Welcome to the third installment of my examination of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL), a mysterious international organization that seems to have operated somewhat as the conspiratorial right has alleged that the Trilateral Commission or the Round Table groups function. But while those groups primarily concerned themselves with forging a consensus amongst elites, dissimulating propaganda and a bit of intelligence gathering the WACL was far more extreme.
It actively sought to bring together far right groups the world over for a unified front against communism. But this front was not simply talk – the WACL was fully committed to helping its members combating communism with intelligence, military, and financial assistance. I've chiefly focused upon the source of this financial assistance – namely, drug money –over the course of the first two installments of this series (which can be found here and here). In this installment I shall wrap up with the drug angle of the WACL by focusing in on what was possibly one of the group's greatest, if least acknowledged, triumphs: a cocaine coup that toppled the legendary Medellin cartel and replaced it with drug traffickers more in line with the WACL's agenda.
To consider this possibility a few points must be made about the development of the illicit cocaine trade. Jon Roberts, a former soldier for the Gambino crime family and later one of the top U.S. smugglers for the Medellin cartel, broke it down as thus:
"... Don Ochoa was not a ridiculous figure. He was a fine breeder of racehorses, but his greatest accomplishment was building the Medellin Cartel. The Colombians made more money in a few years the Mafia did in a hundred years.
"To understand what the Ochoas did, I need to break down a few things for you. Drug smuggling in Florida was invented by the Cubans. Many of the Cubans that the Mafia brought to Miami when Castro came in got recruited by the government to fight in the Bay of Pigs. When the invasion didn't work out, they went back to working for the nightclubs on 79th Street. When American kids started smoking weed in the 1960s, the Cubans, trained by the CIA in how to use boats and planes for the Bay of Pigs invasion, decided to put their skills to use by smuggling weed. That's how the smuggling business started. They'd go down to wherever the pot grew in Jamaica, Columbia, or Mexico and pick it up and take it to Miami."
(American Desperado, Jon Roberts & Evan Wright, pgs. 296-297)
"The 'Cuban Mafia' that federal narcs say is the rotten core of the big Miami narcotics apple – marijuana and high-grade cocaine smuggled by plane and boat from Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru – utilizes the routes' contacts and techniques for transporting Caribbean contraband that were developed by the CIA during the Secret War. In many cases the CIA and the Mafia share the same bad apples...
"The Operation 40 drug smuggling appears to have been part of a much larger network stemming from the CIA-Mafia alliance to assassinate Castro. A joint federal-state task force reported that in 1974 four Cubans from Miami met secretly in Las Vegas with Anthony 'The Ant' Spilotro, a big man in the Chicago Mafia family whom the feds claim overseas the mob's Vegas operations from a jewelry store and is known to jangle loose diamonds in his pocket the way lesser hoods jangle keys. Three of the Cubans were former associates of Dr. Fernando Penabaz, a prominent Havana lawyer who fled the island, took part in the Bay of Pigs, and wrote a bitterly anti-Castro book with the purple title Red Is the Island. Dr. Penabaz was caught up in the 1970 Miami drug sweep and is serving a twenty-year sentence in the Atlanta penitentiary for smuggling nine and a half pounds of cocaine. The fourth Cuban was said to be a partner of the late Juan Restoy.
"The task force report said the four Cubans were part of the smuggling network of Santos Trafficante, Jr., the Florida Mafia boss who had collaborated with the CIA on the Castro assassination plots. Spilotro reportedly gave the Cuban quartet $500,000 to 'seed' a Vegas cocaine ring to peddle nose powder to the 'high rollers.' All four were Bay of Pigs veterans and subsequence Secret War noncoms whose CIA training and experience left them well qualified to handle the smuggling end of the operation. 'The CIA not only taught these individuals how to use weapons,' the task force report asserted, 'but made them experts in smuggling men and material from place to place under Castro's nose. This training seems to of been applied here.' One of the disgruntled investigator said the CIA had given the Cubans vital Latin American contacts and familiarized them with 'every port and inlet into this country.'"
(Deadly Secrets, Warren Hinckle & William Turner, pgs. 373-374)
|Santos Trafficante, Jr.|
"... This community is also represented in the World Anti-Communist League. Andres Nazario Sargen, the president of Alpha 66, a Cuban émigré group accused of bombings and assassinations throughout the United States, is a long-standing member of the League."
(Inside the League, Scott & John Lee Anderson, pg. 248)
|Andres Nazario Sargen|
"I was to obtain additional funding, I'll say this and no more, from the [crime] Syndicate out of New Orleans, for Alpha 66. At that point in time, Rolando Masferrer was the key bagman, for lack of a better term, for Alpha 66. Primarily the funding came through the Syndicate, because of Masferrer's connections with those people back in Cuba. He had ties with Santos Trafficante, Jr., and other criminal elements. Organized crime, pure and simple. He also had different ties with Jimmy Hoffa [the Mob– affiliated Teamster union leader]..."
(The Man Who Knew To Much, Dick Russell, pg. 333)
But I digress. The Cubans would firmly dominate the cocaine trade until the mid-1970s when they began to face some stiff competition. Gangster Jon Roberts noted:
"With pot, the easy part was growing it, the hard part was smuggling it. Cocaine was different. Coca leaves only grow in certain parts of Columbia and Bolivia, and you can't just pick the leaf and snort it up your nose. Making cocaine is a process. It takes chemicals. It takes workers. It takes time. You need a factory to make it in.
"At the end of the process, you get a product that in the 1970s was worth ten times its weight in gold. Many Colombians rose to the challenge of making cocaine. The smarter ones didn't just want to throw a $50,000 kilo onto a boat driven by a Cuban and wave good-bye. They wanted to control the whole process."
(American Desperado, Jon Roberts & Evan Wright, pg. 298)The Columbians Roberts is talking about are of course the Medellin cartel and they would firmly establish their own distribution network in the United States by the 1970s outside of Cuban control. The popular perception is that this was the outcome of the so-called "Cocaine Wars," a contest which resulted in the Colombians driving the Cubans from the field. The reality is quite different.
The Medellin cartel would certainly use more than its fair share of violence during its rise to power, but it's preferred method of taking out the competition was by underselling it. The Medellin cartel effectively became the Walmart of cocaine and in order to ensure that the profits continued to flow under this business model the Colombians frequently collaborated with anti-Castro Cuban distributors such as Alberto San Pedro and money-launders like Ramon Milan Rodriguez to keep the sales ever growing. Collaboration between the Medellin cartel and the anti-Castro Cubans was generally the norm despite the media hype.
"People in Miami got very uptight about all the bodies piling up. The Colombians got a reputation for being crazy. At the street level Colombians fought amongst themselves... Despite their balls, the Colombians could not dominate the streets in Miami. They were outnumbered by the Cubans twenty to one. In the long run the Cubans would always kick their asses.
"From the start, smart Colombians like the Ochoas understood they could not work alone. They were happy to sell to Cubans, Italians – anybody with money. They weren't completely irrational people."
(ibid, pg. 392)Thus, much of Miami's famed Cocaine Wars was played out amongst lower levels Columbians and post-Mariel Cubans (who found themselves at odds with the anti-Castro Cubans frequently) fighting amongst themselves and each other, but not the upper level Medellin people or the anti-Castro Cubans. Still, this violence would play a role in the Medellin cartel's downfall, as shall be discussed in greater depth in a moment.
I've found nothing to directly link the Medellin cartel to the League but the Medellin folks were hardly the budding Marxist revolutionaries the Reagan administration attempted to depict them as. In point of fact, the Ochoas (the ruling family behind the Medellin cartel) would help found death squads in Columbia to combat left-wing revolutionary groups (as did various drug lords associated with WACL backed "freedom fighters," as noted in part two of this series) in Columbia.
"This was certainly true in late 1981, when the Medellin cartel had openly created the organization called Muerte a Secuestrador (MAS), 'Death to Kidnappers.' The vigilante group's original mission was to find Marta Ochoa, the daughter of Medellin cartel leader Fabio Ochoa, who had been kidnapped by the leftist terrorist group M-19. Numbering between a thousand and fifteen hundred people, the M-19 gained international recognition in 1980, when he captured the Dominican embassy and held U.S. Ambassador Diego Asencio and eighteen other diplomats hostage for two months. The siege ended peacefully when the Colombian government agreed to allow the guerrillas to fly to Havana. In 1981, presented with evidence that the Castro government have been training M-19 guerrillas and infiltrating them back in the Columbia, President Turbay suspended relations with Cuba...
"After Marta Ochoa's rescue, assassination squads using the MAS name were implicated in the deaths of dozens of journalists, labor leaders, human rights activists, lawyers, professors, and other citizens with real or purported connections to the left. Human rights activists charged that the death squads were driven by radical rightist elements within the Colombian military who wanted to undermine Betancur's cease-fire so that they would be free to wage war on the guerrillas... Betancur as the Attorney General, Carlos Jimenez Gomez, to look into the operations of the MAS squads. In early 1983, Jimenez Gomez reported that he had identified fifty-nine active-duty military personnel on MAS squads. Military leaders responded that the charges were an insult to the Army's honor, refused to allow Army personnel to be tried in civilian courts, and promised that every soldier would contribute a day's pay to defend the colleagues accused of death squad activity.
"Jimenez Gomez could not prove that the Medellin traffickers continued to back MAS death squads. He concluded that MAS was not a single entity, but 'a state of mind,' a nom de guerre use by a number of cliques and gangs. Lara Bonilla charged that the traffickers were still supporting the death squads, but he did not offer incontrovertible proof. Certainly there was circumstantial evidence that the right and the traffickers were sometimes allied – notably Carlos Lehder's sponsorship of 'patriotic Saturdays,' at which he gave fanatical speeches praising Adolf Hitler, and the allegations that he offered paramilitary training for young men who joined the National Latin Movement. Another interesting, though inconclusive, scrap of evidence was the organizational chart DEA agents found on a lower-level member of the Medellin cartel. Disclosed in November 1984 at hearings of President Reagan's Commission on Organized Crime, the chart listed 'Muerte a Secuestradores' along with 'police and military' among the functions of the enforcement arm of the Ochoa family. The commission's final report did not explore the Medellin-MAS connection further, but DEA officials who helped the commission prepare the report said they believed that the traffickers were involved in some death squad activity after 1981."
(Desperados, Elaine Shannon, pgs. 158-159)
What's more, the Medellin cartel was almost certainly involved in funding the Contras with cocaine money.
"... a Costa Rican shrimp company called Frigorificos de Puntarenas, S.A. This consisted of a small fleet of fishing boats based in the humid Pacific Coast village of Puntarenas, and an import company in Miami called Ocean Hunter, which brought Frigorifico's catch into the United States. In reality, however, it was 'a firm owned and operated by Cuban-American drug traffickers,' according to a 1988 Senate subcommittee report.
"That conclusion was based partly on the Congressional testimony of former Medellin cartel account Ramon Milan Rodriguez, a suave Cuban-American who was the cartel's money-laundering wizard until his arrest in Miami in 1983, when he and $5 million in cash were taken off a Lear Jet bound for Panama. Frigorificos, he testified, was one of an interlocking chain of companies he created to launder the torrents of cash that were pouring into the cartel's coffers from its worldwide cocaine sells. Drug money would go into one company and come out of another through a series of intercompany transactions, clean and ready to be banked or invested. In 1982, Frigorificos was taken over by a group of major Miami-based drug traffickers, who beg-based drug traffickers, who began using it.
"Milian, a graduate of Santa Clara University in Silicon Valley, told Kerry's committee that he used the firm to launder a $10 million donation from the Medellin cartel to the Contras, a detonation he said was arranged by and paid to a former CIA agent, Cuban Felix Rodriguez. Kerry's committee didn't believe that tell, especially after Milian flunked a lie detector test on the question.
"But during the drug trafficking trial of Manuel Noriega several years later, one of the government star witnesses, former Medellin cartel transportation boss Carlos Lehder, confirmed under oath that the cartel had given the Contras $10 million, just as Milian had testified. Lehder said he arranged for the detonation himself."
(Dark Alliance, Gary Webb, pgs. 238-239)
Carlos Lehder is an especially interesting figure. He was one of the first Columbians to open up Miami from the Cubans for the Medellin cartel. Eventually he would set up of his own fiefdom on a tiny island belonging to the Bahamas known as Norman's Cay. "Coincidentally," Norman's Cay had been used by mercenary and Watergate "plumber" Frank Sturgis in the 1960s as a staging ground for attacks on Cuba.
"Sturgis also flew 'green light' missions (approved by the CIA) parachuting agents into Cuba, and 'over the beach' boat sorties infiltrating agents and dropping supplies. He 'borrowed' tiny Norman's Cay in the Bahamas from its Canadian industrialist owner as an advance base for fuel and provisions caches and a radio shack to communicate with guerrillas inside Cuba..."
(Deadly Secrets, William Hinckle & William Turner, pg. 54)
"Another frequent guest, according to DEA intelligence reports, was Robert Vesco, the fugitive con man, who was hiding out in the Bahamas. The tycoons, so the story went, whiled away the hours firing machine guns at lizards and coconuts."
(Desperados, Elaine Shannon, pg. 114)
"Moreover, one cannot overlook Nixon's particular connection to IOS-multimillionaire Vesco, who until recently was in exiling Costa Rica, where he allegedly financed the smuggling of narcotics. Vesco provided covert financial aid to Nixon's reelection campaign, and was closely associated with Nixon's brother Edward and nephew Donald, Jr. Richard Nixon himself is alleged to have met secretly with Vesco in Salzburg, Austria. The White House, finally, came to Vesco's aid in a case brought against him by the Securities and Exchange Commission, just as an investigation of his narcotic activities was similarly choked off."
(The Great Heroin Coup, Henrik Kruger, pg. 156)During his time in Costa Rica Vesco approached the legendary mercenary and arms dealer Mitch WerBell III (who also happened to have been a part of the old OSS "China cowboys" clique) with a modest proposal.
"In 1973 WerBell was busy with other projects as well. Early that year he was approached by Marti Figueres, the son of outgoing Costa Rican president Pepe Figueres, who wanted to buy WerBell's entire stock of 2,000 silenced Ingrams. Figueres was acting on behalf of Robert Vesco, the freebooting fugitive American financier who had sacked Bernie Cornfield's financial empire. The feds were after Vesco for seeking to influence an SEC investigation of an illegal $200,000 cash contribution he made to the infamous 1972 Nixon campaign. He fled to Costa Rica, where he surrounded himself with right-wing Cuban bodyguards. Vesco was welcome with open arms by Pepe Figueres, who displayed an unabiding affection for fugitive rich men. But the incoming president, Daniel Oduber, had made it perfectly clear that Vesco would not find the climate equally salubrious during his administration. Vesco watchers speculated that Vesco wanted the large supply of Ingrams to seize Costa Rica from Oduber.
"The deal offered fringe benefits to WerBell. He could manufacture his Ingrams in Costa Rica, free from nettlesome U.S. export license restrictions. There was fringe benefits to Vesco too – an-armed-to-the-teeth home base from which to indulge his most megalomaniac plans, which included some sort of supercapitalistic nation-state tax haven, not a little dabbling in the lucrative international drug market, a private army, and a gambling empire all his own..."
(Deadly Secrets, William Hinckle & William Turner, pgs. 397-398)
|Mitch WerBell III|
Years earlier WerBell had been involved in the founding of the earliest Latin America chapter of what would become the World Anti-Communist League. It tied into the CIA's overthrow of Guatemala in 1954.
"In 1953-54 the CIA drew on old China hands with exposure to KMT traffic (Chennault, Willauer, William Pawley, Howard Hunt) to set up the overthrow of the Arbenz government in Guatemala, an operation which at least contemplated the use of 'Puerto Rican and Cuban gangsters.' As part of this operation, we see CIA officer Howard Hunt, a veteran with his friend Lucien Conein and Conein's friend WerBell of OSS operations in China under Helliwell, helping in 1954 to set up would eventually become the Latin American branch of the KMT-backed World Anti-Communist League. (Four years later, the chairman of this group was the Guatemalan attorney of New Orleans Mafia leader Carlos Marcello...)"
(The Great Heroin Coup, "Foreword," Peter Dale Scott, pg. 16)As recently as 1978 WerBell was engaged in political activism with General John Singlaub, the eventual chairman of the WACL.
"... in 1978 he was involved in far Right politics with the likes of Major General John K. Singlaub (who had been relieved of his command in Korea after outspoken criticism of President Carter), a members of the American Security Council – the key U.S. link to the far Right's international umbrella organization, the World Anti-Communist League (WACL)..."
(The Great Heroin Coup, Henrik Kruger, pg. 182)
|General John Singlaub|
"Carlos Lehder hero-worshiped Hitler. He talked about this openly. I don't care who you are, if you talk about how you want to make a Nazi state in South American and become the new Hitler, people will lose confidence in you."
(American Desperado, Jon Roberts & Evan Wright, pg. 318)Co-author Wright added:
"Lehder was a Colombian of German extract. Originally a car thief in Medellin, he pioneered use of the Bahamas as a transportation hub for moving the Ochoas' cocaine into Miami. He was among the first Colombians to push aside Cuban smugglers. By the late 1970s, he fell out of favor with the Ochoas because of his megalomania – insisting he sit on an enormous gilded throne during business meetings – and because of his adoration of Adolf Hitler, which he expressed by wearing swastikas and greeting associates with Nazi salutes. In 1987 he was extradited to the United States, where he is serving a long prison sentence despite his request to be transferred to prison in the 'Fatherland' – Germany – where he believes he would be more comfortable."
(ibid, pg. 299n)
"In January 1985, a few days after the Colombian National Police had pounded through the Colombian-Brazilian frontier in yet another futile search for him, Carlos Lehder coolly summoned a Spanish television crew to his jungle sanctuary... In the television footage, he looked none the worse for wear of life on the run. Surrounded by guards with automatic weapons, gold chains cascading down his chest, Lehder bared his glittering white teeth and declared that he was devoting his millions to the destabilization of the Colombian government.
"'I'm here to dialogue with... M-19,' he announced. 'Ours is a revolutionary fight against the United States and the oligarchic monarchy. The bonanza is a revolutionary means to fight against the oligarchy and imperialist – and to stop extradition...'
"It was a wild and confused jumble of leftist and rightist rhetoric. One minute, Lehder boasted that he intended to arm the urban guerrillas, the next minute he was singing the praises of Adolf Hitler. 'Cocaine is the Latin American atomic bomb,' he sneered. 'The stimulant that [North Americans] need is fueling the Latin American revolution. They need it to function and their dollars give sustenance to the Latin revolution. We will fight against the imperialist who try to corrupt us. We will fight to get the dollars to liberate ourselves.'
"At DEA headquarters, Bud Mullen and Jack Lawn watched the tape intently. Were these the ravings of a coked-up egomaniac? Or was Lehder really planning to bless the terrorists with billions?
"Ever skeptical of the narcoterrorism theory, Lawn looked into Lehder's claim that he was joining forces with M-19. Lawn could find no evidence that Lehder really did so, and Colombian military officials told him that they believed that Lehder was stoned on cocaine and rambling. They did not think the luxury-loving Carlos was meant for the aesthetic life of a revolutionary...
"The pragmatic assessment of the DEA officials was not acceptable to Reagan's more ideological advisors. Reagan's men were absolutely convinced that M-19, the drug cartel, the Cubans, and the Sandinistas were all in bed together, and they did not let facts, or the absence of them, stand in their way..."
(Desperados, Elaine Shannon, pgs. 194-195)
In reality, the Medellin cartel was selling cocaine to both the Sandinistas and the Contras, and likely Cuba and the anti-Castro Cubans as well. This was done out of a purely capitalistic principal – namely, that they would sell to anyone with money. This went for distributors in the United States as well, with the Medellin cartel selling to other Colombians as well as their rivals and frequently spurring violence in the inner cities as a result.
Elements within the United States intelligence community were fine with the Medellin cartel flooding the nation with cocaine, so long as they sold the coke only to "freedom fighters" and such like. Their decision to do business with the revolutionaries as well the spiraling violence in American cities (which was becoming a major political liability for the Reagan administration by the mid-1980s) was exactly the kind of instability elements within the OSS, and later CIA, were hoping to avoid when they began collaborating with organized crime in the 1940s. Thus, the Medellin cartel had become a liability and it needed to be replaced.
With the assistance of Lehder and Barry Seal (an alleged Bay of Pigs veteran, though I have not been able to confirm this) the Reagan administration had firm "evidence" linking the Medellin cartel to the Sandinistas. This gave the United States justification to militarily intervene in Columbia to crush the Medellin cartel.
"The enlarged U.S. presence in Columbia... produced not order but a major escalation of Medellin cartel violence. This reached a peak in 1989, when a Colombian commercial airliner was blown up, killing all 110 passengers.... In September, the new Bush administration, treating such violence as a national security matter, launched the Andean initiative with a new NSDD, authorizing an expanded role for the U.S. military in the Latin American drug war. At the same time, the CIA station in Bogota grew to the size of nearly one hundred, making it the largest CIA station in the world.
"Although the new U.S. interagency presence brought the latest technology to the pursuit of targeted drug traffickers, a key role continued to be played by alliances with other traffickers, notably the Cali cartel...
"Escobar's ability to run his drug operations while nominally in prison ended only with his death. It seemed for a while that the traffic would be dominated by the more accommodating Cali cartel, who style was to work through government rather than against them. But events changed in June 1994, with the release of tapes of an intercepted phone call, suggesting strongly that the Cali cartel had put $3.5 million into the electoral campaign of the eventual winner, Ernesto Samper. The revelations allowed the U.S. government to take stern measures with the weakened Samper government, and by August 1995 the three major leaders of the Cali cartel have been arrested...
"According to the DEA, the drug trade in Colombia has become more decentralized with the breakup of the Cali cartel. A Colombian expert has a different perspective: he estimates (and the DEA appears to agree) that with the effective dismantling of the two big cartels an increasing share of Colombian drug exports is now controlled by cartels in Mexico..."
(Drugs, Oil, and War, Peter Dale Scott, pgs. 88-89)
The transition from the Medellin cartel to the Cali cartel and finally the Mexicans ones as the dominate force in cocaine trade played out under the auspices of the Guadalajara cartel. Its leader, Miguel Angel "El Padrino" Felix Gallardo, has become something of a legendary figure and for good reason: the operations of the Guadalajara cartel were so vast that the modern day Tijuana, Juarez, Sonora and Sinaloa cartels were spawned from it. Felix Gallardo's cartel was one of the largest cocaine trafficking networks ever assembled.
"Felix Gallardo was specializing in moving cocaine on a scale that had been accomplished only by Columbia's Medellin cartel. It appeared, in fact, that he had the potential to restructure the entire Mexican drug-trafficking industry so that it became a pipeline for South American cocaine...
"The DEA agents knew very little about Felix Gallardo's current operations, although the agency had been aware of him since 1975, when DEA agents found out he had formed a partnership with Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros, the cocaine chemist who had been the South American connection for Alberto Sicilia Falcon..."
(Desperados, Elaine Shannon, pgs. 128-129)
|Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo|
"Somehow Sicilia, a twenty-nine-year-old Cuban exile from Miami, was able to emerge as the ringleader of the so-called 'Mexican connection,' which promptly filled the vacuum created by the destruction of the Ricord network in 1972... The new Sicilia network... was operating by May 1972, and had 'revenues reliably established in the hundreds of millions of dollars' by the time of Sicilia's arrest in July 1975.
"... one learns that Sicilia told the Mexican authorities who had arrested him that he was a CIA agent, and had been trained at Fort Jackson (as had at least one of Nixon's Watergate Cubans) for possible guerilla activity against Cuba. Allegedly he had also worked in Chile against the socialist government of Salvador Allende until he returned to the U.S. in early 1973. He also, according to Mexican police, spoke of a special deal with the CIA; the U.S. government had turned a blind eye to his heroin shipments, while his organization supplied CIA weapons to terrorist groups in Central America, thereby forcing the host governments to accept you U.S. conditions for security assistance.
"... Sicilia was a Cuban exile who had come to Mexico from Miami, where he had links to the Cuban exile community, and had personally negotiated for manufacturing rights to the celebrated 9mm Parabellum machine pistol, better known as the Ingram M-10.
"Parabellum was a Miami-based arms sales firm set up a soldier-of-fortune, Gerry Patrick Hemming, and headed by Cuban exile Anselmo Alliergo IV, whose father had been close to Batista. Parabellum in turn was sales representative for Hemming's friend Mitch WerBell III, a mysterious White Russian, OSS-China veteran, small arms manufacturer, and occasional US intelligence operative, with unexplained relations to the CIA, DEA, and the major drugs-for-arms deal for which he was indicted but acquitted... . Another client interested in producing the Ingram M-10 machine pistol in Latin America, under license from WerBell, was the international fugitive and Nixon campaign contributor, Robert Vesco."
(The Great Heroin Coup, "Foreword," Peter Dale Scott, pgs. 7-8)
|Alberto Sicilia Falcon|
But back to the Guadalajara cartel. As noted in part two, Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros (who was the source of much of the cocaine in Mexico from the mid-1970s until the late 1980s, initially for Sicilia Falcon and later for Felix Gallardo) had been involved deeply in the Contra supply network. He had ties to the Medellin cartel but seemingly had even older ones to their Cali rival.
"It seems clear that the CIA had had an ongoing relationship to some paramilitary units, dating back at least to the creation of the Muerte a Sequestradores (MAS) in 1981. In the 1980s MAS functioned as a working collation between the army and the drug cartels against FARC... and there are signs that the CIA endorsed this alliance. One is Santiago Ocampo, then head of the Cali cartel (and president of MAS), was able to travel into and out of the United States without difficulty, to the frustration of DEA officers who had him targeted... And Ocampo's drug ally in Honduras, Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros, was untouchable until the U.S. Contra support effort was closed down in 1988."
(Drugs, Oil, and War, Peter Dale Scott, pgs. 85-86)
|Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros|
If so, then the chief benefactor of this coup would ultimately be the Guadalajara cartel and its predecessor cartels which still play a major role in the Latin American cocaine trade (along with other Mexican cartels). And "incidentally," the city of Guadalajara from which the cartel took its name just happened to be the base of operations for a bizarre secret society involved in founding one of the longest-standing Latin American branches of the WACL. Let us first consider the origins of this secret society, which is known as Los Tecos (also known as the Owls).
"In these early days, the Tecos were not strictly a fascist organization; they were basically devout Catholics and traditionalists who took up arms to defend the old, established order. That changed, however, after World War II. Through the efforts of two men, a Mexican Nazi who spent World War II in Germany and an Argentine Jesuit priest who admired Hitler, the Tecos became the spiritual mentors for many of the continent's neo-Nazi movements and, eventually, the coordinators of death squads throughout Central America.
"Carlos Cuesta Gallardo, the creator of the modern-day Tecos, spent World War II in Berlin. His exact roll or function there is unknown. Some say he was a secretary to Hitler; others say he was a confidant of Alfred Rosenberg, the Nazi ideologue who formulated the German anti-Jewish policy, and who was executed at Nuremburg. Whatever his role, Cuesta Gallardo was almost certainly used by the Germans in the hope of establishing a private Mexican army that would be sympathetic to Nazi goals on the United States's southern border. When Germany's plans for global conquest didn't work out, Cuesta Gallardo returned to Mexico but remained an ardent fascist and anti-Semite.
"Cuesta Gallardo settled in Guadalajara, the financial center of Mexico and its second-largest city...
"Cuesta Gallardo was not idle in his Guadalajara lair. He envisioned a renaissance of the Tecos, this time committed not only to fighting the anti-clerics in Mexico, but also to battling all enemies wherever they existed throughout the world. Those enemies included the United States, Jews, Freemasons, and most of the hierarchy of the Vatican church, for they were all, according to Cuesta Gallardo, conspirators in the Jewish- Freemason-Communist plot to take over the world.
"When Cuesta Gallardo embarked on this mission in the late 1940s, he could count among his allies the 'Nazi priest' whom he had met while he was in Germany. These Catholic clerics had collaborated with Germany and its allies during the war; many were not priest, but were regular war criminals who, with church assistance, had donned robes to facilitate their escape. They were now scattered throughout Western Europe and Latin America. The Tecos' present ties to the 'religious leaders' of the Croatian Ustasha and the Romanian Iron Guard most certainly date from the leader's tenure in Berlin."
(Inside the League, Scott Anderson & John Lee Anderson, pgs. 73-74)
|Carlos Cuesta Gallardo|
"By 1975, the Autonomous University of Guadalajara had a budget of ten million dollars, in what Vice-Dean Antonio Leano, a high-ranking Teco, called a 'miracle' of American and Mexican philanthropy. That miracle was the result of the funds provided by the U.S. government through the Agency for International Development (AID) and American philanthropic foundations. Between 1964 and1974, they had bestowed nearly twenty million dollars in grants to the Tecos' university.
"In all probability, some of the foundation and government officials responsible for clearing the grants to the university were not aware that it was dominated by the Tecos. Yet it is a rather glaring oversight. Within the various university departments could be found most of the Tecos' top leaders, men responsible for previously delivering scathing attacks on the Vatican, Judaism, and, in fact, the United States...
"With the influx of American financial assistance, the Tecos at the Guadalajara campus were able to finance their nonacademic programs. According to a Mexican political analyst who infiltrated the Tecos and attended their secret meetings, the grants and scholarship funds received from the United States were laundered through the university for Teco use...
"Their political activities were many. In addition to furthering their ties with neo-Nazis in Europe and South America and subsidizing the publication of their anti-Semitic magazine, Replica, the Tecos also now had the funds to establish political front groups, such as FEMACO (Mexican Anti-Communist Federation) and the IACCD (Inter-American Confederation of Continual Defense), to serve as liaisons to right-wing death squads; they became part of the World Anti-Communist League in 1972.
"Operating under the front group FEMACO, the Tecos' power within the League became enormous. Not only was Raimundo Guerrero made an executive board member, but the Mexicans proceeded to draw in their violent brethren from throughout Latin America, with little or no review by the League's Asian godfathers. Since they had created the entire Latin network, the Tecos naturally assumed leadership of the Latin American Anti-Communist Confederation (CAL)."
(ibid, pg. 78-79)
|the Autonomous University of Guadalajaral logo|
"Puttaporn Khramkhruan, a Thai national, was arrested in 1973 for smuggling fifty-nine pounds of pure opium into the U.S. via JFK airport. Citing national security interests, the agency had the case squelched, and Khramkhruan was sent back home. However, the House subcommittee eventually established that he was a CIA operative in Thailand. In fact, he was on the payroll of a CIA proprietary using the Agency for International Development (AID) as a cover for training the corrupt Thai border police. Furthermore, Khramkhruan told a DEA investigator that he had been an officer in the KMT army and guarded opium mule caravans."
(The Great Heroin Coup, Henrik Kruger, pg. 173)Khramkhruan's ties to opium trafficking and the KMT (which was for years the ruling party in Taiwan) are most interesting as Kruger goes to allege that funding for FEMACO and CAL (the Mexican and Latin American branches of the WACL, respectively) in the 1970s came chiefly from Taiwan.
"Spearheading WACL's Latin American drive is the Confederacion Anti-comunista Latinoamericana (CAL), which is connected to the Federacion Mexicana Anticomunista (FEMACO). Financial support for these organizations is allegedly supplied through Shuen Shigh Kao, a Mexican-based agent for Taiwan intelligence..."
(ibid, pg. 196n)
|the KMT seal|
But back to the Tecos. So far I've established that their power base, the city of Guadalajara, was also the eventual base of operations for the Guadalajara cartel. Beyond this, the major architect of the modern-day Tecos, Carlos Cuesta Gallardo, seems to share a similar last name to Guadalajara cartel head Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo. This researcher has been unable to determine whether the two were related in someway, however.
There is another curious link to the Tecos and the Guadalajara cartel that is even more compelling. It concerns the murder of journalist Manuel Buendia in 1984, whose death was eventually blamed on Federal Security Directorate (DFS) director Antonio Zorrilla Perez. The DFS is one of the most notorious institutions in Mexico's blood-soaked history.
"Formed after World War II, the DFS started out as Mexico's answer to the CIA and the counterintelligence division of the FBI. The internal security police force developed an unsavory reputation during civil unrest in the early 1970s, when DFS agents were accused of resorting to torture, assassination, and disappearances to crush urban guerrilla groups. In 1977, a secret police unit called the Brigada Blanca, the White Brigade, thought to be an offshoot of the DFS and extreme elements of the military, formed death squads to eliminate the violent left. Popular outcry forced Lopez Portillo to dismantle the White Brigade in 1980..."
(Desperados, Elaine Shannon, pgs. 203-204)
|the White Brigade in action|
But back to Buendia's murder. Unsurprisingly, the alleged master mind of the journalist's murder, former DFS director Zorrilla, was said to be in league with the Guadalajara cartel.
"Captured after two hundred policemen surrounded his hideout near Mexico City, Zorrilla was charged with being the intellectual author of the assassination of Manuel Buendia, a prominent Mexican journalist who had been gunned down on May 4, 1984. Buendia's colleagues had long contended that the murder was the work of a police death squad because Buendia died while investigating drug-related corruption within the DFS. Within minutes of the shooting in Mexico City's Zona Rosa, DFS agents cleaned out Buendia's files, and Zorrilla himself took charge of the murder case, which remain unsolved until Salinas acted.
"After Zorrilla's arrest, Mexican journalist quoting government sources reported that the investigation has determined that the former DFS chief had doled out DFS credentials to Caro Quintero, Fonseca, Felix Gallardo, and other drug traffickers. This report confirmed assertions by DEA attaché Ed Heath that Zorrilla had personally signed Caro Quintero's DFS credentials."
(ibid, pgs. 520-521)
|Antonio Zorrilla Pere|
"Some observers suspect that the Tecos recently eliminated at least one well-known person for personal reasons. In April 1984, Manuel Buendia, Mexico's foremost investigative journalist, wrote a three-part series exposing 'Los Tecos,' their secret code of honor, and their control of the Autonomous University of Guadalajara. A month later, leaving his Mexico City office, Buendia was assassinated with four close range shots to the back. His murder is not been solved."
(Inside the League, Scott & John Lee Anderson, pg. 138n)
"The DFS, the Federal Security Directorate, Mexico's CIA-trained combined CIA and FBI, was created as a subdivision of the Interior Ministry in the 1940's. In the mid-70's it organized Mexico's competing dealers and growers, centralizing all Mexican-based dope distribution. This operation was based in Guadalajara, home of the "Owl" death squads and the CIA's Autonomous University of Guadalajara, the Owl base, from which emanated the DFS's "White Brigade" death squads. The centralization enabled the DFS to rake off 25% of the cartel's gross - billions - and to protect its income more efficiently.
"The Owls were founded by Carlos Cuesta Gallardo, a Mexican Nazi who spent World War II in Germany. Hitler's plan was to use Cuesta as his Mexican Quisling. The co-founder of the Owls was Father Julio Meinveille, an Argentine Jesuit. Meinveille is the author of The Jew, The Cabal of Progressivism, Among the Church and the Reich and Conspiracy Against the Church. These are the Owls' bibles...
"When Manuel Buendia, a famous investigative journalist for Mexico City's daily Excelsior revealed these facts in 1984, he was shot dead. First on the murder scene was the Mexican DFS, whose agents immediately cleaned out Buendia's files, which were said to contain a videotape of high government officials meeting with Mexico's most powerful drug dealers. The engineer of the murder was the head of the DFS, Antonio Zorilla, whom Buendia had trusted as a source and confidant. Buendia was apparently unaware that the DFS shared operational control of the Owls."
This researcher has not been able to definitively confirm the link between the Tecos and the DFS/White Brigade but the group's slogan (as well as its long alleged ties to right-wing death squads) seems to allude to such a vigilante group.
"In recent years, the slogan of the once-obscure Tecos, Contra la guerilla roja, la guerilla blanca ('Against the red gorilla, the white guerrilla), has been put into practice throughout the continent."
(Inside the League, Scott & John Lee Anderson, pg. 72)Earlier in Inside the League the Andersons would also note that a source alleged to them that CAL members sometimes referred to themselves as White Brigades, among other things.
"CAL, it turned out, was the acronym for the Latin American Anti-Communist Confederation. An intelligence informant in Mexico confirmed its existence and described it as a neo-Nazi splinter group formed after World War II.
"'CAL is also called the White Hand, the White Force, and the White Brigade,' the source explained. 'It got its name because it has the backing of powerful people who erase all evidence surrounding a murder.'"
(ibid, pg. xvi)Again, I have not been able to confirm definitively that the CAL's White Brigade is the same as the one used by the DFS, but it surely seems more than mere coincidence.
Before wrapping things up, I should address something I'm sure readers are curious about: Yes, there are indications that the Tecos were some type of occult order. Tecos, as noted above, are also known as the Owls. This of course immediately brings to mind the notorious Bohemian Grove, but I've found nothing indicate that there was a connection to the Tecos (in general, the occult symbolism of the Grove is quite obscure).
The Tecos had their origins in a radical traditionalist Catholic vigilante group called Los Cristeros that was founded in the 1910s. Much of the evidence seems to indicate that they stayed within this world view, having deeply embraced (and propagated throughout Latin America) the Freemasonic-Judaic-Communist world government conspiracy theories. And yet they themselves were a secret society with some type of bizarre initiation ceremony.
"In early April 1970, heavily armed police in the northern Mexico city of Hermosillo , sealed off a section of Calle 14 de Abril and, with guns drawn, stormed one of its buildings. In it's cluttered rooms, they discovered Nazi magazines and leaflets, piles of Hitler's book, Mein Kampf, and codebooks. Most intriguing of all were a half-dozen grotesque papier-mâché masks.
"The masks were props used at initiation ceremonies for one of Mexico's most violent and feared secret societies. The raid was a strike against the Tecos, a network of some three or four hundred neo-Nazis whose members were divided into cells and took oaths of blind obedience to their leaders."
(ibid, pg. 71)In general there is very little information available about the rituals of the Tecos. They did have some type of relationship, however, with a mysterious organization also represented in the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (which, as noted in part one, was one of the chief organizations behind the original founding of the WACL).
"In particular, the Tecos have close ties with the Romanian Iron Guard fascists of Horia Sima in Spain, and it could be more than coincidence that Teco 'cells' are composed of thirteen followers, the same number as in the Iron Guard 'nests.'
(ibid, pg. 74n)
|the Iron Guard seal|
And yet, despite it's radical Christian front, the Iron Guard also seemingly had occultic undertones. One of its chief backers was Baron Julius Evola, the legendary Italian fascist and esotericist who would have an enormous influence on post-WWII fascist occultism.
"Evola enthusiastically embraced the fanatically anti-Semitic Legion, and in 1938 wrote a series of articles in Guardia that were never reprinted in his lifetime. He praised Codreanu's struggle against 'the Judaic horde' and said that since his earliest days, 'Codreanu a clear idea of what a communist takeover of Romania would mean... the country's total enslavement... to the filthiest tyranny, the talmudic, Israelite tyranny...'
"Evola wrote his articles during a time of crisis. Codreanu's Legion had grown so powerful that Romania's King Carol II launched a series of savage attacks on it. In November 1938, 14 Legion men... were taken out of their prison cells, strangled with ropes, and then reported shot in the back while trying to escape. One Legion supporter who managed to avoid execution was Mircea Eliade, the world famous scholar of religion and one of Evola's closest Romanian friends. After being picked up during the 1938 crackdown, he managed to get himself released from jail and transferred to a sanitarium. His escaped from death was ironic given that there is evidence that he had helped develop the Legion's notorious ' Long Live Death!' ideology. Eliade first read Evola during his student days..."
(Dreamer of the Day, Kevin Coogan, pgs. 317-318)
|Julius Evola (top) and Mircea Eliade (bottom)|
And these Guardists in turn were apparently in league with the Tecos, a fanatical traditionalist Catholic organization opposing the Freemasonic-Judaic-Communist conspiracy as a secret society with occult trappings. Stranger still is the fact that this is not the first time I've considered such a seemingly contradictory organization in league with far right wing elements. Regular readers of this blog should immediately be reminded of the Sovereign Order of Saint John, another traditionalist Catholic secret society that has long been accused of occult rituals. The Order was actively involved with the long-time WACL alley the American Security Council, as noted before here.
And with that I shall wrap things up for now. Over the course of the first three installments of this series we've seen the League's extensive involvement in the international drug trade, including a major stake in the world heroin market in the 1970s and possibly a significant chunk of the Latin American cocaine trade by the mid-1980s. We've also seen that behind the two WACL branches most tied to the drug trade, the Asian People's Anti-Communist League (APACL) and the Anti-comunista Latinoamericana (CAL) lurks a series of secret societies such as the Chinese Triads, the Japanese yakuza, and Mexico's Los Tecos. The Triads and the yakuza have of course long been linked to the international drug trade. The same should likely be applied to the CAL as well as the WACL as whole. After all, it was seemingly one of the largest drug cartels in the world for much of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the next installment I shall begin to focus in on the WACL's role as an intelligence apparatus as well as the role it played in spreading death squads throughout Latin America. Stay tuned.