CIA Drug Smuggling and Dealing: Birth of the Dark Alliance

Large Photo: CIA Agent Paul Lional Edward Helliwell meets Frank Nugan from Nugan Hand Bank and Michael J Hand, a former US Green Beret force, affiliated with Nugan Hand Bank. Below: US President George HW Bush meets Manuel Antonio Noriega, CIA informant who later became the dictator of Panama. Since at the Military Academy, Noriega and at the CIA, Noriega has controlled the circulation of narcotics from Panama-US. At the same time, he has become a mainstay of drug cartels and dirty criminals. One of them is the Medellin Cartel, the largest distributor from Colombia, in 1984, 80% of the cocaine market in the US. PHOTO:

In 1982, U.S. Attorney Gen. William French Smith wrote CIA Director William Casey a letter establishing a policy of not reporting, investigating or prosecuting drug crimes by CIA agents, assets and contractors.

Image result for gary webb movie kill the messengerTwo letters — one from Smith thanking Casey for his request, and a followup by Casey — are both available. They were released as part of a internal CIA report that explored allegations of CIA involvement in drug trafficking.

The most comprehensive allegations were reported by investigative journalist Gary Webb in a series for the The Mercury News of San Jose, Calif., and later a book titled “Dark Alliance.”

In the first document, Smith thanks Casey for his letter (the one that isn’t public), and he writes:

… in view of the fine cooperation the Drug Enforcement Administration has received from CIA, no formal requirement regarding the reporting of narcotics violations has been included in these procedures.

On Feb. 11, 1982, Smith wrote again to Casey, repeating the policy:

I have been advised that a question arose regarding the need to add narcotics violations to the list of reportable non-employee crimes … [N]o formal requirement regarding the reporting of narcotics violations has been included in these procedures.

On March 2, 1982, Casey responded happily, thanking the attorney general for his understanding:

I am pleased that these procedures, which I believe strike the proper balance between enforcement of the law and protection of intelligence sources and methods, will now be forwarded to other agencies … [Full document]

The two men then codified their agreement in a memorandum of understanding (MOU). According to the agreement, intelligence agencies would not have to report any of their agents involved in drug running. (By agents, the agreement meant CIA sources and informants. Full-time employees still couldn’t deal drugs.) That understanding remained in effect until August 1995, when then-U.S. Attorney Gen. Janet Reno rescinded the agreement.

The operating loophole here is the term “assets.” This is what has opened the way for a protected crime syndicate of dark alliance crime syndicate operatives.

It’s reasonable that the CIA would not disclose that some of its agents are involved in minor illegal affairs. And, presumably, some of the value of informants comes from the fact that they keep company with shady characters who engage in unlawful activities.

But why would the CIA ask to be exempt specifically from drug enforcement laws?

It was Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) who called for full disclosure of the facts. She spoke truth to power, because her community was being impacted by the dark alliance.

Takeaway: In this era Waters was a pistol and a courageous investigator. We have no idea what happen to her, or if she is even the same person.

“The CIA knew that the Contras were dealing drugs,” Waters said. “They made this deal with the attorney general to protect themselves from having to report it.”

In response to the book “Dark Alliance,” Waters investigated Contra crack dealing and found that the CIA’s OIG report was tampered with before being released to Congress, and that a U.S. employee was in charge of the drug ring.

“Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this report was removed at the instruction of the Department of Justice at the last minute,” Waters said. “This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the Los Angeles Station, who was in charge of Contra-related activities.

“According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central Los Angeles, around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Volume II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the Department of Justice, that reported a CIA officer in the L.A. Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles.”

It was Waters who located the Smith-Casey memorandum.

“My investigation has led me to an undeniable conclusion: that U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies knew about drug trafficking in South Central Los Angeles and throughout the U.S., and they let the dealing go on,” she said.

“Quite unexpectedly, on April 30, 1998, I obtained a secret 1982 memorandum of understanding between the CIA and the Department of Justice, that allowed drug trafficking by CIA assets, agents, and contractors to go unreported to federal law enforcement agencies. I also received correspondence between then Attorney General William French Smith and the head of the CIA, William Casey, that spelled out their intent to protect drug traffickers on the CIA payroll from being reported to federal law enforcement.”

This secret agreement detailed a long list of crimes that the CIA was required to disclose to federal law enforcement agencies. It included homicide, kidnapping, assault, bribery, possession of firearms, as well as illegal immigration, election contributions and perjury. Amazingly, the MOU did not require the CIA to report drug trafficking or other drug law violations by CIA assets to the Department of Justice.

In other words, CIA assets, who were smuggling narcotics into the U.S., did not have to worry about being reported to the DEA or other federal law enforcement agencies.

Image result for gary webb movie kill the messenger
The movie ‘Kill the Messenger’ tells the story of Gary Webb’s attempt to uncover nefarious CIA drug operations

After the publication of a 1996 news article in The San Jose Mercury written by Webb, who exposed the complicity of the CIA in the L.A. crack epidemic of the 1980s, Waters called for an investigation. She questioned whether the U.S. government paid or organized operatives to smuggle, transport and sell crack to Americans. Ultimately, this inquiry was stonewalled.

Webb was eventually transferred to a different beat and removed from investigative reporting. In 2004, he was found in his apartment with two bullet holes in the back of his head. His death was declared a “suicide.”

An investigation by former U.S. Sen. John Kerry also found individuals who provided support for the contras were involved in drug trafficking, the supply network of the contras was used by drug trafficking organizations, and elements of the contras themselves knowingly received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers. In each case, one or another agency of the U.S. government had information regarding the involvement either while it was occurring, or immediately thereafter.”

The timing of the MOU was also quite the cowinkydink.

In late 1981, U.S. President Ronald Reagan authorized covert aid for the Contras via the CIA. Just two months later, the CIA and the attorney general carved out an exemption for CIA assets and agents that were dealing drugs in a new MOU.

The secret MOU was in effect for 13 years, from 1982 until 1995. This covered the entire Contra war in Nicaragua and the era of deep U.S. involvement in counterinsurgency activities in El Salvador and Central America.

Read “Mass Terror in El Salvador: The El Mozote Massacre of 1981 Revisited”

The MOU was evidently very successful in protecting these drug traffickers and CIA assets.

Based on statements in Michael Bromwich’s recently released investigation, CIA Station Chief for Central America Alan Fiers said he recalled of only one instance when the CIA passed Contra and narcotics-related information to the DEA.

The Kerry Committee was baffled by the lack of intelligence reporting of drug trafficking activity. Despite finding widespread trafficking throughout the war zones of northern Costa Rica, the Kerry Committee was unable to find a single case that was made on the basis of a tip or report by an official of a U.S. intelligence agency.

The reason is now clear: The CIA knew of their drug trafficking, but the MOU protected them from having to report it to law enforcement.

The 1982 MOU that exempted the reporting requirement for drug trafficking was no oversight or misstatement.

“There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, or on the payroll of, the CIA were involved in drug trafficking,” Kerry said.

Simply stated, the attorney general consciously exempted reporting requirements for narcotics violations by CIA agents, assets and contractors. And the CIA director was pleased because intelligence sources and methods involved in narcotics trafficking could be protected from law enforcement.

Remarkably, the committee’s findings went virtually unreported when they were released.

Allegations in the Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman Case

Numerous witnesses in the trial of Mexican drug lord El Chapo have testified. One of the most damning allegations to emerge from the trial is the claim that Guzman paid former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto $100 million to stop looking for him while he was on the lam. The revelation came from Alexander Cifuentes, a former cartel member who used to be Guzman’s most trusted secretary.

Cifuentes said Peña Nieto first wanted $250 million from Guzman in order to agree to stop hunting “the most wanted man in the country,” the The New York Times reported. Guzman offered $100 million instead, which Nieto took, according to The Times.

In January 2019, Vicente Zambada Niebla, a high-ranking functionary in the Sinaloa drug cartel, offered more insights into similar capture. He is the son of the Sinaloa cartel leader.

Niebla claims that for years he worked secretly as an “asset” and spy for the DEA, swapping information about his rivals in exchange for the ability to run his business freely.

While American authorities have acknowledged that Niebla met with federal agents, they have long denied there was any quid pro quo agreement.

In a recent ruling, Judge Brian M. Cogan, who is hearing the Guzman case, said that Zambada’s claim regarding his cooperation with the Americans cannot be mentioned at the trial.

Under that agreement, the Sinaloa cartel under the leadership of Jesus Zambada’s father, Ismael Zambada and ‘Chapo’ Guzman were given carte blanche permission to continue to smuggling tonnes of illicit drugs into the U.S., and they were protected by the U.S. government from arrest and prosecution in return for providing information against rival cartels, Niebla’s lawyers wrote as part of his defense.

“Indeed, the United States government agents aided the leaders of the Sinaloa Carte,” his lawyers said.

Zambada also testified that in 2007 he met with a group of “high-level politicians” and representatives from Pemex, Mexico’s national oil company, to discuss a scheme to ship 100 tons of cocaine in a tanker vessel owned by the firm.

Watch “The Mena Connection (Full Documentary): Bush, Clinton and CIA Drug Running”

16 Comments on CIA Drug Smuggling and Dealing: Birth of the Dark Alliance

  1. The Sinaloa cartel is known as Snitchaloa- they were indeed partnered with the US govt. This arrangement reached full bloom during the reign of Eric Holder as US attorney general- he and Chapo were virtual partners. Once Holder retired, Chapo lost his juice and became a hunted man. Holder? He ain’t rich- he’s super rich.

    The involvement of the US intelligence community with drugs goes back to WW2, Franklin Roosevelt and James Angleton. CIA was dirty from the beginning, dirty by design.

    • Correct. We did co-opt the cartels in Mexico and form the Sinaloa Federation in order to deny those organizations free agency (read China & Russia). It’s a dark world out there, and you don’t send good guys to defeat bad guys. You send bad guys to defeat bad guys. What would you rather we do? Allow the Russians and Chinese to use these organizations against us? Because they were doing just that. You see the world in black and white. Good and Evil. That is a major mistake. There is only the living and the dead, and we did what we had to do, to allow you to live another day. You’re welcome.

      • Life is good. The point of this post, and this site is to question who “we” are; which factions promote and protect life and which, death. Your “Russians and Chinese” (vs your “we”) is an entirely “black and white”, entirely distorting, at least totally assumed and unexamined distinction.

      • A2Key wrote “What would you rather we do? Allow the Russians and Chinese to use these organizations against us? Because they were doing just that. You see the world in black and white. Good and Evil. That is a major mistake.”

        I don’t think one statement you made was true.
        I’d rather our country stand for its people and their well-being, period. That would mean cleaning up Mexico and removing the cartels, which I’d consider an ‘anti terror’ operation that actually needs to happen. The fact is that Mexico is a failed narco state by design, and US administrations like it that way. This also proves that their (and by extension your) concern for national security is a total hoax. Whether China or Russia are using the cartels against us is besides the point- the point is why would the logical conclusion to this problem be for the US Gov to coopt the cartels and continue to allow them to import their poison here? You got some kind of false logic- if China/Russia import drugs through the cartels- that’s bad! But if uncle sam does the same exact thing- it’s good! Excuse me but your doublethink is showing. Also please explain how China/Russia were using the cartels BEFORE the USG were- the cartels came to prominence well over 40 years ago, helped along by the USG at every turn, so I call bullshit on your phony ass excuse that Russia/China forced the USG’s hand in this. And please explain how the USG’s media advertising of the drug counterculture psyop would somehow dissuade people from drug use. It obviously has had the opposite effect, by design. So we don’t need psychopath apologists here positing lame geopolitical straw men arguments as to why it was acceptable for the US authorities to look the other way, while the whole hemisphere got poisoned for generations. Good and evil is the ONLY way to see this world. You are the one making the mistake by seeing the world through your moral relativism goggles, as you were trained. And nobody thanked you, you sanctimonious scumbag.

          • I was one of the men who did things in the shadows to protect this country. There are not any like me left. And you know what? You’re ruled by foreign powers. Not foreign nations. Foreign powers. Unless you take up guns and kill them, you are screwed. And you’re screwed, because you had “moral aversions” to what we did to keep the wolf at bay. Well, we’re history, and the Wolf is eating your throat out. I hope you like it. You got what you wanted! You “did the right thing.” Did the “right thing” and got destroyed. You now have to look up to see a Pyric Victory. Sad for you.

              • Your problem is that you only THINK you know how bad it really is. Whatever you can imagine, it’s a thousand times worse, with a thousand more FACTIONS involved. It’s not just Russia and China. It’s every department within an agency times all the agencies times all the nation-states. Just pushing on the spaghettis over here pal.

                • And which agency do you work for?

                  TROLL ALERT: Disinformation attempting to be sown here to justify the CIA’s “work.”

  2. All true, folks. I knew a guy (whom has since passed on) that can verify the CIA and DEA connections to Noriega, Sihaloa, drug-running contras, you name it, because when he was ordered to go along with this criminality he retired from the DEA. He told me this stuff years ago. And he joined the DEA because while he served in Vietnam he was asked to be part of the drug-running “Air America” program, and he refused that as well. When his tour of duty was over he quit the air force, joined the DEA, and got snagged into the same criminality. What he told me years ago just scratched the surface.

  3. I cannot recommend Gary Webb’s “Dark Alliance” enough. It was a real eye opener for me. The movie “Kill The Messenger” did a fairly good job on Gary’s rise to fame and ultimate destruction due to his search for the truth. A truly heart breaking tale. What is sad is nothing changed, and the same old criminals prosper on.

  4. In 2019, a ship controlled by a JP Morgan Chase fund, was busted in Philly with 20 tons of cocaine aboard. Little to nothing has appeared in the news re this story since the bust on July 4th. Some patriot DEA guys at work?

  5. Everyone thinks the CIA is an intelligence agency. The business of the CIA is not intelligence. it is in the business of subversion. There are a lot really good facts and figures in this article, but it dances around the actual heart of the matter. Politicians like Waters and Kerry – these people are puppets. They’re distractions. Reagan signing off on covert aid to the contras was irrelevant. The real mastermind was Bush Sr. He was the one pushing the buttons the whole time. Never forget what Bush Sr. was before he became VP under Reagan.

    The CIA is the world’s most powerful drug cartel. It always has been and always will be. You see, when the CIA wants to go galivanting around the world exercising its subversive mission, it can’t go to Congress and say, “Hey we’d like half a billion dollars to go foment a civil war somewhere and overthrow the government.” It uses two of the world’s most lucrative currencies to do so: Drug trafficking and human trafficking. The CIA has been playing this game since its inception. What do you think Vietnam was all about? The conflict in Vietnam had noting to do with stopping the spread of communism into Southeast Asia. The communists took over the country in ’75 anyway. It hasn’t made a bit of difference ever since. While everyone was distracted watching what Cronkite was reporting on every evening in Vietnam, what do you think was going on in neighboring Laos, Cambodia and Thailand? It was nothing but a huge drug running operation. While everyone was distracted with the conflict in Vietnam, pay close attention to what was going elsewhere throughout the world.

    You want to know why we spent two decades in Afghanistan – at a cost of $2.2 trillion? Do I even need to elaborate on that? Hell, the Taliban almost eradicated opium production in that country up until the early 2000’s. Once we ran them into the hills, within just a couple of years poppy production skyrocketed to the highest it had ever been in the history of poppy production in Afghanistan. And those incestuous, goat-herding bastards have been growing poppy in that country for a long time. So that is saying something.

    Noriega was nothing but a CIA instrument. Ninety percent of the leaders throughout central and south America over the past 50-60 years have been nothing but instruments of the CIA. Mexico isn’t a failed narco state. It has been a highly successful narco state. The CIA has had its hand around the throat of that country for many decades, and every single one of the cartels in that country operate at the behest and under the guidance of the numero uno cartel in Langley.

    • Exactly. The drug economy is equal to main economy, which is controlled by the CIA to foment wars and other secret objectives relating to the NWO. Aryan genocide is the main course of action, based on the Kabbalah, which dictates an age old hostility between Jews and Aryans – or the Jewish Masonic War against ‘humanity.’

      • Yes and they use the drug problem to discriminate against pain patients with real, serious, nonstop pain. I know this because I am a pain patient. Following surgery I was given a few weak Norco. I almost took my own life the pain was so unbearable.

        Please everyone – join something LOCALLY to fight this tyranny. LOCAL is where we must start.

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