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Scope of Investigation: The California Story

  1. On September 3, 1996, DCI John Deutch asked CIA IG Frederick P. Hitz to conduct an internal review of the allegations in the San Jose Mercury News series "because of the seriousness of the allegations and the need to resolve definitively any questions in this area . . . . " This review was to include all information in CIA's possession since 1980 relating to: 
  • Danilo Blandon, Juan Norwin Meneses Cantarero or Ricky Donnell Ross;
  • Possible drug trafficking activities by the Contras in California or elsewhere in the United States, and what action, if any, CIA took upon receiving such information; and
  • Any contacts between CIA and DEA, FBI, DoJ, U.S. Attorney's Offices, or other U.S. law enforcement agencies relating to these individuals and issues.
  1. In establishing the parameters of the investigation, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) decided that it was necessary to go beyond the scope of DCI Deutch's request in order to ensure thoroughness and completeness. Thus, it was determined that any information in CIA's possession, regardless of its date, concerning Blandon, Meneses and Ross, should be retrieved and reviewed. Further, any information in CIA's possession regarding possible drug trafficking activities by the Contras or CIA contacts with U.S. law enforcement agencies regarding such information during the entire "Contra era" should be retrieved and reviewed. In this regard, OIG defined the "Contra era" as the period in the early 1980s from the organization of groups in opposition to the installation of a Sandinista Government in 1979 through the period leading to the assumption of power by the first non-Sandinista President, Violetta Chamorro, in the spring of 1990. Thus, the Contra era under review in the investigation comprised the period from 1981 through 1989. 
  2. Criteria were also developed by OIG in an effort to facilitate the identification and retrieval of any information in CIA's possession regarding drug trafficking by the Contras in California or elsewhere in the United States. Because drug trafficking activities might be reported without sufficient information to identify the eventual destination of the drugs, and since the United States was the leading consumer of drugs during the relevant time frame, any information regarding drug trafficking by persons associated with CIA or the Contras that was not related specifically to consumption in a foreign country was considered to be within the scope of this investigation. In addition, this investigation extended to any contact by CIA with any U.S. law enforcement agency regarding possible drug trafficking by persons associated with CIA in the Contra program or the Contras and was not limited to such contacts regarding drug trafficking where the United States was the known destination of the drugs. 
  3. The investigation included review of any information in CIA's possession relating to CIA knowledge of drug trafficking allegations in regard to any person directly or indirectly involved in Contra activities and was not limited to official members of Contra organizations or to the leadership of those organizations. In addition, the investigation sought to examine any information in CIA's possession relating to allegations of drug trafficking by CIA assets and other individuals who were associated with CIA and dealt with the Contras, or by companies and individuals that were involved in providing support to Contra-related activities in Central America in the 1980s on behalf of CIA. Finally, the investigation included information in CIA's possession regarding how CIA handled and responded to information regarding allegations of drug trafficking by persons or companies in these categories. 
  4. The investigation was not intended to prove or disprove allegations of drug trafficking by specific individuals or organizations. Further, the description in this Report of drug trafficking allegations involving any individual or organization does not represent any position by OIG regarding the veracity of the allegations. The investigation also was not intended to review or evaluate the effectiveness of any CIA covert action programs in Central America in the 1980s.

Posted: Apr 25, 2007 09:10 PM
Last Updated: Apr 25, 2007 09:10 PM