Sunday, October 16, 2011

Latin American High Weirdness: The Cults Part III

In the prior installment of this series on South American cults with deep backgrounds I was addressing parallels between the notorious Colonia Dignidad, an 'agricultural experiment' run by a former Nazi and pedophile, and Jonestown. Another parallel I would now like to address between Colonia Dignidad and Jonestown is the seeming involvement of the US intelligence community. In the case of Colonia Dignidad, this is rather openly acknowledged due to the presence of the notorious interrogation 'specialist' and CIA man Michael Townley during the overthrow of Allende. I addressed this tie in part one of this series.

Colonia Dignidad

Jim Jones himself had a longstanding relationship with another CIA interrogation specialist, based out of South America nonetheless, known as Dan Mitrione.
"Even the biography of the man at the center of the holocaust, Jim Jones, was sketchy and open to interpretation. His presumed close association with Dan Mitrione was never investigated by the US government or, if it was, the results were never made public. Mitrione was the man taken hostage and then killed by the leftist guerrilla Tupamaros in Uruguay in 1970, revolutionaries who knew that he was a CIA agent with AID agency cover. Jones and Mitrione had known each other in Indiana, where Mitrione was a cop specializing in juveniles and Jones a fifteen-year-old sidewalk preacher, and they were both in Brazil at the same time in the early 1960s: Mitrione with a police training unit that was under Agency for International Development (AID) cover, and Jones in some murky capacity that involved the US consulate.
"Mitrione, it is now known, was involved with the training of Latin American police forces in the use of torture and drugs in interrogations, under the auspices of the now-defunct and cynically-entitled Office of Public Safety (OPS), an Orwellian organization that was formed during the Eisenhower administration. Mitrione was an avid practitioner of the methods he taught, and according to one of his trainees in Uruguay in the late 1960s, he would pick up homeless people on the streets to be used as guinea pigs in his training sessions, bloody interrogations which were always conducted in a soundproof room. In Montevideo, this room was in the basement of his home. When the derelicts died during the course of the 'training,' their bodies would be dumped back in the streets as a warning to the Communist insurgents."
(ibid, pg. 171)
Dan Mitrione

Levenda and other researchers have suggested that Mitrione was Jones' handler all the way up to his death in 1970. Certainly some of Mitrione's methods of interrogation were seemingly incorporated into Jonestown. Its also interesting to note that Jones, Mitrione, and Andrija Puharich were all in Brazil at the same time in 1962 (as was another 'interrogation' enthusiast, Josef Mengele). This is not the only link Jones has to Puharich, a likely US intelligence asset.

Puharich with the Pope

This link comes in the form of the Layton clan. The siblings, Larry Layton and Deborah were two of the most prominent members in the Temple at one point.
" 1970, Deborah Layton met Jim Jones for the first time... By the mid-1970s she had become one of his most trusted followers, an essential partner in setting up the Jonestown facility and managing the administrative and financial matters of the church both in the States and, eventually in Guyana. Her brother, Larry, was just as deeply involved and was part of the security force that guarded the Jonestown complex, a security force that was more like a troop of prison guards than a defensive army to protect the members from outside hostilities."
(ibid, pg. 200)
Deborah Layton

Larry's wife, Carolyn Moore Layton, was also a member of the congregation and eventually became one of Jones' mistresses. In going about this, Jones suggested that Larry and Carolyn divorce, then Jones preceded to publicly humiliate Larry in front of the congregation. That did the trick. Carolyn later on had a child with Jones, named Kimo Jones. Carolyn and Kimo both died at Jonestown. Larry would be involved in the ambush of the Ryan party at Port Kaituma airstrip after initially posing as a defector.
"Larry Layton had boarded the single-engine Cessna first -shoving himself forward ahead of everyone -and was armed; he either picked up a pistol earlier at Jonestown or it had been planted in the plane. Since all the Temple defectors had been checked for weapons before boarding, it seems more likely that the gun had been planted in the plane, which is why Larry insisted to Ryan that he have a seat on that particular aircraft.
"He began shooting in the plane as it was trying to take off during the attack, wounding defectors Monica Bagby and Vernon Gosney before his revolver misfired and it was taken from him by defector Dale Parks."
(ibid, pg. 222)
Larry Layton being arrested in Guyana for his part in the Ryan assassination

To date, Larry Layton Jr. is only one of two individuals ever charged in connection with the Jonestown massacre. His sister Deborah was more fortunate. She defected from Jonestown, seeing the writing on the wall. She would become instrumental in raising awareness of the abuses occurring in Jonestown, which eventually led Congressman Leo Ryan to visit, triggering the massacre. The mother of Deborah and Larry Layton, Lisa Philip Layton, was also a member of the congregation and died in Jonestown three months before the massacre from cancer. It is her husband, Laurence J. Layton, father of Deborah and Larry, that we find out connection to Andrija Puharich.
"In February of 1953, Andrija Puharich had been redrafted into the US Army, and posted to the Army Chemical Center in Edgewood, Maryland, where he would remain until April of 1955. His duties are not described anywhere in detail... Before Puharich's posting, one Dr. Laurance J. Layton was posted to Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah, a test center for the Chemical Warfare Division; this was in November of 1951. In March of 1952, Layton had been named Chief of the US Army's Chemical Warfare Division, a position he held until 1954. In other words, Dr. Layton was -at least on paper -Dr. Puharich's boss."
(ibid, pg. 188)
That two of the key Peoples Temple members would be the children of the head of the US Army's Chemical Warfare division is in and of itself very interesting. That this individual was likely associated with Andija Puharich is even more of a revelation.

Another curious fellow that figures into the Jim Jones saga is Richard Dwyer, a State Department official who severed at the U.S. Embassy to Guyana at the time of Jonestown. In general the State Department has been heavily criticized for its handling of the Jonestown affair, especially the officials working out of Guyana. It has generally been felt that they ignored the problem at best, and obstructed investigations into Jonestown at worst.
"Both the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the State Department itself criticized the State Department's handling of Peoples Temple. But neither provided a full airing of the government's role in the affair. State Department officials who dealt extensively with the Temple and who appear compromised in the Temple's internal reports never testified in public, nor were they subjected to public cross examination. And thousands of pages of documents -some reportedly indicating the depth of the government's knowledge about the Temple and the scope of the complaints brought to the government's attention -were classified."
(Raven, Tim Reiterman, pg. 576)
Dwyer would certainly count as one of the State Department officials 'compromised' by the Temple. Still Reiterman, a journalist who was present at the Ryan party ambush and was himself wounded there, defends some of the more serious allegations against Dwyer.
"...MK-ULTRA theory... Proponents of this theory allege that Embassy official Richard Dwyer was a CIA agent and was in fact present at the murder-suicides -and their proof is Jones's command, 'Get Dwyer out of here.' Most likely Jones incorrectly assumed that Dwyer was in the camp, and not at the airstrip with the Ryan party. Dwyer had planned to accompany Ryan to the airstrip, then return to Jonestown to process any additional defectors. But the airstrip shooting intervened, and he was wounded there...
"...Dwyer later was asked by reporters, including Jacobs, if he worked for the CIA. He said his terms of employment with the foreign service forbade him either to confirm or deny it."
(ibid, pg. 590)
Jones (far left) and Dwyer (far right) chilling at Jonestown
Levenda insists that Dwyer was in fact a CIA asset.
"Dwyer's involvement in this -and subsequent discoveries about his background in intelligence -is one of the more suggestive elements of the whole saga. Dwyer was a career intelligence officer, working under State Department cover at the US Embassy in Georgetown. He was, according to several sources, the CIA Chief of Station for Guyana. As such, he could be expected to have very good information on Jonestown; unfortunately, he did not choose to share this information with Ryan or his party. It was well-known in Georgetown that the People Temple had strong influence with the Guyanese government; Temple women were expected to develop personal relationships with Guyanese officials, and one such woman was the mistress of the Guyanese ambassador to the United States. Dwyer would have had to have known all of this, as Georgetown is small as capitals go, a place where gossip is about the only entertainment there is. Further, as CIA station chief, it would have been his business to know all about the Peoples Temple political involvements, not only with the Guyanese government but also with the Soviet Union and Cuba, as the Temple had approached both of these countries -through their embassies in Georgetown -as possible relocation sites. Yet, Dwyer -and the State Department in general -remained strangely silent on the subject of the Peoples Temple and offered very little assistance to Congressman Ryan before and during his trip."
(Sinister Forces Book Two, Peter Levenda, pg. 219)
Indeed, the figures surrounding Jones during his rise and later fall are something of a rogue's gallery -these are just a few examples. The circumstances of the Jonestown massacre itself and the ambush on Congressman Leo Ryan are equally suspect, especially the official account. Before getting to that, I would like to briefly address Ryan himself, which may provide further insight into the panic Jonestown set off in certain sectors. You see, Ryan's most notable legislation involved cracking down on the CIA.
"At the same time, California Congressman Leo J. Ryan was making a name for himself as a government watchdog. He had co-authored the Hughes-Ryan Amendment, which required the CIA to get prior approval from Congress before undertaking any covert activity. In addition, he was asked questions about the CIA's mind-control projects in the State of California, as he wondered whether or not the notorious members of the Symbonese Liberation Army (SLA) had been willing or unwilling beneficiaries of the MK-ULTRA program while serving time at Vacaville."
(ibid, pg. 204)
Congressman Ryan

If Jonestown was in fact some kind of CIA front, having a Congressman with more than a passing knowledge of these types of operations, to say nothing of one who had enacted legislation to curve the power of the CIA, arriving at Jonestown would not go down well. Is it possible that he was then targeted for elimination? One of the curious circumstances surrounding the Jonestown massacre that I alluded to earlier is the Ryan party ambush itself and the presence Guyanese troops at the airport who seemingly stood down as the killings occurred.
"There were others at the airport at the time, local Guyanese troops in fact, guarding a military plane that was being repaired, who made themselves scarce when the shooting started. The congressman's party did not have any weapons... and were sitting ducks. Bob Flick, an NBC producer, ran to the troops and begged them for help. They refused. They said it was a conflict between Americans and had nothing to do with them. He asked them for a weapon in order to defend himself. They refused again. They sat and watched five people being murdered in cold blood, and when the murderers took off in their tractor for Jonestown after the killing, they made no move to pursue them but instead let them pass."
(ibid, pg. 222)
Ryan and others dead at the Port Kaituma airstrip in the wake of the shootings

Even Tim Reiterman, a journalist who was wounded at the Ryan party ambush and who has generally dismissed conspiratorial views of Jonestown, was utterly baffled by the behavior of the soldier present at the Port Kaituma airstrip. Other mysteries include the body count at Jonestown itself, which has been hotly disputed.
"Initially, the body count -performed by the first contingent of Guyanese troops that arrived the morning of the massacre -was only about two hundred. Later, as the day went on and more investigators (and curiosity-seekers) arrived, the body count was corrected upwards. At first, it was believed that the grand total would come in at three hundred sixty-three, of which eighty-two were identified as children. Yet, as the body count increased, the incredulous wanted to know how it was possible that it could go from 363 to 913; how was such a wide variation possible?
"The explanation given was that some of the bodies were those of children, and that the adult bodies fallen on top of them, rendering immediate location and identification difficult. In other words, there were more than five hundred bodies hidden under the first 363. That did not seem possible, particularly as the initial counts showed that of the 363, more than 80 were children. It simply did not make sense, and it seemed as if someone, somewhere was lying about the body count on behalf of some hidden agenda.
"What made matters worse was the discovery of some 789 American passports at the scene. If there were only 363 bodies discovered, then 426 other souls were unaccounted for and possibly on the run through the Guyanese jungle. One had to put a stop to that rumor at once, and the body count was adjusted upwards to the point where 913 became the official number. But, to be perfectly honest, there was no verifiable, official record of the number of corpses, and only about three hundred had ever been positively identified. Photos of some of the bodies show that they were wearing identification bracelets on their wrists, the type commonly used in hospitals to identify patients. No one knows why this was done, and particularly why those bracelets mysteriously disappeared somewhere between Jonestown and the American air base where the bodies were eventually shipped, thus rendering further identification even more difficult. (Three bodies were actually lost, and turned up in storage lockers in southern California years after the fact!) The bodies were left in the open jungle air for days, and had reached a particularly loathsome state of putrescence, rendering hellish the task of coroners and medical examiners. In fact, there were virtually no autopsies performed on the bodies recovered."
(ibid, pg. 224)
Are over 500 bodies underneath these?

There is one final mystery surrounding the Jonestown massacre I would like to address, though this is hardly a comprehensive list -readers are encouraged to read up more on this significant historical moment. Anyway, that mystery is the death of Jim Jones himself. The official account of Jones' death goes like this:
"In the pavilion, Jim Jones lay dead, a bullet hole in his temple, gaping exit wound where his brains and skull were blown away. The bullet had traveled at an upward angle through his head and into oblivion. A gun was resting, mysteriously, some twenty feet away. His body lay in repose on a cleared space near his throne, between two other bodies. His head of raven hair was cushioned by a pillow, as though someone had him comfortable before -or perhaps after -the squeeze of a trigger removed him from his misery."
(Raven, Tim Reiterman, pg. 565)
It has been hotly contested as to whether or not Jones committed suicide or was murdered. Officially Jones is a suicide but even Reiterman acknowledges this is highly suspect. The pavilion area he writes of was an open space in the midst of Jonestown. The gun that killed Jones was found some 20 feet from the body. Its almost as if some one crept up on him, possibly while he was asleep or in a pill-induced stupor, and pulled the trigger.

the pavilion area where Jones' body was found

From a synchronictic perspective, one of the most compelling mysteries is the location of Jonestown itself. A similar tragedy occurred neat the Jonestown site nearly a century before Jones walked the face of the Earth.
"Yet another disturbing coincidence lies in the fact that the site chosen by Jones was in the Northwestern District of Guyana, the place where -in 1845 -a Reverend Smith called together the local Native American population (including the Arawaks, Tituba's countrymen), and told them the Millennium was at hand. When it did not materialize, Smith's four hundred followers committed mass suicide on the spot, believing they would be resurrected as 'white people.' The parallels to the Jonestown event are too strong to be ignored."
(Sinister Forces Book Two. Peter Levenda, pgs. 210-211)
Tituba was a seventeenth-century slave in Salem, Massachusetts who was one of the first three people accused of witchcraft there. This marked the beginning of the legendary witch trials. I've written a bit more on Tituba and this topic here.


So much for Jonestown itself. Now I would also like to briefly address the similarities between Jim Jones and Charles Manson. Both men were fanatical cult leaders that attempted to retreat from the world, Jones to the jungles of Guyana, Manson to the deserts of California. Both used drugs (Manson more so than Jones) as a tool to control their followers. Both were obsessed with race and believed that a race war was soon coming to the United States. Based on this belief, as well as fears of a nuclear holocaust, both became increasingly paranoid. This paranoia led to both the retreat from the world and a militarization of their respective cults.

Both are portrayed as master con men that took advantage of the poor and disturbed. This is partly true, but both the Peoples Temple and the Family featured key members who came from upper crust backgrounds, such as the Laytons or Masonite Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme, who was the daughter of an aerospace engineer that had been stationed at Randolph Air Force Base during WWII. What's more, both cultivated contacts with VIPs. As noted earlier, Jones was heavily involved in the California political scene. He befriended political radicals such as Huey Newton and Angela Davis and even gained an audience with First Lady Rosalynn Carter. Manson sought, and gained, many contacts in the vast L.A. entertainment scene.
"He made numerous contacts in the music business, including Dennis Wilson, Neil Young and Terry Melcher -the son of Doris Day, and the former occupant, along with Candace Bergen, of the Cielo Drive home where the Tate murders occurred. Charlie even reportedly served as a 'religious consultant' for Universal Studios on a movie about Christ, and also auditioned to be one of 'The Monkeys.' "
(Programmed to Kill, David McGowan, pg. 138)
Both heavily relied upon sex as a tool to keep their followers in line. The planning committee, the Peoples Temple's inner circle, was dominated by women. In fact, many of Jones' closest aids were women and many of these were mistresses of Jones. The bulk of the Manson family were women. Both Jones and Manson were bisexual and both humiliated many of their key male followers through sex.

And both seemingly had ties to the US Intelligence community. In Manson's case, it most overtly came in the form of notorious drug baron Ronald Stark. Stark began as a large scale LSD dealer who became involved with the Brotherhood of Eternal Love in the late 1960s. Stark would go on to branch into other narcotics in the 1970s long after the Brotherhood was busted and was seemingly one of the largest supplier in the world by the 1970s. In 1980 we was finally brought down in Italy. An Italian court later released Stark on the basis that he had been employed by the US 'secret services' since at least 1960. Stark died shortly thereafter.

Ronald Stark

The Manson Family themselves were involved in the L.A. drug market and were even dealing cocaine in the late 1960s at a time when it was extremely rare in the States. Manson seemingly had some upper scale clients. He also seemingly had a relationship with Stark, who may have been his supplier. I've written much more on Manson's ties to Starks and his other links to intelligence here and here -I urge my readers to check out both pieces in conjunction to these blogs on Jonestown and other cult sites in Latin America we've examined here.

Finally, I would like to examine the bizarre allegations of another serial killer who claimed to be a member of an international Satanic cult. This would be none other than the infamous Henry Lee Lucas, a man officially convicted of 11 murders, but who claimed involvement in over 600 killings at one point. Incidentally, he was the only man ever saved from the Texas death row by then-Governor Bush. Back when Henry was first arrested in the 1980s he had quite a tale to tell.
"...Henry's indoctrination into a nationwide satanic cult. Lucas claimed that leaders of the camp were so impressed with his handling of a knife that he was allowed to serve as an instructor. Following his training, Henry claimed that he served the cult in various ways, including as a contract killer and as an abductor of children, whom he delivered to a ranch in Mexico near Juarez. Once there, they were used in the production of child pornography and for ritual sacrifice. Henry has said that this cult's operations were based in Texas, and included trafficking in children and drugs, among other illegal pursuits."
(Programmed to Kill, David McGowan, pgs. 72-73)
good ole Henry

One of the most bizarre claims Henry made was that he was a close friend of Jim Jones, that the Peoples Temple was a part of this vast cult network which he called the Hand of Death, and that he had taken a chartered plane to Guyana and personally delivered the cyanide to Jones that was used in the massacre.
"What then are we to make of Henry's professed connection to the tragic People's Temple? Several investigators have documented that the Jonestown massacre was not by any means a case of mass suicide, as was reported by the U.S. press. It was in fact a case of mass murder. The Guyanese coroner, Dr. C. Leslie Mootoo, concluded that only a handful of the 913 victims at Jonestown died by means of suicide on that fateful day. All of the rest were summarily executed, some by lethal injection, some by strangulation, and some simply shot through the head. It is apparent then that if Lucas was in fact at Jonestown at the time of the mass murder, he was quite likely doing considerably more than just serving as a delivery boy. A man of Henry's talents would be an invaluable asset in a clean-up operation of that type. And what was being cleaned up was, of course, itself an MK-ULTRA project -complete with vast stockpiles of drugs, sensory deprivation equipment, and a band of zombie-like assassins who gunned down Congressman Leo Ryan's entourage just before the massacre (thus necessitating the clean-up operation).
(ibid, pg. 80)
Personally, I think Henry's claims of an involvement in Jonestown are bogus. As McGowan alludes to, there's much debate as to what and how the Jonestown residents died. Did they willingly drink cyanide-laced drinks? Was it a different type of poison, as many victims were seemingly not displaying the 'cyanide-smile' consistent with death from this poison? Were the victims forcibly injected this poison at gun point? Were other means of killing the bulk of Jonestown residents used?

a cyanide grin

The point being, Henry's claims simply seem to confirm the official version on Jonestown. If he was an insider, seemingly he would have had details concerning the deaths that weren't widely known at the time. Given how liberally Henry talked when he was first captured, it seems he would have stated any oddities he knew about Jonestown that didn't jive with the official story.

That being said, there has been confirmations to some of Henry's other outlandish claims.
"One of the more compelling aspects of Henry's story was contention that he had ties to cult-run ranches just south of the U.S. border. In 1989, just such a ranch was excavated in Matamoros, Mexico -just south of Brownsville, Texas -yielding the remains of fifteen ritual sacrifice victims. The Matamoros case so closely paralleled the stories told years earlier by Lucas that some law enforcement personnel in Texas chose to take a closer look at Henry's professed cult connections. In fact, Jim Boutwell -the sheriff of Williamson County, Texas -later told a reporter that investigators had verified that Lucas was indeed involved in cult activities.
"Following the discovery in Matamoros, Clemmie Schroeder -identified as Henry's spiritual adviser -sent to the state attorney general a map Lucas had drawn for her in 1985 that identified locations where murder, kidnapping and drug-running operations were conducted. She told a reporter for the Brownsville Herald: 'Henry told me there were a lot of different cults in Mexico who were involved in satanic worship and everything. I found the map and realized he had marked this cult and drug ring near Brownsville.' The attorney general's office chose not to take action."
(ibid, pg. 88)

The Matamoros cult being referenced here is none other than the drug ring run by the notorious Adolfo Constanzo, one of the most concrete examples of a 'Satanic' cult of the past few decades. Much more will be written on this outfit in a later installment in this series. For now, back to Henry, and another 'hit' his cult map produced over a decade later.
"After a decade had passed... yet another excavation was begun, at a ranch near Juarez, Mexico. That property was, strangely enough, located precisely where Henry Lee Lucas had claimed that the 'Hand of Death' cult maintained a ranch. The first reports on the Juarez ranch surfaced on December 1, 1999... a Los Angeles Times report noted that the 'clanestine burial grounds [were] practically within sight of the U.S. border.'
"Early reports indicated that authorities anticipated exhuming between 100 and 300 bodies from mass graves on the ranch, including twenty-two missing U.S. citizens and a number of former FBI and DEA informants. The investigation was quickly expanded to include at least three more possible burial grounds in the area..."
(ibid, pgs. 91-92)
Of course anyone who follows the news will remember that Juarez has seen a massive amount of women murdered, some with ritualistic overtones, over the past decade. Once U.S. authorities took over the 1999 investigation of the Juarez ranch the body total dropped from at least 100 to only nine victims -Shades of Jonestown and its ever changing body count. Naturally, any possibility that there were other sites was also quickly dismissed.

memorials to the dead women of Juarez

Regardless, there is clearly some validity to Henry's claims. While its extremely doubtful that he was directly involved in Jonestown, it is possible he did meet Jim Jones and was aware of his organization's involvement if Jonestown did in fact fall under the 'Hand of Death' orbit. Or it could simply be that Henry had no involvement in Jonestown or with Jim Jones whatsoever, but he recognized similarities between the methods of Jim Jones and his own cult, which led him to believe that they were connected.

And that about wraps things up. To recap: We have three distinct 'religious' colonies based out of South America promoting theologies obsessed with race, each involved in some capacity with the governments they reside in, and at least two (Colonia Dignidad and Jonestown) with strong ties to the US Intelligence community. Further, Guyana and Chile were seen as essential nations in the Cold War struggle with the Soviets. What's more, all three colonies display traces of brainwashing and mind control on a wide scale. Is this all merely a coincidence or was there something more sinister at play?

What's more, there are definite similarities between the Peoples Temple and the Manson Family. In a way, the Manson clan almost seems like a warm up act to the Peoples Temple... or a prototype. The Peoples Temple was much more polished, much more refined, the horrors better disguised. Was Jonestown the next evolutionary step from the Spahn ranch? And if so, what will the next stage look like, and on what scale?

1 comment:

  1. Great article - I am revisiting it many years later after the first go. However, I disagree that Henry Lee Lucas's recapitulation of the official narrative discounts his involvement. He may very well have delivered poison, which may or may not have been used. Somebody was smuggling this sort of stuff to Jonestown - many people were injected with something - it doesn't mean the smugglers had any special insight into what happened after the fact.