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A Celerino Castillo, the Texas D.E.A. agent who blew the whistle on Contra drug-dealing and lost his job, exchanging greetings with President George Bush File photo but it continued to finance and protect them. In September 1981, just as the C.I.A. was becoming formally involved with the Contras, the agency learned that a faction called the Legion of September 15 “had made a decision to engage in drug smuggling to the United States in order to finance its anti-Sandinista operations.” One drug shipment to Miami had already taken place, the C.I.A. was told. In addition to dope dealing, the C.I.A. knew the Legion “to some extent engaged in kidnapping, extortion and robbery to fund its operations,” as well as “the bombing of Nicaraguan civilian airliners and airline hijacking.” A few months after discovering the Legion’s involvement with drugs, the C.I.A. put the group’s senior commanders in charge of the agency’s newly formed Contra organization, the Nicaraguan Democratic Force to indicate any action to follow up or corroborate the allegations concerning 15th of September Legion drug smuggling into the United States,” the C.I.A. report states. That would prove to be no small oversight. According to the testimony of former Los Angeles drug kingpin Danilo Blandon, the Contra middleman who sold Norwin Meneses’ cocaine to South-Central’s crack dealers, it was the Legion’s commander in chief, Enrique Bermudez, who recruited him and Meneses in late 1981 to raise money for the Contras in California. As part of their fund-raising efforts, they began selling cocaine to the street gangs of South-Central and, in the process, helped touch off the crack-cocaine explosion there. The C.I.A. received information as early as 1983 that Panama’s intelligence boss, Manuel Noriega, a longtime C.I.A. asset, was dealing dope through the Contras. A C.I.A. contractor told the Inspector General that he received information from Contra commander Hugo Spadafora “that Noriega was smuggling drugs with the Contras” and that Noriega’s high school buddy, Contra leader Sebastian “Guachan” Gonzalez, was deeply involved. “The independent contractor adds that he reported the Gonzalez drug allegation in October 1983 to his superior, who replied that C.I.A. had heard some rumors of drug trafficking involving the Contras.” Shortly after Spadafora went to the D.E.A. with his allegations against Noriega and the Contras, he was murdered by Noriega’s security forces. The report reveals that the C.I.A. and Noriega then plotted ways to “defuse an effort by family members of slain rebel Hugo Spadafora to implicate Manuel Antonio Noriega in drug trafficking.” One of the C.I.A.’s key agents assigned to the Costa Rican Contra armies, a Venezuelan who used the pseudonym “Ivan Gomez,” was believed by C.I.A. polygraph experts to have “directly participated in illegal drug transactions, concealed participation in illegal drug transactions, and concealed information about involvement in illegal drug activity.” Former San Francisco Contra drug courier Carlos Cabezas named Gomez as the C.I.A. agent to whom he had delivered money from Contra cocaine sales. C.I.A. agent Felipe Vidal, a Cuban the C.I.A. says “served as a logistics coordinator for the Contras” in Costa Rica, was a convicted drug dealer and was working for a Miami company that was importing cocaine into the U.S. from Costa Rica. Top C.I.A. officials knew of Vidal’s drug-dealing associations and his “general thuggery,” as former C.I.A. chief Alan Fiers put it, but they kept him on the C.I.A. payroll and continued to protect him. Two of Norwin Meneses’ drug-trafficking associates, New Orleans distributor Manuel Porro and Los Angeles distributor Sebastian Pinel, were identified in the C.I.A. report as important figures behind the formation of the Contras. Porro, who was arrested by the D.E.A. in 1979 as part of a sweep called “Operation Alligator,” became F.D.N. political boss Adolfo Calero’s personal assistant and “reportedly handled Calero’s funding transactions between Miami and San Jose, Costa Rica, banks.” The Inspector General’s report should put to rest the long-simmering historical debate over what the C.I.A. as an institution knew about the Contras’ drug trafficking. The answer: the Agency knew everything, despite its best efforts to remain ignorant. f ormer station chief in Central America told C.I.A. inspectors that he became aware of drug-traffick ing allegations against the Contras “fairly early” during his assignment. “Early traces revealed these folks should be treated care fully. Some were scoundrels,” he acknowl edged. But the fact that the C.I.A. did noth ing about it “had to be considered in the context of [then-C.I.A. director] William Casey’s overriding political objectives,” 6 THE TEXAS OBSERVER DECEMBER 25, 1998