Chapter XI: DEA's Response to Information About Contra Drug Trafficking And Miscellaneous Cases
In this section, we examine the degree to which the CIA passed on to the DEA information and allegations on drug trafficking by Contras or Contra sympathizers, and the manner in which the DEA responded to such information. We also examine the information the DEA received from sources other than the CIA about Contra drug trafficking and what the DEA did to pursue these leads.
B. General Relationship between DEA and CIA During the Period of the Contra Revolution
1. Headquarters Level
CIA Headquarters and DEA's Intelligence Division at DEA Headquarters periodically exchanged information regarding drug trafficking in foreign countries. The information exchanged was, for the most part, of a general nature: the CIA would, for example, tell the Intelligence Division that it had information that opium production had soared in a particular country, and the DEA would tell the CIA about drug-related terrorism or violence abroad. Occasionally, CIA gave the Intelligence Division information about specific people suspected of drug trafficking. That information is discussed in section D, below.
On occasion, the CIA asked the Intelligence Division if the DEA was investigating a particular person because the CIA was considering using that person as an asset or contractor in a covert operation. In 1986 or 1987, the CIA began asking if the DEA had any "derogatory information" on pilots the CIA was considering using in its operations to aid the Contras. When the Intelligence Division received those requests, it conducted NADDIS searches and reported the results to the CIA.
According to the DEA, the CIA has been sharing drug intelligence with the DEA since it was given a drug intelligence mandate in the early 1970s. Initially, these reports most often focused on trends in drug cultivation, production or trafficking abroad. As the CIA has increased its focus on the drug issue, it has begun to provide information on drug organizations to the DEA to assist with its drug investigations.
In response to Congressional inquiries, the DEA and the CIA prepared a joint assessment of possible illicit drug activity by anti-Sandinista groups in 1987. That assessment is discussed throughout this chapter.
2. The 1982 Memorandum of Understanding Between the CIA and the Department of Justice Regarding Crimes Reporting
In 1982, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 535 and Executive Order 12333, the CIA and DOJ entered into a Memorandum of Understanding entitled "Reporting and Use of Information Concerning Federal Crimes" (1982 MOU). The 1982 MOU set forth "procedures govern[ing] the reporting of information concerning possible federal crimes to the Attorney General and to federal investigative agencies acquired by agencies within the intelligence community in the course of their functions." It provided:
When [the CIA] has received allegations, complaints or information tending to show that an employee of [the CIA] may have violated any federal criminal statute, or another person may have violated [certain statutes listed later in the 1982 MOU], . . . the [CIA] shall within a reasonable period of time determine through a preliminary inquiry whether or not there is any basis to the allegations (that is, are clearly not frivolous or false). If the allegations cannot be established as without basis, [the information must be reported to DOJ via the procedures set forth later in the MOU].
The 1982 MOU was unclear on two critical issues. First, by defining "employee" as a "staff employee or contract employee" (which, for these purposes included former staff or contract employees), it left open whether the CIA was obliged to pass on information regarding criminal activities of "assets" or paid informants.(79) Second, in the list of crimes that the CIA was obliged to pass on information about even when a non-employee was involved, the MOU made no mention of narcotics trafficking.
Attorney General William French Smith took the position that the CIA should report information about trafficking by non-employees. In a letter sent to Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) William J. Casey on February 11, 1982, the day the MOU was signed, Attorney General Smith wrote:
I have been advised that a question arose regarding the need to add narcotics violations to the list of reportable non-employee crimes. 21 U.S.C. 874(h)(80) provides that "[w]hen requested by the Attorney General, it shall be the duty of any agency or instrumentality of the Federal Government to furnish assistance to him for carrying out his functions under [the Controlled Substances Act] . . ." [The] Executive Order 12333 tasks the Central Intelligence Agency to "collect, produce and disseminate intelligence on foreign aspects of narcotics production and trafficking." Moreover, authorization for the dissemination of information concerning narcotics violat[i]ons to law enforcement agencies, including the Department of Justice, is provided by [various] sections of the Order. In light of these provisions, and 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. We look forward to the CIA's continuing cooperation with the Department of Justice in this area.
DCI Casey responded to the Attorney General's letter on March 2, 1982, thanking Smith for his February 11 letter, but Casey did not comment at all about Smith's understanding as to the reporting of drug trafficking information. Nonetheless, it appears from the subsequent actions and statements of CIA officials, that the CIA believed it should report information concerning narcotics trafficking to law enforcement agencies. For example, some time later, Alan Fiers, Chief of CIA's Central American Task Force told a July 31, 1987 meeting with staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that "We [the CIA] report immediately all information on narcotics trafficking to the State Department and law enforcement agencies."
It should be noted that another MOU between DOJ and the CIA was signed in 1995 and was explicitly amended to include provisions requiring reporting of information about the following offenses by non-employees: "Violations of U.S. drug laws including the cultivation, production, transportation, importation, sale, or possession (other than possession of user quantities) of controlled substances; the production, transportation, importation and sale of precursor or essential chemicals[; t]he transmittal, investment and/or laundering of the proceeds of any of the unlawful activities listed in this Section" and conspiracy to commit any of the enumerated crimes.
C. DEA/CIA Interaction in Costa Rica
The DEA did not have a Nicaragua Country Office until 1997. Before that time, the Costa Rica Country Office monitored Nicaraguan drug activity, though it received very little cooperation from the Sandinista government. Costa Rica was also the center of the Southern Front of the Contra conflict. In Chapter X, we discussed the allegations made by former DEA agent Celerino Castillo, including his allegations about drug trafficking by the Contras in El Salvador, a country that was covered by the DEA office in Guatemala. This section primarily discusses the DEA/CIA interaction in Costa Rica.
1. Information the CIA Gave DEA in Costa Rica
DEA personnel assigned to the Costa Rica Country Office in the mid-1980s generally recalled having an amicable relationship with CIA Costa Rica Station personnel. However, DEA Country Attaches and Special Agents told us that they did not want to be perceived as having a "working relationship" with the CIA Station. Ronald Lard, the DEA Country Attache in Costa Rica from November 1989 through 1993, said he believed that he would have jeopardized the good relationships and high degree of latitude and cooperation Costa Rican law enforcement gave the Country Office if the Office was perceived to be working with the CIA.
The DEA personnel in Costa Rica told the OIG that the information the CIA gave the DEA was often too vague or general to be of use. Indeed, neither former CA Lard nor Donald Clements, the Country Attache in Costa Rica from 1980 to 1985, could recall any specific information about drug trafficking the CIA Station ever gave them. DEA personnel also reported that often they were unable to corroborate information received from the CIA Station because the Station would not reveal its source, nor would the Station allow the DEA to interview its informants. Lard recalled that sometimes, when the Station passed information to him, it was for his "eyes only" and that he was specifically instructed that he could not even share it with DEA Headquarters. Even when not given these instructions, Lard would not pass the information to DEA Headquarters unless the Country Office used the information in some way -- by, for example, creating a document or generating a report containing or based on the information.
Former Assistant CA Gonzalez said he recalled only one specific instance while he was in Costa Rica when the CIA gave the DEA narcotics-related information. A CIA operative gave Gonzalez some information about some airplanes suspected of being used for drug trafficking that were located at a small airstrip near San Jose, Costa Rica. Gonzalez said he had already known about the matter, but he prepared a DEA Form 6 containing the information.
According to DEA SA Juan Perez, the CIA Station in Costa Rica "always took and never gave anything." He said that personnel from the Station came into the Country Office from time to time to run NADDIS checks, claiming that the Station was looking into international money laundering. Perez said he had no idea if personnel in the Station actually were conducting such an investigation. In the late 1980s, Perez "turned over" to the CIA an informant with information about Central American politics that was not useful to the DEA.
Former CA Lard also recalled giving the CIA information that the DEA could not use. Lard stated that, from time to time the CIA Station would ask the DEA Country Office for information about the identities of persons or entities who were actual or potential DEA targets of investigation in Costa Rica.
No DEA personnel stationed in Costa Rica during the mid-1980s could recall the CIA providing any information about Contras who might have been involved in narcotics trafficking. No DEA personnel stationed in Costa Rica during the mid-1980s who we interviewed recalled any instance of the CIA's asking the Country Office to refrain from investigating members of the Contra movement suspected of narcotics trafficking. Moreover, all DEA Country Attaches and agents interviewed by the OIG stated that, had they been asked to stop an investigation, they would have refused to do so and would have complained within the DEA.
The CIA OIG told us that the CIA personnel from the Costa Rica Station between 1981 to 1989 who it interviewed did not recall giving any information about narcotics trafficking by Contras to the DEA.
Based on a review of thousands of pages of DEA and CIA documents, interviews with DEA personnel stationed in Costa Rica during the 1980s, and CIA OIG's representations about the recollections of CIA personnel stationed in Costa Rica during the 1980s, we concluded that comparatively little information was exchanged between the CIA and the DEA pursuant to the MOU. However, we possess no information regarding any effort by the CIA in Costa Rica to prevent the DEA from learning about Contra or Contra-related trafficking, or to prevent the DEA from pursuing such matters.
D. Classified Memoranda from CIA to DEA on Drug Trafficking by the "Southern Front" Contras
Above the Country Office level, the CIA did provide some information to the DEA about suspected trafficking activities by the "Southern Front" Contras.
In a memorandum dated October 25, 1984, the CIA reported that Adolfo "Popo" Chamarro had told an unnamed person or persons about an agreement he had recently made. At that time, Adolfo Chamarro was an official of the Sandino Revolutionary Front (FRS), a Contra group in Costa Rica headed by Eden Pastora. Chamarro said that he had reached a mutual assistance agreement in Miami, Florida with a narcotics trafficker who was a Cuban national. Under the agreement, the FRS would provide its "operational facilities" (e.g. airstrips) in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and would obtain documentation from the Costa Rican government to "facilitate the transportation of narcotics." In exchange, the trafficker would provide "financial support, aircraft, and pilot training" to the FRS.
In a November 9, 1984 meeting, the CIA told DOJ representatives (including DEA and FBI personnel) that the trafficker involved was Jorge Morales (actually a Colombian, not Cuban, national). According to a cable dated November 9, 1984 from FBI Headquarters to the FBI Miami Field Office, the CIA provided the following additional information:
On October 16, 1984, Morales reportedly turned over to FRS two helicopters and a DC-3 aircraft. The agreement between Morales and FRS also includes training for two FRS pilots in Miami, who in addition to their FRS military duties, will fly narcotics from Colombia to FRS-provided landing fields in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and then on to the United States.
The DOJ representative at the meeting asked the CIA to "obtain updated details" by November 14, 1984. FBI Headquarters also directed the FBI's Miami Field Office to verify some information about bank accounts the CIA had reported were being used to facilitate the agreement between FRS and Morales, and to conduct a records check on Morales and Chamarro. The FBI Miami office was to "insure [the] investigation [is] coordinated with DEA, Miami."
According to a later internal DEA cable, "[t]he source had not furnished actionable information sufficient to predicate initiation of a criminal investigation." An internal CIA cable explained that the source had become "frightened for his life and refused to cooperate with the Drug Enforcement Agency [sic]."
In a November 5, 1984 memorandum, the CIA related additional information about the alleged agreement between Chamarro and Morales. Morales was to supply the FRS with an airplane and $200,000 per month in exchange for the use of FRS pilots in his narcotics activities. According to the CIA, Gerardo Duran, an "FRS pilot," was scheduled to make a flight for Morales from Miami, Florida, to the Bahamas.
A December 5, 1984, memorandum from the CIA related more information about these subjects. According to the CIA, a meeting between Eden Pastora, Adolfo "Popo" and Roberto "Tito" Chamarro (both FRS officials), and Jorge Morales in Miami had been scheduled for November 29, 1984, and had apparently taken place. FRS pilots Gerardo Duran and "Franco" were to meet Pastora and the Chamarro brothers in Miami. According to the CIA's information:
[T]he presence of Duran in Miami indicates that a narcotics flight is scheduled and plans for the flight will probably be made during the meetings between the FRS officers and Morales. The flight will probably move narcotics from Colombia to the Bahamas where, according to Morales, government officials are paid to cooperate.
Morales had given $30,000 to the FRS, and had promised the FRS leaders the use of twenty additional aircraft, "once planned operations are underway." The CIA reported that "Morales appears to have the objective of moving his operations out of the U.S. and into Central America and the Bahamas. He has received considerable publicity in the Miami news media recently due to his indictment on drug smuggling charges and his prowess in power boat competitions."
The CIA's memorandum does not make clear when it received this information. If it was received on or before November 28, 1984, the CIA should have notified the DEA immediately and given the DEA permission to alert the Country Offices in Colombia and the Bahamas of the suspected narcotics flight, so that those offices could have tried to coordinate the interception of that flight with foreign authorities.
E. Other CIA Information
Because the activities of the CIA were not the focus of our review, we did not conduct a thorough assessment of the extent to which the CIA passed all narcotics-related information involving Contras or Contra supporters to the DEA. However, in our limited review of certain CIA files, we found intelligence information regarding drug trafficking by Contra supporters that does not appear to have been passed to the DEA. We are also aware that the CIA did pass some intelligence information about drug traffickers affiliated with the Contra movement to the DEA and other entities. We leave it to the CIA OIG to describe in its report all the information it had regarding Contras and drug trafficking and whether the CIA reported that information to the DEA or any other appropriate authorities.
According to an internal CIA memorandum, CIA Central American Task Force Chief Alan Fiers told Congressional intelligence committees in July 1987 that the CIA would be meeting with the DEA to discuss information regarding possible trafficking by members of the Nicaraguan resistance. Despite this assertion, neither the DEA nor the CIA OIG could locate any record of any such discussions. Alan Fiers refused to be interviewed by the OIG. In response to our letter to him, he called us and said in a short conversation that he recalled only one instance when the CIA passed Contra and narcotics-related information to the DEA, regarding Cuban national Jorge Morales, which is discussed in the next section. He refused to be interviewed by us any further.
F. Information Passed By CIA Regarding Jorge Morales, Adolfo "Popo" Chamarro, and Roberto "Tito" Chamarro
1. Fiers' Memorandum
In his short statement to the OIG, Alan Fiers said that, in approximately 1987, "there was a specific communication with the DEA about some of Eden Pastora's people" possibly being involved in a potential or impending drug deal or money-laundering scheme. Fiers believed that Adolfo "Popo" Chamarro and Roberto "Tito" Chamarro were the Pastora associates involved and that the narcotics dealer involved was Jorge Morales.
The OIG located in DEA files documents confirming Fiers' recollection. These documents had been sent to the DEA by the State Department in 1987. Included in these documents was a May 4, 1987, memorandum to former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, signed by Fiers, reporting the results of a polygraph examination of Contra leader Octaviano Cesar following the broadcast of an installment of the "West 57th Street" television program. On that show, convicted narcotics smuggler Jorge Morales alleged that Cesar recruited him to transport supplies for the Contras after Morales' indictment in March 1984. Morales also charged that he agreed to pay Cesar $250,000 on a quarterly basis and allow the use of his planes in exchange for Cesar's promised protection and help in clearing up Morales' drug charges. (See section 3, below, for a discussion of Morales' allegations.) In exchange, according to Morales, he and his pilots had arranged for the shipment of cocaine and arms for the Contras, as well as the supply of airplanes, pilot training, and cash donations for the Contras.
According to the letter signed by Fiers, during the polygraph Cesar had stated that Morales had tried to persuade Cesar and Adolfo Chamarro to falsely claim ownership of two bank checks at a Florida airport. Cesar also stated that Morales had asked him to testify, during Morales' federal narcotics trial, that Morales had sold drugs for the Contras and had given the proceeds to the Contras. Cesar had refused Morales' request. Cesar also stated that he never received any money from Morales. Fiers' letter noted that Cesar had been very nervous during the polygraph and had "changed his facts" several times during the course of the examination.
2. DEA's Response
On June 10, 1987, DEA Headquarters forwarded the results of Octaviano Cesar's polygraph examination to DEA's Miami Field Office, instructing the agents who had worked on Morales' case to "review their files and recontact their informants to see if there is any validity" to Morales' allegations linking Cesar to drug trafficking.
In a memorandum to DEA Headquarters dated July 2, 1987, the DEA Miami office reported that most of the informants or potential sources of information had been interviewed or reinterviewed, and none had any information about Cesar.(81) The Miami office had sought to debrief Morales, who was willing to talk with the DEA. But the United States Attorney's Office (USAO) in Miami informed the Miami DEA office that because Morales had reneged on a deal he made with the USAO to testify before a grand jury, the USAO would not allow the DEA to debrief Morales until a contempt citation against him was lifted. The DEA's Miami office also noted that Morales' associate Gerardo Duran was in the custody of Costa Rican authorities and suggested that DEA's Costa Rica Country Office might be able to debrief Duran. We found no record that such a debriefing ever occurred.
In the meantime, DEA Headquarters had searched its records and databases and found that Duran had been mentioned as an associate of Eden Pastora and a co-conspirator of Morales in two attempts to smuggle cocaine into the United States through Costa Rica. It did not find any information about Octaviano Cesar in any of its records.
3. DEA Intelligence Section's Debriefing of Morales
From January 20 through 22, 1988, after the USAO dropped its objections to the debriefing of Morales, DEA Intelligence Analyst Douglas Everett, along with Intelligence Analyst Mark Montevidoni and Special Agent George Karst of the DEA's Miami Office, were able to debrief Morales in a Miami jail. Morales reported that he had first "associated with individuals alleged to have Contra affiliations" in June, 1983 at a meeting at Florida's Opa Locka Airport. Among those attending this meeting were members of the Medellin cocaine cartel. Morales stated that Contra pilots Marcos Aguado and Gerardo Duran flew the group into the Opa Locka airport. Morales reported that John Hull accompanied the group but did not participate in the meeting. Morales identified Hull as "an American citizen living in northern Costa Rica who owns a ranch allegedly used for ferrying weapons to the Contras."
Morales said that, in May 1984, after his federal indictment on drug charges, Marta Healy, a Contra and former wife of Contra leader Adolfo Chamarro, had contacted Morales and had asked him to give the Contras money, pilots, and aircraft. In exchange, Healy promised that Morales' legal problems would be "'taken care of' by her high-level CIA contacts, Octaviano Cesar and Popo [Adolfo] Chamarro." Thereafter, Morales had met with Cesar, Chamarro, and Aguado in Miami. Cesar asked Morales: (1) to arrange future weapon shipments to the Contras via John Hull's Costa Rica ranch; (2) to provide specialized flight training to several Contra pilots; and (3) to donate $100,000 in cash to Chamarro's Contra group. Morales had replied that he could not donate $100,000, but he would donate an unspecified amount and also give the Contras "safehouses in Miami, a boat, helicopter, [two airplanes], [and] 10,000 gallons of fuel." Cesar said that, in exchange for Morales' assistance, he would provide pilots to fly marijuana shipments for Morales and would also "clear up [Morales'] indictment through his high level contacts in Washington, D.C." However, despite Cesar's promises, Morales was prosecuted by the Southern District of Florida USAO and was initially sentenced to 16 years in prison. (This sentence was later reduced because of his cooperation against drug traffickers, unrelated to the Contras.)
According to Morales, he had arranged for weapons to be airlifted to Hull's ranch, with the first shipments occurring in the summer of 1984. Cesar and Chamarro had agreed to let him transport cocaine from Hull's ranch to a group of Colombians in Florida. Morales said the Contra pilots who had delivered weapons to the ranch from Florida would return to the United States carrying the cocaine. Morales noted that Aguado had refused to be a pilot for these shipments, because of his "CIA connections." These shipments of weapons and drugs continued into 1986.
Morales claimed to have met with Contra leader Eden Pastora in Miami in 1984, at a gathering at Marta Healy's house. Chamarro and Cesar had told Morales not to tell Pastora about the narcotics flights from Hull's ranch. Morales said that he mentioned nothing about the subject at the 1984 meeting, but had fully informed Pastora about the drug trafficking when the two met in Panama in February 1986. Morales said that Pastora was "shocked over the news . . . Pastora just turned and walked away."
Morales also stated that after he was arrested again in Florida, in June 1986, on cocaine trafficking charges, Cesar had visited him in jail and told him that "it was going to take a lot of money to get his indictment dropped," but that his "legal problems would be taken care of by Cesar's high level contacts within the CIA." Morales stated that he never received the help Cesar promised.
The DEA administered a polygraph examination to Morales after his debriefing. The polygraph indicated deception on his claim that his initial reason for getting involved with the Contras was because Cesar and Healy had promised to intercede on his behalf with high-level United States government officials to "help" in his criminal charges. When confronted with this finding of deception, Morales admitted that he initially contacted the Contras because he wanted to fight the Communists and it was only after he made contact with them that they suggested they could help him with his legal problems. In a follow-up debriefing, Morales was asked to explain the basis for his previous claims that airstrips on Hull's farm had been used for drug and weapons shipments. Morales admitted he had never been to Hull's farm and he had heard only rumors about Hull's airstrips.(82) Morales also claimed that Octaviano Cesar instructed him to have his pilots fly weapons to Hull's ranch.
Douglas Everett later told the OIG that Morales' "amendments and clarifications" regarding the crucial Octaviano Cesar issue destroyed his credibility with the DEA.(83)
4. "Follow-Up" by DEA Field Offices
DEA Special Agent George Karst, who had attended Morales' debriefing, was assigned by the DEA's Miami Field Office to investigate Morales' allegations that were within the jurisdiction of the Miami office.
When interviewed by the OIG, Karst recalled that most of the information from Morales had been "political." In Karst's opinion, Morales had not provided much information that could be used to open a criminal investigation. He said the information regarding Contras that could have been investigated by the Miami office was "three or four years old" and related to people who were not United States nationals and who were probably living in Central America. Karst therefore did not pursue Morales' allegations about Contra leaders. Karst's assessment of Morales' credibility was that "some of what he said was probably true and some was probably bull" that he might have heard from others.
Karst recalled that, in a 1987 interview by Karst, Morales had claimed that "law enforcement authorities" had knowingly allowed him to engage in Contra-related drug trafficking. When Karst asked what facts Morales based this allegation on, Morales had responded that they "had to know" because he was conducting these drug operations "in plain view." Morales added that he believed that one of his partners in his drug trade was a former FBI informant and would have therefore told the FBI about his activities. Morales had also avowed that the CIA "had to know" of his trafficking on behalf of the Contras because some of his associates were "ex-CIA Cuban expatriates." Karst told the OIG that he did not believe Morales' claims that both law enforcement authorities and the CIA knew about his drug trafficking activities and did not act on his allegations. Karst believed that Morales was making assumptions without any factual basis.
Karst noted that, after these initial debriefings, Morales did give the DEA valuable information about drug trafficking, although it had nothing to do with the Contras. As a result, Morales was able to obtain a significant reduction in the sixteen-year sentence he had received in 1987. Morales was released from prison in 1991, after serving only four years of this sentence, but he quickly violated the terms of his parole by traveling to Colombia with his girlfriend. Karst heard "through the grapevine" that Morales was killed in a car accident within a few months of his arrival in Colombia.
When the DEA's Costa Rica Country Office received a copy of Morales' debriefing on January 22, 1988, Special Agent Juan Perez investigated Morales' allegations regarding John Hull. Perez told the OIG that he could not find witnesses or informants who would have been able to corroborate or disprove Morales' allegations that Hull's airstrip had been or was being used as a transshipment point for narcotics. Perez said that even before Morales' allegations, there had been rumors in Costa Rica that Hull's airstrip was a refueling point for drug runners but that no one had ever come forward with any concrete, specific information to support the allegations. Compounding the difficulties in obtaining information was the fact that Hull was beloved by many people in Costa Rica. When poor people in rural areas became ill, Hull would use his plane or his Range Rover to transport them to the hospital, and would provide for the families of those people until they could resume working themselves.
Perez said he did go to Hull's ranch when Hull was not present and observed the airstrip. Perez said that it was a relatively short airstrip made of grass and concluded that it would be a difficult surface to use for drug trafficking. Based on his knowledge of the planes used for narcotics trafficking, Perez had concluded that there was "no way" that the types of planes most commonly used for narcotics shipments into and out of Costa Rica would have been able to take off from Hull's airstrip with a "standard" load of drugs and enough fuel to get to the United States or northern Mexico (the typical destinations for narcotics flights from Costa Rica, according to Perez).
Perez said he orally reported his findings to Robert Nieves, who was DEA's Costa Rica Country Attache in 1988. No one else in the Costa Rica Country Office investigated Morales' allegations.
5. Other Actions by DEA
DEA documents indicate that the DEA was aware that pilot Gerardo Duran was involved with the Contra movement. For example, a 1986 DEA report regarding Duran contains the following statement: "Duran is well-known for his association with the Nicaraguan Contra movement, specifically with the Alianza Revoluncionaria Democratica (ARDE) and Eden Pastora." In addition, the DEA knew that Duran was an associate of Contra sympathizer and convicted drug trafficker Jorge Morales. Both the Miami Field Division and the Costa Rica Country Office collected incriminating evidence pointing to Duran's participation in narcotics trafficking and assisted the Costa Rican government in its successful prosecution of Duran for narcotics crimes in 1987. As stated in the DEA's 1986 "Personal History Report" on Duran:
Intelligence information received by the Costa Rica Country Office over the past several years indicates that [Duran] has been involved in facilitating the transshipment of hundred-kilogram quantities of cocaine from South America to the United States through Costa Rica. Evidence gathered [by the Miami Field Division] shows that during the month of January, 1986, [Duran] was in charge of a crew which loaded over 400 kilos of cocaine into an aircraft in Costa Rica piloted by a DEA [Confidential Informant, who was working with the DEA on this matter]. This cocaine was flown to the Bahamas and part of the load was subsequently smuggled into the United States.
According to DEA's "Personal History Report" on Duran, Duran was not indicted in Miami "because he is Costa Rican and cannot be extradited from Costa Rica to the U.S." However, in 1987 the DEA provided the Costa Rican government with the evidence it had collected and the DEA's Costa Rica Country Office specifically asked Costa Rican law enforcement authorities to investigate and prosecute Duran. Duran and an accomplice were arrested by Costa Rican police in 1987. Because of judicial delays and a dismissal of the original case on non-substantive grounds, Duran and the accomplice, Jose Guerra, were not tried in Costa Rica until 1992. DEA agents from both the Miami and Costa Rica offices were witnesses against Duran during his trial in Costa Rica. In November 1992, Duran and Guerra were convicted and sentenced to three years in prison in Costa Rica.
6. OIG Conclusions
We found that the DEA pursued the leads provided by Morales in his debriefing, and that the DEA's inability to confirm the allegations was not due to any pressure from DOJ or CIA. Rather, Morales' information, already somewhat suspect because of his deceptive behavior during the debriefing, was not corroborated.
Based on our limited review, we also concluded that the relationship between the DEA and the CIA during this time period was not characterized by substantial coordination and information-sharing.
79. It is our understanding from the CIA OIG that an "asset" is someone, paid or unpaid, used by the CIA to provide services or information, generally not on a permanent basis. Full-time employees are referred to as "staff employees." CIA Directorate of Operations personnel who handle assets and operations are referred to as "case officers" or "operations officers."
80. This apparently was an incorrect citation and should have read 873[b].
81. Senator Kerry's subcommittee, which investigated allegations of Contra involvement in drug trafficking, came to a similar conclusion. He wrote a letter, dated November 17, 1987, to Octaviano Cesar stating: "I want to assure you that in testimony we have received in the course of my Subcommittee investigation, there has not been any allegation that you were involved in drug trafficking, nor has there been any evidence presented to support such a claim."
82. Former DEA Administrator John C. Lawn wrote a letter to the Kerry Subcommittee in 1989 stating that Morales had passed his polygraph examination. This statement was incomplete because, although Morales did pass his polygraph, he changed his allegations about a "Contra connection" after an initial finding of deception by the polygraph examiner. The statement that Morales passed his polygraph examination should therefore not be taken to mean that his initial allegations were true.
83. The OIG was unable to interview Morales because he died in 1991.
A Witness List for House Hearings on Vol II of the CIA's Inspector ...
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The Contras, Cocaine, and Covert Operations