9-11 victim family member Ellen Mariani and her attorney Phil Berg (former Attorney General of Pennsylvania) filed a RICO lawsuit against members of the Bush administration (including George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, John "Jeb" Bush, Neil Mallon Bush, Marvin Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald H. Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, Condoleezza Rice, John Ashcroft, George J. Tenet, Norman y. Mineta, Tom Ridge, Peter G. Peterson, and the Council on Foreign Relations), for the murder of her husband and about 3,000 others on September 11, 2001. The RICO lawsuit (reproduced in Jim Maar'sInside Job: Unmasking the 9/11 Conspiracies (2004)) notes that in today’s world, big money is made in:
1) war preparations, the international trade in weapons, both legal and illegal, (about $1 trillion/year)
2) oil, gas, and related energy services (about $1 trillion/year)
3) narcotics trafficking (illegal is about $600 billion) ,
4) white collar crimes, e.g., securities fraud, insider trading, illegal manipulation of
markets, denuding funds from banks and pension plans, stealing money from
government-funded programs, etc.,
5) trafficking in humans, in part for forced labor but primarily abducting and sale of
women and children for sex, and
6) money laundering, to “cleanse” the largely illegal proceeds of the foregoing.
Background: The opium wars, the rich families of England and US that established our elite universities and where there money came from. (From Sutton’s America’s Secret Establishment: An Introduction to the Order of Skull and Bones (1982)).
Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs, and the Press
The CIA was established by the National Security Act of 1947, which also created the U.S. Air Forceand the National Security Council, and changed the name of the Department of War to Department of Defense. There was no congressional appropriation for funding- it came from private sources, including millionaires, criminal enterprises, and front organizations.
Dennis Dayle, former chief of an elite DEA enforcement unit
It is now clear that the CIA has relied upon the sale of drugs to fund covert operations throughout the world since World War II and that this drug money has also been an important component of the global economy.
Italy and France, 1943-1951. The Italian mafioso helped the WWII allies win in Italy by ballot stuffing, bribes, murder, etc., beginning a perennial alliance between the mafia and the CIA. Without the Sicilian mob’s help, the CIA would never have controlled Italy. Gangster Lucky Luciano was allowed to leave a US prison in order to rally the Sicilian mafia in support of the ally cause. In 1948, the mafia and CIA teamed up to avert a nearly certain election victory for the Italian Communist Party. They also teamed up to crush the unions. After the war, the CIA allowed Luciano to rebuild his drug empire; his primary clientelle were the black communities of New York City and Washington, DC. By 1947, the year it was founded, the CIA was backing heroin producers in Marseilles, Burma, Lebanon, and western Sicily.
The CIA and mafia teamed up to terrorize unionists and striking workers in Italy and France, killing about five a week. They established the “French Connection” wherein drugs produced in labs in Indochina, Latin America, and the Middle East were funneled through Marseilles and then sent via Cuba to the U.S. This accounted for 80% of the heroin entering the US at that time. This was done with the compliance of US government agencies, primarily the CIA. The CIA’s protection of the Corsican drug syndicate extended well into the 1970s. Corsicans implicated in drug busts as late as 1976 were given immunity by the CIA because prosecuting them would compromise “national security interests”.
The CIA was also in close cooperation with the Vatican, while it was still an ally of the Nazis. The Vatican was still harboring some major Nazi war criminals and smuggled many of these individuals out of Europe in the so-called "rat line."
By the late 1940s, U.S. Army and Navy Intelligence officers were recruiting Nazi war criminals, spies, SS men and scientists (Operation Paperclip). Torturer Klaus Barbie, the “Butcher of Lyon” was added to the U.S. payroll.
U.S. Opium Wars: China, Burma and the CIA
The KMT (Kuomintang) army of Gen. Li Mi, a Chinese nationalist under Chaing Kai Shek, had control of the largest opium poppy fields in Asia. CIA pilots carried loads of Li Mi’s opium on return flights to Bangkok, where it was delivered to the head of Thai secret police, a CIA asset. The KMT army was armed and fed and paid by the CIA. By the mid-70’s the KMT controlled over 80% of the Golden Triangle opium market.
Vietnam and Laos
In 1970, the CIA estimated that 60% of opium on the world market was from SE Asia. The four largest heroin labs in the region were located in villages in Laos, Burma and Thailand. Each of these was run by people on the CIA payroll.
Ho Chi Minh was consistently opposed to the opium trade, which was highly profitable to the French and later, the Americans. Ho was less corrupt and more capable than most alternatives at the time and many OSS men recommended that the US should back him after the eviction of the Japanese.
Vang Pao’s Laotian Hmong army of 30,000 (mostly teenagers), funded by the CIA to the tune of $300 million, was overseen and directed by the CIA. This army was collecting and shipping opium on CIA planes, flying under the American flag. The CIA airline was Air America. In 1959, Laos was producing about 150 tons of heroin a year. By 1971, it was up to 300 tons. The Hmong grew two crops- rice for food and opium for cash. Vang Pao controlled the opium trade in the Plain of Jars region of Laos. Vang Pao gave the villagers a good price for their opium crop and in return they would supply him with young recruits for his army.
In the early 60’s, the trading chain was as follows: opium would be shipped into Vietnam on Laos Commercial Air, run by Ngo Dinh Nhu and Corsican Bonaventure Francisi. Nhu or later Ky (the CIAs new puppet after the assassination of their puppet, Diem and his brother Nhu) would bring opium in from Long Tieng on Vietnamese air force planes. About a ton of opium landed in Saigon each month.
The Royal Lao Air Force, under direction of Thai General Rattikone, was used for heroin shipments. Then in 1967, the CIA bought two C-47s for Vang Pao. So he opened up his own air transport company, known widely as Air Opium.
Ted Shackley, Thomas Clines, and Richard Secord were key CIA operatives involved in the drug trade here and later in Central America.
30% of American servicement became addicted to heroin and spent about $80 million a year in Vietnam on heroin. In the early 1970s, some of this same heroin was being smuggled back to the US in body bags of dead servicemen. Reportedly, they were able to smuggle 50 to 60 pounds inside the bodies of dead American servicemen.
In 1971, during the height of CIA involvement in Laos, there were about 500,000 heroin addicts in the U.S. This fell to 200,000 in late 1970s. By 1981, with the new flood of Afghan heroin and low prices, the heroin addict population was up to 450,000. Drug casualties inside the US, especially in the inner cities, from secret CIA wars have numbered in the thousands.
CIA-supervised efforts of "the Contras" (U.S. backed former police of deposed American-backed dictator, Somoza) to raise money by running drugs into the U.S. were detailed by reporter Gary Webb, who was later fired by his newspaper the San Jose Mercury News, and vilified and discredited by theWashington Post, New York Times, etc. In his book, Dark Alliance: the CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion, 1999), Webb documented how the Reagan/Bush administration funded and armed the Contras in their illegal war in Nicaragua through profits from the sales of crack/cocaine smuggled into America by the CIA and then sold in primarily West Coast American cities. Webb, died in Sacramento, CA, while still a young man in 2004, reportedly shooting himself in an “apparent suicide”.
Ollie North had recruited Richard Secord to run the Contra weapons supply operation.
SETCO was a Honduran airline company used to transport supplies and weapons from the US to Contra camps in Honduras from 1983 to 1985. The company was controlled by Ballesteros, one of the largest drug dealers in Latin America, who had contacts with the CIA and the Pentagon. The airline was also used to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.
Weapons were commonly purchased from R & M Equipment, a US firm which had a large warehouse in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. It was partly owned by Ron Martin, a former CIA operative. Richard Secord is testified that $14 million in weapons there was paid for with drug money.
Meanwhile, the Boland Amendment of 1984 had specifically limited any US aid to Nicaragua to being strictly “humanitarian aid."
In 1986, Seymore Hersch published a story in The New York Times exposing General Manuel Noriega’s 20-year association with the Columbia Drug Cartels. It occurred just as Noriega was coming to Washington to receive a Medal of Honor. The article alleged that Noriega was involved in money laundering, arms dealing, and political assassinations, and had helped the CIA in its war against Nicaragua. Actually, Noriega had been recruited by the Defense Intelligence Agency in 1959, began working for the CIA in 1967, and remained on the US payroll for some three decades. Under George Bush I, in 1976, the CIA paid Noriega $100,000/year.
In 1986, a plane carrying arms from El Salvador to Contra camps inside Nicaragua crashed, proving that the Reagan government’s illegal shipments were being made.
Top DEA agent Celerino Castillo III reported that US agents in Oliver North’s NSC operation were running drugs in the 1980’s. His superiors transferred him out of Central America and placed him under investigation. According to Castillo, cocaine from Columbia was delivered to Sofi-Perez’s (a Cuban refugee with CIA ties who was a Bay of Pigs veteran) shrimp factory in Guatemala City, where it was packed in with frozen shrimp and then shipped to Miami. A share of the profits was sent to the Contras. Another larger operation was run at Llopango by another Cuban refugee and Bay of Pigs veteran, Felix Rodrigues, a.k.a. Max Gomez. Rodriguez drafted a plan to create an assassination team in 1982 and between 1982 and 1986 oversaw the Contra supply effort in El Salvador. Rodriquez had numerous ties to cocaine traffickers and arms dealers, including Gerard Ltachinian.
The Kerry Investigation in Congress took 2.5 years to investigate all this and conlcuded that: “It is clear that 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 received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers”.
In 1984, the US Justice Department offered George Morales a deal to suspend his indictment for drug trafficking if we would contribute $1 million a year to the Contras and furnish planes from his aviation company. He agreed. Drug flights into and out of Costa Rica and Honduras were protected by the CIA.
The CIA also requested contributions from the Medellin Drug Cartel- specifically Cuban exile, Ramon Milian Rodriguez, accountant for the Cartel. In the 70s, the CIA had asked him to contribute $20 million to Samoza’s government. Then in the 1980s, Felix Rodriguez asked him to contribute $10 million to the Contras.
In contributing to the Contra cause, the Medellin Cartel received protection from the DEA and safe passage for their cocaine to the American market, specifically San Francisco and L.A.
Between 1982 and 1985, according to the DEA, cocaine imports into the US increased by 50%, and cocaine became the most profitable drug in the US market. The DEA estimated the overall profits from cocaine imports at $30 to $50 billion. Two of the Medellin Cartel leaders, Pablo Escobar and Jorge Ochoa, were on list of world’s richest men in 1988.
Carolos Salinas, a Harvard trained economist friendly with the US, was elected President of Mexico in 1988. Cardenas lost. In fact, Cardenas was winning. Then Interior Minister Manuel Bartlett Dias ordered a suspension of the counting. Ten days later, Salinas was declared a winner with 52%. An independent analysis said that Cardenas had actually won, 42 to 36%. Salinas proceeded to privatize the Mexican economy, roll back land reforms, suppress the labor movement (including arresting labor leaders on bogus charges, crushing strikes with paratroopers), opened up Mexico to foreign investment, sold off government owned businesses (selling 252 state-owned companies), and negotiated NAFTA with the US Congress. The number of billionaires in Mexico sky-rocketed and the drug trade thrived with the active support and participation of Mexican police and military. By 1990, over 75% of all cocaine entering the US was from Mexico. Also, marijuana and heroin and methamphetamines imports increased dramatically. Profits from drug sales entering the US were $30 to 50 billion a year. The Tijuana Cartel and Gulf Cartel and flourished. Ties between the US banking industry and drug cartels became more obvious. When Salinas left office after six years, he had accumulated as much as $5 billion of personal wealth.
Ernesto Zedillo succeeded Salinas and continued “neoliberal reforms” in Mexico. The US stepped up military training to suppress political dissent. In 1996, the Pentagon launched a $28 million program to train over 1,100 Mexican soldiers a year at US bases- including the School of the Americas. And the CIA brought 90 Mexican intelligence officers to be trained at Langley. Covert training included helicopter assault methods, bomb-making, counter-insurgency operations and intelligence techniques. The program is called GAFE.
In Sept., 1997, 18 members of the new Mexican counter-narcotics strike force were arrested after being caught flying a military plane loaded with cocaine from Chiapas to Mexico City. The two pilots had just finished being trained in the US. GAFE squads are also implicated in numerous reports of torture and assassination.
The assault tactics using US military training and weapons are designed to quell popular uprisings such as those of the Zapitistas in Chiapas, where 150 indigenous peasants were killed by assault helicopters. They had been protesting low corn prices brought about by NAFTA trade agreements.
Henry Gonzales, Texas Democratic chairman of the House Banking Committee, held hearings on money laundering and drug trafficking back to 1994. His and subsequent hearings presided over by Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa, concluded that “banks within banks”- similar to the Citibank operation described by The New York Times- are conduits for hot cash, primarily from narco-trafficking:
Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press
Drug dealer Milian Rodriguez stated that all the major US banks had “special representatives” who would greet people like himself as they came north, provide entertainment, women and covert cash for $100 million denomination certificates of deposit.
The CIA-backed KLA, which has links to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, smuggled 70% of heroin into Europe. It is an American ally. We “Balkanized” the region in order to control it and to drive property values down.
Afghanistan (The Golden Crescent includes highlands of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran and is now grows more poppies for heroin production than any other region in the world. It is an expanse of desert where a number of feuding tribes and miserably poor people live.)
In 50s and 60s, the relatively sparse opium trade was controlled by the royal family, headed by King Mohammed Zahir. In 1978, a populist coup overthrew the regime of Mohammed Daoud, who had formed an alliance with the Shah of Iran: The Iranian secret police had trained Daoud’s internal security force, and Daoud had accepted $2 billion from the Shah. The new Afghan government was lead by Noor Mohammed Taraki. Taraki moved toward "land reform," which was an attack on opium growing feudal leaders.
The U.S. wanted Taraki the socialist, overthrown. Taraki appealed to the Soviets for help. In 1979, Taraki was killed in a coup organized by Afghan military officers. Hafizullah Amin was installed as the new President. Amin had been educated in the U.S. Fearing a U.S.-backed, fundamentalist regime, the Soviets invaded in Dec. 27, 1979. This set the stage for a proxy war between the U.S. and Soviet Union that was actually fought by Afghanis. Now the U.S. began pouring aid money into Pakistan as well as to the mujahedin in Afghanistan. This war, which occurred throughout the 1980's killed about a million Afghanis.
The mujahedin (whom Reagan called “freedom fighters” and the “moral equivalent of America’s founding fathers”) consisted of at least 7 warring factions, all battling for territory and control of the opium trade. TheISI (Pakistan’s Interservice Intelligence) gave most of the (U.S.-provided) arms (60%) to a fanatical fundamentalist, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who had been an ISI agent. He urged his followers to throw acid in the faces of women not wearing a veil. His soldiers urged peasants, at gunpoint, to increase opium production. He controlled six heroin factories. But much of the time, the mujahedin were fighting against each other. Eventually Hekmatyar overcame rival leader Mullah Nassim and got control of the Helmand Valley. Yes, the mujahedin leaders used drug profits. But since the CIA was running everything, opium revenues, by and large ended up in offshore accounts in the Habib Bank, one of Pakistan’s largest, and in the BCCI (Bank of Credit and Commerce International) founded by Agha Hasan Abedi. The CIA was also using the BCCI for its own secret transactions.
The DEA had evidence of over 40 heroin syndicates operating in Pakistan in the mid-80s during the Afghan war, and there was evidence of over 200 heroin labs operating in northwest Pakistan. But noDEADEA action against these labs or syndicates was ever taken. The CIA ordered the DEA to pull back during the war.
Publicly, President Jimmy Carter was afraid the war might lead to the establishment of a Soviet beachhead in the Persian Gulf. But his Carter Doctrine of containment in South Asia actually lead to more secret CIA operations than occurred under President Reagan later. The object of (Secretary of State, Zbigniew Brzezinski's) Carter Doctrine was to bleed the Soviets, and lead them into a Vietnam-like kind of trap or quagmire
In all, the CIA spent at least $3.2 billion on covert backing (and assembling, training, arming, funding networks, etc.) of the mujahedin (including Osama Bin Laden), the most expensive secret operation in its history.
One honest White House staffer, David Musto, told the adminstration that we were going into Afghanistan to support the opium growers in their rebellion against the Soviets. Obviously, much of the money we spent went to mujahedin rebels who were deeply involved in the opium trade. By 1981, Afghanistan had captured 60% of the heroin market in western Europe and the U.S. (DEA and UN figures)
60% of Afghanistan’s opium crop was cultivated in the Helmand Valley, whose irrigation infrastructure was underwritten by USAID.
Afghan poppies were refined to heroin in labs in Darra, a town in northwestern Pakistan. Here, the CIA and Paksitan’s (CIA-funded) ISI also manufactured Soviet-style weapons which they gave away to all Afghans. Much heroin was sold to the Pakistani government of the northwestern territory. It was placed on Pakistani army trucks, transported to Karachi, then shipped to Europe and the U.S. The impact of the CIA program on heroin addiction in Pakistan was tremendous. Before the CIA involvement began there were fewer than 5,000 heroin addicts in Pakistan, by 1996, according to the UN, there were 1.6 million. By 1994, the value of the heroin trade was twice the amount of the Pakistan government’s budget. All elements of government were corrupted by the drug trade.
In 1989, Soviet President Gorbachev pulled the Soviet troops out of Afghanistan. The war had already turned half the population into refugees, killed a million, and wounded three million more.
In September 1996, the Taliban, fundamentalists nurtured in the Pakistan by the CIA and the ISI, seized power in Kabul, with Mullah Omar as their leader. The CIA supported them even though they were incredibly repressive of women. The Taliban, however, ordered Afghan farmers to increase production of poppies. By 1996, opium production in Afghanistan was 2,000 metric tons. The CIA had done it again. According to UN statistics, by 1994, Afghanistan had surpassed Burma as the world’s number one supplier of raw opium.
In 2000, 4500 metric tons of opium came from Afghanistan, the largest crop ever. A CIA record!
When the Taliban destroyed the entire opium crop in Jan-Feb 2001 upon orders from Washington, D.C., they took about $1-2 billion in liquid cash which Wall Street was relying upon out of circulation.
ENRON had done all the feasibility studies (costing $2 billion) for pipelines that would cross through Afghanistan that would transport oil from the newly liberated “Stans” to the Indian Ocean..
Why does the CIA deal drugs?
It’s legal for all New York Stock Exchange corporations to launder drug money. When drug money is added to corporations’ bottom line, this drives stock prices up. An estimated trillion dollars of drug money are laundered annually, of which $500 billion moves through the banks. This $500 billion in liquid cash allows Wall Street to maintain its monthly payments.
ENRON was essentially a money laundering company. It had 3000 subsidiaries, 700 in the Cayman Islands, and it operated in 150 countries.
Andrade, Dale, 1990, Ashes to Ashes: The Phoenix Program and the Vietnam War, Lexington Books
Cockburn, Leslie, Out of Control
Corn, D., 1994, Blond Ghost, Ted Shackley and the CIA’s crusades. Simon and Schuster, 1994.
Marshall, Jonathan and Scott, Peter Dale, Cocaine Politics
McCoy, A., 1991, The Politics of Heroin; The Complicity of the CIA in the Global Drug Trade, Lawrence Hill.
McCoy, A, 1992, The Politics of Heroin in southeast Asia, Harper and Row, 1972.
McGeehee, Ralph, 1983, Deadly Deceits: My 25 Years in the CIA, Sheridan Square Publications.
Truell, Peter, and Gurwin, Larry, False Profits (BCCI scandal).
Valentine, Douglas, 1990, The Phoenix Program, Morrow.
Warner, Roger, 1995, Backfire: The CIA’s Secret War in Laos and its links to the War in Vietnam, HaperCollins.