"In Panama, we had Noriega. We knew he was laundering money. We knew he was running dope. But we went ahead and let him. When he didn't want to play ball, we took him out. And guess what? There's more banks in Panama now laundering money than when he was there."--Celerino Juan Castillo III
Celerino Juan Castillo III is a Texan and former Vietnam veteran who was hired by the DEA in 1979. From October 1985 to 1990, he was assigned to Guatemala City, from which point he covered four countries--Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
He says he was told, "Cele, you're going to be covering El Salvador, but be careful, there's a covert operation being conducted by the White House, being run by Oliver North, at Ilo Pango Airport."
Later he discovered that the Ilo Pango Air Force Base in El Salvador was a storage and distribution center for cocaine.
"Earlier part of '86 again I received a cable from Sandy Gonzales, DEA agent down in Cost Rica. He says, 'Cele we got information that the Contras are flying cocaine into hangars four and five at Ilo Pango. Please check and verify for us. As it turned out, hangar 4 and 5, is owned and operated by the CIA and it was run by Felix Rodriquez, aka, Max Gomez.' "
Other CIA pilot sources have also confirmed to me that hangars four and five at Ilo Pango Air Force Base were used to store cocaine. Castillo himself says he "documented every pilot, just about every pilot that ran out of Ilo Pango. . . . I took surveillance pictures . . . I took the logs, tail numbers. And they were all run into NADDIS."
NADDIS is the DEA's centralized computer bank which contains information about hundreds of thousands of suspected drug traffickers, as well as leads on drug operations and files on current investigations. Also stored there are the details of arrests, as well as memos and teletypes received by the DEA. (It was this system that was penetrated by the Cali cartel, with the help of the head of the FBI office in Bogota, Colombia. See "Colombian cartel mole burrowed into DEA computer files," The New York Post, August 22, 1996).
At the U.S. end of the operation, Oliver North ran a series of secure facilities as head of the highly classified National Programs Office, or NPO (see my "Allegations Regarding Vince Foster, the NSA, and Banking Transactions Spying, Part XXX"). These were located not only at Mena, Arkansas; but also Fire Lakes, Nevada (which in the general vicinity of the atomic test range); Joppa, Missouri; and Iron Mountain, Texas.
President Ronald Reagan appointed Oliver North as the secret head of this secret organization, and sometime in 1983, the NPO, which is organizationally part of the National Security Agency (NSA), became the effective administrator of a covert plan called Operation Black Eagle.
Operation Black Eagle became a network of 5000 people who made possible the export of arms in the direction of Central America, and the import of drugs from the same direction. According to Navy Lt. Commander Alexander Martin (ret.), he, as an assistant to Major General Richard Secord, worked closely with Oliver North, Richard Secord, Felix Rodriquez, and Jeb Bush (son of Vice-President Bush) in the operation. Different aspects of Black Eagle were consolidated under the office of the Vice President.
The Mossad, as well as the CIA and NSA, was heavily involved in this operation. This perhaps explains why Accuracy in Media (AIM), which is an outlet for Mossad propaganda, has gone out of its way to attack the San Jose Mercury CIA cocaine story ("Dark Alliance," by Gary Webb). The Mossad is trying to cover up its own intense involvement in the Central American arms-and- drugs network.
The Mossad participation is discussed in the excellent Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America, by Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall:
"...Richard Brenneke [is] a self-styled arms dealer from Portland, Oregon. Brenneke told the [Kerry] subcommitte that he 'was asked by Mossad agents to act as a purchasing agent for the operation, and brokered purchases of East-bloc weapons out of Czechoslovakia.' He also claimed that 'the same planes used to ship the arms were then used to fly cocaine from Colombia through Panama to the United States in an arrangement with the Medellin cocaine cartel in Colombia.' Brenneke asserted that he had been recruited for this work in 1983 by the Guatemala- based Israeli arms dealer Pesakh Ben-Or, who in turn put him in touch with [Bush's National Security Adviser Donald] Gregg.
"An investigative report by ABC News fleshed out the story, adding that Israel had put up $20 million to finance the [Noriega advisor Michael] Harari operation. It quoted one anonymous pilot who allegedly flew arms into Costa Rica and El Salvador and drugs back to the United States: 'I guess you'd have to say at that time, I felt my primary employer was Israel. Secondarily, my employer was the U.S. of America.' Brenneke, interviewed on the same newscast, explained, 'Typically, the drugs were run through Panama and into the United States. The pilots were in most cases working for the cartels. If the shipments were extremely sensitive, you'd see Israeli pilots and aircraft' " (p. 74).
The participation of Noriega advisor (and former Mossad agent) Michael Harari ensured that Israel got a piece of Ollie North's action. As early as December 1983 the Israelis were using a Panamanian CIA front company, IFMA Management Company, to funnel support to the Contras. Harari himself would later boast of his friendship with Donald Gregg, George Bush's national security advisor.
The Kerry commission in 1988 asked for the declassification of 543 pages containing references to drugs and drug trafficking in the notebooks of Oliver North. But most of this material was never made available.
It's time to make the full North notebooks part of the public record, and to put Oliver North back on the witness stand. His recent performance on the Larry King Live program had about as much credibility as Susan McDougal's.
October 2, 1996
Web Page: http://www.aci.net/kalliste/