Saturday, September 4, 2010

Covert Finances: Drug Trade Through Vietnam War

Paul L.E. Helliwell was sent to Miami in 1960 to build a cover for anti-Castro activitries. Helliwell had been an OSS officer, and was the chief architect the C.I.A.’s drug money laundering operations. He owned Castle Bank in the Bahamas. It was a despository for mob money, and his partner was Burton Kanter, a Chicago lawyer who specialized in legalizing money from organized crime. Prominent people from the legitimate business world also put money there including Thomas Corcoran and the Fords. “Tommy the Cork” had run FDR’s informal spying operations before the OSS was created. Corcoran, working with Chiang Kai-shek’s brother, T.V. Soong, was financing the American Volunteer Group, that carried out sabotage operations against Red China. Another Helliwell operation was the Bank of Pirenne in Key West, "a two-time laundromat for the Lansky mob and the C.I.A.. " The latter was tied to the Bank of Cutler Ridge. The Bank of Pirenne received money from Lansky’s Bank of Internal Commerce, a bank the C.I.A. sometimes used. The Lansky bank also had business relations with drug interests in France and Lebanon. Helliwell’s Sea Supply Corporation sent arms to the Nationalist Chinese in Burma and to Thailand’s police. In return, the company received China White heroin.

Wallace Groves, an ex-convict, operated another C.I.A. money laundering operation called Intercontinental Diversified (I.D.C.) . He sold his 46% share in 1978 for $33 million. In an SEC hearing, C.I.A.officials admitted using $5 million of I.D.C’s funds and claimed Groves went along out of friendship. I.D.C. was a spin-off of an Asian mining company and was represented by a Helliwell firm. Groves also fronted Resorts International, owned largely by the mob. Resorts International, formerly the Mary Carter Paint Co., operated the Paradise Island resort. The C.I.A. had to be aware that money from the Paradsise Island Bridge Company and the resort was being delivered to Nixon. This situation most likely was an important element in the tension between the president and the agency.

James Jesus Angleton, head of Counter Intelligence, also maintained ties with the Mafia through New York lawyer Mario Brod. On one occasion money was moved through these channels to pay thugs to beat up leftists in Mareselles. Sometimes, the mob was used to help feret out Communist agents in the United States.

Agents Ted Shackley and Thomas Clines, and Richard Armitage were the major operatives, responsible for shipping tons of raw opium. Years later Ross Perot learned of Armitage's activities and unsuccessfully tried to get the government to move against Armitage. Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci warned Perot to leave it alone. The eccentric millionaire said he had stumbled into a’snake pit without bottom.” Armitage became very close to the Bush family, and would later b ecome involved with the drug trades in Albania and Russia. In the former, he worked closely with the Russian mafia. General Colin Powell was to call him “my white son.” <>
Ted Shackley

Rafael Quinteros worked under Shackley and would later be part of Oliver North's Central American operation which would be called the National Program Office (NPO); it was ultimately run by Vice President George H. Bush. Shackley director of “Operation Phoenix,” which was created by William Colby. Shackley and Climes operated Operation Mongoose from 1962 to 1965, which was targeted at assassinating Fidel Castro. Shackley was a talented and zealous operative who was being groomed by some superiors for high posts in the agency. AS Saigon station chief, he moved to place Operation Phoenix under the military, but it continued to be operated by men with C.I.A. links. Some of the South Vietnamese thugs them employed were so depraved that they devoured their enemies organs. Prior to his arrival in Saigon in 1966, the assassination program was carried out by Military Assistance Command, Vietnam -- Special Operations Group (MACV-SOG) under General John Singlaub. Shackley probably had to find some way to keep the military involved while taking control himself. His next job was cleaning up the mess in the western hemisphere that occurred when Philip Agee spilled numerous secrets.

Shackley then became deputy director of the C.I.A. under George H.W. Bush. Shackley’s drug operation and Project Phoenix was coordinated with the White House through liason officer Eric Von Arbond, who also handled the “40 Committee,” which carried out murders and assassinations. It had an interesting history. Before Dien Bien Phu in 1954, French intelligence ( SDECE) ran drugs out of Southeast Asia to Europe. When the United States assumed French responsibilities in the area, the C.I.A. took over the drug operation. It is unclear how many SDEC people were still used. Also involved was Etienne Tarditi of the Corsican mob and some of his American counterparts. Carmel Offie, a C.I.A. person operating an export-import firm, coordinated operations and worked with another agent, Irving Joseph Brown, the AFL’s top man abroad. He often recruited diplomats to bring in drugs. However, Maurice Rosal Bron, the most famous diplomat ever caught, was recruited by Tarditi. Rosal had a great weakness for young boys, and Tarditi used this Guyatemalan ambassador to the Netherlands as a mule to New York. In 1960, Tarditi, the diplomat, and several others were caught. This was the beginning of the famous French Connetion Case, which became the basis for the 1971 movie. Brown was persona non grata in France and Algeria because Prersident De Gaulle knew the C.I.A. was using drug money to finance the Secret Army Organization, which tried to kill the French president.

The heroin was taken out by the C.I.A.’s Air America choppers and taken off to be refined into heroin. Sometimes the heroin was refined in Vietnamese Pepsi Cola plants, and some insist that these plants were used in Asia for refining heroin long after that. Investigative reporter Carlos Pacelli was to talk to vets who talked “about their personal experiences in loading raw opium or heroin onto Agency-controlled aircraft during the Vietnam conflict.”. The C.I.A. share of the drug profits was largely used to finance Project Phoenix, which handled the political assassination of between 27,000 and 60,000 Vietcong communist leaders in Laos and Cambodia, as well as thousands of innocent people. However, writers friendly to the agency admit only that Laotian tribesmen allied to the US may have been moving drugs and that the C.I.A. disregarded it. John Singlaub took care of the murders, and Secord saw to moving arms and drugs. A great deal of the drugs went to American troops in South Vietnam, and some angry American soldiers shot down Air America aircraft in protest. Santos Trafficante, a mafia don, visited Vang Pao, and saw to getting the drugs to the USA and wider world.

There was little to worry about from US based drug enforcementofficials. Too many of them became quickly seduced by big money and life in the underworld. In 1970, John Ingersoll, head of Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs recruited the C.I.A. to help him root out corruption in the BNDD. He brought in a close friend , Patrick Fuller to act as chief inspector. The joint effort was called Operation TwoFold. Little did he know that the C.I.A. had many reasons to prevent the anti-drug agency from becoming efficient. Several major allies were moving drugs into the United States at that time, and the C.I.A. was also involved in peddling drugs from the Golden Triangle. The operation resulted in no convictions. One of the top C.I.A. people in Operation TwoFold was Evan Parker, who was the first C.I.A. agent to run the Phoenix Program foa assassinating Viewtnamese dissidents, which had been financed by drug money. By 1977, 125 “former” C.I.A. people were working for the DEA ( it now had a new name.) They were busy emasculating the anti-drug agency; however, they did use DEA cover to search out some drug king pins around the world and execute them. As late as 2008, the DEA in South Asia and Afghanistan is thoroughly infiltrated by the C.I.A.. The C.I.A. also stole hundreds of tons of equipment and supplies from the military and moved it to secret storage in Thailand.

Drug money was deposited in the Nugan Hand Bank as well as some of the proceeds of covert arms sales to China. It was founded in Australia in 1973 by ex-Green Beret Michael Hand and Australian lawyer Frank Nugen, a produce salesman. Four officers of the C.I.A. proprietary company Air America were also involved in establishing this bank. It was established around the time when drug money bank, Castle Bank and Trust Company of Nassau, went into eclipse when it was exposed as a receptacle for C.I.A. drug money. The F.B.I. has learned that it was laundering money for mob figures. It was founded former OSS officer Helliwell, who had been part of an operation that included Howard Hunt and had paid informants in opium. His bank laundered drug money that came out of the trade in southeast Asia and it worked closely with the Nationalist Chinese. A lawyer, Helliwell moved drugs into Miami through his Sea Supply, Inc. When the C.I.A. started moving drugs from IndoChina in 1965, their operations meshed with his in moving drugs to the US. His bank also mov ed money to the accounts of Washington politicians to protect its operations.

The Nugyen Hand Bank soon had branches wherever the C.I.A. had large stations. Some called it the “Green Beret Bank” because so many Green Berets were employed by it. Its CEO was retired Rear Admiral Earl Yates, who operated out of Virginia Beach Virginia. Other rankingofficials were retired military people or C.I.A. officers. An active duty army officer Earl Cocke ran its Washington branch. Cocke was to retire as a Brigadier General. He was also tied closely with Project Hammer, an interagency operation moving legitimate and illegitimate funds. He was once the top US representative to the World Bank. Former C.I.A. director William Colby was its lawyer. It laundered drug money and funneled C.I.A. money. Alexander Butterfield, who was responsible for Nixon’s taping system, was a former intelligence officer in Asia who had much knowledge of the bank’s operations. Edwin Wilson became Associated with the bank when it facilitated moving arms into Angola in 1974. By the 1980s, Wilson had a large horse farm in Virginia hunting country and a lavish DC townhouse. In the interim, he had gone into business with Egyptian Defense Minister Mohammed Abu Ghazala, who was also dealing with the US government and the agency.

In 1975, it funded the election defeat of Gough Whitlam’s government in Australia. The bank unsuccessfully tried to frame an anti- organized crime attorney general Frank Walker in New South Wales by opening a Swiss bank account in his name. The bank smuggled marijuana and the Victoria police reported that it moved $110,000,000 worth of heroin in 1978. It also engaged in global arms smuggling.

Some of the bank’s people were also involved in the C.I.A. investment bank, Bishop, Baldwin, Rewald Dillingham and Wong The political payments for the arms deals routed to the United States, often by Merrill Lynch. The Chinese had made a practice of donating heavily to the Republican party, but beginning in 1992 they moved beyond given mere tokens to the Democrats. In that year they channeled a six figure contribution as insurance.

Michael Hand was to play a major role in exploiting oil and gas resources. Beginning in 1967, there was an effort to acquire major nga and petroleum assets in Australia by a consortium of the C.I.A., oilman Nelson Bunker Hunt, Aristotle Onassis, and the Rockefellers. Efforts focused on the Great SouthBasin discovery and plans to monopolize it. Mitsubishi and Mitsui of Japan also became partners. As part of this huge operation, the Rockefellers and Onassis helped Adnan Khashoggi, a very rich man and C.I.A. asset, gain control of the United California Bank and Security National Bank, also of California. They were used in pay-ffs to Japanese politicians and others. The coalition also gained control of several banks in Australian and New Zealand. These banks joined the Nugyen Hand Bank in laundering drug money from both the C.I.A. and Onassis operations in the Golden Triangle.

On January 27, 1980, Nugan was found dead in his Mercedes, 100 miles west of Sydney. It was said to be a suicide, and Hand said his partner had stolen vast sums . Two days later, Hand met with directors, and allegedly said they must do as they were told or "finish up with concrete shoes" and they would be "liable to find their wives being delivered to them in pieces". He then fled Australian authorities, but was able to meet with Bill Casey in Panama several times. The bank was $50 million in debt Thousands of investors in the United States and elselwere lost money. The bank went out of business, and money disappeared from its vaults all ov er the world. Its records were destroyed. Australian authorities found a long list of their own politicians along with the bribes they had received. The bank had ties with over 25 separate drug trading entities. It was found that the bank defrauded US citizens working in Saudi Arabia. These people were encouraged to buy government bonds through the bank, but the money disappeared. Its branch in Chiang Mai, TailandBin the heart of drug countryB was on the same floor of a building where the Drug Enforcement Agency maintained an office.

Australian banks took up some of the slack left by the collapse of the Nugyan Hand Bank, and Richard Armitage, took care of U S financial transactions with them. Bishop, Baldwin, Rewald, Dillingham and Wong (BBRDW) in Hawaii was used for a time as a C.I.A. drug bank. It soon had branch offices in Austgralia and elsewhere in Asia. There was also information on the overseas bank accounts of U Sofficials. George H.W. Bush had accounts under two aliases; Richard Armitage was Mr. Branch; Bill Case was Mr. Denile. President and Mrs. Marcos also had money there.