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November 11, 2016
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February 23, 1999
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August 1, 1964
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TRUE MAGAZINE Sanitized - Approved AVUR t e : CI STATINTL Cummings disp i~~ed tres '~qt~l Fa~rsR#1 Ile once tried to emonstrate to net ors t at is stockpa e was no hazard, but show stopped when a grenade "blew up." Sanitized - Approved For Release : CIA-RDP75-00149R000200060004-3 BY JOHN BARlitON AND MAX GUNTIMEa 0 Rafael Trujillo was in trouble. World opinion' had turned corners at embassy cocktail parties. In grimy bars a ,_ .t....._.,., nnrts At secret iunsle airstrips. ???a??? ^u?v ?~ - deserting him; neighboring countries were growing nostue; 1116 nation's , -- from the root ion was building up in his own country, (the workmen wear fatigue uniforms for es w tli is military atmosphere o: fallin But at the very time when he needed weapons most desperately, that once --b- Cummings claims to have more guns than the U.S. and 1 S d i am t be was least able to get them. These were the late 1950 s, an h was no longer fashionable to be friendly to Caribbean dictators. .British armies-together re. P veave "In alone," in Alexand iad more than says he, 1-- pn in T jillo e ru in sympathy. No nation wanted to go on record as helping maintain his power. - British and American infantry divisions with their standard ld War II equipment." He says it proudly. And not only W or But there were, after all, other sources of weapons than na- you most tional governments. There were private weapons merchants, men does he have?gennrenared tolnay for. Tanany kind of killing torpedoes. with no political entanglements to embarrass tnem-men ^??~ Boats, bombs, bayonets, bazookas. He admits to only two things would sell guns to anybody with cash. They made being out of his league: nuclear weapons and germ war mate- ld h e wor . Trujillo sent his agents out to scour t discreet inquiries in the murky limbo of the international arms rials. But he won't admit they're out forever. trade. They came back to him with a report: There was only one SamC ummingi nthough he. doesn't, military Power his fingertips. By -nunt - _ _ quantity he needed, an American named Sam Uummmgs, sG.,t,~b ... __. ?-??~ -____- t chess game o of f world diplomacy, he could, if he chose, con i l an y g Sam Cummings turned out to be most obliging and extreme r the balance of power in many localities, perhaps lt bl i d e y a va ce efficient. Early in 1957, a freighter left Sweden for the Unite mu repercussions. e s i d ldw h i ' on v wor t States. It transferred its cargo to another ship. The second snip w Pa fighting in During or the other. a public. Rafael Trujillo was on hand personally to weicutue Lne .-11 ....b~ - airborne supply operations and held the U.N. forces at bay for cargo: 26 British Vampire jet fighters. d more than two weeks. Fidel Castro, fighting the guerrilla war, h h a e Once again Sam Cummings had delivered. Once again ower in Cuba and created a grave problem for t won him h f " ' p a t merchant o s biggest lived up to his reputation as the world death," an epithet his enemies try never to let him escape. the entirerhemisphere,l probably y ha cod fewerh o aeons all told than Not even his enemies, of whom there are many, Will u-guc r- 1u? ?? - ever out about his importance. Sam Cummings is only 35 and has barely ^? There's notevidencee that Cummings mwav. in His politics seare t those l of a a worldwide weapons-trading complex so vast that tnetc Ulu - ??~???ti? undoudly helped pofit. But in ding so, he i will i f i hi M o g e ta ns p no real competitors in sight. Under the corporate ch 4- resent alianments any of his of the chess game ? warehouses and offices in the U.S. and at least L,(, tins ua u?v d n government-and a rather wealthy government, at that. His - . . '? _ 1_L- _ ..f B ate an agents in every restless corner of the globe. riaraly any weaputls as-c v- ??b?+--- Y- - -- ----- - few years longer. In the same year ve his bloody regime a res C n h I e * r. p e ro Cul deal of importance is transacted -anywhere outside t sold several thousand U.S. surplus ns hi e gu . n .have a hand in it. You hear his name anywhere and any time heavy mac cnnrtrv hnvera in Asia. He has equipped the under the glare of publicity, but in the quieter places. in AUG 1964 "---ePYRGHT Sanitized - Approved For Release : CIA-RDP75-00149R000200060004-3 Sanitized - Approved For Release : CIA-RDP75-00149R000200060004-3 An enigma meets a riddle.... Many found the character of Pandit Nehru unfathomable, but Cummings, here meeting the late Indian leader while weapon-scouting in Asia, is in his own way, equally a mystery, even to close associates. On deck of this Finnish freighter is assorted artil- lery for Cummings. At least once in the arms merchant's career, crates like those shown have turned out to be more valuable than the amts .packed inside them, being made of a rare wood. AR-15 with which the Infantry is only now equipping itself. His purchases have been equally big. In 1958 he made a deal with England to buy a fantastic total of more than half a million surplus rifles and automatic weapons. "We almost bought a battleship from Chile once," he adds. "The Japanese outbid us and towed it to Yokohama for scrap. Missiles? Well, some NATO countries have sounded us out about taking some of their Nikes that are getting old." The spectacle of a private merchant in the big-time inter- national arms trade, a single man dabbling in potential world disaster, understandably troubles the governments of the big Western powers. They feel uneasy about Sam Cummings. They watch him as you might watch a small boy lighting a fire in the fireplace: what he's doing is legal, but you know he could burn the house down if you don't stay on top of him every minute. They wonder how responsible a man can be who sells instruments of death for a profit, who sells to a dictator one day and a liberator the next, a recognized government here and a ragged army of fire-breathing rebels there. How far, they wonder, can such a man he trusted? If a powder-keg situation develops somewhere in which Cummings' activities are crucial, can he be controlled? Cummings insists he's dangerous to nobody. "We do a multi- million-dollar business each year and intend to do a lot more," he pointed out earnestly to a TRUE reporter. "I'd be stupid to jeopardize it all by trying to pick-up a few hundred thousand in clandestine deals." He says, for example, that he refused to sell arms to Castro's guerrillas. "They called us all the time and offered to send their trucks up to Alexandria and,pay pre- mium prices in cash. We just laughed at them." Yet despite Cummings' earnest protestations, the U.S. govern- ment keeps so close an eye on him that he can hardly buy a squirt gun in this country without somebody's carefully noting it down. He has been' investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee, the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Unit, which administers federal laws relating to domestic firearms sales. The Central Intelligence Agency and the FBI. also watch him with great interest. But the shadow most constantly dogging his heels is the State Department's Office of Munitions Control, which regulates the movement of war equipment both into and out of the country. According to OMC's Director, Merrill Hammond, this nervous agency scrutinizes every Interarmco deal with a microscope. "We contact our embassies and other people abroad, try to ascertain the true purpose of a shipment and what its consequences are likely to be. We also consult every branch of the government which might be able to help. Sometimes it takes as long as six months to complete an investigation." During the Cuban fighting before Castro.took over, Hammond flew to Florida per- sonally to check rumors that Cummings was sneaking arms into an already explosive situation. Shrewd, scholarly Dr. Robert Margrave, OMC's Deputy Di- rector, points out that every weapons shipment in or out of the- U.S. must be 'specifically licensed by his agency. "The big outfits like Interarmco cooperate closely with us," he says. "They know what would happen if they got on our blacklist." Loss of U.S. license would hurt Cummings badly, at least until he got reorganized. He could still buy and sell in the rest of the world. The State Department can exert a partial and indirect control over some of his overseas activities by putting pressure on other governments, but it can't control him completely. "So far as I personally know," says a former intelligence officer who probed Cummings' activities, "there's no record of his being involved in anything subversive or illegal. But when a guy's got that many guns and his kind of contacts, you've got to keep after him all the time." Cummings, of course, doesn't particularly enjoy living in the, Sanitized - Approved For Releagah Ol 540$49R0002000i6OOO4 3 AUG 1964 . CPYRGHT A in the S.,m went home to America with ,is anything to do with: (trunks, crooks and George Wasnmgton u 1 i'et cy ..---- "".------, -- -- ? ,... ...Lvl in study -lnnm i to found an arms business, so What breed of man is this? Passing hum, nistory luu,le.n ., ----- - - - b him on the street, you'd take him for like great music heard oil a tinny Phono to college on the remainder of his GI to is- c l ts lr ~ i b s former college football star comfortably graph. He wanted to get f, w weeks work ing to go around, cventtfally he er e~l hint that he worries about anything On a gentle spring evening slut 1-v, .,, , ..., v?? more pressing than his golf score. His afterward, young Sams Ctnmm ntnsf Nrain- or-! lwasn't~,asuperiors o videfor y Ctile per i0d ummings Such a mail doesn't scare easily. tile maudy. Alone rii we b.????~?..h 1 entire weight of the U.S. government," heard all around him what he had come government seems to have been honor- says a rival munitions merchant, "won't to hear: the great, sad echoes of history. able, but not amicable. Cummings has r..,,.. hwfnre Adolf never since been foul of intelligence competitors worry him-and Were are army still mightier. VYILi111. y..... the .01, the track of many who are well worth worrying the epic battle fought het e,r p N-I t munitions t adingsoudream. A tft, Western tArms, about. The international arms trauc is , army ann inc , 11ui. amurky and nightmarish maze of in- As the streaky evening sky turned' commissioned him as overseas buyer. it _-.,,:.- t ,,,,,1 was exactly the kind of job he needed. triguc. Fanatic political groups-notaosy Wood-red auovc 1111u, -,,r.......b., --?-- ird-d the Communists, who run guns in a himself closer to history than even he, As he bogged weapons across u 1048 rope Africa and Asia, he became aware steady stream to such hot spots as Viet- perhaps, had wanted. The yea was l 1'f 1l had not as never before of the huge profits that c s nam-pay scant attention to the fair- and many of these Batt c ie ,_.__~., 1,r?,v 1,.,,l he?en are possible in the death business. hired assassins lurk in the world's alley-forgotten in tie oewuuculiR ..,.~,. hire 111 eveits and world fears since percent or 10 percent returns oil invested ud . --b. ------ runners to whom violence is a way of the W,n s c life. A Swiss gun merchant, Dr. Paul i found himself in history's very sanctum. percent is expected and nOrmal. Bill ?.v,.lr.,r,- Inv in the defensive I Edwards. the ccnial Chicagoan who knew killed on a busy street in isonn, in oroau ~?~~ ttered t ? shreds of the uniform at i4t~;He remembers buying 1Niiscl,ester daylight, wore tattered that had terrorized Europe. They rifles at `51.24, selling them at $26, and But Sam seems unconcerned. It these characters give me trouble," says he, . guarded acres of forsaken weapons, Ger- later seeing them advertised at still m1 All;-1 There were beached ves- rrreater markups. like empty bravado: But when. cum- 11 I-11-A, ... .. - ----- ------ .-, - - n;t,nn livfl grenades and rockets. from one man to another in desire for but seriously. 1_1,,,.1 TTn .unnrlered about this melan-. same weauoti, may turn bug-eyed with obscure area of the world and say: "'Looks ...,,, y lion may pay several times that price as if there's going to be a little war over 1 In ^1sunttw egeatvbattlefields lion Eu- For the sae cauipment and deem it But you reflect that if there were no On the cruniblin.- runways of a the right seller and buyer in the right the notorious weapons tycoon whose in- V 1 rockets exactly asp the Germans had' recalls. "I lived off my expense account trigues early this century are said to have left them. He discovered a huge supply i11id banked all my commissions." In T ,____ a?or nnn .-r- . ---- -'1- 01 1.,. ? The one thing you can say for sure roadsides and in fields he saw great piles Here, ;it last, was his starting capital- about Sam Cummings is that he knows d they war e ui nment left the seed which, if tended well, could r to rust and molder. grow into tile' arms business Sam en- guns. He was almost wearied i on them. i ! in thesweather trains, lie was learning to take Ills gull :.here' were rebellious rows in South. cucmics now refer to as it "typkcai t:um art and reassemble it. By the time he' 1 1 l th mar. min s coup." He got South American e g tl ' America. Deaths was in c emanc r. As he was 12 Ile was ail avid collecto ifles .,.1 ;nrn hie teens he bean to earn get was waiting. to welcome anybody who j orders for r he didn't own, flew to 11 .. , -11 T.,.-,..-.,, T,--- hrinuht the rifles partly on credit, AUG lggn aBTf Continued CPYRGHT several ished paying fe a i iZadn- tt provedoPO#oftt@(a et-i- Fif ' 7 jalf i#+Ydi~3~ Lcwblk~CCAC~Qi ttalle tomers handed him the cash. One merchant to particu ar sum R11 r on a new an entire ware- equipment which he'd stored at Alex- "Sam has always clone things that way," gold-mine: andria. Bono dispatched an inspector says Bill Edwards. (Edwards is no longer house full of confiscated guns. There arrived i n Alexandria wearing, as on friendly terms with Cummings. The were about 100,000 of them-odd bits of who Cummings recall ea black leather coat two have had a falling-out over some everything imaginable, from 15th cell- and a r look." Cummie s showed incident or transaction which neither fury weapons to the most modern light faraway gmmed will discuss.) "He's big, but he has the machine guns. Pop-eyed -with delight, him through ca warehouse cra42 machine knack of making his customers think he's the merchant bought everything but the t guns, oiled and ready. With a nostalgic even bigger. His advertising gives the building for a reputed $100,000. s impression that all the weapons offered "When the Dutch saw the prices being sigh he1eAGzmdria ordered Which a had are sitting in his warehouses. Actually,' charged in the U.S. for all these weap- . 1 many aren't. What Sam really means is ons, recalls Bill Edwards gloomily, begun when Cummings bought an aban- that he knows where to get these weap- i "they nearly had it hemorrhage." They dolled tavern stilted out over the I'oto- recognized that they'd been taken to the mac River, by now was developing into ons for you, if you hand him an order.' the major. industrial setup p it is today: With this impression of size piled oil cleaners on it heroic scale; they'd sold of actual size, which was already con- i valuable property at scrap-metal prices. great warehouse own clock and rail facilities. ities. served top siderable, Cummings in the mid-1950's It's also suspected that the Dutch, only by ,was able to catch the car, of big finance it little later, discovered that some of it grew, Alexandria's citizens began to in Europe. Continental; bankers loaned these same guns were drifting into the get the shakes. Into their peaceful midst him big sums for big new coups. With hands of troublesome elements in their had been dumped all kinds of lethal their money he began emptying entire own colonies. At any rate, Holland from weapons and live ammunition. A press then on wasn't it good place for weapons dispatch saying that several thousand ,_Enfields, ildausers warehouses of Garands and other fine weapons, some in their prospecting. The Netherlands govern- hand grenades were on the way finally original factory crates. "I made some meat today prefers to burn surplus : arms touched off a full-fledged citizens' up- real buys," he says, happily. "Govern rather than sell to private traders. rising. There were loud demands that meets were eager to clear warehouse When Bill Edwards called on the, Cummings ' and his. arsenal get out of space of old war material they thought Dutch arms office three years ago he town. they didn't need." found one of the top officers, himself a j Cummings assured everybody that Some governments later regretted their gun fancier, almost weeping at his desk. these weren't live grenades, and he in- eagerness-the Dutch, for example. Sam "We just clumped gasoline over 2,000 vited it committee of townsmen to visit was prospecting through a Dutch gov fine little Browning pistols," the officer the depot and see for themselves. The ernrnent depot one day in the early said, hoarsely. "Almost new, they were."' townsmen watched while eight Inter- 1950's, looking mainly for some surplus Some 40,000 Enfield rifles had been armco employees, nattily (tressed in ammunition that he'd heard might be destroyed, and 40,000 more were ticketed Afrika Korps uniforms, marched forth for the re later. carrying grenades. not par were - pyre first demonstrator pulled the pin the cordilyingalabtoout. Thdeathe Dmercutchh at , but time ants, but helpful. Confusion still lingered Most of Cummings' transactions have from his grenade and held it up before from the war and the years of rapid post- ended more amicably. He boasts that his audience with a reassuring grin. But war readjustment. Nobody in the gov-, he's still welcome in almost all the, the grin withered from his face. Smoke ernment's offices really knew what sur- countries where he has clone business, was coming from the fuse. With a quaver- plus munitions might be stored where.; buying or selling. Ile carefully maintains' ing cry he flung the grenade away and Traders had to hunt through the storage an air of being an ordinary businessman, (lived' for the ground amid his seven depots themselves. a clean-cut, honest-to-the-last-clime young colleagues. A fearful explosion rattled As a colonel led Cummings through fellow who might be selling vacuum the surrounding windows. The commit- the depot, Sam suddenly fouud'liimsclf, cleaners, but just happens to be selling tee of townsmen vanished up the street in a treasure trove. He was walking: death, He studiously shies away from' like .a herd of startled antelopes. through rooms stacked high with rifles- the Basil Zaharoff image. "I know a lot It was simply a case of bad luck. The of people think I'm a merchant of death- grenade happened to be one of a few and not just any rifles. These were it special series of Johnson semi-automatics, who quails ancient Chinese potions and in the shipment equipped with a loud built in the U.S. for the Netherlands keeps a couple of mustachioed insur ? noise-making charge for use in train- Indies forces in 1939. Cummings recog- rectionists around as bodyguards," lie ing troops. The joke was on Cummings, nized them instantly; they were famous, sadly told a reporter. "They're wrong,, but this doesn't seem to have made Alex- known throughout the gull world for though. I'm just it country boy trying :uidria any happier. Last year the citi- their craftsmanship and shooting quali-' to get along." zees, led by the mayor, once again tried ties. Many traders since the war had But while the same reporter was sit- to have ltlterarmco drummed out of wondered where they'd disappeared to. tang in Cummings' office, the phone rang. town, Once again Cummings managed to Thousands were thought to exist, but Cummings' end of the conversation went talk them out of it, but restlessness nobody had been able to get any clues. like this: "Oh, making treacherous deals among the natives continues. Bill Edwards had asked about them at ? ? . Just creeping, creeping around Eu- The joke was on Cummings another the Dutch Embassy in Paris in 1948, rope . . . Well, you could buy up that time when an Ethiopian general, to but had been told: "There are none beautiful, horrible stuff which came out whom Sam had made it very low offer in existence." of Vietnam ... Sold out to those West for it warehouse full of gulls, chased - Coast criminals, trh? Wily don't you fly hirn out of the building with it spear. Cummings l i n k nd, s w a l l owe d (lown here, or do the Feds still let You steadied his ris nerves and asked casually: : And another time, when he had a big "Can these be bought?" fly? Still have that 400-pound deputy shipment of Swedish Mauser M94 car- The colonel looked mildly surprised. sheriff chained to your wrist? ... " One biases on the way to Alexandria and was "Oh," he said, "would you be interested , country boy to another. told by Treasury officials that the bar- in something like this?" - As Cummings hunted buys through, gels were too short. Under U.S. law a Interested was hardly the word. Sam out the world in the 1950's, he also weapon of that type must have a barrel quickly made it deal. The Johnson rifles hunted customers. He or his growing at feast 18 inches long: otherwise it's had cost the Dutch something like $200 number of agents were always to be subject to a whopping tax. The Swedish found in the world's nervous localities. carbines measured 175/ inches. Inter- each, and the word in the rade that He became, of necessity, a student of. Cummings got them for less than $15. Y' armco had to fit the carbines with spe- As they began appearing on the U.S. human and national nature, a kind of cial blued steel tips to make them long market, other alert traders knew in- seer who could predict who would want! enough, and then had to fire more than stantly that the lost gold mine had been what weapons when. As the West Ger'1 10,000 rounds through them to prove the discovered. itch officials were button mans began rearming, Cummings ~wpasl tips' strength. ,y y,~,p}} q, holed by ho fz$6~s~isi l llle ?i i" 6 16 lasGngdIALAgP/7'-D dVflVVV4thave fl r filer caches of Johnson rifles and other Contlni7 CPYRC C"111 ffl i =~l ppl QMi d FcOr Release : CIA-RDP75-00149ROO020p tives, mostly young men like himself, are paid more than the toll gdvernrnent of- ficials they have to deal with. As for Sam, his personal income is enormous. Young Sam Cummings wears expensive dark suits, tailored in London. His personal gun collection is possibly the biggest in the world owned by any single man. He maintains apartments, complete with One sniff of these thoughts would separate wardrobes, in Geneva, London, pickle any ordinary man. Massive as Salzburg and Copenhagen. His main his enterprise is, wealthy as he is, pow-'. home is an elegant apartment in Monaco, erful as lie is, Sam Cummings by no where lie and his spectacularly beautiful means feels he's at the pinnacle of pos- Swiss wife (his second) are esteemed sibility. He's barely a 10th of the way citizens. When Mrs. Cummings recently up. Ile walks about the world these clays gave birth to twins, Princess Grace had nursing a magnificent ambition: he a special medallion struck in honor of wants to control all the principal sources the infants, the first pair of twins born from which Western powers buy their. to Americans in Monaco. small arms, and maybe larger weapons, Apart from enjoying this blue-blooded too. He wants to control the whole weap- camaraderie, Sam likes Monaco's equally ons business. sociable tax laws, which mean a great Said lie to a gasping reporter: "We deal to a man in his' financial position. intend to make investments that will It is consistently rumored, though he lead either to ownership or control of just as steadfastly denies it, that he owns key factories in our field throughout the 80 percent of a bank. in Switzerland- world. We'll include related raw mate- which, if it is true, would give this much- rials industries, if necessary. We have scrutinized man a refuge in the pecul- the distribution system well advanced. iarly privacy-loving Swiss commercial Now we are looking ahead to developing system. t our production facilities in the fullest Cummings uses his great wealth with sense." He said it in a matter-of-fact remarkable modesty, perhaps to further way. He meant every word. "We want a profitable twist. Like the time Sam to own our weapons," lie explained, bought a shipment of arms that were "from the time they start in the mines, worth less than the boxes they came in. through the factories, through the 10th This was in 1962, when Cummings took generation of sportsmen who buy them an assortment of arms which the Sukarno after the armies are finished with them." government of Indonesia was desirous of "There's no doubt about it," says in- unloading. The weapons turned out to terarmco vice-president Richard Winter, be obsolete and not very valuable, but awestruck. "Sam is going to be the Krupp the boxes they were delivered in were of his field." The Krupps would be flat- another story. Made of teak and ma- tered to hear their relatively modest op- hogany, in which the forosts of Indonesia eration compared to this soaring abound, they were magnificently carpen- ambition. tered, real collector's items. Sam is sell-' Will Sam Cummings actually achieve ing them one at a time, at collector's it? If past performance is an indication, prices. yes. Never in his life has he been known But Sam Cummings isn't the kind of to abandon a major purpose. When he man who leis jokes determine his for- wants something, lie gets it. tunes. He plans for success-and gets it.i Back in his early prospecting days, Today his Interarmco is a multi million whenever he was in London, lie used to dollar business. While Sam and his' stop and look longingly into the win- minions are tight-lipped about actual dow of Churchill's, Ltd., an august gun figures, they'll allow that 1963 was the firm whose history antedates the Declar- best year in Interarmco's history. Sur- ation of Independence. Displayed in prisingly, much of the year's income that window were two guns that any : came not from foreign governments but collector would have mortgaged his soul from domestic sales to chain stores and to own: the last remaining pair of Per- small-weapons stores serving hunters guson breech-loading flintlock pistols and sportsmen. made during the American Revolution. the impression that he is not trying to One clay young Sam went in and asked be an international warlord. He doesn't what price Churchill's put on these act like a man of power-not in public. jewels of weaponry. Churchill's coughed Except in apartments and clothes, he.. politely, barely managing to hide the lives simply. He takes his high-placed amused smile that curled its lip, and told clients to expensive restaurants, but his : him the guns had no price. own tastes run to hamburgers. He's sel In succeeding years, as fortune began dom to be found at a late-night party, to smile on him, Cummings returned to Churchill's whenever lie was in Lon- preferring to go to bed early for the don. Each time lie raised his offer. Each nine hours' sleep he considers neces- time lie was coolly rebuffed. sary. He neither smokes nor drinks. Two years ago he decided he'd fooled "Sam doesn't need a cocktail," says around long enough. He bought Church- OMC's Dr. Margrave. "He's intoxicated ill's. -John Barron & Max Gunther enough by his own thoughts." 060004-3 CPYRGHT AUGSanitiied - Approved For Release : CIA-RDP75-00149ROO0200060004-3