Summary: The California Story
- Scope of IG Investigation.
This CIA Inspector General investigation included an examination of all information in CIA possession concerning Ross, Blandon and Meneses, and CIA knowledge of any drug trafficking allegations in regard to persons directly or indirectly involved in Contra activities. The investigation also included an examination of allegations of drug trafficking by CIA assets, other individuals associated with CIA who dealt with the Contras, and companies and individuals involved in providing support to Contra activities in Central America in the 1980s on behalf of CIA.
The Report of Investigation is being issued in two volumes. Volume I addresses the "California Story"--findings regarding whether CIA knew of narcotics trafficking by Ross, Meneses or Blandon in Southern California. It also includes findings related to whether CIA knew of the narcotics trafficking activities of Julio Zavala and Carlos Cabezas in Northern California, and their possible ties to the Contras, and CIA's contacts with the San Francisco U.S. Attorney's Office in connection with "The Frogman Case."
Conclusions: Volume I. The following conclusions are based on the Findings in Volume I of this Report:
- Did CIA have any relationship or dealings with Ross, Blandon or Meneses? No information has been found to indicate that any past or present employee of CIA, or anyone acting on behalf of CIA, had any direct or indirect dealing with Ricky Ross, Oscar Danilo Blandon or Juan Norwin Meneses. Additionally, no information has been found to indicate that CIA had any relationship or contact with Ronald J. Lister or David Scott Weekly. No information has been found to indicate that any of these individuals was ever employed by CIA, or met by CIA employees or anyone acting on CIA's behalf.
- Was the drug trafficking of Ross, Blandon or Meneses linked to CIA or Contra activities? No information has been found to indicate that Ross provided any money to any Contra group at any time, or that he had any contact or connection to the Contras or CIA.
- No information has been found to indicate that the drug trafficking activities of Blandon and Meneses were motivated by any commitment to support the Contra cause or Contra activities undertaken by CIA.
- Blandon and Meneses claim that they each donated between $3,000 and $40,000 to Contra sympathizers in Los Angeles. No information has been found to substantiate these claims. Moreover, no information has been found to indicate that Meneses or Blandon received any CIA or Contra support for their drug trafficking activities.
- Blandon did have a personal relationship with Eden Pastora and provided him with financial assistance in the form of rent-free housing and two vehicles. Much of this assistance was provided to Pastora after he left the Contra movement.
- Did CIA intervene or otherwise play a role in any investigative and judicial processes involving the drug trafficking activities of Ross, Blandon or Meneses? No information has been found to indicate that CIA hindered, or otherwise intervened in, the investigation, arrest, prosecution, or conviction of Ross, Blandon or Meneses. CIA shared what information it had--specifically on Meneses' 1979 drug trafficking in Nicaragua--with U.S. law enforcement entities when it was received and again when subsequently requested by the FBI.
- Did any of the individuals who were arrested in "The Frogman Case" have any relationship with CIA? Were the drug trafficking activities of any of those individuals linked to the Contras? No information has been found to indicate that CIA or individuals acting on behalf of CIA had any relationship with Julio Zavala, Carlos Cabezas, or others who were arrested or charged in connection with the Frogman Case, though a relative of one of them did have a relationship with CIA until mid-1982.
- No information has been found to indicate that Julio Zavala, Carlos Cabezas or other Frogman Case defendants were connected to the Contras or that the Contras benefited from their drug trafficking activities. No information has been found to support Cabezas' claim that he provided financial assistance to the Contras from his drug trafficking activities. While two individuals who were active in the Contra movement wrote letters indicating that the money seized from Zavala belonged to the Contras, it appears this was done through Zavala's wife's connections with old family friends and not because Zavala was active in the Contra movement.
- Was CIA involved in the investigation of The Frogman Case? No information has been found to indicate that CIA or anyone acting on behalf of CIA was involved in the criminal investigation of Julio Zavala and his associates, though a relative of one of those who were arrested or charged did have a relationship with CIA until mid-1982.
- To what extent and why did CIA become involved in the prosecution of The Frogman Case? CIA did make contact with prosecutors in the Zavala prosecution in order to protect what CIA believed was an operational equity, i.e., a Contra support group in which it had an operational interest. A CIA cable indicates that approximately $36,000 seized from Zavala at the time of his arrest was returned to Zavala--based on the claim they were Contra funds--by the prosecutors at CIA's request. However, the prosecutors state that the decision to return Zavala's money was based on other considerations, not CIA's representations, and that there was no evidentiary value to retaining the money. In any event, the actions taken by CIA to have the cash returned did not appear to be intended to influence the outcome of Zavala's trial, which resulted in his conviction.
- Volume II. Volume II will address findings related to CIA's knowledge of any other alleged drug trafficking by the Contras or other persons associated with the Contra program. It also will describe CIA's interactions with U.S. law enforcement agencies and the Congress regarding Contra personnel and activities that were subject to drug-related allegations. Conclusions regarding those issues will be included in Volume II.