Central America and the Caribbean Map
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?
Agency Knowledge and Handling of Allegations of Southern Front Involvement in Drug Trafficking
[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:
No mention was made of Pastora in this report, except to identify him as the head of the ARDE.
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].
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.
. . . 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.
. . . .
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.
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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
. . . .
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]
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. . . .
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.
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. . . [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.
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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."
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-3the civilian designation for a C-47to deliver supplies to FRS/ARDE forces in southern Nicaragua on March 29, 1985.
[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 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."
[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.
. . . 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.
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)
[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.
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.
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.
[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.
. . . 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.
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.
[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.
. . . 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. . . ."
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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.
Allegations 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 hebelieves 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].
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.)
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.
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.
Jose Orlando Bolanos
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.