez claimed in 1981 that he had become disillusioned with the leftward turn of the Sandinista regime and relocated to Panama. There he joined forces with Eden Pastora and other disaffected Nicaraguans.
- During the early period of the Contra resistance, Gonzalez was initially associated with ARDE, primarily as a logistics coordinator, and played a liaison role between ARDE and the Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF). By late 1983, Gonzalez' relationship with ARDE had deteriorated, however, and he attempted to form a small band of fighters known as the Third Way Movement. Gonzalez subsequently moved to Panama and gradually lost touch with the Contras.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. A September 1984 cable to Headquarters, based on indirect information from Fernando Chamorro, alleged that Gonzalez had used several flights to Costa Rica from Panama to carry cocaine along with the communications gear he was transporting for the ARDE. The cable went on to report that Gonzalez had stored 11 kilograms of cocaine in Liberia, Costa Rica, and had taken 10 of those kilograms to an unknown location. According to the cable, Chamorro had also said that Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega, as well as Gerardo Hidalgo Abaunza--who was arrested by the Government of Costa Rica while in possession of the one additional kilogram of cocaine that Gonzalez had stored--were involved in the drug trafficking operation.
- In late September 1984, a cable reported to Headquarters that a Costa Rican press report stated that Gonzalez and another individual were involved in a flight that had crashed in the Pacific Ocean the previous week. It was implied that the plane, a Cessna 182 connected to Pastora's group, had no apparent business in the area of the crash and the crash would be investigated by the Government of Costa Rica.
- In February 1985, a cable to Headquarters stated that Gonzalez was "well known in police circles in Costa Rica," and that it was likely that the case involving Hidalgo's possession of a kilogram of cocaine would not be followed up. Another Station, commenting in a cable to Headquarters on the same day, referred to this cable and stated:
[The cable] appears to indicate that case against [Gonzalez] rested solely on allegations made by Gerardo Hildago, who was caught red-handed by the Costa Ricans with several kilos of cocaine. . . . Assume from the overall tenor of [the cable] that drug case against [Gonzalez] is too weak to take to trial and that he is thereby to be cleared of the charges.
- A March 1985, cable reported to Headquarters that ARDE's security chief had linked Gonzalez to Alpa Aviation. Alpa Aviation was reported to be partially owned by drug trafficker David Mayorga.
- In May 1985, a Station reported its belief to Headquarters that Marcos Aguado, a Contra pilot, could provide "concrete evidence" of drug trafficking on the part of various Southern Front leaders, including Gonzalez. In August 1985, the Station reported to Headquarters that Alfonso Robelo had said that Gonzalez was linked to Tuto Munkel, a Nicaraguan who was reportedly engaged in drug trafficking, weapons smuggling and money laundering. Munkel, the cable said, reportedly supported Gonzalez' drug activities in Costa Rica.
- In October 1985, a Station reported to Headquarters that it had been informed by the local DEA office that Hugo Spadafora had made vague allegations to DEA several weeks earlier that Gonzalez, Manuel Noriega and Jose Ortiz Robelo were engaged in drug trafficking. The chief of the local DEA office met Spadafora twice and, according to the cable, Spadafora had promised that he would provide evidence of drug trafficking by Gonzalez. Spadafora was murdered in September 1985 and no information has been found that Spadafora furnished any information to DEA after his second meeting with the chief of the local DEA.
- An October 1985 cable to Headquarters discussed PDF requests that Gonzalez assist in:
. . . defusing an effort by family members of slain rebel Hugo Spadafora to implicate Manuel Antonio Noriega in drug trafficking. [Gonzalez] has been asked to participate in a popular morning radio talk program scheduled for 21 Oct, in which [Gonzalez] will reveal and denounce a not yet public plan by Spadafora's brother, Winston, to obtain documents in Costa Rica which allegedly show that [Gonzalez] was involved in drug trafficking.
A handwritten notation on this cable stated " . . . if the truth be known, we had reason to believe that [Gonzalez] has been involved in drugs about a yr [sic] - 1 1/2 yrs ago. . . ."
- According to a June 1986 cable to Headquarters, the June 13 edition of the San Jose English language newspaper, the Tico Times, reported the sentencing of three people for drug trafficking. The article stated that local police had wiretapped conversations between Gonzalez and Horacio Pereira, one of those who had been arrested. Gonzalez allegedly had advised Pereira, described as a pool hall operator, to seek Edmundo Chamorro's assistance in providing logistics for transporting drugs.
- According to a February 1988 Headquarters cable, former Panamanian Consul General in New York Jose Blandon had linked Gonzalez to narcotics trafficking in testimony before a congressional subcommittee the previous week. The Headquarters cable asked for comment on the allegation. In response, with regard to the narcotics allegation, a February 1988 cable replied:
. . . .
6. Regarding Blandon's accusation, we also have no details and I agree that whatever Blandon said could well relate to the earlier Costa Rican-related allegations.... Those allegations periodically arose . . . . Each time, [Gonzalez] firmly denied them, saying that the allegations originated with, as I recall, Eden Pastora or "El Negro" Chamorro to discredit him as a potential rival. We don't have any records here on that whole affair . . .
- A former CIA independent contractor officer recalls that he was in Pastora's house in October 1983. The independent contractor says this was after the La Penca bombing and the situation was extremely tense.(14) He says it was at this time that Spadafora told him that Gonzalez was involved in drug smuggling. The independent contractor says that he had a very close relationship with Spadafora, who "hated" Noriega and the United States, but saw the independent contractor as a Latin and not a person from the CIA. The independent contractor says Spadafora was the first to tell him that Noriega was smuggling drugs with the Contras and that Gonzalez was involved. The independent contractor states, however, that he and his colleagues never received any proof of the drug trafficking allegations against Gonzalez.
- The independent contractor says that Gonzalez ran a shoe store in Costa Rica and used shoe boxes to transport drugs. He says he never learned anything about the route used in Gonzalez' drug smuggling, other than that the drugs went from Panama to Costa Rica and then maybe on to the Dominican Republic.
- The independent contractor adds that he reported the Gonzalez-drug allegation in October 1983 to his superior, who replied that CIA had heard some rumors of drug trafficking involving the Contras. The independent contractor says they discussed the situation at his superior's home, including what was going on with Gonzalez as well as drug trafficking allegations involving Contra pilots and the nephew of Alfonso Robelo. The superior says he cannot recall who Gonzalez is.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. In response to the allegations regarding drug trafficking by Gonzalez received in September 1984, it was reported in September 1984 that DEA had been asked for "assistance in verifying the story" and the local DEA office had confirmed the arrest of Gerardo Hidalgo in Costa Rica for possession of one kilogram of cocaine. It was requested that permission be granted to provide leads to the Government of Costa Rica as to the whereabouts of Gonzalez.
- In September 1984, authorization was provided to furnish information to the Government of Costa Rica regarding Gonzalez' whereabouts.
- An October 1984 cable to Headquarters on Gonzalez stated that reportedly Gonzalez denied any involvement in the cocaine trafficking incident that had been described in the September 1984 cable. The October cable stated that Gonzalez had seen his accuser, Hidalgo, only twice in his life, once in the early summer of 1984 and again in September 1984 in Liberia. Gonzalez claimed that someone else was using his previously lost identification card to register at a hotel in Liberia and that he has a "Panamanian-issued travel document to show that he was in Panama at the very time he is said to have been visiting Hidalgo" in Liberia and that "he will use the document to clear himself with the Costa Rican authorities." In regard to the aircraft that was ditched off the coast of Nicaragua, the cable stated that:
. . . [Gonzalez] said that he may have been mistakenly placed in the plane due to a similarity of names. The plane was piloted by [an individual with a similar surname]. According to [Gonzalez, this individual] is a pilot for [Fernando Chamorro]. [Gonzalez] said his own name is associated with the aircraft because he helped [Chamorro's] movement buy the aircraft and is listed as a [sic] owner of record.
- In response to the June 1986 San Jose Tico Times report of wiretapped conversations linking Gonzalez to a pool hall operator who had been arrested for drug trafficking, Headquarters sent a cable in June 1986:
Appreciate heads up contained in [June 1986] cable re: Allegations of drug trafficking by Edmundo Chamorro and Juan [sic] Sebastian "Wachan" Gonzalez. Allegation also surfaced in evening news and has received some play here. In order to get a handle on allegation and in particular blow back on "El Negro" Chamorro, request station . . . obtain copies of transcripts of conversations outlined in para two ref. As it stands now it appears we are dealing with innuendo rather than hard facts about Edmundo and his connection to Gonzalez. Transcripts will shed light on nature of involvement with drug trafficking.
In July 1986, another cable from Headquarters requested a status report regarding the Station's attempt to obtain the transcripts. A response on July 16, 1986 stated it would be difficult to acquire tapes being held as evidence in court. No information has been found to indicate that the transcripts were ever obtained, or that this matter was the subject of further cables.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. According to a September 1984 cable to Headquarters, the San Jose DEA Office confirmed the arrest of Gerardo Hidalgo Abaunza on narcotics charges and the implications of Gonzalez' involvement. The cable also requested Headquarters "approval to provide leads [to Costa Rican law enforcement authorities] to whereabou[t]s of [Gonzalez] . . . ." The next day, Headquarters sent a cable that approved the request. An October 1985 cable to Headquarters noted that several weeks prior to that date Hugo Spadafora had made vague allegations to a local DEA officer concerning Gonzalez' links to narcotics trafficking. No information has been found to indicate that the allegations against Gonzalez were otherwise the subject of discussion between CIA and U.S. Government law enforcement agencies.
- Then-DDCI Gates sent a memorandum to the DDI and DDO on March 28, 1988 asking for a briefing regarding Contra involvement in narcotics activities. The information that was provided to DDCI Gates in response on March 31, 1988 included information then available to CIA regarding individuals who were allegedly involved in or knowledgeable of ARDE narcotics trafficking. Allegations that Gonzalez was involved in narcotics trafficking were included in one of the documents that was compiled to support the briefing. No information has been found to indicate what was done by CIA on the basis of the information provided to DDCI Gates or whether it was shared further with the congressional oversight committees or other intelligence and U.S. law enforcement agencies.
- Background. Carol Prado Hernandez was a civil engineer who held several key positions in the FRS. In 1983, he assumed responsibility for operation of a Nicaraguan exile press office in Miami, and also worked on acquiring arms for ARDE. From late 1983 to 1985, Prado was working in the ARDE's logistics, propaganda and public relations sections and also serving as the communications chief. He was a close confidant of and advisor to Eden Pastora and headed the ARDE Headquarters staff in San Jose for a period of time.
- A May 1984 Station cable considered Prado to be a "troublemaker" and possible agent of the Sandinista Government. From 1984 through 1987, however, Station Officers had occasional contact with Prado as part of their liaison with ARDE.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. In January 1984, based on information provided by the FBI, a Headquarters cable noted that a contact of Prado's, arms dealer Sarkis Garabed Soghanalian, might be involved in drug trafficking. At this time, Prado reportedly was a Miami resident.
- In May 1984 a cable to Headquarters reported an allegation that Prado was linked to drug trafficking. The cable reported that there was a request that CIA conduct an investigation of Prado's activities in Miami because of a belief that Prado had Pastora involved in "some kind of a drug deal." A May cable to Headquarters indicated that there was a report of a conversation between Prado and a Miami-based Cuban who helped fund and equip FRS/ARDE regarding the smuggling of Cubans into the United States. Reportedly there were also suspicions that Martinez and his colleagues were involved in drug trafficking.
- A February 1985 cable informed Headquarters that Prado had appointed Carlos Pacheco to coordinate all air drop supply deliveries to the Contras. Pacheco was described by the cable as a close friend of alleged drug trafficker Gerardo Duran. The cable also reported that the Pacheco appointment had led to speculation among Southern Front members that Prado had selected Pacheco in order to coordinate drug trafficking flights better.
- A March 1985 cable to Headquarters reported information that indicated that Prado's reputation was so tarnished by drug trafficking allegations that Pastora was prepared to remove Prado from ARDE as part of a proposed agreement with other Contra leaders to create a single opposition group and joint military command.
- A May 1985 review was cabled to Headquarters of allegations that FRS personnel were involved in drug trafficking. The review cited Prado and Duran as the Contras who were most frequently linked to drug trafficking allegations. It also contained information that Prado had started looking for alternative sources of funding for ARDE activities in 1983. Prado reportedly had made several trips to Miami, Haiti and the Dominican Republic with Miami-based drug trafficker Jorge Morales to look at unspecified "operations."
- A May 1985 cable to Headquarters stated that FRS/ARDE pilot Marcos Aguado could "easily" provide concrete evidence linking Prado, Pastora and other Southern Front Contras to drug trafficking. A June 1985 cable to Headquarters contained additional allegations of narcotics trafficking by Prado and Duran. According to this cable, it was alleged that Prado periodically received funds suspected of being drug profits from Duran. In a December 1985 cable to Headquarters, it was reported that Pastora had instructed Prado to obtain money from Duran and another individual, who was also alleged to be involved in drug trafficking.
- An April 1986 cable to Headquarters stated that Adolfo Chamorro had been arrested on April 22, 1986 for entering Costa Rica illegally. Chamorro asserted while in custody that Pastora should be replaced because he was incompetent and Prado should be removed because he was involved in drug trafficking.
- It was reported to Headquarters in an April 1986 cable that Chamorro had been interviewed by a Miami radio station after his return to the United States from Costa Rica. According to the cable, Chamorro claimed that Prado had been involved in illegal narcotics trafficking.
- A June 1986 cable to Headquarters passed an allegation that reportedly linked Prado to drug money by stating that Prado had accepted $10,000 from Cesar Rodriguez, a known drug trafficker.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. The May 1984 cable to Headquarters that contained allegations of drug trafficking against Prado also included a request for further information about Prado from the Departments of Treasury and Justice. No information has been found to indicate that this request was pursued or that any other CIA response resulted from the allegations of Prado's connections to drug trafficking.
- The May 1984 cable also suggested that the Agency conduct an investigation into Prado's activities. No information has been found to indicate that this occurred.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. No information has been found to indicate that information regarding Prado's alleged involvement in drug trafficking was shared with other U.S. Government intelligence or law enforcement agencies or the Congress.
- Background. Jenelee Hodgson, a Creole member of the United Indigenous Peoples of Nicaragua (KISAN), was a leader of the Southern Indigenous Creole Community (SICC). In early 1980, she decided that the Sandinista revolution had lost its original direction and began opposing FSLN policies. After release from being jailed for three months because of her participation in 1980 Creole protests in Bluefields, Nicaragua, she was harassed by the Sandinista police. In 1982, she went into exile in Costa Rica.
- llegations of Drug Trafficking. A May 1986 cable advised Headquarters that Max Ewart, a Canadian who worked in KISAN's San Jose office, had claimed at a SICC meeting that Hodgson maintained close ties to the Sandinista regime through her two brothers, one of whom ran drugs into the United States for the Sandinistas. Ewart also reportedly claimed that Hodgson was closely associated with two other specifically named drug traffickers, and that she had arranged the release of one of them from imprisonment in Costa Rica for drug trafficking. The cable added the comment that it was believed Ewart had deliberately sought to discredit Hodgson and other members of the KISAN leadership group.
- A June 1986 cable to Headquarters stated that Hodgson reportedly answered the charges against her at a June 1986 SICC meeting by pointing out that most of the accusations were based on hearsay and propaganda printed in the Sandinista newspaper Barricada. She reportedly presented evidence of her finances and supplies to the troops in the field and succeeded in making her case before the Creoles.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. According to a May 1986 cable to Headquarters, Hodgson had said that in mid-1985 she had stayed in the Miami home of a Nicaraguan Creole whom she had met through a cousin who was also living with the Nicaraguan Creole at the time. The cousin reportedly told Hodgson that he suspected that the Nicaraguan Creole and others were involved in illegal activities and urged Hodgson to leave. Hodgson said she met Ewart and witnessed the arrival of several crates of cocaine and its subsequent distribution to dealers at the Nicaraguan Creole's home. Hodgson reportedly said that the Nicaraguan Creole had supervised the distribution of this cocaine for Ewart. The May 1986 cable commented that Hodgson's story was credible. No information has been found to indicate that the Agency attempted to investigate further the drug trafficking charges that had been made against Hodgson.
- A March 1987 Headquarters cable stated that Ewart had an unsavory record. The cable reported that he was involved in cocaine dealings in Florida and that it had been learned that in 1986 that Ewart was plotting, via unsubstantiated accusations of wrongdoing, to dispose of Hodgson and assume a leadership role.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. No information has been found to indicate that the Agency disseminated to U.S. law enforcement agencies the Ewart allegations regarding drug trafficking by Hodgson that had been reported in May 1986. However, a June 1986 Headquarters cable indicated that CIA shared Hodgson's allegations about Ewart's drug trafficking with both the FBI and DEA. Headquarters also recommended in the June cable that this information be shared with the INS office in Miami. No information has been found to indicate that this was done, or that any of this information was provided to the Congress.
- Background. In the late 1970s, Alfredo Cesar Aguirre left Nicaragua and arrived in the United States where he became a spokesman for the FSLN. When the Sandinistas came to power in 1979, Cesar returned to Nicaragua to become the Chairman of the Central Bank, a ministerial position. In May 1982, Cesar resigned from the Central Bank and went into exile in San Jose, accepting a position with the Costa Rican Government as a financial advisor. Shortly thereafter, Cesar joined Eden Pastora, also in exile in San Jose, in the Contra movement.
- In the mid-1980s, the United States sought to unify the splintered Contra movement. Cesar, as leader of BOS, opposed the signing of a unity accord. Headquarters stated in a January 1986 cable that Agency officers met with Cesar in December 1985 and January 1986 to discuss efforts to achieve political unity among the Contras, as well as the need for him to distance himself from Southern Front leaders who were alleged to be involved in drug trafficking.
- A June 1986 Headquarters cable stated that Cesar had advised in June 1986 that he had signed the unity agreement with UNO.
- By late October 1986, Cesar still had not fully integrated BOS into UNO. Cesar was informed that there would be "no [repeat] no additional funds" without integration into UNO.
- A February 1987 cable informed Headquarters that financial support had been resumed for BOS in February 1987, but that it had been made clear that all future funding would be made through the unified Nicaraguan resistance. BOS was then incorporated into the unified Nicaraguan resistance.
- In August 1988, Cesar was selected as the chief Contra negotiator for talks with the Sandinistas. In June 1989, Cesar returned to Nicaragua.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. No information has been found to indicate that Cesar was the subject of any drug trafficking allegations, but his brother, Octaviano Cesar, was the subject of such allegations.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. According to a January 1986 Headquarters cable, CIA informed him when urging Cesar to join with UNO in January 1986 that he would have to divest BOS of drug-related "baggage," specifically Adolfo Chamorro. A September 1986 cable to Headquarters noted that Cesar had been reminded "on more than one occasion" that Chamorro had a "possible association with narcotics trafficking." In January 1987, Headquarters cabled instructions for Cesar to be informed that U.S. Government funds could not be used to support any BOS member, such as Chamorro, until drug allegations against them were resolved. In February 1987, it was reported to Headquarters that Chamorro had been removed from the BOS payroll.
- In April 1987, Cesar's brother, Octaviano Cesar, was interviewed by CIA Security regarding drug trafficking. CIA Security believed it was highly probable that Cesar was involved in drug trafficking.
- Background. Jose Davila Membreno was a vice president of the Social Christian Party--a democratic opposition party in Nicaragua, a Social Christian Party delegate to the National Assembly and a member of the post-Somoza Council of State. Also a member of the editorial staff of La Prensa until 1982, he went into exile in Costa Rica after Managua's imposition of a state of emergency. In September 1982, Davila was a founding member of the Nicaraguan Assembly of Democratic Unity--an exile group dedicated to political and civil action--but this group disintegrated within a year. At that point, Davila helped form another group--the Christian Democratic Solidarity Front--which joined ARDE in early 1983. Shortly thereafter, Davila became one of ARDE's leaders.
- By 1984, Davila's influence within ARDE was in decline even though he remained a top official of the Christian Democratic Solidarity Front. In 1985, Davila aligned with BOS and was soon listed as a member of the BOS Executive Committee along with Adolfo Chamorro, Alvaro Jerez, Alfredo Cesar, and Bayardo Lopez. In May 1986, Davila, along with other ARDE field commanders under the command of Pastora and the FRS, agreed to align with UNO under the leadership of Fernando Chamorro. Davila also agreed to assume the responsibility for coordinating ARDE's political dealings with Chamorro and his staff. Davila then renounced his affiliation with BOS and Alfredo Cesar.
- Davila was pivotal in encouraging leaders of BOS to join forces with UNO, and was a key figure in the restructuring of the Southern Front in August 1986.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. Agency records include no allegations that Davila had engaged in drug trafficking. Issues did arise in regard to his admissions of affiliation with Pastora's associates who were connected to drug trafficking.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. In view of Davila's associations, he was interviewed by CIA Security. CIA Security believed his denials of involvement of drug trafficking were highly questionable. On November 3, 1987, Headquarters advised that Fiers had briefed SSCI Senators Bradley and Cohen and SSCI Staff members on October 14, 1987 regarding the problems associated with Davila. Fiers reportedly had stated that the Agency had no narcotics-related information regarding Davila other than his unfavorable interviews with Security. According to the Headquarters cable, it was the conclusion of the SSCI staffers that to cease contact with an individual solely on the basis of a security interview would be premature and ill advised.
- No information has been found to indicate that CIA took any further action to attempt to resolve the drug trafficking issues relating to Davila.
- Information Sharing with Other U. S. Government Entities. A July 1987 CIA cable to the FBI reported that CIA Security had concerns regarding Davila and the issue of narcotics trafficking.
- On October 14, 1987, Fiers briefed SSCI Staff members and two U.S. Senators regarding Davila's unfavorable security interviews due to narcotics-related issues. The SSCI transcript of that briefing and an October 14 Office of Congressional Affairs (OCA) memorandum for the record (MFR) regarding that briefing do not indicate the basis for the statement in the November 1987 cable that it was the conclusion of the SSCI staffers that to cease contact with an individual solely on the basis of a security interview would be premature and ill advised.
- The then-NOG Chief says that the lack of support in the SSCI transcript for the cable's assertion regarding Davila could have resulted from an informal, off-the-record discussion with the SSCI Staff members following the formal briefing. He states that there were always informal discussions following the official briefings and that guidance by Staff members was routinely proffered during these discussions.
- According to the SSCI transcript, DCI George Tenet--then a SSCI Staff member--was present at the October 14, 1987 briefing. He says he does not recall the Fiers briefing, although he recalls that Fiers briefed the SSCI on a weekly basis on the Nicaraguan activities. While he says there may well have been a briefing on Contra involvement in narcotics, he has no recollection of such a briefing. Concerning whether guidance was given to Fiers by the SSCI Staff regarding Davila, Tenet says he
believes that while SSCI Senior Staff may have provided the advice referred to in the 1987 cable--he was not a member of the Senior Staff at the time[,] had no responsibility for covert action programs . . . and would not have been aware of discussions between SSCI and CIA which would have led to CIA [sic] staff advice.
- Fiers responded in writing to questions and stated that he only has a vague recollection of the briefing. Regarding the cable assertion that SSCI "staffers" concluded that the relationship with Davila should not be terminated based solely on the basis of a security interview Fiers wrote, "I don't recall which particular staffer approved it."
- The former Minority Staff Director James Dykstra says that it was unlikely that the SSCI Staff would express such a conclusion. He adds that Staff members might concur with something, but "not give direction that could be construed as a conclusion." He adds that "[The cable] doesn't have the ring of truth to it." He also notes that a statement by Fiers in the transcript regarding Davila that ". . . our druthers would be to continue to use him . . . " probably represented Fiers' request for permission to keep using Davila.
- With regard to SSCI protocol, the former Minority Staff Director James Dykstra says that Fiers could have had "an off-line conversation" with the Staff and could have interpreted a casual remark as "direction" or approval because it was what he wanted to hear. Dykstra also says that, if the Staff had provided Fiers with any sort of advice, he would hope it would have been followed with a written document. Dykstra goes on to say that, if the Davila case was a real issue, it would been raised with himself or SSCI Staff Director. He says that this kind of issue was clearly in the domain of the Chairman or Vice Chairman of the Committee. He adds that "advice like this [conclusion to keep Davila] would have been cleared through the Staff Directors who would have briefed the [SSCI] Chairman or Ranking Minority Member." He continues that the matter probably would have been discussed between the Chairman and the DCI at one of their meetings.
- No information has been found to indicate that the Davila issue was discussed between Fiers and SSCI Staff members at any time after the October 14, 1987 briefing.
- Louis Dupart, former CATF Compliance Officer and author of the November 3, 1987 cable, says that he does not specifically recall the October 14, 1987 SSCI briefing. He says that he would not have written anything in a cable that he did not believe to be true. Dupart says that he was "ultra sensitive" to such matters at the time. What likely happened, according to Dupart, was that Fiers explained the situation to the SSCI members and Staff and no one said during the testimony--or in the discussion after it was over--that the Agency had to get rid of Davila. Dupart believes that Fiers likely inferred, therefore, that it was "okay" to continue to use Davila in the Contra program.
- Background. Harold Martinez became deputy commander of FRS in circa 1982. He resigned this position in 1984 to join the ARDE. In 1986, he became a principal member of BOS. In May 1988, he became the second-in-command under the Nicaraguan Resistance/Southern Front.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. An October 1984 cable to Headquarters reported that Martinez alleged drug involvement by Pastora and Pastora's chief military officers. Then Deputy Commander of the FRS, Martinez had said that he could no longer work or remain affiliated with Pastora because of what he reported to be FRS leadership involvement with drug trafficking, arms smuggling and mismanagement of funds. Martinez provided no details or evidence to support his belief regarding corruption within the FRS, but he terminated his association with Pastora shortly thereafter.
- In January 1987, CIA received information of Martinez's possible involvement in drug trafficking. In a December 1988 cable to Headquarters, it was reported to have been stated that Martinez " . . . undoubtedly had a connection with Pastora's drug activities" and warned against direct contact with either of the Martinez brothers.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking by Martinez. A July 1987 Headquarters cable reported that a new BOS leadership was elected during its transformation into a political party, and a five member directorate was chosen that included Martinez. Alfredo Cesar, who had been selected to be president of the directorate, had reportedly said that Martinez' support within BOS was too strong to be opposed. A December 1988 cable reported that Martinez was second-in-command under Nicaraguan Resistance/South Commander Ganso in May 1988.
- Sharing of Information with Other U.S. Government Entities. No information has been found to indicate that information regarding Martinez' potential involvement in drug trafficking was shared with other U.S. Government intelligence or law enforcement agencies or the Congress.
- Background. Rene Corvo, a Cuban-American veteran of the 2506 Brigade and the Bay of Pigs invasion, was the leader of an independent, heavily armed, anti-Sandinista military unit consisting of approximately eight Cuban-Americans and 40 Nicaraguans based in Costa Rica. Corvo reportedly stole equipment destined for the Southern Front to maintain his own force and divided equipment donated by Cuban-Americans between himself and Eden Pastora. In the late 1980s, according to information provided to the Agency by the FBI, Corvo was investigated for various Neutrality Act and arms trafficking violations and was rumored to be associated with plots against the lives of Pastora and U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica Lewis Tambs.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. According to a December 1984 cable to Headquarters, it was reported that Rene Corvo's unit was supported by Frank Castro and Corvo might be involved in drug trafficking by Castro. According to a December 1984 cable to Headquarters, Frank Castro reportedly was installing, or attempting to install, a cocaine processing laboratory in northern Costa Rica and was exploiting widespread paramilitary activities in northernmost Costa Rica as a cover for drug trafficking. Reportedly, Frank Castro sent his middleman to Costa Rica to purchase a ranch with a landing strip. Corvo was reportedly involved with Frank Castro and his middleman in this operation, and Corvo had traveled to Colombia shortly after returning to Costa Rica from Miami in November 1984, with the implication that this travel may have been drug-related. Further, Cuban-Americans supporting the Contra movement resented the alleged use of military activities as a cover for drug trafficking and feared that discovery and public exposure of the alleged drug trafficking would discredit Cuban-Americans and the insurgency in general. It was reported to Headquarters in December 1984 that reportedly:
There are fears that Corvo, who has received support from Frank Castro, may be exploiting the military infrastructure in northern Costa Rica as cover for engaging in drug trafficking.
- In August 1985, it was reported to Headquarters that a clandestine landing strip at a ranch in Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica was under investigation by the Costa Rican Narcotics Division. There were suspicions, reportedly, that Fernando Chamorro and Jose Robelo Ortiz might have been involved in drug trafficking because they had visited the ranch on several occasions and were closely involved with Corvo.
- On March 6, 1986 and on March 17, 1986, the FBI interviewed Jack Terrell. Information obtained in those interviews was sent to CIA Headquarters in cables dated March 11 and March 24, respectively. According to the FBI cables, Terrell was associated with the Civilian Military Assistance (CMA) and said that he had met Corvo and several others in a Miami motel in either late 1984 or early 1985. The cable reported that "tactics in Nicaragua" was the subject of discussion when Terrell was asked to leave the room and meet "Rene Corbo."(15) According to Terrell, he was advised not to meet Corvo "because he is into drugs and arms and he works directly for Francisco Chanes." The cable said that Tom Posey told Terrell that Corvo could provide the CMA with money, weapons, transportation, and "everything we've been looking for." According to the cable, Terrell met an individual early the next morning who confirmed what Terrell had been told earlier:
. . . regarding drugs, arms, Chanes, and Frank Castro and their relationship with Rene Corvo. [This individual] told Terrell that Frank Castro was the main liaison between the Colombian drug dealers and the Cubans.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. No information has been found to indicate that the Agency took any action to follow-up or verify any of the drug-related allegations against Corvo.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. In April 1986, CIA responded to a March 7, 1986, FBI request for information concerning Corvo and several other individuals. The CIA cable to the FBI noted that the Agency had received reports that Corvo was:
. . . the leader of an independent, well-equipped, heavily armed anti-Sandinista military unit consisting of approximately eight Cuban-Americans and 40 Nicaraguans based in Costa Rica along the Costa Rican-Nicaraguan border. Corvo was described by members of his unit as a dedicated anti-Communist and Bay of Pigs veteran who is unpredictable and violent. In November 85 [it was] reported that Corvo is an uncontrollable hothead and infamous for his drinking bouts in Costa Rica. He is a divisive element in the Southern Front armed force and has also absconded with equipment destined for the Southern Front to maintain his own force. He also divided equipment donated by Cuban-Americans between himself and Eden Pastora for whom the equipment was not intended. In Dec 85 it was reported that Corvo was involved with Frank Castro's drug activities in Costa Rica.
- According to an October 16, 1986 OCA MFR, CATF Chief Alan Fiers briefed Senator John Kerry on October 15, 1986 in response to questions Kerry had raised after an October 10, 1986 Fiers briefing regarding the Nicaraguan Resistance. According to the MFR, Fiers
. . . passed 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: . . . Rene Corvo . . .Also found in the OCA file is a separate, undated MFR that, although not described as such, may have been a copy of what was passed to Kerry regarding Corvo. That MFR contained a detailed summary of the reporting in December 1984 that alleged Corvo was involved with Frank Castro in installing a cocaine processing laboratory in Costa Rica. It also detailed the December 1984 reporting of possible drug-related travel by Corvo to Colombia and the allegations that the military infrastructure in Costa Rica was being used as a cover for narcotics trafficking. The summary also noted that a search of Agency records regarding Rene Corvo for the prior four years, including a complete listing of messages from other agencies concerning Corvo, had revealed no indication that Corvo had ever been "indicted, charged or arrested for narcotics trafficking."
- At the conclusion of this briefing, according to the OCA MFR, there was an exchange between Fiers and Kerry concerning the possible complicity of various Contra personalities in drug trafficking to finance weapons purchases. The MFR stated that:
Fiers' position was that there was no Agency evidence to support this charge. Senator Kerry responded that while he accepted CIA might not have evidence to this effect, his own investigations have produced evidence to the contrary. Fiers said he would be interested in seeing this evidence and Senator Kerry implied he would make the evidence available to Fiers.
Carlos Alberto Amador
- Background. Carlos Alberto Amador Perez was a pilot for the Southern Front Contra forces during the 1980s. Although he was based in Costa Rica, he flew missions from Ilopango air base in El Salvador to deliver materiel to Contra forces inside Nicaragua as well as northern Costa Rica.
- An August 1984 cable to Headquarters requested information concerning five new ARDE pilots, one of whom was Carlos Amador. The cable noted no derogatory information concerning the five pilots. Headquarters responded in an August 1984 cable that it had no information concerning Carlos Amador.
- A November 1984 cable to Headquarters identified Amador as the primary ARDE Islander aircraft pilot.
- A November 1984 cable to Headquarters identified Amador as one of ten investors in the 1981 creation of an aero taxi company at Los Brasiles airport in Nicaragua. According to the cable, the company, Alas De Nicaragua, S. A. (Alas), was a front for the FSLN and had five aircraft. As of October 1984, eight pilots, one of whom was a member of the Nicaraguan General Directorate of State Security (DGSE), were known to be working for Alas.
- A February 1985 cable to Headquarters focused primarily on Ricardo Roberto Espinoza Castro, but referred to Espinoza and Carlos Amador as "the two new FDN pilots."
- In an August 1985 Headquarters cable, Amador was described as "an exmember [sic] of the National Guard, [who] became disaffected by the FSLN's gradual takeover of [Alas] and dropped out." According to an April 1986 cable:
Circa August to December 1984, Amador was flying the ARDE Islander on these flights and his copilot was Roberto Espinoza. Amador stopped flying for the [Southern Front] in early 1985 and worked with the FDN in Honduras for a short period. After this, he went into "private business."
- The drafter of this cable says that his use of the term "private business" was a euphemism that related to what he thought were the Private Benefactors. The term was not, he says, intended to suggest narcotics trafficking.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. A February 1985 cable reported that Ricardo Roberto Espinoza Castro had been formerly employed by David Mayorga, who was suspected of being involved with the Southern Front in narcotics trafficking. According to a November 1984 cable, Espinoza had been flying and working with Amador. A July 1985 cable stated that Espinoza "was flying as a co-pilot and mechanic for Carlos Amador" in October 1984.
- A July 1985 cable indicated that David Mayorga had been overheard telling Carlos Amador on June 8 that a 150 kilogram shipment of cocaine that had been seized in a Cessna Citation near Barra Del Colorado, Costa Rica, was destined for Frudaticos(16) to be packed into yucca for delivery to the United States. The cable also reported that an aircraft that was to be purchased by Sergio Sarcovik(17) had been ferried by Amador from the United States to Panama and that Amador used Marcos Hernandez to " 'fix' flight plans for flights into/out of Panama area."
- An August 1985 cable to Headquarters stated that reportedly there had been an August 14 meeting that had involved four individuals at Pavas airfield near San Jose, Costa Rica. According to the cable, plans were made at that meeting to ferry two airplanes from Miami to Colombia and those planes were to be used in a drug smuggling operation at a future, but unspecified, date. Further, Amador was to ferry these aircraft from Miami to Colombia, via Belize and Panama, and was scheduled to depart San Jose for Miami. Reportedly, Amador was to fly a Cessna 206 to Colombia and then return for a Titan aircraft.
- Referencing the August 1985 cable, another cable was sent on August 1985 to Headquarters providing additional information regarding Amador. According to the cable, Amador was scheduled to fly a Cessna 206 from Miami to Costa Rica, via San Salvador and Belize. Alpa had an airfield near Liberia in Guanacaste Province "which is used to receive and transship drugs." According to the cable, the "drugs are brought up from Colombia through Panama up to Limon, Costa Rica and then on to Alpa's private strip near Liberia." The cable identified other persons involved as probably Gerardo Duran, Sergio and Jorge Zarcovich, Carlos Viques, and a fifth individual. The cable explained that the information was viewed as "suspect," that is, not necessarily true, but noted that all of the information in the cable had been passed to the local DEA office.
- In April 1986, a cable to Headquarters reported information from a March 18, 1986 DEA report regarding Carlos Amador. According to the cable, the DEA report noted that Amador had recently flown a Cessna 402 from Costa Rica to San Salvador where he had access to Hangar 4 at Ilopango air base. The cable also indicated that a"[DEA] source stated that Amador was probably picking up cocaine in San Salvador to fly to Grand Caymen [sic] and then to south Florida." The cable also reported that "[DEA] will request that San Salvador police investigate Amador and anyone associated with Hangar 4." The same cable included information from another DEA report, dated April 8, 1986, that linked Amador with Hangar 14 at Tobias Bolanos International Airport in San Jose. The cable also stated that Hangar 14 was allegedly owned by Sergio and Jorge Zarcovic. These two individuals reportedly were under DEA investigation in connection with a shipment of cocaine that was seized in Miami.
- A June 1986 cable to Headquarters requested information concerning Carlos Amador. According to the cable, an Embassy officer who served as the point of contact for the regional DEA officer requested any information concerning Amador. According to the cable, the regional DEA representative said that Amador was suspected of being heavily involved in narcotics smuggling. Also according to the cable, the DEA representative had explained that:
Amador is a Nicaraguan who has a US passport, operates out of Costa Rica, allegedly is helping the Contras, frequently flies into Ilopango airport in San Salvador, and carries unspecified official credentials. No information was provided as to why Amador is suspected of narcotics trafficking. The Embassy officer said that if Amador is connected to [CIA], [DEA] will leave him alone, but if not they intend to go after him.(18)As explained later, Headquarters responded to this request the following day.
- A September 1986 cable from a Latin American Station reported the:
. . . names of two individuals linked with Carlos Amador, a Nicaraguan-born legal resident suspected of involvement in narcotics smuggling (subject of previous traffic). The two periodically fly with Amador from Colombia to El Salvador, and recently flew from El Salvador to Curacao under suspicious circumstances. (They carried several barrels of ether as cargo, and after departing San Salvador turned off their radio navigation equipment.)The cable identified the two as Colombian pilots Victor Hugo Torres and German Vanegas. A September 1986 cable from a Latin American Station and an October 1986 cable from Headquarters indicated no information concerning Victor Hugo Torres or German Vanegas.
- Three years later, in September 1989, a Headquarters cable referred to the September 1986 cable and stated that Amador was suspected of narcotics trafficking. The cable also linked Vanegas, described as holding a Colombian pilot license, with Carlos Amador and noted that Vanegas "periodically flies with Amador from Colombia to El Salvador."
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. An April 1986 cable responded to the April 1986 cable that had connected Amador to probable movement of cocaine to Grand Cayman and south Florida. The cable stated
. . . that the only thing Amador … transported during these flights [from Ilopango in late 1984] was military supplies. [It has been] reported that Amador did fly into Ilopango several times during 1985 in light twin engine aircraft on trips from [the U.S.] to either Costa Rica or Panama. [There were suspicions that] . . . Amador was involved with narcotics.The cable also stated:would appreciate Station advising [DEA] not to make any inquiries to anyone re Hanger [sic] no. 4 at Ilopango since only legitimate . . . . supported operations were conducted from this facility.No information has been found to indicate whether this information was shared with DEA or that any response was received from DEA regarding the request that DEA be asked to avoid inquiries regarding Hangar 4.
- The drafter of the April 1986 cable says that he does not recall whether he followed up on the drug allegations reported in the cable. However, he says he is certain that Amador did not pick up cocaine from Hangar 5 and he is not aware of Amador ever being inside Hangar 4. Further, he states that these Contra supply aircraft either dropped their cargo in Nicaragua, or landed and were unloaded in Costa Rica. He also says that, "We were still out there looking in aircraft. They were empty and they would load supplies." He also says, "I was not aware of anything else they carried in the aircraft."
- The drafter of that cable notes that another entity conducted operations from Hangar 4. He says he is not certain about the nature or affiliation of that entity, but surmises it may have been associated either with Oliver North, the Private Benefactors, or the Nicaraguan Humanitarian Assistance Office (NHAO). In any event, he says he had no contact with anyone associated with Hangar 4. As for his request that DEA be asked not to make any inquiries regarding activities in Hangar 4, the officer says his statement was not intended to thwart an investigation of activities in Hangar 4. He concedes, however, that the language in the cable could be read to suggest a meaning he did not intend.
- According to the drafter, Amador could have come to Ilopango and visited the civilian portion of the air base, and the credentials issued to him by the El Salvadoran Air Force would have been effective on that side of the base as well.
- The June 1986 cable to Headquarters that requested information concerning Carlos Amador also noted that an Embassy officer who served as the point of contact for the regional DEA officer had requested information concerning Amador. According to the cable, the regional DEA representative had said without further explanation that Amador was suspected of being heavily involved in narcotics smuggling but that DEA would leave him alone if he were connected with CIA.(19) On June 1986, a response to the cable stated:
- In November 1984 a Carlos Amador was reported to be a pilot with ARDE.
- In 1984 a Carlos Amador (born 1937) was reported to have been one of the original investors of the "Alas De Nicaragua, S.A." aerotaxi company, based in Los Brasiles airport. This company was at that time a front organization for the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). Amador had been a member of the National Guard but became disaffected by the FSLN's gradual takeover of above company and dropped out.
- In 1985 a Carlos Amador was reported to be involved in a Colombia to Miami drug smuggling operation. He was to serve as the pilot.
- In June 1986, Headquarters responded to the cable of June 1986. The Headquarters response provided essentially the same information as the previous June response, but with the following additional details:
. . . .
4. In April 1986, [Amador], described as a former ARDE member, flew a Cessna 402 from Costa Rica to San Salvador where [Amador] has access to Hangar no. 4. It is believed that [Amador] was picking up cocaine in San Salvador to fly to Grand Caymen [sic] and then to south Florida. [Amador] has a valid Salvadoran government I.D. that allows [Amador] to operate freely in that country.
- Amador was one of many pilots flying into and out of Ilopango. Each of the pilots who flew into Ilopango in support of the Contras had an identity document, issued at the direction of the Salvadoran Air Force Commander, that would allow the pilot to fly into Ilopango without having to clear Salvadoran Customs. There was no CIA involvement in the issuance of these documents. No information has been found to indicate how Headquarters knew that Amador had such a credential in June 1986.
- Information Sharing With Other U.S. Government Entities. In August 1985, Headquarters responded to the cable of the same date that reported that Amador was planning to ferry aircraft from Miami to Colombia for use in a planned drug smuggling operation. The Headquarters response stated:
1. This cable documents for the record [the authorization]. . . . to pass substance of [the August 1985 cable] to [DEA]/Miami. We will provide identical information to [DEA Headquarters].The Headquarters cable also provided information regarding Jorge Zarcovik, and three other individuals. No information has been found to indicate whether CIA Headquarters actually passed this information to DEA Headquarters.
2. Carlos Amador is possibly identifiable with Carlos Amador Perez, a pilot of Nicaraguan citizenship. Per . . . [cable] dated . . . . November 84, Carlos Amador Perez is an ARDE pilot. Per . . . . [cable] dated . . . . August 84 is [sic] part of the new ARDE structure. Per . . . [cable] dated . . . . November 84, Carlos Amador Perez was one of the initial investors of the Alas De Nicaragua SA, an aerotaxi company, based at Los Brasiles airport, which served as a front for the FSLN. Carlos Amador Perez, an exmember [sic] of the National Guard, became disaffected by the FSLN's gradual takeover of the company and dropped out. Per . . . . [cable] dated . . . . August 84, [Amador] was to travel with [an individual], piloting a Cessna with tail number "Titans." (Note: Titan is perhaps a model rather than number.)
- Referencing the August 1985 cable, a cable to Headquarters later in August 1985 provided additional information regarding Amador. According to the cable, Amador was scheduled to fly a Cessna 206 from Miami to Costa Rica, via San Salvador and Belize, on August 24, 1985. Alpa had an airfield near Liberia in Guanacaste Province "which is used to receive and transship drugs." The cable stated that the "drugs are brought up from Colombia through Panama up to Limon, Costa Rica and then on to Alpa's private strip near Liberia." The cable identified other persons involved as probably Gerardo Duran, Sergio and Jorge Zarcovich, and two other individuals. The cable explained that the information was viewed as "suspect," that is, not necessarily true, but noted that all of the information in the cable had been passed to the local DEA office.
- No information has been found to indicate that information concerning allegations of drug trafficking by Amador was shared with the Congress.
- Background. Jose Orlando Bolanos was a Nicaraguan who resided in the United States as a young man, was sent to a youth reformatory in New Jersey in the mid-1950s for one year for breaking and entering, served in the U.S. Air Force for six years, was convicted of burglary in New Jersey, and was deported in December 1961.
- According to Agency records, Bolanos fled Nicaragua in mid-1979. Bolanos claimed in June 1981 that he was UDN's principal fund raiser and that he had elicited the support of the Argentine Government to support his anti-Sandinista activities.
- According to an August 1982 cable to Headquarters, Bolanos had said in June 1982 that he did not see the possibility of a Nicaragua free of communism and had retired from active participation in anti-Sandinista activities.
- A January 1989 cable to Headquarters reported that the FBI office in Tallahassee had provided Bolanos' name. Following a review of Agency records, Headquarters responded in a February 8, 1989 cable that provided a summary of information relating to Bolanos from Agency files. The summary included information regarding Bolanos' prior criminal record and his alleged involvement in a potential drug-related transaction in 1982--discussed further below.
- Allegations Of Drug Trafficking. A May 1982 cable reported to Headquarters that a DEA report indicated Bolanos had met in January 1982 with undercover DEA agents in Florida for the purpose of negotiating the sale of 1,000 kilograms of cocaine. Bolanos was reported to have asked for $25,000 to cover the expenses of introducing the undercover DEA agents to the Bolivian supplier of the cocaine.
- The cable added Bolanos was considered to be "strongly anti-drug but at the same time as an operator committed to the Nicaraguan counter revolution" and that Bolanos "is attempting to garner expense money to continue his fund raising efforts for the counter revolution."
- An officer says he recalls the 1982 DEA report and his May cable, and comments that Bolanos told him about a "scam" Bolanos was going to participate in to raise "expense money." The officer says it is his opinion that the events described in the May cable pertained to the scam and that Bolanos' intent was not to engage in drug trafficking but to " . . . take the [$25,000] and run."
- CIA received other allegations of possible illegal conduct by Bolanos unrelated to drug trafficking:
- A February 1982 FBI report stated that Bolanos had claimed that a group of anti-Sandinistas he was affiliated with was responsible for a lethal bomb attack on the Nicaraguan Embassy in El Salvador.
- In May 1986, a cable reported to Headquarters that Bolanos was implicated in an FBI investigation into a 1981 shipment of "light weapons" from Miami to "anti-Sandinista forces." The cable did not state whether Bolanos was the subject of the investigation.
- A December 23, 1992 U.S. Embassy/Guatemala telegram to DoS--with an information copy to the FBI--discussed a visa request by Bolanos. Citing information provided to the U.S. Embassy via a telephone call from a U.S. law enforcement agency, the Embassy telegram described Bolanos as someone who " . . . has been and continues to be extremely valuable to [two] government agenc[ies]."
- The Embassy telegram also referred to a Bolanos claim in an interview with a U.S. Embassy official that he had worked with the FBI on a plan to bring a controlled delivery of cocaine from Bolivia to Guatemala for eventual shipment to the United States. The telegram cited Bolanos as claiming that he " . . . did not want to miss an opportunity to secure extra funds for the Contras" and that "his assistance would contribute to the war on drugs (a personal passion) . . . ." Bolanos claimed, according to the telegram, that he " . . . . would [in return] keep the advance payment on the first delivery for transfer to the Contra organization."
- CIA Response to Allegations Of Drug Trafficking. In response to the May 1982 cable, Headquarters attempted to obtain from DEA Headquarters a copy of the report regarding Bolanos' meeting with undercover DEA agents to negotiate a cocaine sale. When this was unsuccessful, CIA asked a field Station to send a copy. No information has been found to indicate that CIA received a copy of the DEA report or took any other action in response to the allegations that had been received from DEA in 1982.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. All allegations of possible drug trafficking by Bolanos were received by CIA from other U.S. Government entities. On February 7, 1982, DEA requested that CIA conduct a records check on Bolanos in connection with "an ongoing investigation" of an unspecified nature. CIA's February 1982 response provided information pertaining to Bolanos' anti-Sandinista activities and other biographic information that included his early criminal activity in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. CIA also advised DEA to contact the FBI and DoS for additional information regarding Bolanos.
- The May 1982 allegation from a DEA report that Bolanos met with undercover DEA personnel to discuss a cocaine transaction in January 1982 was discussed in a January 21, 1987 Memorandum concerning alleged Contra drug trafficking connections that was coordinated with other Intelligence Community agencies and DEA. This Memorandum was prepared in response to a request from Morton Abramowitz, the DoS Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Research at the time, for allegations in CIA's possession regarding connections between the Contras and drug traffickers. The Memorandum noted that Bolanos had been offered expense money by undercover law enforcement officers in connection with the proposed cocaine transaction, but had refused and the transaction was never consummated.
- A March 31, 1988 OCA MFR indicated that, on March 29, 1988, SSCI Staff Director Sven Holmes was provided a copy of the January 21, 1987 Memorandum that had been sent to Ambassador Abramowitz. A May 18, 1988 letter to the DCI from SSCI Chairman David Boren and Vice Chairman William Cohen indicated that the SSCI had "determined to commence an inquiry into those aspects of the narcotics trafficking problem in Latin America that fall within the Committee's jurisdiction." A June 6, 1988 DO position paper prepared for OCA in response to questions posed in the SSCI letter that were to be discussed in a June 8, 1988 meeting between CIA officials and SSCI Staff indicated that allegations against Bolanos were discussed in the January 21, 1987 Memorandum. The DO position paper did not describe the specific allegations against Bolanos.
- No information has been found to indicate that CIA officials discussed the drug trafficking allegations against Bolanos at the June 8, 1988 meeting with SSCI Staff members. A June 9, 1988 DO MFR describing the meeting did not refer to the Bolanos allegations.
- Subsequent to the February 1989 cable noting the FBI had provided Bolanos' name, a February 1989 Headquarters cable authorized passage to the FBI the "substance" of the file summary that Headquarters had provided in its February cable. The February Headquarters cable made clear, however, there was no authorization to pass any information to the FBI office relating to the January 1982 meeting between Bolanos and undercover DEA personnel. Instead, there were instructions to "advise [the FBI office] that they may wish to check with [DEA] for further information."
- Markings on a December 2, 1992 unclassified U.S. Embassy/Guatemala telegram relating to a visa request by Bolanos indicate that the Agency informed DoS on March 19, 1993 that it should " . . . refer to the FBI, DEA and INS for possible information on Subject, as well as the [State] Department's own files."
- A May 1993 cable to Headquarters reported that the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was conducting an investigation into allegations that Bolanos was engaged in cocaine trafficking, arms smuggling and illegal immigrant smuggling into the United States. The cable did not provide any specific information regarding the allegations, but asked Headquarters to provide information from Agency files pertaining to Bolanos that could be shared with the INS office.
- Headquarters responded in a June 1993 cable indicating that, since Bolanos was the target of a criminal investigation in the United States, information in CIA files pertaining to Bolanos should be disseminated "at Headquarters level." Nevertheless, a June 1993 cable from Headquarters provided a brief file summary relating to Bolanos' prior criminal record and his business interests and indicated approval to pass this file summary to INS. Moreover, the Headquarters cable stated that "INS should also be referred to DEA and the FBI for additional information . . . relating to Bolanos." However, the following day Headquarters sent a cable directing that the summary be used for internal purposes only and reiterated that INS should direct its inquiry to Headquarters. No information has been found to indicate any communications between INS and CIA Headquarters in this regard.
- Background. During the 1980s, Cuban-American Moises Nunez was affiliated--either as an owner or a senior manager--with three seafood companies: Productos Del Atlantico in Limon, Costa Rica; Ocean Hunter/Mr. Shrimp in Miami; and Frigorificos De Puntarenas in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Frigorificos was among the companies that were used by the Department of State in the mid-1980s to channel humanitarian aid to the Contras. In the mid-1980s, Nunez was also a narcotics officer with the Government of Costa Rica.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. According to a November 10, 1986 DEA Investigation Report, the DEA office in Costa Rica had, over two or three years, "received information from various sources regarding Nunez' alleged involvement in cocaine smuggling through Frigorificos De Puntarenas." The DEA Report noted that Nunez had entered the United States from Costa Rica in late 1985 in the company of a documented money launderer and that Nunez' name had been found among the personal papers of an individual arrested in connection with the seizure of cocaine.
- The November 1986 DEA report also cited "hearsay" information obtained from two sources who alleged that cocaine was flown from Colombia to Costa Rica, where it was unloaded at airstrips owned by John Hull and another U.S. citizen. The cocaine was then reportedly transported to Frigorificos for shipping as frozen seafood to Ocean Hunter/Mr. Shrimp in Miami. These sources identified Nunez and Frank Chanes(20) as running the Frigorificos operation. No information has been found to indicate that either this November 1986 DEA Report or the information on which it was based was made available to CIA at that time.(21)
- A September 1984 cable to Headquarters indicated a request had been made for traces concerning Nunez from the DEA. The cable indicated the response received was "no derogatory results from these traces," although no information has been found to indicate that the Agency requested traces on Nunez from DEA Headquarters at that time.
- A Headquarters cable in April 1986 provided a synopsis of an April 11 article in The Washington Post regarding an FBI probe into allegations that the Contras and their U.S.-based supporters were engaged in arms smuggling and narcotics trafficking. The last paragraph of the article noted that one Contra cocaine smuggling operation centered on an unnamed leading member of the 2506 Brigade who owned a seafood export business he was allegedly using to smuggle cocaine into the United States. An April 1986 Headquarters cable indicated that Headquarters believed Chanes was the individual referred to in this paragraph of The Washington Post story.
- American journalists Martha Honey and Tony Avirgan filed suit in U.S. federal court in May 1986 against individuals whom they alleged had been involved in the 1984 La Penca bombing and in drug trafficking to support the Contras. Nunez was among those named in the suit, the details of which were obtained at the time by CIA.
- According to the December 1988 Report of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations, titled "Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy," Senator John Kerry had advised CIA, the Justice Department, DEA, State Department, and the NHAO in May 1986 of allegations he had received that Luis Rodriguez and his companies--Frigorificos and Ocean Hunter--were involved in money laundering and drug trafficking. No record has been found to indicate that CIA ever received this information from Senator Kerry.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. Immediately following the April 11, 1986 Washington Post story, a Headquarters cable asked for a determination to be made concerning the nature of the business relationship between Nunez and Chanes. The April response noted that the source of the information contained in the FBI report that was cited as the basis for The Washington Post story was Jack Terrell. It was noted that it had been reported many times that "Chanes is a close personal friend and business associate" of Nunez.
- An April 1986 response from Headquarters stated that the basis for the Agency's concern about Nunez was FBI information indicating that Chanes and "his partner" had offered the Civilian Military Assistance Group ten percent of the profits from the sale of frozen lobster. The cable indicated that this allegation, coupled with The Washington Post claim that one of the cocaine traffickers owned a seafood business, could cause trouble for Nunez if Chanes should be involved in "illegal activity." Headquarters acknowledged that it was aware of the Nunez-Chanes business relationship, but stated that it had no record of the precise nature of that relationship.
- A September 1986 Headquarters cable contained information from CIA files concerning Chanes. Among the reports cited was a January 1986 cable reporting that DEA had seized over 400 pounds of cocaine that was concealed in cargo addressed to Ocean Hunter. The cable noted, however, that "there is no information to substantiate or refute that Chanes was either directly or indirectly involved in drug trafficking." No information has been found in CIA records to indicate that Chanes was ever arrested for or charged with drug trafficking.
- On March 25, 1987, CIA questioned Nunez about narcotics trafficking allegations against him. Nunez revealed that since 1985, he had engaged in a clandestine relationship with the National Security Council (NSC). Nunez refused to elaborate on the nature of these actions, but indicated it was difficult to answer questions relating to his involvement in narcotics trafficking because of the specific tasks he had performed at the direction of the NSC. Nunez refused to identify the NSC officials with whom he had been involved.
- Headquarters cabled in April 1987 that a decision had been made to "debrief" Nunez regarding the revelations he had made. The next day however, a Headquarters cable stated that "Headquarters has decided against . . . debriefing Nunez." The cable offered no explanation for the decision.
- Then-CATF Compliance Officer and Policy and Plans Chief Louis Dupart does not recall why the decision was made not to send anyone to debrief Nunez. He says, however, that the Agency position was not to get involved in this matter, and to turn it over to others because "it had nothing to do with the Agency, but with the National Security Council. We. . . . told Congress and [Independent Counsel for Iran-Contra] Walsh. That's all we had to do. It was someone else's problem."
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. According to an April 13, 1987 MFR written by OCA's David Pearline, CIA Counterintelligence Chief Gus Hathaway and Dupart briefed Senators Rudman and Cohen of the Senate Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and Nicaraguan Opposition on April 10, 1987 regarding Nunez' claim of his involvement with the NSC. Rudman and Cohen reportedly asked that the Senate Committee Staff interview Nunez on these matters. Dupart offered to facilitate an interview in a third country. No information has been found to indicate whether such an interview occurred.
- In his written response to CIA/OIG questions, Fiers states that he does not recall "precisely" why no one was sent to debrief Nunez. However:
My recollection is that because of the NSC connection and the possibility that this could be somehow connected to the Private Benefactor program (otherwise known as the Iran Contra affair) a decision was made not to pursue this matter, but rather to turn it over to Judge Walsh [the Independent Counsel for Iran-Contra]. I don't recall exactly the decision making process; it is my recollection, however, that this was a group/consensus decision. Perhaps legal records will shed more light on this.
- In September 1987, Nunez was interviewed in San Jose. The interview report indicated that Nunez denied any relationship with the NSC or with anyone doing work for the NSC. The report made no mention of drug trafficking. A February 1988 CIA memorandum indicated that information on Nunez was turned over to the Iran-Contra OIC in response to its requests for information relating to its investigation.
- In a December 12, 1991 memorandum, the DEA Administrator requested information from CIA concerning Nunez and any association he may have had with the Agency, indicating that Nunez had become involved in a criminal investigation. The U.S. Customs Service sent a request to CIA for information concerning Nunez on December 17, 1992. The Agency's responses to DEA on December 13, 1991 and to Customs on December 14, 1992, respectively, made no mention of Nunez' possible involvement in drug trafficking, although Customs was referred to the Agency's Office of Security (OS) for additional information. No information has been found to indicate any further request from, or any further response to, DEA or the Customs Service in regard to Nunez.
- Background. Gustavo Quezada Acuna, also known as "Waykie," was a former Chief of Transportation in the Nicaraguan Air Force who left Nicaragua in March 1982 and was granted political asylum in the United States. Quezada joined the FDN air arm in early 1985.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. A March 1985 cable to Headquarters relayed information regarding connections between Contra figures and the Miami-based drug trafficker Jorge Morales. Contra and Costa Rican pilots were making drug flights for Morales in accordance with an agreement between Morales and "Popo" Chamorro. Reportedly Quezada and Gerardo Duran had been in contact with Morales and had made flights for Morales. The implication was that the flights that Quezada and Duran were making for Morales were drug-related, but the cable did not specifically state this.
- In a March 1985, a cable informed Headquarters that there were "rumors" among the Contras that Quezada "had become involved with narcotics traffickers." In addition, the local DEA representative had indicated that Quezada was "definitely in contact with known narcotics traffickers" and was involved in activities that had resulted in DEA confiscation in the United States of an aircraft, 400 kilograms of cocaine and U.S. currency. The nature of Quezada's "involvement" or "contact with known narcotics traffickers" was not specified in the cable. The March cable did, however, offer the opinion that there was "no evidence at this time connecting [Quezada's] activity with [Pastora's] narcotics operation."
- A May 1987 U.S. Customs Service response to a CIA trace request stated that a 1986 Treasury Department record referred to Quezada's alleged involvement in narcotics smuggling via aircraft. No information has been found to indicate whether this information was based on the same allegations that were reported by DEA in March 1985, or on other activities by Quezada.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. The March 1985 cable to Headquarters indicated that Quezada had provided both verbal and written reports in his defense. The cable noted, however, the written report had been reviewed and found not to address the allegation that he had been involved in activities relating to the DEA seizure of 400 kilograms of cocaine in the United States. The written report provided by Quezada had been shared, according to the cable, with the DEA Country Office.
- The March 1985 cable also expressed the opinion that whether Quezada was "a witting or unwitting accomplice [in drug trafficking] has yet to be determined, although all indications are pointing towards [Quezada] being aware of more significant information" than he had provided in his report. The cable indicated that CIA was sending a representative to a meeting between Quezada and representatives of a U.S. law enforcement agency in an effort to obtain his cooperation.
- A March 1985 cable reported to Headquarters that Quezada had met and agreed to cooperate with a U.S. law enforcement agency. The cable reported that the DEA representative had said that Quezada "possibly was unwitting of the recent narcotics trafficking activity as arrests and confiscation of materiel [sic] occurred after [Quezada] had broken contact." The cable reported that DEA would continue investigating to clarify Quezada's involvement in illegal activities in the United States.
- In May 1985, a cable informed Headquarters that Quezada had been contacted by the "infamous Gerardo Duran" and that Duran had told Quezada that Marcos Aguado--a pilot for Pastora--wanted to talk to Quezada.
- No information has been found to indicate that any further action was taken by CIA to resolve these allegations. No information has been found to indicate that CIA was ever advised after March 1985 of the results of the DEA investigation into Quezada's possible involvement in drug trafficking.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. According to cables reporting in March 1985, CIA and DEA officials met to discuss the allegations against Quezada. DEA was the source of the most specific allegations received by CIA regarding drug trafficking on the part of Quezada. CIA reportedly assisted the local DEA representative in gathering information that would clarify the validity of the allegations.
- No information has been found to indicate that information relating to allegations of drug trafficking by Quezada was provided to Congress by CIA.
- Background. Felipe Vidal del Calvo, a Cuban-American, was associated with John Hull and, Moises Nunez.
- Vidal served as a logistics coordinator for the Contras. In November 1988, Vidal became an independent contractor for the Agency, continuing to work with the Contras.
- His employment with CIA was terminated in February 1990 because he had been linked in the Costa Rican press to the La Penca bombing. This media attention had, according to a January 1990 cable to Headquarters, "raised his profile to an unacceptable level."
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. A June 1986 FBI response to a trace request by CIA indicated that he had been convicted in Miami of several felonies between 1969 and 1980, including a 1971 conviction for conspiracy to violate U.S. narcotics laws. The FBI response also indicated Vidal had been arrested in January 1977 for selling marijuana and conspiracy to sell marijuana, although those charges had been dismissed. Vidal's complete arrest record was included in the Agency's Office of Security (OS) file regarding him. Other CIA records included a reference to his conviction for illegal possession of a firearm, but included no mention of his 1971 conviction, or 1977 arrest, in connection with narcotics trafficking.
- A December 1984 cable reported to Headquarters that Vidal had ties to Rene Corvo, a Cuban-American who might be involved in drug trafficking with Frank Castro. A June 1986 MFR written by CATF's Costa Rica desk officer concerning Vidal noted that Vidal had helped Corvo raise funds in Miami for the Contras and that he had joined Corvo's Cuban-American brigade in Costa Rica in mid-1983. This relationship ended in mid-1984, according to the MFR.
- In May 1986, American reporters Martha Honey and Tony Avirgan filed a civil suit against Vidal, Hull, Nunez, Adolfo Calero, and others, alleging that they were behind the 1984 La Penca bombing attempt on Eden Pastora's life and were funding their conspiracy through cocaine trafficking. These allegations were widely publicized in the U.S. and Costa Rican media. In 1990, a new round of press accounts, published in connection with a Costa Rican Public Ministry report on the bombing, identified Vidal and Hull as the masterminds behind the plot and said that the official report had called for charging the two with murder.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. A June 1986 internal CIA OS memorandum noted that FBI trace results regarding Vidal "reflect an assortment of assault, robbery, narcotics and firearms violations." No information has been found to indicate that the information regarding Vidal's record that was made available to OS by the FBI was shared outside OS.
- CATF Compliance Officer Louis Dupart says that he was not aware of Vidal's 1971 conviction for narcotics trafficking, but notes that the OS would not have shared the arrest record with the DO because Vidal was a U.S. person. Dupart states that he would have questioned whether "we need this guy" had he known about Vidal's arrest record at the time of his recruitment.
- CATF Chief Fiers, in his written response to CIA/OIG questions states that he:
- . . . was aware that [Vidal] had a record of misbehavior and general thuggery as youth. I do not recall nor do I believe that it was ever mentioned that this included a drug conviction.
- The June 1986 memorandum from OS stated that Vidal had completed a favorable security interview in February 1986.
- In January 1987, CATF advised the Station by cable that Vidal should have another security interview to determine whether he was involved with drug traffickers. Although the CATF cable dismissed the allegations in the Costa Rican press as a "rehash of Honey/Avirgan stories," it noted that it would be "prudent" to reexamine Vidal.
- Vidal was interviewed again by CIA Security in January 1987. According to a February 11, 1987 report, CIA Security did not have concerns about Vidal's alleged involvement in drug trafficking, since being involved in the Contra movement. On the basis of this report, a February 1987 Headquarters cable indicated that CATF had provided Vidal with documentation so he could continue working for CIA.
- In July 1987, CATF cable cited two worrisome concerns about Vidal. The first was that Vidal recently listed his former employer as Ocean Hunter, a firm allegedly linked to narcotics trafficking activity. Second, Vidal had recently been mentioned several times "by true name" in television and news commentaries regarding Contra involvement in narcotics trafficking.
- A July 1987 cable responded to Headquarters that the "negative repercussions" from Vidal's past employment with Ocean Hunter were balanced by the fact that he had favorable security interviews, and there were other indications of his reliability. In July 1987, the LA Division Chief asked OS to continue security processing. An August 10, 1987 response indicated that the Director of Security declined to continue security processing and that OGC had concurred in that decision.
- An August 5, 1987 memorandum explained OGC's reasoning for its concurrence in not continuing security processing involving Vidal again. According to the memorandum, Associate Deputy General Counsel Gary Chase advised against further security processing of Vidal because "narcotics trafficking relative to Contra-related activities is exactly the sort of thing that the U.S. Attorney's Office will be investigating." Thus, Chase reportedly expressed "concern over the possibility that the [security] process . . . could be exposed during any future litigation."
- No information has been found to indicate that Vidal was questioned a third time by the Office of Security. According to an August 1987 cable, however, Vidal was questioned by a CATF attorney in "July/August 87" regarding allegations of Contra involvement in drug trafficking. According to the cable, Vidal's answers satisfied the attorney. CATF Compliance Officer Dupart recalls that he was the attorney and that he was satisfied that Vidal had not been involved in drug trafficking during his relationship with CIA.
- In January 1990, after Vidal had again been accused in the Costa Rican press of being involved in the La Penca bombing, Headquarters decided to end his employment.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. According to the December 1988 Report of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations, Senator John Kerry had informed CIA, DoJ and the Nicaraguan Humanitarian Assistance Office in May 1986 of allegations that Luis Rodriguez and two of his companies--Frigorificos De Puntarenas and Ocean Hunter (which employed Vidal in 1985)--were involved in drug trafficking. No information has been found to indicate that CIA ever received this information from Kerry.
- A January 1986 cable provided a biographic profile of Vidal to Headquarters. The profile included information that Vidal had been employed by Ocean Hunter in 1985. However, no information has been found to indicate that CIA was aware of Ocean Hunter's link to drug trafficking until a September 1986 Headquarters cable noted that DEA had seized 414 pounds of cocaine in Miami in January 1986 that was concealed in a shipment of yucca from David Mayorga and was "allegedly addressed to Ocean Hunter, Inc."
- According to an October 16, 1986 MFR written by OCA's Deputy Director of Senate Affairs Alvin K. Dorn, CATF Chief Fiers briefed Senator John Kerry on October 15. The MFR indicated that Fiers provided Kerry with several "prepared sheets" responding to questions raised by Kerry following an October 10 Fiers briefing. One of the sheets provided information concerning Vidal, including his employment with Ocean Hunter, his relationship with Rene Corvo and his two convictions for illegal possession of firearms in the early 1970s. There was no mention in this sheet, however, of Vidal's arrests and conviction for drug trafficking.
- According to a July 10, 1987 OGC memorandum, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida was investigating neutrality and gun running violations by Contra-related individuals and was concerned that some of these individuals would "allege that they were conducting their activities on behalf of CIA or the National Security Council" if they were indicted. Consequently, in order to determine whether such a defense "would have any viability," the U.S. Attorney's Office had requested that CIA provide "any documents" in its possession "which report on the Contra-related activities" of 18 named individuals and companies. Vidal and Ocean Hunter were among the names on the U.S. Attorney's list. The OGC memorandum requested that the DO indicate whether CIA had a relationship with any of these individuals or companies. Handwritten notations on the list indicated that the DO advised OGC that no information had been found regarding Ocean Hunter. No information has been found to indicate why information in CIA files pertaining to Ocean Hunter was not reported to OGC at this time or whether the incomplete information was provided to the Florida U.S. Attorney's Office.
- A September 1988 Headquarters cable indicated that the Iran-Contra Independent Counsel had requested in April 1988 an interview with Vidal in connection with its prosecution of CIA employee Joseph Fernandez. The cable requested that the Station verify whether it had informed Vidal of the Independent Counsel's request in April. A September cabled response to Headquarters indicated that Vidal had been informed of the Independent Counsel's request, and that he had refused to meet with the Independent Counsel. Nonetheless, a March 1989 memorandum to then-General Counsel Russell Bruemmer from an OGC attorney indicated that CIA was trying to persuade Vidal to consent to an interview with the Independent Counsel and that consideration was being given to paying any legal expenses Vidal might incur. No information has been found to indicate whether Vidal ever met with the Independent Counsel.