In addition to production and trafficking, Cuba was also involved in research and development of new drugs. In the fall of 1963, Raul Castro's deputy went to Czechoslo- vakia for assistance in obtaining special equipment for producing drugs in Colombia and for manufacturing synthetic drugs as part of an experimental program in Cuba. The actual equipment was picked up by Raul Castro in April 1964, when he stopped over in Prague after a visit to Moscow. Subsequently, the Czechoslovak chief of the Health Administration of the Rear Services, Colonel-General Miroslav Hemalla, accompanied by two subordinates and two technicians, flew to Cuba to sign an agreement on medical cooperation (a cover for drug research), to teach the Cubans how to operate the equip- ment, and to instruct Castro to begin local production of drugs in the Dominican Republic. This was part of the Soviet decision to produce drugs locally whenever possible, rather than ship them in from the Soviet Union or Eastern Europe. Cubans were to be used as the operators, so as to keep the Soviets 'clean'.
Following these various measures to penetrate existing drug organisations and then to set up Cuban operations throughout Latin America, the Soviets ordered the formation of still another set of backup production and distribution networks all over the region -this one organised directly by selected East European intelligence services. Czechoslovakia's first target was Colombia. To kick-start the new operation, the Soviets recommended that the Czechoslovaks should recruit one of the key individuals from Cuba's drug network in Colombia, a retired Colombian military officer who went by the name of Kovaks. The Top Secret code name for the Czechoslovak operation in Colombia, 'Pyramid', was selected to mislead people into associating the new initiative with the Middle East. The Czechoslovak officer in charge of this operation was the first deputy at the Ministry of
Interior. Shortly afterwards, he became the Minister of Interior. Amazing through it may seem, some in the West do not even appreciate that in the overt Communist system, the Minister of Interior is not the person in charge of natural resources or parks, which is what Westerners usually associate with the title. Rather, the Minister of Interior is in charge of
'interior security'; that is, civilian intelligence and the secret police.
Kovaks travelled to Czechoslovakia in April 1964 with a plan for the new operation to be approved by Czechoslovak intelligence. To cover his trip, he first went to Mexico, where he was provided with a forged passport at the Czechoslovak Embassy. From Mexico
he flew to Vienna, where he was provided with a Czechoslovak passport to use on the
third leg of his journey.
The final plan that he brought with him for the new activities in Colombia was first taken to the Soviet Union for approval. Then the plan, modified to incorporate last-minute Soviet suggestions, was presented to the Czechoslovak Defence Council. The plan set forth guidelines and planning estimates, the most important of which were:
1. With help in obtaining the necessary equipment, production of cocaine would begin within six months.
2. The distribution network would be in operation in less than six months.
3. Initial distribution would be into the United States and Canada. Later, the distribution would be extended to Europe.
4. Distribution would be kept out of the local market.
At the presentation of the joint Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Interior plan, the Minister of Defence explained that twelve people had already been recruited for the oper- ation and that eight of them had already been cleared in two ways: first, by the Communist Party of Colombia, and secondly, by a long-time Czechoslovak intelligence agent who was then a high official within Colombia's internal security ministry. The plan was unanimously approved by the Czechoslovak Defence Council.
Because the most effective Cuban drug operation was developing in Mexico, the Soviets now directed the Czechoslovaks to infiltrate and gain control of this operation. The Czechoslovak Top Secret code name for this operation, 'Rhine', was selected to mislead people into associating it with Europe. The Czechoslovak agent who was responsible for this initiative, Major Jidrich Strnad, had been operating in Mexico under cover of an export company. His Zs control officer was Colonel Borsky.
The Cubans had been especially effective in recruiting Mexicans to establish production
and distribution networks and in using the associated corruption information for blackmailing Mexican officials. The Soviets were especially impressed, and one of the main reasons for directing Czechoslovak intelligence to infiltrate the Cuban operation was to learn the secrets of their success in Mexico.
Recognising the strategic location of Mexico, the Soviets further directed the estab- lishment of a second Czechoslovak operation in Mexico which was designed to complement the 'Rhine' initiative. The code name of this second operation was 'Full Moon'.
This drug campaign had two purposes. The first was to develop an extensive network for smuggling drugs into the United States. The second was to train intelligence agents who would then be inserted into the United States and Canada, with instructions to penetrate drug distribution networks. Through their contacts into supply networks in Mexico, they were to access the supply network and gradually take control of the drug
businesses in the United States and Canada. This was a 'push-pull' drug operation. The name 'Full Moon' referred to the time when Soviet Bloc agents would be in control of most major groups in the United States and Canada. Mexico, it should be noted, has also been an important country in the Chinese drug offensive.
With both the Soviets (initially through the Cubans) and Chinese having targeted Mexico, it comes as no surprise that Mexico is one of the primary drug-trafficking routes into the United States for heroin, cocaine and marijuana. For identical reasons, Canada is another primary drug-trafficking route into the United States.
Czechoslovak intelligence was also involved in the Cuban operation in Panama, under the code name 'Pablo'. A Cuban operation was set up, too, in El Salvador. At a meeting on the financing of the Communist Party of El Salvador, Sejna remembers that the Soviets directed the Cubans to provide the financing for that Party out of their profits from the El Salvador drug operation17.
A separate Soviet operation intended for the 'benefit' of those who regularly seek the warm sands and seas of the Caribbean islands was directly targeted to take advantage of the booming Caribbean tourist trade. The Second Secretary of the French Communist Party (a long-time KGB agent), together with the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Guadeloupe, conceived the idea of distributing drugs to Caribbean tourists. Their objectives were to raise money out of the tourist trade and to obtain blackmail information on vacationing Americans and other members of the bourgeoisie.
They helped establish the operation and provided recommendations on whom to recruit to run it. The operation was then turned over to two Czechoslovak intelligence officers, one from military intelligence and one from the Ministry of Interior. Both officials had been born in France and spoke fluent French. Guadeloupe was the centre of the oper- ation, which serviced Martinique and other islands. The monies earned in the late 1960s from this initiative proved adequate to finance all Communist intelligence operations in Guadeloupe, Martinique, Suriname, Haiti and most of France.
In the early 1960s, the Soviets were rapidly building organisations throughout North, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Other Soviet satellites directly involved as Soviet surrogates, in addition to Czechoslovakia and Cuba, were Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria and Poland. Understandably, most of Sejna's knowledge was of the Czechoslovak dimension of the drug strategy. The other East European satellites identified above are not dealt with in detail in this analysis, but they were all deeply involved in the Soviet drug offensive. Romania and Albania were not part of the formal Soviet-directed offensive because the Soviets did not trust their security. Albania had asked to participate, emphasising its strong intelligence network in the Balkans and the Middle East. But rather than bring Albania into the operation, the Soviets decided to provide Albania with the money to purchase the necessary equipment, so that Albania could proceed as an
'independent' drug promoter.
Countries where Sejna had direct knowledge of organisations which had been estab- lished by the mid-1960s included Canada, Mexico, Panama, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Peru, Guadeloupe, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and quite naturally, the United States. To this list should be added countries where organised crime operations that were critical to the drug-traffick- ing network, were being developed. One example of such a country is Venezuela, which the Soviets had decided in 1960-61 to use as a centre for mafia organisation, operations
and money-laundering in the Western hemisphere.
The drugs initially chosen for distribution were opium, heroin, morphine, marijuana and synthetics such as LSD. While cocaine was not prominent at that time, by 1961 the Soviets, in analysing the drug scene, had concluded that cocaine was, to borrow one of their favourite phrases, the 'wave of the future"8. This revelation to Sejna came during a meeting in Moscow in 1964 which had been convened to discuss and coordinate deception planning. In attendance from Czechoslovakia were the head of the Military Section of the Administrative Organs Department, the deputy chief of the Main Political Administration, the deputy chief of Zs (military intelligence) and head of strategic intelligence, and Jan Sejna. The Soviets present were the deputy chief of the Main Political Administration, the deputy chief of GRU [Soviet Military Intelligence] and head of strategic intelligence, and General Boris Shevchenko, the head of the Department of Special Propaganda, who ran the meeting.
It was at this meeting that Shevchenko introduced the term 'Pink Epidemic'. In dis- cussing the future, he stressed the potential of cocaine. It was highly preferable to heroin, he explained, because it was so much easier to produce and because they believed that many more people could be reached with cocaine than with heroin. The Soviets were so impressed with cocaine's potential, in fact, that they spoke in terms of its becoming an epi- demic, a 'white epidemic'. To 'serve and extend' the epidemic, Shevchenko explained that a separate production and distribution base was to be built, commencing immediately.
This new cocaine operation was to be referred to by the aforementioned cover name,
'Pink Epidemic'. In the beginning, the lead countries in establishing the cocaine production and distribution base were the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Cuba. Czechoslovakia immediately began a special technology program to develop the necessary production techniques. This operation was run by military intelligence and the Health Administration, under the control of military counter-intelligence.
Necessary production experimentation was conducted at a top-secret scientific research centre at Milovice. The operation was facilitated by the Cubans, who learned the crude techniques that were used in South America and then passed the information to Czechoslovak intelligence. The Czechoslovak scientists took the procedures and developed more professional mass-production techniques.
Thus, between 1960 and 1965, the Soviet Bloc intelligence services, directed from Moscow, established drug production, distribution and money-laundering operations throughout South, Central and North America. Only local personnel who passed stringent security background investigations were used to run the operations, which were discreetly managed by Soviet Bloc or Cuban intelligence agents who, as a general rule, were specially trained in the Soviet Union. Future drug-traffickers from all over the world were taught the narcotics trade in East European and Soviet training centres. Additional training centres were later established in North Korea, North Vietnam and in Cuba. These graduate criminals became controlled Soviet narcotics trafficking agents. The initial trafficking was in heroin, marijuana, and synthetics. However, with effect from 1964, a special network was constructed specifically to serve and extend the coming cocaine epidemic.
References to Chapter 3:
1. For a more detailed account, see We Will Bury You, op. cit, pages 45-50.
2. Biographies of Fidel Castro describe the problems he had obtaining military equipment in 1959 from
the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and the United States. Some arms and ammunition were obtained
from Belgium in mid-1960. The first Czechoslovak weapons arrived in late 1960. Tad Szulc, Fidel: A Critical Portrait (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1986), page 498. Peter G. Bourne, Fidel: A Biography of Fidel Castro (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1986), pages 188-189.
3. 'Revolutionary centre' is the formal designation of a region selected and then prepared to promote the
revolutionary situation throughout the zone in which the centre is located and to support Soviet military operations in the event of war. The basic criteria applied in establishing revolutionary centres are the need for such centres to have political influence throughout the zone, to supply revolutionary forces for deployment in other countries in the zone, to supply sabotage material for use throughout the zone, to be a centre for the education of cadres, and to be directly useful for Soviet military operations in the case of global war and for surrogate forces or neighbouring forces in revolutionary wars.
4. In the summer of 1963, a Czechoslovak intelligence report stated that Cuban intelligence agents had
successfully penetrated 69 percent of the Latin American countries. In most cases, the penetration had been through Mexico. Additionally, with the help of Spanish communities, they had placed seven agents in the United States.
5. In 1984, Clyde D. Taylor, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics Matters, Department of State, told Congress that reports on the involvement of the Cuban Government in narcotics trafficking had first reached the US Government in 1963. US Congress, Senate, Drugs and Terrorism, 1984, Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse of the Committee on Labour and Human Resources, August 2,1984 (Washington D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1984), page 41. Rachel Ehrenfeld has written that a secret Drug Enforcement Agency [DEA] report leaked to the Miami Herald, November 20,1983, identified 1961 as the beginning of Cuba's involvement in drug-trafficking: 'Narco-Terrorism and the Cuban Connection', Strategic Review, Summer 1988, page 57. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. in Robert Kennedy and His Times (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1978), page 504, reports that a Federal Narcotics Bureau document of July 1961 reported rumours in the Florida Cuban exile community that Santos Trafficante, Jr., one of the organised crime bosses with ties into Cuba who was involved in the CIA assassination operation, was Castro's outlet for drugs in the United States. Another news report stated that DEA agent Avelino Fernandez broke open the Cuban drug connection to Noriega in 1978 and that Fidel Castro was specifically identified as having been involved with drug-trafficking since 1964. Michael Hedges, 'Picture Shows Castro, Noriega, del Cid at Secret Meeting', Washington Post, January 18,1990, page A5.
6. Candlin, Psycho-Chemical Warfare: The Chinese Communist Drug Offensive Against the West, op.
cit., pages 182-183.
7. Infiltrating banks and financial institutions, while important when Khrushchev was in power, was made even more important when Brezhnev became General Secretary in 1964.
8. The Cuban Government's Involvement in Facilitating International drug-traffic, Joint Hearing Before the
Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism of the Committee on the Judiciary and the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs of the Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Drug Enforcement Caucus, United States Senate, Miami, Florida, April 30,1983 (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1983), pages
9. See Rensselaer W. Lee III, 'Why the US Cannot Stop South American Cocaine', Orbis, Fall 1988, page
10. 'Interview with Carlos Lehder Rivas, Reputed Colombian drug-trafficker', in Uri Ra'anan et al., Hydra
of Carnage (Lexington, Massachusetts: Lexington Books, 1986), pages 433-435.
11. As an example of this type of concern, the former Consul General of Panama, Jose I. Blandon Castillo, testified that 'we had information to the effect that the Medellin Cartel was... very concerned with Noriega because Noriega was being too visible. He was preventing them from what they call business, and they were trying to find a way to eliminate him'. US Congress, Senate, Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy: Panama, Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations of the Committee on Foreign Relations, February 10,1988, Stenographic Transcript, pages 52-53.
12. US Congress, Senate, Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy: Panama, Hearings Before the
Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations of the Committee on Foreign Relations, February 11,1988, Stenographic Transcript 1.
13. Ibid., page 86.
14. It does not make logical sense for Noriega to turn in Rodriguez to gain control, because turning in Rodriguez would not accomplish that objective. If Noriega did turn in Rodriguez, therefore, it would seem logical to search for another reason. One possibility is that Noriega was simply assisting US drug control operations in Operation Pisces, which was investigating money-laundering in Panama, or appearing to be assisting while actually performing a favour for someone else. As in many situations, a combination of various considerations may well have been involved.
15. Candlin, Psycho-Chemical Warfare: The Chinese Communist Drug Offensive Against the West, op.
cit, pages 48-49, citing translations provided by Professor Herminio Portell-Vila, former history instructor of Fidel
Castro at the University of Havana.
16. Data on Chile in the early 1960s is contained in the study by Robert Workman on narcotics traf-
CHAPTER 3: Building the Latin American Drug Network 35
ficking for the National Defence University. He writes that a DEA intelligence report dated March 31,1982, describes a 1961 meeting of high-ranking Cuban officials, 'including revolutionary leader and President of the National Bank of Cuba, Che Guevara, Captain Moises Crespo of the Cuban secret police, and Dr Salvador Allende, a senator and future Marxist President from Chile, to discuss establishing a cocaine trafficking network'. The report was described in a Miami Herald newspaper story, and Workman writes that intelligence agents stated that the article was accurate. Robert B. Workman, International Drug-traf-ficking: A Threat to National Security (Washington, D.C.: National Defence University, Research Publication Directorate, June
Also, as James R. Whelan reported: 'At the Tri-Continental Conference in Havana, then-Senator Salvador Allende proposed the creation of OLAS - the Latin American Solidarity Organisation - as a 'united front... advocating armed revolution'. AHende was then elected to head OLAS. Once in the Chilean Presidency, he presided over a dramatic expansion of illicit drug activity in that country. According to one source, during the final year of Allende's presidency (1973), US authorities seized $309 million worth of cocaine from Chilean laboratories. The drug trade was said to yield $30,000 per month in payoffs to the Popular Unity political parties in Allende's coalition. One of the first acts of the new military qovernment headed by Gen. Augusto Pinochet was to crack down on the drug trade, working closely with US agencies to do so'. James R. Whelan, Out of the Ashes: Life, Death and Transfiguration of Democracy in Chile, 1833-1988 (Washington, D.C.: Regnery- Gateway, 1989), pages 227-228,592.
17. Robert Workman cited an interview with a US citizen who was kidnapped and held for ransom for
about three months by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist guerrilla group. The victim reported as follows: The FARC, M-I9, and Ejercito Popular de Liberation (EPL) are all really consolidated, they are really one family controlled by Cuba.... I was in their camp when a Cuban was at a blackboard instructing some guerrillas. One of the guerrillas asked him: 'What happens to all of this money? You control the drug-traffic, you're taking in millions of dollars, and I don't see any money in our camp. They just give us bare necessities. You get food, clothes, and shells for your rifle and you do not get anything else'. The Cuban adviser's answer was that one half of the money was being sent to El Salvador. That we are liberating El Salvador. When El Salvador is liberated, then they will turn around and - using the economies of El Salvador, Nicaragua and Cuba - funnel funds into Colombia and help us, so we can overthrow the government here'. Robert B. Workman, International Drug-trafficking A Threat to National Security (Washington, D.C.: National Defence University, Research Publication Directorate, June 1984, unpublished, op. cit), pages 13-14.
18. Many people are surprised that the Soviets recognised the potential of cocaine as early as 1961,
especially since the problems posed by cocaine did not become well known in the United States until the late
1970s or early 1980s. This can be illustrated by recalling the attitude of President Carter's drug adviser, Peter Bourne, who viewed cocaine as pleasurable and benign and could not understand why DEA was making such a fuss over the increase in cocaine trafficking. The Yale University psychiatrist and drug historian David Musto has reminded us, however, how easily we forget. Early in this century, he explains, cocaine was legal and its use began to grow. Prices fell, and 'sniffing, swallowing and injecting of cocaine became widespread'. By 1910, cocaine had been transformed from 'a miracle drug to the most dangerous drug in America'. In his annual message to Congress that year, President William Howard Taft said: 'Cocaine is more appalling in its effects than any other habit-forming drug used in the United States'. Constance Holden, 'Past and Present Cocaine Epidemics', Science, December 15,1989, page 1377, citing David F. Musto, The American Disease: Origins of Narcotic Control (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987).