by Robert O'Dowd
Abstract. CIA proprietary aircraft flew cocaine into the US, landed at US military bases, fueling the crack cocaine epidemic. DEA agent and Marine officers murdered to keep them from blowing the whistle.
The Contra War
The crack cocaine epidemic in the US was fueled by the shipment of tons of white powder into US military bases to avoid detection, confiscation and arrest by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The Contra War (1979-1990) was funded partly by cocaine trafficking, donations from private parties and friendly governments. The cocaine trafficking shows the government’s willingness to disregard the law, to murder those who threatened to blow the whistle, and to hide its misdeeds from the public.
In 1979, the Sandinistas overthrew Anastasio Somoza, establishing a socialist government in Nicaragua. The party is named after Augusto César Sandino who led the Nicaraguan resistance in the 1930s against the United States occupation of Nicaragua. But, this was not the 1930s, the US couldn’t invade Nicaragua and overthrow the government but the administration seized on an opportunity to support covert actions against Nicaragua. There was no need to put US boots on the ground in Nicaragua when the Contras could be supported with weapons and supplies to do the job.
Ronald Reagan saw the Sandinistas as Marxist-Leninists, a threat to this hemisphere, working with the Soviet Union and Cuba to spread their revolution throughout Central America. If this nightmare came to pass, then the US would be threatened by Communist forces in this hemisphere or, at least, that was the line of reasoning. This fear was not shared by much of the American public and Congress who were not interested in getting involved in another Vietnam. The CIA was given the go ahead to support the Contras.
President Reagan signed the top secret National Security Decision Directive 17 (NSDD-17) in January 1981, which gave the Central Intelligence Agency the power to recruit and support a 500-man force of Nicaraguan rebels to conduct covert actions against the leftist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. A budget of $19 million was established for that purpose. NSDD-17 marked the beginning of official US support for the Contras (Counterrevolutionaries) in their struggle against the Sandinistas.
The decision came several months after President Reagan directed the CIA to develop a plan to stop what his administration believed to be a serious flow of arms from Nicaragua to rebels in neighboring El Salvador. The authorization provided funding and authority for the CIA to organize, train and arm Nicaraguan exiles. CIA Director William Casey in briefing the congressional intelligence committees said the operation was intended to stop the flow of arms from Nicaragua to El Salvador. Nothing was said about the arming of Contras to overthrow the Nicaraguan regime.
|Fig. 1-1: National Security Defense Directive 17, pg.1|
|Fig. 1:-2 National Security Defense Directive 17, pg.2|
The Vietnam War was fresh in many American minds and there were few supporters for American involvement in a war in Nicaragua. In fact, the Boland Amendment—named after US Representative Edward Boland (D-MA), Chairman of the House intelligence committee, who authored it— were three U.S. legislative amendments between 1982 and 1984, which forbad assistance to the Contras for the purpose of overthrowing the Nicaraguan government. It didn’t matter.
The Boland Amendments
The Boland Amendments prevented the use of appropriated funds to overthrow the Nicaraguan government so the administration obtained funds from third party countries, donations from wealthy individuals, the sale of arms (TOWs and Hawk missiles) at a substantial mark-up over cost and, the use of CIA proprietary airlines to transport massive quantities of cocaine into US military bases on their return flights from Central America.
The Contras had easy access to cocaine drug cartels in Central America and the easy solution for them and their backers in the US government was to fund the war by the sales of cocaine. Trafficking of cocaine into the US is a felony. The use of military bases to transport the shipments of cocaine was a covert, top secret operation, unknown to the public.
Robert Parry and Brian Barger broke the story of the Contra-cocaine scandal for the AP in 1985 but the use of CIA proprietary aircraft to ferry tons of cocaine into US military bases was unknown.
Robert Tosh Plumlee, a long term CIA contract pilot, flew tons of cocaine from Central America into US military bases and told his story to Senator Gary Hart. Plumlee met with his Hart’s Denver Senate staff during the period 1983 through 1985. Plumlee provided Hart’s staff with maps and names of covert landing strips in Mexico, Costa Rica, Louisiana, Arizona, Florida, and California.
Plumlee said he was involved in covert military activities in Central and South American starting in February 1978. He “had personally flown U.S. sponsored covert missions into Nicaragua… that Nicaragua was receiving assistance from Cuba with nearly 6,000 Cuban military advisors and large quantities of military supplies were being stockpiled at various staging areas inside Nicaragua and the Costa Rica border."
In contacting Senator Hart in 1983, Plumlee’s purpose was to initiate a congressional investigation on illegal arms and narcotic shipments “which were not being acted upon by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies.”
According to Plumlee, these operations were not under the control of the CIA but were directed by the White House, Pentagon, and NSC.
Hart writes to Kerry
Senator Hart wrote to Senator John Kerry in 1991 about Plumlee’s serious allegations:
|Fig. 2-1: Senator Gary Hart Letter, pg. 1|
|Fig. 2-2: Senator Gary Hart Letter, pg. 2|
The joint Senate-House Iran-Contra committee ignored Contra-cocaine allegations. The only time the issue was raised publicly was when a demonstrator at the swearing in of Lt. Col. Oliver North interrupted the hearing by shouting, “Ask about the cocaine.” He was promptly removed from the hearing room. Lt. Col. Oliver North’s diary contained multiple references linking the Contras to the cocaine, Senator Kerry investigation of the contras and their links to cocaine trafficking, and Plumlee’s firsthand accounts of cocaine flights into the US were available to both the Iran-Contra committee and Lawrence Wash, the Iran-Contra Special Prosecutor. The response was ‘dead silence.”
Celerino Castillo III, the only DEA agent in El Salvador in the 1980s, provided testimony and a detailed written statement to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on April 27, 1998, describing the NSC’s use of Hangars 4 and 5 at Ilopango to fly cocaine into the US. In Celerino’s words, the formula was “Guns down, drugs back.”
Raw, real top, rock, Roxanne, scrabble, sleet, snow and tornado are just some of the street names for this extremely addictive narcotic. Cocaine—too expensive to sell on the street at $200 to $250/gram —was diluted into crack cocaine by drug dealers, smoked by thousands at $10 to $20 a ‘rock’ and led to the addiction and destruction of thousands of lives.
Crack cocaine delivers the drug rapidly into the bloodstream and brain and produces a stronger-lasting high than snorting. It was the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s that hit the black community the hardest. Pregnant mothers addicted to crack cocaine passed the addiction to their babies, which gave rise to the term ‘crack babies’ and the fear of a generation of developmentally impaired children. The influx of cocaine was the fuel for the widespread crack cocaine epidemic in major urban centers from 1984 until the 1990s, which killed thousands of Americans. Cocaine was diluted into crack cocaine, a rock crystal, by drug dealers, possibly with help from the CIA since few drug dealers had passed high school chemistry courses; most were illiterates and school dropouts.
Michael Ruppert Testifies
The C-Span video testimony of Michael Ruppert, former LA Police Department narcotics detective, reported the criminal activity of the CIA in drug trafficking. Gary Webb made the connection between Blandón and Meneses, Nicaraguans who smuggled drugs into the U.S. and supplied dealers like Freeway Ricky Ross of Los Angeles who made millions from the sales of crack cocaine. Blandon and Meneses had ties to the Nicaraguan Contras and the CIA. Webb’s investigative reporting was sensational for the San Jose Mercury News in 1996 but would have been even more so, if he knew about the massive cocaine shipments into US military bases.
|Fig. 3: Hercules C-130, Cocaine Airlines|
Using former military cargo aircraft, thousands of pounds of cocaine were shipped into El Toro, picked-up by Contra drug dealers and sold to drug dealers like Freeway Ricky Ross who made hundreds of millions from street sales of crack cocaine. With government authorization, Lockheed C-130s freely crossed the Mexican border and off-loaded their white powder in secured military bases. At least 50 pilots were involved in this covert operation with aircraft landing at El Toro, Homestead AFB, March AFB, Carlsbad AFB and other locations.
The Hercules C-130A aircraft, it was possible to transport 10,000 pounds (4,454 kg) of the white powder into the US on the return trips from Central America. At $60,000 per kg, the street value of one shipment of 10,000 lbs would have a street value of over $127 million. One former CIA contract pilot said that he and other pilots flew 40 tons of cocaine into El Toro, Homestead AFB among other military bases. The estimated street value in 1982 of 40 tons or 36,000 kg of cocaine was over $2.2 billion.
CIA Lockheed C-130s off loaded their deadly cargo in the Southwest portion of El Toro, an area that was the location of two huge hangars, each over 200,000 square feet in area. You couldn’t pick a more isolated location—distant from base housing, barracks, and bachelor officer quarters and the prying eyes of others. Weapons could easily be stored in one of six hangar bays with no questions asked by Marines. Commercial trucks with authorized passes could access the base prior to scheduled landings, and quickly load the white powder for delivery to drug dealers.
Robert Tosh Plumlee, former CIA contract pilot, who flew into El Toro and other military bases during Iran/Contra, gave us a first person account of how C-130s were used at El Toro to offload tons of cocaine in the early morning hours when the airfield was closed to normal operations. Plumlee said that at least 50 pilots were involved in flying the white powder into the US. This former CIA contract pilot has no fear, despite the hollow threats of death and physically beatings.
"The Perfect Narcotic"
Crack cocaine was the perfect narcotic to sell to those without the money to buy expensive white powder in need of a ‘high,’ a spike of dopamine and euphoria for 15 or 20 minutes. The problem was that crack cocaine required more and more hits to for the euphoria to ‘take them to a better place.’ The health effects of cocaine usage include heart attacks, strokes, and sudden death.
Massive quantities of cocaine were transported into the US, sold to drug dealers who cooked the cocaine into crack and sold it on the streets of America. ‘Freeway’ Ricky Ross in South Central LA became a heroic multi-millionaire in the ghetto, selling crack nationwide before he was arrested in a sting operation. His supplier was Oscar Danilo Blandon, a Nicaraguan with CIA connections. Blandon had no control over CIA proprietary aircraft but others in the government did and they needed the money from cocaine to help fund an undeclared war in Nicaragua.
While CIA proprietary aircraft flew the cocaine into bases like El Toro, March AFB and Homestead AFB, the Reagan administration promoted an anti-drug campaign, “Just Say No.’ Public disclosure of the illegal cocaine flights would have been a political disaster, resulting in impeachments, indictments, and convictions of very powerful people.
Marine Colonel James E. Sabow was brutally murdered at El Toro, the homicide covered-up by the government; other Marines met violent deaths and intimidation was widely used to discourage others from coming forth with what they knew about the cocaine flights and the use of CIA aircraft and US military bases.
The influx of cocaine and its speedy conversion into crack cocaine found a ready market in the inner cities throughout the country, fueling a crack cocaine epidemic, addicting thousands of mostly poor Blacks and Hispanics, leading to the deaths of many and the imprisonment of thousands of young men.
The involvement of the US government in the Contra War became front page news when a Fairchild C-123 cargo plane was shot down over Nicaragua on October 5, 1986. Eugene Hasenfus, a former Marine and cargo handler, was the sole survivor of the crash. Contrary to standing orders, Hasenfus had on his parachute when the aircraft was hit by a ground to air missile. Three other crew members died in the crash. Hasenfus was quickly picked-up, searched and grilled for information by the Sandinistas. He publically stated that he flew out of Ilopango airfield in El Salvador, working for two CIA agents, “Max Gomez” (Felix Rodriquez) and “Ramon Medina” (Rafael Quintero). Rodriquez was the liaison between the Contras and Lt. Colonel Oliver North and the National Security Council.
Several investigations ensued, including those by the U.S. Congress and the Reagan-appointed Tower Commission. None of these investigations mentioned profits from the sales of cocaine in the US were used to fund the Contra War. Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug.
Col. James E. Sabow
Marines who were a threat to blow the whistle on the illegal covert activity of using military bases to fly cocaine into the US were at risk of murder. Colonel James E. Sabow at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, CA. Colonel Sabow was one of them. He had no idea that his intention to blow the whistle on cocaine trafficking put his life and his family at risk; he had been targeted force that would stop at nothing to keep him from telling others about the cocaine shipments. Others who knew too much would meet violent deaths. All of this was done to fund a war in Nicaragua not authorized by Congress.
Colonel James E. Sabow, a straight arrow Marine officer, didn’t learn of the use of CIA proprietary aircraft flying cocaine into Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, CA, until January 21, 1991, the day before he was murdered. Once he learned of the illegal cocaine trafficking, Colonel Sabow told others that he intended to blow the whistle. His decision cost him his life.
The crime scene investigation of Colonel Sabow by the government was staged to support the official suicide scenario. A message from El Toro’s Commanding General to the Commandant of the Marine Corps reporting suicide of Colonel Sabow was drafted eight hours before his death. The Naval Investigative Service (NIS), a civilian pathologist and sheriff/coroner signed off on the fairy tale, staged suicide. The autopsy stated the cause of death as shotgun wound to the head and death certificate stated suicide as the manner of death on January 23rd before the NIS investigation was completed. The NIS didn’t even consider homicide. From their perspective, this was a suicide from the very beginning. Despite the physical and forensic evidence supporting homicide, his death is officially listed as a suicide by the government but it has more holes in it than a block of Swiss cheese.
Colonel Sabow was found dead in the backyard of their home at El Toro. The cause of his death was alleged to have been from a shotgun wound to the head or that was the official story of the investigating agencies, including the Provost Marshal and the Naval Investigation Service (NIS). Colonel Sabow left no suicide note; was not depressed despite unsupported government statements to the contrary; was a devout Catholic who would have never consider suicide; and was seen by his wife and daughter the morning of his death to be upbeat, watching the latest TV news on the Gulf Air War.
The suicide assumption was made within minutes after the investigation had started and long before an autopsy was performed and before forensic and fingerprint evidence or ballistic reports were available. The Orange County Coroner was summoned to participate in the crime scene investigation and to conduct an autopsy. Contrary to specified policy, neither the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) nor the regional military forensic pathologist were invited to participate in the official examination or review the autopsy report and its conclusions.
The Official "Suicide Story"
The government’s suicide fairy tale had the colonel sitting in his patio chair, killing himself with his own shotgun. But, a Marine MP witness observed an NIS special agent place the patio chair on the colonel’s body. The gun shot residue (GSR), blood splatter evidence, none of his finger prints on the shotgun, massive contusion on the right side of his head, and blood in the lungs support that he was knocked unconscious while the shotgun was placed in his mouth.
Celerino “Cele” Castillo, retired DEA agent and Vietnam Army veteran, testified before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence connecting the Reagan and Bush administrations to the illegal cocaine trafficking into the US from Ilopango air base in El Salvador. Castillo’s DEA reports, including the tail numbers of aircraft full of cocaine, were ignored by his superiors. Castillo in Congressional testimony named former President George H. W. Bush as the drug kingpin for cocaine shipments in the 1980s early 1990s; Gene Wheaton, a former Marine and retired Army warrant officer with years of investigative experience and contacts in the CIA and the military, reported that Colonel Sabow was murdered by a government assassination team. Wheaton reported the operation of “an extremist intelligence cell concealed within the Pentagon/DoD which murders loyal U.S. Government officers who threaten to expose illegal covert operations.”
Enriquie "Kiki" Camerena
Enrique Kiki Camarena, a former Marine and DEA agent, was brutally murdered in Mexico in 1985 when he followed the money trail of the government’s involvement in weapons for cocaine. Mexican news reports in 2013 said that CIA operatives were present during the inhuman torture of Camarena. Tapes of the interrogation were provided to Camarena’s DEA supervisor who questioned how the CIA got the tapes.
If you asked the Department of Defense, they will tell you that Colonel Jerry Agenbroad, who hanged himself in the El Toro BOQ (Bachelor Officer Quarters), was despondent and his death had nothing to do with CIA proprietary aircraft and weapons/cocaine shipments; and that the investigation of the death of Colonel Sabow by Dr. David Sabow, a board certified neurologist, and by Bryan Burnett, a San Diego criminologist, with its gunshot residue (GSR) and blood splatter analysis, is just wrong:
* that the fraudulent autopsy photograph done by the Defense Department reported by Bryan Burnett has no basis in fact;
* that the Defense Department investigated Colonel Sabow’s death several times and found that he committed suicide with his own shotgun;
* that the nationally recognized pathologist who swore in an affidavit that the crime scene evidence of Colonel Sabow’s death supports homicide and crime scene tampering was mistaken and orally withdrew his affidavit;
* that a Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) cold case investigation in 2010 confirmed Colonel Sabow’s suicide; and,
* that the existence of a government assassination team within the DoD/Pentagon whose mission is to murder officers who are a threat to blow the whistle on covert operations is just plain fantasy.
Dr. David Sabow never intended to get involved in a project that would result in his total disenchantment with our government. He proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that his brother was murdered. He fully expected to be joined by the Corps, the Department of Defense, the Justice Department and the US Attorney General in a massive effort to apprehend the killers and expose their motives. Instead, he experienced a concerted effort to hide evidence, intimidate his family, as well as lie repeatedly about the obvious facts.
When he thought that nothing worse could happen and at a point when it became obvious that he would never give up, certain individuals who were stationed at El Toro at the time of Colonel Sabow’s death and who had knowledge of the illegal activities started dying. One was found dead after being shot twice through the head. Another was found hanging in El Toro’s BOQ. While an Army veteran with the same name as a Marine veteran who participated in the transport of narcotics while stationed at El Toro was found hanging from a rafter in his parent’s barn shortly after his discharge from the military.
The Marine veteran and Native American who participated in the shipment of narcotics from El Toro to a warehouse in Mexico is armed, living on a Native American reservation and prepared to defend his life against all comers. A Camp Pendleton Marine was run off the road and killed while driving to meet a private investigator with a copy of the manifest of the four members of the government hit team who murdered Colonel Sabow. The list of dead seems to go on and on.
Dr. Sabow hired several investigators whose investigative skills were second to none. Also a number of individuals came forward with information which not only allowed for a reconstruction of the circumstances of his brother’s murder, but also of the clandestine paramilitary operation which transported cocaine into El Toro and other military airfields.
Sara Sabow and Dr. Sabow were invited to a meeting at El Toro six weeks after Colonel Sabow’s murder. General Adams, the Commanding General at El Toro, crime scene investigators from the NIS, two other generals and a lawyer from the United States Attorney General’s office, Wayne Rich, who happened to be a Marine Reservist, attended the meeting. The meeting lasted five hours without a break. Within minutes it became blatantly obvious that the purpose of the March 1991 meeting was to convince Sara and Dr. Sabow that Colonel Sabow was guilty of misuse of government aircraft and other felonies and the committed suicide to avoid prosecution.
Dr. Sabow would have none of this and challenged General Adams and Colonel Rich the entire time. Several months later, he received a package from an anonymous source with copies of the handwritten notes of Colonel Rich describing the ‘game plan’ for the meeting. It was obvious from these notes that Colonel Rich was not concerned with truth or fact finding, but was there to perpetrate lies, slandering Colonel Sabow’s integrity and reputation hoping that this would intimidate Dr. Sabow from going to the media. Adams, Rich and the others present were aware of the bonds between the two brothers and assumed that the emotional wounds inflicted by these lies would preclude Dr. Sabow from continuing his inquiry into his brother’s death. This package contained two letters by General Adams to the South Dakota Board of Medicine requesting that Dr. Sabow’s medical license be revoked.
Dr. Sabow immediately started his own investigation hiring several PIs. One investigator, Bill Taylor, a Marine veteran, while in Washington DC, was forcefully picked up by a White House limo and delivered to the situation room at the White House. Remarkably, Taylor was allowed to keep his firearm during this visit. Sandy Berger spent an hour with Taylor to determine what he knew. The next day in Washington, Taylor had an exchange of gunfire with an assailant; he was wounded and the assailant killed. The superficial abdominal wounded Taylor was treated by private medical practitioner and quickly recovered.
Taken in their entirety there is no doubt that a very powerful entity has actively subverted an honest investigation into the Colonel Sabow death. This subversion occurred at all levels of government from the United States Congress to city and state investigative organizations in southern California and South Dakota. There is also no doubt that any attempt to make this story into a viable production project will be met with threats, bribery, legal attacks based on “National Security” and perhaps even physical violence.
The struggle between good and evil goes back to the beginning of time. Edmund Burke in the 18th Century is quoted as saying, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
The statute of limitations expired for cocaine trafficking but there’s no statute of limitations on murder and conspiracy to commit murder. There is abundant forensic evidence to support the murder of Colonel Sabow and the conspiracy to commit murder by multiple individuals; justice demands a change in the death certificate of Colonel Sabow to homicide, leading to depositions of persons of interest, indictments and convictions.
Robert O’Dowd is a disabled Marine veteran of Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, CA. He served 52 months on active duty with the 1st, 3rd and 4th Marine Aircraft Wings in 1960s. Robert is a graduate of Temple University with a BBA in 1973. He has written on military and environmental contamination issues for Veterans Today and Salem-News (Salem, OR). His investigation of the murder of Marine Colonel James E. Sabow at El Toro in 1991 lead to the discovery that the base and other military bases were used by the government for gun running to Central America and cocaine trafficking into the US to support the Nicaraguan Contra War. CIA proprietary C-130s were used to fly the guns South and the drugs North. This was a top secret covert operation. No one was prosecuted for cocaine trafficking. The cocaine was the fuel for the crack epidemic in 1980s and 1990s, killing thousands of Americans and addicting thousands of others, especially hard hit were the Black communities in the inner cities. In the Iran/Contra scandal no one was charged with narcotrafficking, despite DEA reports filed on the tons of cocaine flown out of Central America into the US were ignored. You can write Robert O’Dowd at firstname.lastname@example.org in the 1960s. While at MCAS El Toro for two years, O'Dowd worked and slept in a Radium 226 contaminated work space in Hangar 296 in MWSG-37, the most industrialized and contaminated acreage on the base.
Robert is a two time cancer survivor and disabled veteran. Robert graduated from Temple University in 1973 with a bachelor’s of business administration, majoring in accounting, and worked with a number of federal agencies, including the EPA Office of Inspector General and the Defense Logistics Agency.
After retiring from the Department of Defense, he teamed up with Tim King of Salem-News.com to write about the environmental contamination at two Marine Corps bases (MCAS El Toro and MCB Camp Lejeune), the use of El Toro to ship weapons to the Contras and cocaine into the US on CIA proprietary aircraft, and the murder of Marine Colonel James E. Sabow and others who were a threat to blow the whistle on the illegal narcotrafficking activity. O'Dowd and King co-authored BETRAYAL: Toxic Exposure of U.S. Marines, Murder and Government Cover-Up. The book is available as a soft cover copy and eBook from Amazon.com. See: http://www.amazon.com/Betrayal-Exposure-Marines-Government-Cover-Up/dp/1502340003...Show Less