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Then-Vice-President Bush with Celerino Castillo, 1986 U.S. embassy photo weapons, explosives, ammunition and military equipment for the contras from the United States.” SEND COCAINE, GUNS AND MONEY Drugs, weapons and money-laundering have always been tools of the trade for U.S. clandestine operations abroad. But never in United States history has the importation of cocaine risen so dramatically as it did during the Reagan Administration’s clandestine war against the government of Nicaragua, spearheaded by the “contras,” a group of right-wing expatriate rebels pieced together by the CIA. The window of opportunity for the CIAbrokered contra-drug alliance came in 1984, when Congress passed the Boland Amendment to the War Powers Act. This watershed legislation cut off direct intelligence and financial aid to the contras. But the Reagan Administration continued the clandestine war \(which began with a 1981 Executive Security Council, which by a legal technicality was not considered an “intelligence” agency. Enter the Colonel, Oliver North, who directed NSC operations from the basement of the Executive Office Building. Under North’s stewardship, the $30 million in aid cut off by legal means was made up through covert means, namely, the sale of weapons to Iran and the exchange of CIA allies’ drug profits for clandestine sanctions that allowed cocaine to be imported and sold up north. The cocaine was often shipped in the same planes that flew weapons south to the contras. The combination of contras and drug dealers was a marriage made in heaven, former Narcotics Committee counsel Jack Blum recalled during recent Congressional hearings. “There were facilities that were needed for running the war, clandestine air strips, cowboy pilots who would fly junker airplanes, people who would make arrangements for the clandestine movement of money. “Every one of those facilities was a perfect facility for someone in the drug business,” Blum said. “So there were people who were connected very directly to the CIA who had those facilities, and allowed them to be used, and indeed, personally profited from their use.” Blum’s dramatic charges are supported by a former high-level supervisory CIA officer. Alan Fiers, the former chief of the CIA Central American Task Force, stated in a sworn deposition to the Congressional Iran-Contra committees that “we knew everybody around [Southern Front contra leader Eden] Pastora was involved in cocaine…. His staff and friends…were drug smugglers or involved in drug smuggling.” According to Miami-based John Mattes, a former federal public defender and Iran-Contra investigator for John Kerry, “what we investigated, which is on the record as part of the Kerry Committee Report, is evidence that narcotics traffickers associated with the contra leaders were allowed to smuggle over a ton of cocaine into the United States. Those same contra leaders admitted under oath their association and affiliation with the CIA.” THE NORTH CONNECTION During his recent testimony, Blum also raised the issue of Oliver North’s notebooks, kept contemporaneously with his contra resupply effort. Even after North’s lawyers were allowed to expurgate the notebooks, many of the pages made available to investigators still contain numerous references to contra drug trafficking. For instance, on July 9, 1984, North wrote that he “went and talked to [contra leader Federico] Vaughn, [who] wanted to go to Bolivia to pick up paste, wanted aircraft to pick up 1,500 kilos.” In another notebook entry on July 12, 1985, North writes, “$14 million to finance [arms] came from drugs.” In a December 1986 interview with the authors, Jestis Garcia, a Miami-based North network operative said, “It is common knowledge here in Miami that this whole contra operation was paid for with cocaine… I actually saw the cocaine and the weapons together under one roof, weapons that I [later] helped ship to Costa Rica. ” A September 26, 1984, Miami police intelligence report stated that money supporting the illegal contra training effort in Florida “comes from narcotics transactions.” This memorandum, written at a time when Attorney General Janet Reno was the chief state prosecutor in Florida, has every page stamped “record furnished to George Kiszynski, FBI.” The document also places John Hull and his Costa Rican ranch on the contra supply map. According to the document, two CubanAmerican contra supporters “are associated with an American who owns a ranch in Costa Rica. The owner of the ranch is John Hull, and NOVEMBER 22, 1996 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11