The CIA and Narcotics Trafficking

By: Ronald West

In 1970, serving in Vietnam, I had transferred from the 199th Light Infantry Brigade based at Long Binh for extended tour of duty with the 330th Transportation Company located at Vung Tau. The US Army Airfield at Vung Tau was an advanced aircraft maintenance location primarily, with a runway that could handle freight aircraft up to the C-130. By far, however, it was mainly a service center for Helicopters needing advanced repairs, engine overhauls, rotor replacements, et cetera. Among other tasks, I worked airfield perimeter and flight line security.


We had fully armed Cobra gunships for airfield protection that needed secured from possible sapper attack, particularly, as well as the more typical security needs. The period was from October of 1970 to November of 1971.


As an E-5, I had responsibility for men on the perimeter at times, at other times on the flight line. Perimeter duty in my sector was parallel to the landing and takeoff (main) runway. This was Vietnam approaching late stage conflict.


Heroin addiction was estimated by myself and other non-commissioned officers to be about 30% of the US Forces enlisted men on this airfield. Our own company and its platoons were about this average level of addicts as was our understanding this being the similar case of the other Army units located there.


Again and again, over this 13 month period, heroin ran out. It could not be missed when nearly a third our soldiers, a few hundreds of men, went into physical and mental symptom of withdrawal. It was not pretty. This was not the weak, comparatively speaking, heroin someone would needle. It was STRONG. It was smoked or ‘snorted’ up the nose. Intravenous use of this drug would have been almost instantly fatal. Tremendous quantities of the drug were consumed by these horrifically addicted men.


Vung Tau could not be easily supplied with heroin on demand, without some serious interruptions, in the large quantities required to maintain the habits of hundreds of badly addicted soldiers by Viet Cong or North Vietnamese agents. The location was separated from the mainland by bracken marsh, accessed by a single causeway secured in multiple sectors with tightly controlled traffic having to pass American and Australian security checks. By sea would have been more likely, but here it is also problematic for the uninterrupted enemy supply of our soldiers with drugs. Vung Tau was highly secured by sea with armed patrol boats because of the high military value of its mission. It is a small area of land with essentially little coastline to secure. Security was tight. Interdiction would have been a near certainty, at least once in a while. It didn’t happen.


The Viet Cong or North Vietnamese agents of course did not have air access to us. The CIA did.

It was nowhere near rocket science to note the (CIA airline) Air America flight that parked 1/4 mile away from every other aircraft, never came in to parking area. 3 people, armed, stayed with the aircraft, command staff car picked up 2 others. Luggage (nearly modern steamer trunks) for at least 10 (TEN) people was picked up by a 3/4 ton truck, with 2 persons riding with the baggage, 1 left guarding the aircraft. All airfield personnel were strictly instructed NEVER to approach the Air America flights. They never stayed more than several hours.


Bingo, heroin flush by that evening. Again and again, when the soldier’s suppliers had run out of heroin, there was an Air America flight landed. Problem solved, the addicted soldiers were functional again.


After Vietnam I served with 19th Special Forces Group as an (11F40) Sergeant in Operations and Intelligence, working together with some of the best in the field, a position that eventually pointed to my later career as an Investigator in the field of Human Rights. I continued to follow the CIA in the available sources and have made some assessments, drawn some conclusions. The covert, operational or ‘black ops’ sector itself of the CIA has been the source of major narco-trafficking or, there has been a highly organized rogue element within this sector where oversight is problematic. These people are in major international drug trafficking and their worldwide tracks are beginning to emerge over time, ever more circumstantially.


It had been established by the 1970s and reported on in media that the CIA had bought the loyalties of tribes in the so called ‘Golden Triangle’ opium producing region with cash for their crop, the most likely or closest proximity, raw base or source of the heroin in Vietnam. War zones with covert logistics for intelligence services are perfect opportunities to commercially process on large scale with no effective police oversight.


After Vietnam, and the loss of direct military backing in force for our covert agency and no longer in control of the necessary areas in the region, heroin waned and cocaine became big. One only has to look at the tracks of the graduates of the School of the Americas, and connect the dots. This is the CIA associated initial source of the leadership training that has today’s Mexican Federal Police sometimes overwhelmed in pitched battles with drug lord militiamen that are now days professional commandos.


Move south from there and you had Noriega, in Panama, same source of training and a CIA asset, became a major international narco-trafficker. South farther again and you have Uribe associated with right wing militias and associated death squads, CIA, School of the Americas training, all in the mix of Columbia, and drug trade and coca production is up there, eradication a farce. So FARC is involved too. Why wouldn’t they be? It is a lucrative business.


Now the clincher. More than 90% of this year’s Heroin supplied to the world (90% TO THE WORLD) will come from poppies grown in Afghanistan. This is not just the Taliban folks, it is the CIA. The southwest of Afghanistan is the poppy region where the USA had taken a bit of a ‘hands off’ attitude and done little to nothing to address the problem. In fact it was noted by one of our Senators in oversight hearings this is an opening we could have had towards constructive discussions with Iran: Our common interest in eradicating this crop. Subsequent to this oversight hearing, a drug interdiction program has been initiated against ONLY THOSE OPUIM FARMERS WHO DO BUSINESS WITH THE TALIBAN.


Cleaning up the problem or cornering the market? It would very much seem this program is window dressing the problem while in actuality cornering the market. U.S. Army General John Craddock issued an International Law violating policy or NATO directive allowing for the murder of anyone suspected of dealing in narcotics to benefit the Taliban stating “it was no longer necessary to produce intelligence or other evidence” to shoot people they identify (or obviously merely suspect, without the necessary intelligence or evidence) as Taliban affiliated narco-traffickers. The letter with the policy directive was leaked and not surprisingly in a military culture, there appeared to be more vocal concern expressed over the leak than the proposed human rights violations. However, to NATO’s credit, Craddock’s leaked directive appears to have been modified. The article [IHT, 12 February 2009] reiterated this only applies to those Afghans who do business with the Taliban.


Criminals do not voluntarily surrender their business models. Cleaning up the problem is not going to happen until the CIA covert operations are brought under control.


The CIA or a rogue element within the organization has been, personally enriching themselves for decades as international narco-traffickers, my assessment. All the while using our nation’s ‘Security’ together with all of the power of the apparatus the term implies, to cover a rogue and criminal club within our ranks. And so, another example of how it is the pursuit of violence through wars corrupts and/or attracts corrupt people. C’est la vie.


These following stories from the AP WIRE [2 years ago] point to, among other things, CIA having wiretapped DEA to prevent DEA stumbling on CIA international narco-trafficking and continued efforts by our Justice Department to cover-up crime with the state secrets doctrine:


Sep 11th, 2009 | WASHINGTON — A federal judge says the CIA is hiding behind dubious national security arguments to shield itself from a potentially embarrassing lawsuit U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, who earlier ruled that CIA officials committed fraud to protect a former covert agent accused in the suit, has rejected an emergency request to put the case on hold while the government appeals. The CIA has argued that allowing the case to proceed would divulge classified information, but, in an opinion made public on Friday, Lamberth said there was no good reason to delay.


In the suit, a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent claims the CIA illegally wiretapped his home when stationed in Rangoon, Burma in 1993. The agent, Richard Horn, said he became suspicious when he returned from a trip to find his government-issued rectangular coffee table had been replaced with a round one.


The case has been a test of the Obama administration’s use of the so-called state secrets privilege, when the government seeks to block legal action by saying the details that would be revealed would harm national security.


Administration officials have pledged to review all state secrets claims made by the previous Bush administration, but in many cases the government is still asserting the need to prevent disclosures that it says would harm national security.


In the DEA case, Lamberth has previously rejected the state secrets claim. Government lawyers are attempting to reassert the privilege but on different grounds, but the judge isn’t buying it.

“Having lost on their assertion of the state secrets privilege, the government’s new refrain is heads you lose, tails we win,” the judge wrote.


The court case is rooted in an old squabble between the DEA and CIA operating overseas.

Horn claims Arthur Brown, the former CIA station chief in Burma, and Franklin Huddle Jr., the chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Burma, were trying to get him relocated because they disagreed with his work with Burmese officials on the country’s drug trade.

The CIA has not said in court filings whether or not it monitored Horn, but Horn claims he was monitored without lawful authority and in violation of his constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.


The CIA buys off the DEA

10 Nov 09-

WASHINGTON — The government has agreed to pay $3 million to a former agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration who sued CIA officers for illegal eavesdropping The proposed settlement followed a ruling by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth in July that CIA officials committed fraud to protect a former covert agent against the eavesdropping allegations.


The lawsuit was brought by former DEA agent Richard Horn, who says his home in Rangoon, Burma, was illegally wiretapped by the CIA in 1993. He says Arthur Brown, the former CIA station chief in Burma, and Franklin Huddle Jr., the chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Burma, were trying to get him transferred because they disagreed with his work with Burmese officials on the country’s drug trade. Horn sued Brown and Huddle in 1994, seeking monetary damages for violating his civil rights.


The CIA itself was a defendant in the lawsuit until early this year….. Then-CIA Director George Tenet filed an affidavit asking that the case against Brown be dismissed because he was a covert agent whose identity was a state secret that must not be revealed in open court. Lamberth granted the CIA’s request and threw out the case against Brown in 2004. Lamberth found out last year that Brown’s cover had been lifted in 2002, even though the CIA continued to file legal documents saying his status was covert. The judge found that the CIA intentionally misled the court and he reinstated the case against Brown.


The agreement in the case was revealed in court papers filed Tuesday night, and Lamberth will now consider whether to dismiss the suit. Under the proposed settlement, the government makes no admission as to whether the allegations in the lawsuit are true.



WASHINGTON — Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the president of Afghanistan, gets regular payments from the CIA and has for much of the past eight years, The New York Times reported Tuesday. The newspaper said that according to current and former American officials, the CIA pays Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the CIA’s direction in and around Kandahar. The CIA’s ties to Karzai, who is a suspected player in the country’s illegal opium trade, have created deep divisions within the Obama administration, the Times said Allegations that Karzai is involved in the drug trade have circulated in Kabul for months. He denies them. Critics say the ties with Karzai complicate the United States’ increasingly tense relationship with his older brother, President Hamid Karzai.


The CIA’s practices also suggest that the United States is not doing everything in its power to stamp out the lucrative Afghan drug trade, a major source of revenue for the Taliban. Some American officials argue that the reliance on Ahmed Wali Karzai, a central figure in the south of the country where the Taliban is dominant, undermines the U.S. push to develop an effective central government that can maintain law and order and eventually allow the United States to withdraw. “If we are going to conduct a population-centric strategy in Afghanistan, and we are perceived as backing thugs, then we are just undermining ourselves,” Maj. Gen. Michael T.

Flynn, the senior American military intelligence official in Afghanistan was quoted by the Times in an article published on its Web site.


Ahmed Wali Karzai told the Times that he cooperates with American civilian and military officials but does not engage in the drug trade and does not receive payments from the CIA.

Karzai helps the CIA operate a paramilitary group, the Kandahar Strike Force, which is used for raids against suspected insurgents and terrorists, according to several American officials. Karzai also is paid for allowing the CIA and American Special Operations troops to rent a large compound outside the city, which also is the base of the Kandahar Strike Force, the Times said.

Karzai also helps the CIA communicate with and sometimes meet with Afghans loyal to the Taliban, the newspaper reported.


CIA spokesman George Little declined to comment on the report.


Followed by:

“Ghulam Haider Hamidi, the mayor of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan where a large chunk of the new U.S. forces will be deployed, cited corruption — which Karzai has pledged to fight — as the worst problem facing his nation.”The biggest problem is corruption in the Afghan government, police and military but also in some of the companies coming from the United States, Canada and England and Germany,” Hamidi said. “There is corruption and drug dealing by the people who are in power, within the police and the military.


Hamidi said just last month he was told that Taliban were sleeping in the police barracks.”The police are taking money from both sides — the government and the Taliban,” he said. “When we have this kind of police and military, the Afghan problem won’t be solved in 20 years.””


What Hamidi had pointed directly to, are military subcontractors in the employ of CIA, the military and the police, all in bed with both narcotics trafficking and the Taliban.


Earlier this year [2011] I had passed related intelligence on rogue CIA to several parties in Afghanistan. The information directly dealt with known CIA criminal parties, their subcontractors (former CIA) and narcotics trafficking involving both CIA and Taliban, among other matters. Wali Karzai and Ghulam Haider Hamidi were both assassinated not long after, Wali Karzai because he was too ‘hot’ (his own CIA liaison killed him) and Ghulam Haider

Hamidi because he was too clean…


American intelligence reads my mail. And they resort to murder as easily as any child with a toy gun pulls the trigger on an imaginary enemy.


I regret Hamidi’s death.


Further Reading:

16 Comments on “The CIA and Narcotics Trafficking”

  1. I’ve heard rumors of shit similar to the incidents described here happening in Mexico – I can’t prove that they’re true, but I have little doubt that they are considering the track record that organizations like the CIA, M-16 and Mossad have…

  2. Azazel, You only need have a look at the appended links (1st & 4th) and your ‘rumors’ will be pretty much confirmed. Quote from the ‘Foreign Policy’ article on ‘outsourcing’ the drug war to the CIA:

    ” The rate of violence is as high as ever and there is no obvious decline in the flow of drugs into the United States”

    The youtube link (1st link) pretty much says it all, relative to that.

  3. @ Ron,

    Those links touch briefly on some of the rumors I’ve heard, but what my sources tell me is a lot darker than this – tell me of CIA agents being hired out as hitmen by cartel heads (or wannabe heads with the cash), of Mossad protection rackets for their favored dealers and of “black budgets” funded by drug money. What these reports talk about is just the tip pf the iceberg if even half of what I’ve been told about is true…

  4. Not everyone is equipped for information at that level, psychologically speaking. My approach as a journalist is to point a direction, provide some credible sources, and let those curious minds know self discovery.

    But your sources are precisely correct. To read my personal experience, go to this public link (my books are free on the net) and go to the last chapter: “Epilogue”

    There, succinctly summed up, is a snapshot of my experiences of the past several years. If I were to become fixated on those experiences, I would lose all objectivity and miss many opportunities at utilizing my skill with other subjects.

    As it turns out, in a sense, I have the CIA & friends by the balls. I’d given European law enforcement a heads [nearly four years ago] to simply follow me around and watch, and against all reasonable seeming odds, having set myself up as bait, I am still alive. I attribute that to an attitude of ‘it really doesn’t matter’ that refuses to be coerced into fear. The result is, a simple view of multiple attempts on my life as no different to a pedestrian negotiating traffic hazards as a matter of habit. That and giving up all night life (out after dark) forcing the game into unfamiliar territory for the hitmen who highly value invisibility and suddenly they seem way over-rated..

  5. I was living in Mendocino when the Shah of Iran sought refuge in the United States. When he arrived, so did the first batch of Persian Opium; basically a heroin you can smoke. The drug spread like wildfire. A society that had only loosely played with drugs before was suddenly filled with heroin junkies. The grapevine was as viral as facebook back then. The assertions were that the Persian Opium came from the Shah, and the cocaine, which was as dominant as meth-amphetamines are now, came straight from the White House. Although marijuana busts were (and still are) every day news, the Persian Opium ring never got busted, and indictments for cocaine continue to be only for users and small time dealers.

  6. Well, people do get busted, just not like one would expect. Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury News, for instance, after his exposé of the CIA cocaine running into LA, supposedly ‘shot himself in the head twice’ (that would be amazing), meanwhile Barry Seal had been gunned down on the eve of testifying on his role of flying the drugs in for the CIA, and it just goes on. The aggregate effect is a clearly emerging picture that only grows more focused over time and will not go away. Eventually something has to give, CIA operational sector can believe it will get away with murder in perpetuity but in fact the damage and it’s collateral effects eventually must reach a point too many cops, and too many judges, and too many people know the score and it is no longer possible to conceal and carry on the game, because not everyone is going to be able to be corrupted and/or silenced, the weight becomes too great and it is a like a law of physics, at some point it will implode.

  7. @ Ron,

    I wouldn’t put much faith in the authorities – cops and judges are actually quite easy to corrupt (hell, most of the ones that matter are already corrupt). The CIA and their equivalent organizations have little to fear from them: what they are afraid of is independant groups formed from local resistance fighters – they generally have their own reasons for fighting (vendetta against these agencies or their affiliates, desire to wrestle control of the local economy away from foreign influnece, some are even hard-core idealists, etc…) and they know where to hit these bastrads where it hurts: the wallet – typically this is done by expropriating or destroying their shipments of product and weaponry.

    When one deals with people who love by the gun, force is the only language they know – they know how to bribe or intimidate themselves out of situations that would result in public prosecutions, but such methods have no effect whatsoever on those who go outside all notions of “law” to claim their heads…

  8. @ Azazel

    I have faith in the rule of law as a matter of principle. When you’ve had a career like my own, you discover there are many fine people in law enforcement and associated courts, with exemplary motivation. That corruption rules at the top in western culture, is nothing new, ever it was and ever it will be except the culture’s people evolve new forms of expression. That is a process of discovery. You surrender altogether too much power (in your thinking) to the corrupt and that is in a sense creating reality .. but remember, it is YOUR reality and cannot preclude other modes of expression.

    What will, in the end, be the result? No one can know.

  9. “Rule of law?” There was a time when I once believed in such things – I used to think that society could be reformed if only social consciousness was raised and the electorate was properly informed (of course, I’ve learned since then that elections are just a dog-and-pony show). Like you, I also have a media background: of course, my career in radio broadcast was short-lived – numerous media consolidations put me out of a job before I even had a solid year under my belt and I became one of the laboring class to make ends meet. It was in the belly of the beast I came to realize that “law” is just the will of the entity that commands more cash and guns than anyone else.

    I’ve not only seen the underbelly of the beast, I’ve lived in it – I’m through looking for reforms in the system. My only desire at this point is to see it demolished so that something new might take its place…

  10. The ‘beast’ has been demolished again and again, throughout history. The result? A new hierarchy [beast.]

    My media background is a lately thing, before that it was investigating corruption in government, speaking of seeing the underbelly .. and no, law is a high concept. It is ‘color of law’ you are speaking of, that is corrupt practice in the name of law.

    In the end, there is an ages old observation concerning people who dedicate [morph] themselves to violence overthrowing violence. Pogo perhaps said it best: “We have met the enemy and they is us”

  11. 1. The beast never died – it just kept changing form as new powers rose to the top. What I am calling for is the end of the state altogether: no more centralized power – instead numerous localities run directly by those who reside within them taking the reigns and deciding their own path rahter than having it dictated to them by some incorporeal entity.

    2. “Law” and “color of law” – there’s no functional difference between them! At the end of the day the average person has no real control over either of them: whether the words are written in a book somewhere by a bunch of guys in a capital city or just issued forth from the mouth of a fool with a badge, their dictates are just as arbitrary and tyrannical – I spit upon both the politician and his hired thugs.

    3. I’m not interested in “overthrowing violence” (whatever that means – people have always fought and will always fight over something) – my interest lies in the death of centralized power.

  12. Ron, it took me a long time to understand exactly what Azazel was saying, but if you filter out the caustic remarks, essentially it is no different than the Native American view of self-determination. Centralized power is not necessary for communities to flourish. Socialized communities will naturally set up their own system of values. These values determine the rules for harmonious life, equality, justice and fair trade.

    There is actually a great deal of difference between “law” and “color of the law”. Law is that internal thermometer that instinctively follows two rules. Do no harm to others and honor all contracts. A person who follows these two rules is considered lawful. A person who uses subterfuge, deceit and fabricated contracts as a deceptive measure of appearing lawful is acting under the color of the law. They are a sham. A paradox of true law.

    I have very little faith in our legal system because corruption itself is being used as a tool, but the emphasis is being placed on moral behavior instead of damage inflicted by harmful policies, and the victims of unequal justice. A government that distributes drugs, profits from drugs, and persecutes the users of drugs is only acting under the color of the law and is, in fact, unlawful.

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