Indiana Hull & Contra Cocaine

1988-guatemala_006(Excerpted from Chapter 4: Nicaragian Contraband: Big Oil & Their Bankers…)

Richard Brenneke’s Congressional testimony got more interesting.  He said the Honduran arms bazaar was bankrolled by Columbia’s Medellin Cartel.  When Brenneke discovered this he went to Donald Gregg, who told him, “You do what you were assigned to do.  Don’t question the decisions of your betters”. [143]

Former Panamanian Intelligence Chief Jose Blandon, testifying before the same subcommittee, corroborated Brenneke’s story.  He also said that his boss, Panamanian President Manuel Noriega, had been aiding the CIA in arming the contras and in arranging Medellin Cartel cocaine shipments.  Blandon said Noriega was instructed by the CIA to open accounts at the BCCI branch in Panama City.  The CIA deposited $200,000 into these accounts each year.

Brenneke’s testimony is further bolstered by a note in Oliver North’s diaries, which were obtained at the Iran/Contra trials.  A scribbling of North’s dated 7-12-85 reads, “plans to seize all…when Supermarket comes to a bad end.  $4 million to finance came from drugs”.

Michael Tolliver, another pilot involved in the contra effort, testified that he was recruited by Felix Rodriguez to fly weapons to contra bases in Honduras.  He said the arms for drugs quid pro quo was happening in the cargo hold of his plane.  He said he once watched as 28,500 pounds of military hardware came off his plane in Honduras only to be replaced by 25,360 pounds of marijuana.  Tolliver says he flew to Homestead Air Force Base in South Florida where he delivered the pot.  Another pilot, George Morales, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a similar story.

The State Department issued checks totaling over $800,000 to known drug smugglers who re-supplied the contras. [144]  During the war against Nicaragua, contra drug rings were discovered in Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, New Orleans and Memphis.  In August 1996 the San Jose Mercury News ran a three-part series titled “Dark Alliance”.  The paper says a Bay Area drug ring sold tons of cocaine to LA street gangs with the profits going through Danilo Blandon and Norwin Meneses to fund the contras.

Donald Gregg had good reason to bristle at Brenneke for bringing up the CIA drug problem.  It was Felix Rodriguez who approached the Medellin Cartel to solicit money for the contras and Felix took orders from Gregg.  The Cartel kicked down $10 million.  But its relations with the Enterprise were not philanthropical in nature.  While Rafael Quintero was sending arms from Miami to Honduras, cocaine was being smuggled to Miami via Honduras.

Karachi-based BCCI had suddenly taken a keen interest in the Honduran coffee business.  Coffee is often used by cocaine smugglers due to its strong smell.  Munther Bilbeisi, one of BCCI’s top marketing executives and son of a top Jordanian Minister, was eventually convicted of smuggling coffee by a Miami magistrate.  The Bilbeisi family is one of the four richest families in Jordan.  When Bilbeisi was caught, his day job was selling arms to the Guatemalan government.  In one deal Bilbeisi arranged for a $30 million BCCI loan to help the Guatemalan military buy helicopters, securing the deal by bribing President Vinicio Cerezo via the Israeli Leumi Bank in Miami. [145]

Much of the cocaine was coming into Honduras by way of Costa Rica, where the Enterprise point man was John Hull.  Hull orchestrated the CIA overthrow of the leftist government of President Achmad Sukarno in Indonesia in 1964.

Sukarno railed against colonialism and hosted the radical Bandung Conference of Asian and African leaders in 1955.  The CIA installed General Suharto, who ruled the archipelago with an iron fist until 1999.  Following the Sukarno coup, 500,000 to 1 million trade unionists, ethnic Chinese and members of the Indonesian Communist Party were slaughtered.  US Embassy personnel in Jakarta supplied names to the Indonesian Army of those to be assassinated, while checking off the names of those killed or captured. [146]  Unable to keep pace with Washington’s demands for carnage, the Indonesian army organized Muslim extremists to further terrorize the Indonesian people.  The US responded by sending even more weapons.

By 1967, Indonesia was back in the IMF/World Bank fold, passing liberal foreign investment laws.  The dictator Suharto was rewarded with $200 million in US aid by 1969. [147]  CIA agent John Hull wasn’t the only Iran/Contra figure who surfaced in the Indonesian theatre.  Throughout the 1970’s Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khoshoggi, now an important channel for Secord’s Enterprise, bribed Indonesian Air Force officers to sell Lockheed fighter planes.  The bribes were paid through numbered accounts in Singapore known as the Widows and Orphans Fund.  Khashoggi made over $100 million peddling Lockheed weaponry to the Saudis during this period.

John Hull now owned a ranch in northern Costa Rica, near the Nicaraguan border.  There a guns-for-drugs exchange was set up by Felipe Vidal and Rene Corvo, two Bay of Pigs members of Alpha 66, a known drug trafficking ring based in Miami whose members seem to have a collective get-out-of-jail-free card.  Hull too had been involved in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.  Hull’s ranch and another owned by American Bruce Jones served as resupply bases for the southern ARDE front of contras based in Costa Rica.  Oliver North’s liaison to John Hull was Rob Owen.  Owen delivered $10,000 a month from the NSC to Hull to purchase supplies and train contras.  Far larger revenues were being generated by cocaine shipments passing regularly through Hull’s ranch.  Hull worked directly with the two kingpins of the Medellin Cartel – Pablo Escobar and Jorge Ochoa.  With the help of Panamanian President Noriega, the Columbians were able to use Hull’s ranch as a transshipment point for their coke from 1983-1985.  The coke was shipped to Miami on shrimp boats.

It was 1983 when the ringleader of the Enterprise, Richard Secord, became the Pentagon’s Chief Liaison to Saudi Arabia.  What exactly a “chief liaison” does is anyone’s guess, but if Secord’s history is any guide, his main job was to recycle petrodollars from the Saudi royal family and other wealthy Persian Gulf sheiks to buy arms for the contra cause.  The House of Saud kicked down at least $35 million for the contras.  Secord was equally comfortable working with royalty and criminals, handing over the monarchs’ money to Manzer al-Kassar to buy over 100 tons of small arms for the contras.

Al-Kassar headed a major Syrian-based heroin ring and was close to Syrian intelligence and then-President Hafez Assad.  He also worked directly with the Medellin Cartel.  But Al-Kassar was no rogue criminal element.  He was part of a super-secret CIA unit operating in Damascus code-named COREA.  Al-Kassar would ship arms to Panama for Secord, where they would be purchased by contra front companies set up with the help of Noriega and Banco de IberoAmerica, a known money laundry for the Cartel. [148]

While Secord kept the arms flowing, Hull was plotting with Rob Owen to assassinate US Ambassador to Costa Rica Lewis Tambs, who worked in the same US Embassy building as Hull’s CIA handler, Philip Holtz.  Tambs had a $1 million bounty placed on his head by the Medellin Cartel, which he had been trying to shut down.  Hull’s idea was to kill Tambs, then blame it on the Sandinistas to justify an escalation in the US war on Nicaragua.

The plot was foiled, so Hull turned his sights on Eden Pastora, whose stubborn Revolutionary Front of Sandino contra faction was threatening the unity of UNO.  Hull procured the services of a right-wing Libyan exile working with DINA, the Chilean secret police.  Amac Galil posed as a journalist at a Pastora press conference in La Penca, Costa Rica, planting a bomb.  Pastora narrowly escaped the blast.  Four journalists were killed and many others badly maimed.  Two injured journalists, Tony Avirgan and Martha Honey, led an investigation revealing CIA involvement in the plot. [149]

Hull wasn’t just a drug trafficker and a murderer.  He was also a thief who specialized in shaking down the US taxpayer.  He swindled a $375,000 loan from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) in 1983.  Since OPIC is insured by the US government, when Hull didn’t pay back the loan, US taxpayers did. [150]  A US prosecutor tried to investigate John Hull in 1985.  In San Jose, he was stonewalled by the US Embassy.  Back in Washington, his request for a grand jury was denied.  Soon afterward the Justice Department dropped the case altogether and sent the prosecutor on a dead-end mission to Thailand.  A similar fate met federal public defender John Mattes, who said he encountered, “clear attempts to obstruct the truth” at both Justice and the FBI while investigating Hull.

A lawsuit by the Washington-based Christic Institute naming Hull, Secord, Shackley, Clines and their cohorts as co-defendants under federal organized crime (RICO) statutes, was summarily dismissed by Judge King in Miami.  King, a close friend of Richard Nixon, then made the Christic pay Enterprise attorney fees of $1 million.  Prior to the case coming to trial, numerous key witnesses for the prosecution were murdered, including Stephen Carr, who was ready to testify that he was at several meetings between the Enterprise, contra leaders and Medellin Cartel representatives.

Dean Henderson is the author of five books:Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network, The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries, Das Kartell der Federal Reserve, Stickin’ it to the Matrix & The Federal Reserve Cartel.  You can subscribe free to his weekly Left Hook column


2 responses to “Indiana Hull & Contra Cocaine

  1. Coffee is used to mask any contraband because dogs are trained to ignore it. The reason for this is: Dog handlers drink coffee and smell like coffee, the dog would associate the coffee with the item the handler is searching for and would then spend all of its effort finding old coffee cups, coffee vending machines, other coffee drinkers and the closest Maxwell House cannery.

  2. Pingback: NARCO-POLITIK: ‘El Comandante ‘Cero’, John Hull, and the Attempted Assassination of US Ambassador to Costa Rica Lewis Tambs – By Dean Henderson (Flashback) | RIELPOLITIK

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