- Background. Adolfo Calero Portocarrero, an American-educated
businessman and politician, was originally active--as were many other Nicaraguan
political figures who went on to become Contra leaders--in working to bring down
the regime of Anastasio Somoza. After Somoza's ouster in 1979, U.S. Embassy
officials reported from Managua that Calero initially sought to work with the
FSLN Government, claiming that all sectors needed to contribute to the political
and economic reconstruction of Nicaragua. However, Calero had publicly
criticized the Sandinistas by late 1980 for "setting themselves up as gods."
In December 1982, he left Nicaragua in protest of FSLN policies.
- On leaving Nicaragua, Calero joined the FDN and became a member of its
leadership. In January 1983, he traveled to Panama, Costa Rica and Colombia to
seek support. That same month, he helped draft a FDN peace initiative calling
for elections, pluralism, nonalignment in foreign affairs, and respect for
individual and human rights. Calero later became President and
Commander-in-Chief of the FDN, the preeminent Contra group that pursued
resistance activities on the Northern Front from bases in Honduras.
- When pressures to unify the Contra forces led to the creation of UNO in
mid-1985, Calero--along with Arturo Cruz and Alfonso Robelo--was named to share
authority and decision making control of the military effort. Disputes with
Cruz and Robelo led to Calero's resignation from the UNO leadership in early
1987. However, with the founding of a successor coalition, the Nicaraguan
Resistance (RN), in May of that year, Calero was restored to a senior leadership
position. In that position, Calero differed with Enrique Bermudez, the RN
military commander, over strategies for cease fire negotiations.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. A number of Central American
publications and public figures mentioned the Northern Contra Front forces in
the context of broad-based charges of drug trafficking by the Contras. A cable
informed Headquarters in February 1988 that a Nicaraguan exile had alleged at a
meeting in Miami, Florida, that Enrique Bermudez, Adolfo Calero, Aristides
Sanchez, and another individual were all involved in drug smuggling. The
purpose of the meeting in Miami at which this allegation was made was to invite
former Nicaraguan National Guard members to return to Nicaragua under a
Sandinista amnesty program. The Nicaraguan exile reportedly offered no
substantiation for his allegations. According to the cable, he had been
characterized by both a U.S. law enforcement source and CIA as mentally unstable.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. According to a
February 1988 Headquarters cable, CIA records were searched in February 1988
regarding the Nicaraguan exile in response to his allegations that Calero and
other UNO/FDN leaders had engaged in drug smuggling. The cable indicated that a
number of sources characterized him as unstable, a swindler and as having a
reputation of being a drug dealer in Nicaragua before leaving that country in
Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities.
In February 1988, the information contained in the February 1988 cable
concerning the drug trafficking allegation by the Nicaraguan exile against
Calero and other Contra leaders was forwarded by CIA to the FBI.
- No record has been found to indicate that the allegation received by CIA
regarding Calero and drug trafficking was reported to Congress.
- Background. Enrique Bermudez Varela served as an officer in the
Nicaraguan National Guard Corps of Engineers from 1952-1979. During his
military career, he was a student at the U.S. Army School of the Americas, the
U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the Inter-American Defense
College. After completing his study at the Inter-American Defense College,
Bermudez was assigned as the Nicaraguan Defense Attaché in Washington
from 1976 to 1979. During that period, Bermudez was openly critical of the
Somoza Regime and its General Staff.
- Subsequent to the Sandinistas' consolidation of control in Nicaragua as
the Government of National Reconstruction (GRN), Bermudez was identified in the
first half of 1980 as the "War Chief" of the anti-Sandinista
organization, Democratic Armed Force. In the spring of 1981,
Bermudez was identified as the Chief of the Military arm of the Nicaraguan
Democratic Revolutionary Alliance (ADREN), the 15th of September Legion.
In September 1981, the ADREN merged with the Nicaraguan Democratic Union (UDN)
and formed the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN).
- Bermudez was ousted as the FDN's Chief of General Staff in late 1982 as
part of the restructuring of the FDN, and he was then appointed the "Political-Military
Coordinator" of the FDN Directorate with responsibility for oversight of
the FDN's military organization. Nevertheless, he remained the de
facto leader of the FDN military organization. In January 1983, he identified
himself as the FDN directorate member responsible for military affairs and
effectively the "Commander-in-Chief" of FDN forces. In
February 1984, the FDN General Staff was abolished and replaced by a combined
Civil-Military command with Adolfo Calero as Commander-in-Chief and Enrique
Bermudez as Chief, Military Affairs.
- Throughout the 1980s, Bermudez was dogged by attacks on his leadership
and by accusations that he was a Somoza supporter and that he had attempted to
recruit former Nicaraguan National Guard personnel into the FDN.
Bermudez was finally ousted by the Army of the Nicaraguan Resistance (ERN)/North
General Staff from his position as the resistance's senior military leader in
- On February 16, 1991, Bermudez was assassinated in Managua, Nicaragua.
Speculation was widespread that he was killed by Sandinista supporters.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. A September 1981 cable informed
Headquarters that reportedly Bermudez had advised the ADREN leadership against
engaging in drug smuggling to the United States, but that a decision had been
made to pursue such activities to finance ADREN's anti-Sandinista operations.
Reportedly, as a result, an initial effort was made in July 1981 when an ADREN
member carried cocaine to Miami aboard a commercial flight. Although Bermudez
was the ADREN Military Chief and a member of the ADREN leadership, there was no
indication that he was directly involved in such activities.
- A February 1988 cable informed Headquarters that a Nicaraguan exile had
alleged at a meeting in Miami, Florida that Enrique Bermudez, Adolfo Calero,
Aristides Sanchez, and another individual were all involved in drug smuggling.
The purpose of the meeting in Miami at which this allegation was made was to
invite former Nicaraguan National Guard members to return to Nicaragua under a
Sandinista amnesty program. The Nicaraguan exile reportedly offered no
substantiation for the allegation that any of the named Contra leaders were
involved in drug smuggling. Both a U.S. law enforcement source and
CIA had characterized him as mentally unstable.
CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. The
September 1981 allegation that the ADREN had decided to smuggle drugs into the
United States to finance its activities was disseminated by CIA on September 14,
1981 in a cable to the State Department; DIA; NSA; Commander-in-Chief, U.S.
Southern Command; and U.S. Ambassadors in Central America. The information also
was disseminated to DEA, FBI, Customs, Treasury, and Intelligence Community
agencies on October 28, 1981 as an Intelligence Information Report.
- In February 1982, CIA Headquarters responded to a name trace request
with a cable stating that Enrique Bermudez "is not associated with the
'renegade' 15th of September Legion members who are probably using their
acquaintance with him as a means to gain some respectability."
The 15th of September Legion was the designation of the military wing of the
ADREN and was described by the Headquarters cable as engaged in
criminal activities, including drug smuggling.
- A CIA records search was conducted in February 1988 regarding the
Nicaraguan exile in response to his allegations that month that Bermudez and
other UNO/FDN leaders had engaged in drug smuggling. The search, according to a
February 1988 Headquarters cable, indicated that a number of sources
characterized him as unstable, a swindler and as having a reputation of being a
drug dealer in Nicaragua before leaving that country in 1983.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. As
mentioned earlier, a CIA intelligence report entitled "ADREN Operations to
Smuggle Narcotics Into the U.S. to Finance Its Anti-Sandinista Activities"
was disseminated to DEA, FBI, Customs Service, Treasury, and Intelligence
Community agencies on October 28, 1981. The report related the allegation that
the ADREN leadership intended to smuggle drugs into the United States to finance
its activities against the GRN. The report also included the allegation that,
in the initial effort in July 1981, cocaine was carried to Miami aboard a
commercial flight by an ADREN member. The information had been shared with the
State Department, DIA, NSA, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Southern Command and U.S.
Ambassadors in Central America by cable on September 14, 1981.
- On February 9, 1988, the information contained in the February 1988
cable concerning the drug trafficking allegation by the Nicaraguan exile against
Bermudez and other Contra leaders was forwarded by CIA to the FBI.
- No record has been found to indicate that either of the allegations
received by CIA regarding Bermudez and drug trafficking was reported to the
Mario Jose Calero
- Background. In the mid-1980s, Mario Calero, the brother of
Contra leader Adolfo Calero, was the FDN's purchasing agent in New Orleans.
An August 1985 cable to Headquarters reported that the FDN had contracted with
a Honduran-registered airplane charter company named "Compania ORBE"
to transport non-lethal aid from New Orleans to the FDN. The company was
reported to be operating one DC-6. The cable indicated that FDN officials had
become uneasy in dealing with ORBE officials because they charged the FDN
unusually low rates, appeared to be overly eager to please and appeared to not
be knowledgeable about certain aspects of the air charter business. As a result
of these concerns, the FDN reportedly had decided that FDN personnel would not
be allowed to accompany the DC-6 when it returned to the United States after
each charter flight. Moreover, the cable indicated that Mario Calero had
informed unnamed U.S. law enforcement officials that the ORBE aircraft was only
under charter by the FDN when it carried FDN cargo from New Orleans to Honduras,
and was not under FDN charter on its return flights to the United States.
- In July 1988, Mario Calero and six other individuals were indicted in
Miami, Florida, for Neutrality Act violations involving arms smuggling.
However, the charges against Calero and five of the six other defendants were
dismissed in July 1989.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. A February 1986 cable to
Headquarters reported an allegation that Mario Calero was engaged in drug
trafficking. No specific details of the alleged drug trafficking were provided,
although the cable noted that the individual making the allegation provided it
to an FDN supporter following a meeting with Eden Pastora. No
information has been found to indicate that CIA took any action to investigate
the validity of the allegation. The FDN supporter and the individual who
reportedly made the allegation say they do not know of any information linking
Mario Calero to drug trafficking.
- An April 1988 cable to Headquarters reported that a person had been
approached by several individuals, including Mario Calero, who were interested
in locating an alternative airport for shipping supplies to the Contras. The
individuals also reportedly indicated they had an unspecified association with
CIA. The person who had been approached said that, although he had no basis for
his suspicions, he was concerned that these persons might take advantage of his
good name by sending illegal supplies to the Contras or engaging in drug
- In December 1985, a cable reported to Headquarters that the Associated
Press planned to publish a story on the FDN that included a claim that Mario
Calero was taking kickbacks on FDN arms purchases. The cable did not
provide any specific information, however, regarding the nature and extent of
the alleged kickbacks.
- In December 1985, a cable informed Headquarters that rumors were
circulating in the local Latin community to the effect that Mario Calero was
personally profiting from U.S.-originated aid for the FDN that transited New
Orleans and that CIA was aware of this. The cable also said that the FBI and
U.S. Customs Service had received similar reports, some possibly generated by
media inquiries regarding Calero's activities. The cable added that there was
no information to substantiate the allegations and that there was no indication
of any CIA contacts with Mario Calero in New Orleans.
- A December 1985 response observed that the allegations may have been
based on jealousy and speculation, especially with respect to Mario Calero's
expanded activities as a purchasing agent acting on behalf of the DoS-sponsored
Nicaraguan Humanitarian Assistance Office (NHAO).
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. No information
has been found to indicate that CIA took any action in response to allegations
of drug trafficking by Calero. However, a November 1986 Headquarters cable
warned that Mario Calero's poor reputation was a potential hindrance to the
Mario Calero has one of the most seamy reputations of all the people
involved in the Nicaraguan Democratic Resistance. Rightly or wrongly, he is
seen as being up to his knees in corruption. Moreover, he is viewed as being
nothing more than a hatchet man for the hardcore unreconstructed right of the
FDN. In short, he is a symbol to our critics of all that is perceived to be
rotten in the FDN. Whether or not this reputation is justified is immaterial:
it is real.
Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities.
In March 1986, CIA responded to a trace request from the FBI by noting that it
had received unconfirmed allegations that Calero had accepted kickbacks.
Additionally, the CIA response stated that CIA would appreciate any information
the FBI could provide regarding the allegations. No information has
been found to indicate such a response from the FBI.
- No information has been found to indicate that Congress was informed
that CIA had received drug trafficking allegations against Mario Calero.
However, a June 12, 1985 routing slip from the DO to CIA's Comptroller
contained, as an attachment, DO responses to a number of questions regarding the
Contras that the House Appropriations Committee (HAC) had asked CIA on May 2,
1985. One question related to allegations of corruption by Contra officials. A
portion of the DO response to that question stated:
There have been a number of allegations that Mario Calero may be
skimming funds from NHAO but we have nothing to confirm it. The Agency is by
law forbidden to engage in law enforcement activities in the U.S. . . . .
No information has been found to indicate the date and circumstances of
CIA's conveyance of this information to the HAC.
Juan Ramon Rivas
- Background. Juan Rivas, whose war name was El Quiche,
was a former Nicaraguan National Guard officer who joined the Contra resistance
in 1981. Upon the organization of the FDN, he became the instructor
of the first fighters to enter Nicaragua in July 1982. He later helped organize
the Jorge Salazar Force, an FDN combat unit, and became its commander.
By August 1986, Rivas had constructed a task force of five regional commands
with a total of 5,000 combatants. He was selected to be Chief of Staff of the
ERN/North in March 1988, the only candidate who apparently was acceptable to all
- A CIA employee who dealt with the Contras from 1986 to 1988 says Rivas "was
a subordinate of [ERN military commander] Enrique Bermudez and interfaced with
representatives of the Agency as Enrique Bermudez would empower him to do so on
any particular issue." In this regard Rivas was acting no differently than
other Contra commanders.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. According to a February 1989
cable to Headquarters, a Central American Station "was asked to check out a
report in November 1988 received by the [U.S.] Embassy from DEA alleging"
that Rivas was identical with a person of the same name who had reportedly
escaped from a Colombian prison after being arrested on a drug trafficking
- According to the February cable, a CIA contract officer noted Rivas had
said he had deserted from the Nicaraguan National Guard in 1979 when the first
combat with the FSLN began in southern Nicaragua. At that point, Rivas said he
had relocated to Guatemala, acquired a false passport and shortly thereafter
moved to Colombia to find work. Rivas reportedly said that he became
involved in the drug trade at a low level--packaging drugs; transporting them
within the city of Barranquilla, Colombia; and passing them to traffickers for
overseas shipment. He claimed, however, that he did not personally smuggle
drugs outside of Colombia. The Colombian authorities caught him, and he was
sent to prison. Rivas, then 21 years of age, remained in prison for four or
five months before escaping. He said that he then returned to Guatemala,
decided not to return to the drug trade and joined the Nicaraguan resistance.
- The CIA independent contractor says pursuing this question with Rivas was
very difficult, in part because Rivas was always surrounded by a lot of "gunmen."
Thus, the independent contractor says he believed he might be at personal risk
if he accused Rivas in their presence. Nonetheless, he says he attempted to
verify the DEA information. The problem of the gunmen took some time to
resolve, but eventually he was able to discuss the allegation with Rivas alone.
- The CIA independent contractor adds that Rivas had said that he had been
involved in Colombia in taking drugs to ships in international waters. The CIA
contract officer also says that Rivas told him he arranged the escape from the
Colombian prison by paying a bribe.
- The CIA independent contractor says that he never saw Rivas again after
their discussion. He states that he does not believe Rivas was
involved in drug trafficking while working with the Contras. He notes that
Rivas had a horse at the Yamales camp that was reputedly worth $100,000.
However, he said that he does not believe the source of Rivas' funds was drug
trafficking, but Rivas' family money and overcharging the Agency for supplies.
- As reported in a March 1989 cable to Headquarters, Bermudez said that,
when Rivas joined the resistance forces:
. . . he had quite a bit of money. At the time [Rivas] had just broken
a relationship with [an American] who was the daughter of a very rich US citizen
and those who met [Rivas] at the time assumed his money came from the girl
and/or her father. [Rivas] contributed most of his remaining resources to the
FDN cause and has only a small ranch in Guatemala left from his earlier
relationship. Some in the FDN may have suspected at the time that the
father-in-law was engaged in drug trafficking.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. Following
receipt of the information the CIA contract officer obtained from Rivas, CIA
briefed the U.S. Ambassador to Honduras and the Deputy Chief of Mission. The
February 1989 cable to Headquarters reported that Rivas' departure from the ERN
would be "devastating," but that there appeared to be no other option.
- In February 1989, Headquarters responded and requested that Rivas'
admissions be discussed with the DEA representative at the Embassy, who was to
be asked to take no action at that time and to "advise him that [the CIA]
will inform [DEA Headquarters] on his behalf when appropriate."
The cable also noted that it presumed the Ambassador would support this position
in discussions with the DEA representative in view of the serious political
damage to the U.S. Government that could occur should the information about
Rivas become public.
- The cable also indicated that Headquarters was particularly interested
in knowing whether the DEA representative was obliged to inform the Government
of Colombia of the admissions and whether Rivas was on a DEA "watchlist."
The cable also provided instructions to discuss Rivas' admissions with Enrique
Bermudez and asked whether he had any prior knowledge of Rivas' drug connection.
The cable contained a caution that it was important that no U.S. Government
official encourage Rivas "to disappear" and that there were
significant legal liabilities--not further explained--to providing Rivas any
such advice or encouragement.
- In February 1989, a cable informed Headquarters that the Rivas case had
been discussed with the DEA representative. The DEA representative reportedly
said that there was no DEA action to be taken since the information concerning
Rivas was "historic" and there was no indication of current
trafficking by Rivas. The DEA representative also reportedly said that DEA had
no obligation to inform the Government of Colombia and that Rivas was not on any
- On February 15, 1989, CATF sent a memorandum to Deputy Director for
Operations (DDO) Richard Stolz outlining Rivas' background and his admissions of
involvement in the drug trade in 1979. CATF proposed that, because of his
importance to the Contras, Rivas be maintained as the Chief of Staff of
ERN/North and that the House Permanent Select Committee for Intelligence (HPSCI)
and the Senate Select Committee for Intelligence (SSCI) be briefed. The CATF
memorandum noted that:
. . . although this recommendation is not without political risk, the
removal of Rivas, at this time, following the Central American Presidents' call
for the dissolution of the ERN as an armed force, would adversely impact ERN
morale and force integrity [sic] to an unquantifiable extent.
- A February 22, 1989 note for DDO Stolz from Deputy General Counsel for
Operations John Rizzo stated that:
Under the circumstances, I do not believe that the existence of the 1979
drug charges requires us to remove Rivas as ERN/N[orth] Chief of Staff or
otherwise disassociate ourselves from him. CIA regulations in this area focus
solely on individuals currently in narcotics trafficking: we have to sever our
relationship with anyone involved in trafficking to the United States, and we
have to make a risk/benefit analysis about continuing to deal with anyone
involved in trafficking outside the U.S. There is no indication that Rivas fits
either category. What we have here is a single, relatively petty transgression
in a foreign country that occurred a decade ago and that is apparently of no
current interest to DEA.
(Underlining in original.)
- A March 1989 cable to Headquarters stated that the Rivas matter had
been discussed with Bermudez the previous day. Reportedly, Rivas had already
approached Bermudez and explained the problem. The cable noted that, according
to Bermudez, Rivas indicated that he wished to resign from the resistance.
Bermudez said he had calmed Rivas down and pointed out that his resignation at
such a critical time would have "devastating affects [sic]."
Rivas took some time off and then resumed his functions. He was, reportedly,
waiting for guidance from Bermudez, "who recognizes the possibility of a
scandal but does not want Rivas to leave."
- A March 1989 Headquarters cable noted that Deputy Assistant Secretary
of State for Inter-American Affairs Cresencio Arcos, along with the CATF Chief
of Operations, had met with Bermudez in Washington. Arcos reportedly told
Bermudez that Inter-American Affairs Assistant Secretary-Designate Bernard
Aronson and Acting Inter-American Affairs Assistant Secretary Michael Kozak had
decided that Rivas' admission of involvement in drug trafficking in 1979
necessitated his separation from the Contras as soon as possible. In order to
prevent Rivas' departure from being viewed erroneously by ERN troops as a signal
of imminent demobilization, Arcos advised Bermudez that Rivas should fade
gradually from the scene. Bermudez agreed with this assessment and said that
Rivas would be amenable to this approach as long as he had a way to earn a
- In March 1989, a cable informed Headquarters that the Station's COS,
the Ambassador and the Deputy Chief of Mission agreed that recent media coverage
of ERN human rights violations made the ERN more vulnerable to drug trafficking
charges "no matter how far removed." As a result of this discussion,
the Deputy Chief of Mission was instructed by the Ambassador to meet with Rivas
as soon as possible and inform him that he must leave the ERN. The cable
reported that the Deputy Chief of Mission was also to ask Rivas if he knew of
anyone else in the ERN who had been involved in drug trafficking.
- According to an April 1989 cable to Headquarters, Rivas announced on
March 29 his intention to resign for medical reasons.
- At some unspecified time in early 1989, most probably in late April, a
CATF officer drafted a cable to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
regarding an application by Rivas for U.S. Permanent Resident Alien (PRA)
status. The cable draft described Rivas' involvement in drug trafficking in
Colombia as well as his arrest, incarceration and escape. It also described
Rivas' service with the Contras, noting that he had served with distinction and
saying that the Agency had no evidence that Rivas had been involved with illegal
drugs since 1979. The draft concluded with a request "that Rivas' service
be taken into consideration at the time that his application for PRA status is
- The version of the cable that was actually transmitted to INS and the
FBI on May 6, 1989 omitted the request that Rivas' service with the Contras be
considered when his application was reviewed. The cable did,
however, include all pertinent information concerning Rivas' admission of his
involvement in drug trafficking in 1979.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. As
noted above, allegations of involvement in drug trafficking by Rivas were first
brought to CIA's attention by the U.S. Embassy in November 1988 in the form of a
request for further information concerning a DEA report. After confirmatory
information was obtained from Rivas in late January 1989, it was shared almost
immediately with the Ambassador and the Deputy Chief of Mission. It was then
shared with the DEA representative. INS and FBI were informed by CIA of Rivas'
past connection with drug trafficking on May 6, 1989 in connection with Rivas'
application for PRA status.
- On March 15, 1989, a two-page memorandum prepared by CATF provided "talking
points" for OCA to brief the HPSCI and SSCI regarding Rivas.
The memorandum outlined Rivas' involvement in drug activities in Colombia in
1979, his arrest, incarceration and escape and briefly described his record as "the
ERN/N[orth]'s most capable commander." It also noted that:
During the month of February 1989, Rivas departed from Yamales. In
early March 1989 he was in Miami, Florida seeking U.S. residency for himself and
for his wife . . . . Rivas is not on the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) "watchlist,"
and, according to DEA, there is no indication that Rivas is currently involved
in illicit drug activity. Further, DEA considers the information on Rivas "historical"
and has no intention of informing the Colombian government about Rivas, nor
would DEA normally do so.
- According to a March 15, 1989 OCA MFR signed by the OCA Deputy Director
for Senate Affairs Robert Buckman, he briefed SSCI Staff member David Holliday
on March 15 concerning Rivas and told him that the Department of State had
determined that Rivas "should be removed from his post and that Resistance
leaders agreed." The March 15 MFR also stated that Holliday had said "that
he would inform the Committee. He did not regard this as a serious matter."
A March 10, 1989 OCA MFR written by OCA Deputy Director for House Affairs Norm
Gardner stated that HPSCI Staff member Mike O'Neil was briefed on March 16, 1989
and that O'Neil "appreciated the briefing but had no real comments or
remarks to make."
- A March 28, 1989 CATF MFR reported a March 17, 1989 briefing on the
Nicaragua program for HPSCI Staff members Dick Giza, Mike O'Neil, Duane Andrews,
and Steve Nelson. The allegations of drug trafficking concerning Rivas were
identified in the MFR as one of the topics of the briefing. CATF Chief of
Operations (COPS) reportedly informed the Staff members that the Department of
State had decided that Rivas would be "separated from the Resistance"
and that Arcos had informed Bermudez of this decision on March 14. The COPS
also reportedly told the Staff members that Rivas and his wife were applying for
PRA status in the United States. In response to a question concerning U.S.
Government support for Rivas, the COPS reportedly said that the CIA was not
planning to assist in resettling Rivas.
- Background. Stedman Fagoth led the MISURASATA Indian Movement, a
loose knit organization of Indians from Nicaragua's Atlantic coast area.
Fagoth's efforts in 1981 to raise money on behalf of the MISURASATA among exiled
Nicaraguans in Miami apparently brought him to CIA's attention.
Agency records indicate that Fagoth exhibited erratic behavior.
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. A January 1985 cable asked
Headquarters for any information pertaining to a U.S. citizen. According to the
cable, the U.S. citizen had offered to provide DEA with information pertaining
to alleged Sandinista drug trafficking. The U.S. citizen had reportedly claimed
to DEA that he had an association with a group called "The American Freedom
Fighters," which was actively providing various types of aid to "the
anti-Sandinista forces in Nicaragua."
- A January 1985 cable--citing the Defense Attaché Office and other
U.S. Embassy reporting--responded that the U.S. citizen, among other things, had
allegedly sought Fagoth's assistance in stealing boats from Nicaragua. This
reportedly was part of an alleged plan by the U.S. citizen that called for
taking the boats to Honduras where they would be loaded with guns and then moved
onto Colombia, where the guns would be exchanged for narcotics for the U.S.
market. Headquarters, in a January 1985 cable, responded that it had
no information in its files pertaining to the U.S. citizen.
- In November 1987, a cable to Headquarters reported a KISAN official who
was now a political rival of Fagoth's had said that Fagoth had suggested to him
and others in 1982 or 1983 that they should go to Colombia to raise money for "the
cause." According to this KISAN official, who claimed to have declined
Fagoth's suggestion, the clear implication was that the trip would involve a
drug deal of some sort. However, he said that a senior advisor to Fagoth at
that time had agreed to the trip.
- A November 1987 cabled response expressed skepticism regarding the
portion of the November report that pertained to the senior advisor. According
to the cable:
Station finds it difficult to believe that [the senior advisor] would
cooperate with [Fagoth] and go to Colombia on a drug deal to make extra money
for the cause, especially since [the senior advisor] does not particularly care
for or trust [Fagoth]
- An April 1988 cable to Headquarters stated that the senior advisor had
said "in an effort to further denigrate [Fagoth]" that Fagoth had
approached him in 1984 with a scheme to kill Colombian cocaine traffickers who
were moving through "the Yucatan" to the United States and to seize
the drugs they were carrying. The proceeds from the stolen cocaine reportedly
were to go to the "Indian movement." The senior advisor claimed to
have declined the offer, but believed that Fagoth and other associates probably
had consummated the scheme. The senior advisor also claimed that Fagothalong
with two Honduran military officershad sold marijuana or other drugs.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking No information
has been found to indicate that CIA followed up or pursued the drug-related
allegations involving Fagoth to determine their validity.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. Agency
records indicate that CIA was in contact with the FBI regarding Fagoth.
- On July 7, 1987, CIA sent to the DoS copies of a summary report of "questionable
activities on the part of Stedman Fagoth." This report included
information from Agency records pertaining to alleged human rights abuses and
the theft of U.S. Government-provided funds and materials by Fagoth that might "bear
on his eligibility to receive [U.S.] support." The report also cited
Fagoth's violence in dealing with his Miskito rivals and the charges of
corruption linked to him. The report contained no references to the January
1985 allegations relating to Fagoth's possible involvement in a drug trafficking
scheme with the U.S. citizen. The report predated the CIA's receipt--in
November 1987 and April 1988--of additional drug-related allegations against
- No information has been found to indicate that allegations of drug
trafficking involvement by Fagoth were shared with the Congress.
- Background. Roger Herman Hernandez, a Nicaraguan citizen, was
political director of KISAN, a resistance organization composed mainly of
Indians and Creoles that operated on the Atlantic coast of Honduras and
Nicaragua. He was a strong supporter of U.S. policy in the region. By
1990, he was increasingly involved in the effort to reestablish democracy in the
Atlantic coast region
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. A December 1986 Tegucigalpa
U.S. Embassy telegram reported that, according to an Embassy source, Herman and
the Haylock family of Roatan Island in Honduras were smuggling cocaine into the
United States. Herman had reportedly obtained cocaine from Nicaragua and used
Hondurans who were friendly to KISAN or unidentified U.S. personnel to carry it
in small quantities to his brother in Miami. The Embassy source also reportedly
claimed that on two occasions the Nicaraguan diplomatic pouch had been used for
this purpose and that the Haylocks were using one of their boats, originally
modified to smuggle weapons to KISAN, to traffic in cocaine.
- The Embassy cable also noted that the Embassy could not vouch for the
credibility of the source, and that Embassy checks revealed the source's
colleagues were concerned that the source was "paranoid and mentally
impaired." The cable also noted that the allegations against Herman may
reflect "factional dissension within KISAN."
- Agency Response to Allegations Of Drug Trafficking. The December
6, 1986 allegations against Herman were included in a January 1987 Interagency
Assessment regarding the Contras and drug trafficking that was prepared by CIA
for the Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research.
A February 9, 1987 memorandum to CATF Chief Fiers from Assistant Secretary of
State Elliott Abrams proposed that CIA "formally ask DEA and any other
appropriate agencies to undertake an investigation of [the] information [that
had been] developed by the Agency" on Herman.
- Fiers responded in an undated memorandum to Abrams that CATF had directed
the field to undertake a full investigation, which would include questioning by
CIA Security, as soon as the Agency had learned of the allegations against
Herman. The Fiers memorandum said that, when the results of this investigation
were received, "should there be any questions in our minds that Mr. Herman
has any connections with drug smuggling, it will be raised with the Interagency
- A CIA Security interview was conducted with Herman in February 1987.
Based on this interview, CIA Security determined it was highly probable that
Herman was involved in drug trafficking. In further security processing in May
1987, Herman said that he was confused over the term "trafficking."
He reportedly said that he thought "trafficking" referred to personal
use of illegal drugs. After this interview, CIA Security did not
have concerns about Herman and drug trafficking.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. No
information has been found to indicate that CIA reported the results of its
inquiries into the drug trafficking allegations against Herman to Abrams or the
- The drug allegations against Herman were included in the January 1987
Memorandum prepared for Assistant Secretary of State Abramowitz. No
information has been found to indicate that CIA acquired any other information
linking Herman to drug trafficking.
- No information has been found to indicate that CIA advised Congress of
the Embassy source's allegations regarding Herman or the results of CIA
inquiries in response to those allegations.
- Background. A March 1981 cable to Headquarters
identified Pinel (also spelled Pinell), a.k.a. "Chatan," as a "leader
of one counterrevolutionary group in Honduras" and cited his views of
paramilitary training options. A May 1981 cable to Headquarters
concerning Nicaraguan counterrevolutionary groups made reference to "a
smaller exile group under the leadership of Sebastian 'Chatan' Pinel."
A March 1982 cable to Headquarters reported on a Contra-related meeting in
Tegucigalpa, Honduras, that was held at a house that "belongs to Sebastian
Pinell Chatan [sic], a Nica[raguan] Contra sympathizer."
- A December 1980 cable to Headquarters regarding Sandinista deployments
said, "There is a Sebastian 'Chatan' Pinel resident in Tegucigalpa and
known ... as reputedly an anti-FSLN activist." A March 1981
cable to Headquarters that was sent in response to information regarding another
Contra personality stated: "Sebastian Pinel, one of subject's comrades, is
known, although extent of his involvement in counterrevolution [is] somewhat
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. A February 1985 Headquarters
cable to DEA indicated that a source had said that Sebastian Pinel--described as
a Nicaraguan exile living in Buena Park, California--may be involved in the
dealing of cocaine. The cable also said that Pinel was reported by the source
to be in Spain and that, although Pinel was reportedly "broke," he "may
be on the verge of a major drug deal." The cable also said that Pinel was
a "partner" and "best friend" of Horacio Pereira,
a known drug trafficker. No information has been found to indicate
the identity of the source of this information or the circumstances under which
the information was obtained by CIA.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. Headquarters
sent a cable to DEA in February 1985 reporting the alleged drug trafficking
activities by Pinel.
Information Sharing With Other U.S. Government Entities.
The February 1985 Headquarters cable to DEA provided information to DEA
regarding alleged drug trafficking activities by Pinel. No
information has been found to indicate CIA informed Congress regarding Pinel's
alleged drug trafficking activities.
Arnoldo Jose Arana
- Background. Arnoldo Jose Arana Garcia, also known as Frank
Arana, was born in Nicaragua and held U.S. Permanent Resident Alien status
during the Contra war period. Arana had been an officer in the
Nicaraguan National Guard. Following the Sandinistas' overthrow of the Somoza
regime, Arana emigrated to the United States. He joined the FDN's Special Air
Branch in March 1983 and was identified in an October 1985 cable as
Chief of Operations of the FDN air arm. A November 1985 cable from
Headquarters indicated that Arana was the FDN's press officer. A
May, 1989 cable indicated that Arana held a senior position in the ERN/North
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. In April 1983, the Agency was
informed by the FBI in response to a CIA trace request that Arana was under
criminal investigation by a U.S. "presidential" task force on
narcotics. No additional details were provided by the FBI at that
- A November 1985 Headquarters cable indicated that the Immigration and
Naturalization Service believed that some members of Arana's family "may be
in jail on drug charges." An FBI memorandum dated January 23,
1986 indicated that Arana was "alleged to be the primary pilot in a drug
smuggling enterprise" involving his brothers and others. However, the FBI
report noted that " . . . to date, there has been no prosecutive action."
On May 14, 1987, DEA responded to a May Agency trace request and indicated
that Arana had planned to smuggle 100 kilograms of cocaine into the United
States from South America in October 1983.
- A May 1989 cable reported that ERN/North Air Force Commander Julio
Gomez--who had previously held the same position in the FDN as had Arana-- said
that "he always had doubts about Arana's activities." Gomez also
claimed, however, that he had received a letter from a Texas police department
indicating that an investigation into Arana's activities had revealed nothing
- The May cable also reported that Gomez had stated that the media in Texas
had recently reported allegations of drug smuggling in connection with a
helicopter ferry flight from Tegucigalpa to Brownsville, Texas. Arana was
reportedly the pilot, and the helicopter was owned by Jose Perez. Gomez said
that Arana and Perez visited the DEA office in Tegucigalpa to clear up the
matter once they learned of the allegations. Gomez reportedly believed that the
purpose of the flight was to get the helicopter to the United States where it
could be dismantled and shipped to a further destination in the United States or
Canada. He did not know whether the drug allegations were "well-founded."
- According to a June 1989 cable to Headquarters, CIA officers met with
local DEA officers on June 14 in an effort to assess Gomez' story about the
helicopter flight. Following this meeting, the cable reported, the DEA officers
had confirmed that Arana had visited their offices in early May 1989 with Manuel
Perez, Jose's brother. The cable reported that information from the DEA office
in Texas seemed to clear Arana in the Brownsville incident, and DEA "thought
it a closed case." The cable added, however, that DEA had
uncovered additional information of possible drug trafficking involving the
Perez brothers and that DEA believed, if "Arana is mixed up with the Perez
brothers, he is probably dirty." The Perez brothers were the
owners of record of SETCO--a small air services company that had been formed by
Juan Matta Ballesteros, a convicted cocaine kingpin, according to DEA and U.S.
- CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. As mentioned
earlier, the FBI advised CIA in April 1983 that Arana was under investigation by
a presidential task force on narcotics. Between September 1983 and December
1985, the Agency requested periodic updates from the FBI regarding the Arana
investigation in an effort to resolve the allegations. The FBI
responded on January 23, 1986 that Arana and his brothers were involved in a
drug smuggling enterprise. No information has been found to indicate that the
FBI provided other updates to the Agency during this time. In 1988, the Agency
twice requested updates concerning the Arana investigation from the FBI.
No information has been found to indicate that the FBI provided the requested
updates to the Agency.
- An unsigned, handwritten note was attached to the May 1989 cable that
identified Arana as a senior member of the ERN/North leadership. The note
stated: "Arnold Arana former Guardian National [sic]--still active
and working, we [CIA] may have a problem."
- As to whether CIA should have pressed the FDN (ERN/North) to expel Arana
because of the task force on narcotics investigation, CATF compliance officer
Louis Dupart says that "an investigation is not proof of wrong-doing."
Although Octaviano Cesar was expelled from UNO for suspected involvement in
drug trafficking as a result of CIA concerns, Dupart says that the Cesar case
was different because CIA Security believed it was highly probable Cesar was
involved in drug trafficking.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. The
June 1989 cable reporting on the meeting with local DEA officers regarding the
drug trafficking allegations against Arana indicated that CIA was working
closely with DEA on "several issues." No information has
been found to indicate the nature, extent, or results of this cooperation as it
pertained to Arana.
- No information has been found to indicate that the Agency provided
information to Congress regarding allegations of Arana's involvement in drug
trafficking. According to the official congressional transcript of a CIA
briefing to SSCI Staff members on July 31, 1987, CATF Chief Fiers stated that "[CIA
has] never found any evidence indicating that the FDN or those around the
Northern Front, as it is known today, had been involved in cocaine or any drug
dealings, and we have looked very closely at that." According
to that transcript, Fiers did not mention that CATF had been informed by Agency
counterintelligence personnel on May 21, 1987 that Arana--an FDN official--was
the subject of a presidential task force on narcotics investigation.
- Fiers' written response to questions states that he was not aware that
Arana was the subject of a federal narcotics investigation. Moreover, his
response states that:
Since my beginning asociation [sic] with the Central America
program up until being shown information about Arana by the IG, it was my firm
belief that no member of the FDN known to me was the subject of drug smuggling
allegations. (I was aware, however, that Arana was not a productive pilot, . .
. . and spent too much time in Miami.)
Jose Francisco Cardenal/Bergman Arguello/Eduard Jose
Sacasa-Urouyo/Rolando Murillo/Juan Savala (or Zavala)/Renato Pena/Roger J.
Jose Francisco Cardenal: Background. CIA
records indicate that Cardenal, a former Vice President of the Nicaraguan
Government Council of State, arrived in Miami, Florida, sometime in May 1980
after having left Nicaragua as an opponent of the Sandinista Government.
According to an August 1982 cable to Headquarters , Cardenal was described as
one of the early leaders of UDN/FARN "which splic [sic] from the
ADREN group in Sept 80 [sic] and member of one of the Nicaraguan
counterrevolutionary groups in March 81."
- According to a September 1982 cable:
[Cardenal] is at present travelling extensively to try and unify
various groups and factions of Nicaraguan exiles into a common front. He has an
almost encyclopedic knowledge of Nicaraguan personalities and family histories
which makes him especially adept at the establishment of relationships and
political ties. An obsticleis [sic] the military arm of the [Contras],
whose officials are jealous of their prerogatives, and not enthusiastic about
coalitions or common fromts [sic]. The plans are to overcome that
hostility, bring about a unification of factions and groups for the overthrow of
the Sandinista regime and the installation of a democratic governemt [sic].
- According to a January 1983 cable to Headquarters Cardenal was ousted
from the FDN over political differences with the FDN leadership. Following his
ouster, Cardenal attempted to organize some of his followers into a rival
the Nicaraguan Insurrection Front--without success. According to
a March 1983 cable, Headquarters reported that Cardenal "no longer holds
any leadership position in any exile opposition organization."
- Allegations of Drug Trafficking. An October 1982 cable to CIA
Headquarters reported that an informant in the local Nicaraguan exile community
had provided information to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
(INS) that indicated that Cardenal and other Contra-related individuals might be
linked to drug trafficking:
1. On 20 October 1982, an [INS] officer called . . . . to relay
information he had received from an informant in the Nicaraguan exile community
in the San Francisco area. According to this informant, there are indications
of links between [a specific U.S.-based religious organization] and two
Nicaraguan counter-revolutionary groups. These links involve an exchange in
[the United States] of narcotics for arms, which then are shipped to Nicaragua.
A meeting on this matter is scheduled to be held in Costa Rica "within one
month." Two names the [INS] informant has associated with this matter are
Bergman Arguello, a UDN member and exile living in San Francisco, and Chicano
Cardenal, resident of Nicaragua. Cardenal was in San Francisco the week of 11
October 1981 [sic] to speak at a freedom rally sponsored by a Cuban
freedom group with reported links to Omega 7.
2. The [INS] officer stated that he had called [the FBI], but was told
that nothing could be done as the responsible agent was away on TDY for an
uncertain period of time. His call to [CIA] was prompted by the report of a
meeting in Costa Rica within the month. We have confirmed that the [FBI] agent
is indeed away for an unspecified period of time and that he is the only one who
could act on this matter.
3. In view of para[graph] 2 above, is there anything that should [be
done] with the information reported in para[graph] 1? The [INS] officer
described his informant as quite reliable, although he has no independent means
of verifying the informant's information. Both the [INS] officer and his
informant are available to provide further information if needed.
CIA Response to Allegations of Drug Trafficking. An October
1982 Headquarters cable responded to the October report and request for advice
1. If there is good reason to believe that the allegations contained
in para[graph] 1 . . . . may have some basis of fact, [Headquarters] would be
interested in investigating them further. Request . . . . recontact [with] the
[INS] officer in order to attempt to determine the following information:
A. An evaluation of the [INS] source's access to this information.
Did he learn it from direct involvement with the individuals named or from a
third source? [Please] provide identity of source if available.
B. Is the date mentioned in the last sentence of para[graph] 1 . . .
(11 October 81) correct, or did the source mean 1982?
C. Can the source provide any additional details regarding the alleged
meeting to take place in Costa Rica? We would be interested in knowing who is
scheduled to attend and under what auspices it is to be held?
. . . .
- In a November 1982 cable to CIA Headquarters, a response stated:
1. While the thread of activities reported in [the October 1982 cable]
and in this message leads abroad and involves several aspects of intelligence
interest, in responding to [Headquarters] request for information we are
discussing the alleged activities of several U.S. persons and verging on
reporting of information which is more properly in the purview of U.S. law
engorcement [sic] agencies. In drafting response to this message,
request [Headquarters] comment on this aspect of our reporting so that we may
provide all useful assistance within the limits of our charter re[garding] U.S.
. . . .
3. According to the [INS] source, the UDN/FDN meeting in Costa Rica is
scheduled to take place within the next three weeks. It was implied to [INS]
source that the meeting will be a harbinger of future violence (no further
information). Although the meeting is supposed to be secret, cameras will be
allowed at the meeting. . . . The following also are expected to attend:
Bergman Arguello Galo, . . . ; applicant for political asylum;
Eden Pastora, "Commandante Zero";
Eduard Jose Sacasa-Urouyo, . . . ; applicant for political asylum;
Jose Rolando Murillo, . . . ; applicant for political asylum;
and two U.S. persons.
Renato Pena, . . . ; applicant for political asylum;
and three others named by [INS] source but believed to be U.S.
. . . .
6. In separate contacts with [INS], representatives of the [specific
U.S.-based religious organization] have mentioned the [organization's]
involvement with anti-Nicaraguan government groups. INS does not know if [the
organization's] representatives will be present at the Costa Rica meeting,
although [INS] assumes that some [organization] representatives will attend.
[INS] officer noted that recently, a group of [organization] members from
Guatemala and the Dominican Republic was in Seattle in transit to Honduras.
7. The correct date for the San Francisco meeting sponsored by the
Coalition for the Free World is 17 September 1982. Another meeting sponsored by
this group is scheduled for 4 November 1982. Nicaraguan and [specific religious
organization] groups are members of the coalition.
. . . .
- In November 1982, CIA Headquarters replied in a cable that stated:
1. Appreciate follow-up information on the subject of alleged
Nicaraguan exile activities. [Headquarters] is understanding of . . . .
position in [paragraph 1 of November . . . , 1982 cable]. In light of the
apparent involvement of U.S. persons throughout, agree you should not pursue the
matter further. [Headquarters] will affect [sic] coordination as
necessary with [FBI] on this case; assume [INS] will make this and any
additional information on the subject available to [FBI] San Francisco.
. . . .
A November 1982 cable to CIA Headquarters reported that:
1. Per [the November 1982 Headquarters cable], we have contacted [INS]
officer and asked him to ensure that [FBI] is kept advised of INS-acquired
information on alleged Nicaraguan exile activities. [INS] officer stressed that
he has offered the information to [FBI] several times, but has been rebuffed.
He will try again, nevertheless.
2. Since [the other November 1982 cable], [INS] source offered
additional information, which may be of interest to you: during the week of 1
November 1982, Eden Pastora flew from Tegucigalpa to San Jose, Costa Rica.
Canadian Consul-General in Costa Rica was on the same plane and recognized
Pastora. [INS] source has been told that Juan Savala is head of the UDN/FDN
training camp in Costa Rica near Lake Nicaragua. . . . During a meeting held in
San Francisco on 4 November 1982, a U.S. person known to be affiliated with the
Cuban Independence Movement, CID, stated that Eden Pastora will split with the
UDN/FDN because of its alleged [CIA] ties. On the other hand, Fernando
Chamorro, known as "El Negro," wishes to make contact with CIA.
3. We will have no further contact with [INS] on this matter unless
advised otherwise by [Headquarters].
- No information has been found to indicate whether a meeting in fact took
place in Costa Rica to discuss an exchange of narcotics for arms as described in
the October 1982 cable. However, a November 1982 Headquarters cable discussed
the alleged meeting and stated:
1. It is HQS opinion that much of information contained in [the
October 1982 and November 1982 cables] simply does not make sense (i.e., UDN/FDN
cooperation, need to obtain armament through illegal means, shipment of arms to
Nicaragua, involvement with the [specific U.S.-based religious organization]).
We see a distinct possibility that the [INS] source was either intentionally or
unintentionally misinformed. However, since the information was surfaced by
another [U.S. Government] agency and may return to haunt us, feel we must try to
confirm or refute the information if possible. To best [anyone's] knowledge,
have the [Contras] scheduled any meeting in the next few weeks? If so, what
information do you have regarding the attendees? Do you have any other
information which might relate to contents of [referenced messages].
. . . .
A November 1982 response to Headquarters reported that:
. . . . On 16 November, [Eden Pastora] has dispatched Carlos Coronel and
Arturo Cruz, Jr. to U.S. for series of meetings, among them meeting with [FRS]
supporters in San Francisco.
- No record has been found to indicate that Headquarters was provided
with any additional information in response to the November Headquarters cable.
Nevertheless, CIA records do indicate that Cardenal was in San Jose, Costa Rica,
from around October 30 or 31, 1982 until November 5, 1982 and again from around
December 27 to December 31, 1982 for meetings with Contra leaders.
No information has been found to indicate that these meetings pertained to any
exchange of narcotics for arms. Moreover, no information has been
found to indicate what contacts, if any, Cardenal may have had with
representatives of the specific U.S.-based religious organization.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities. A
January 1981 cable from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)
requested that CIA provide ATF with "brief background info[rmation] and any
derogatory information" regarding Cardenal from CIA files. According to
the ATF cable, Cardenal "is believed to be involved in violations of U.S.
criminal laws under jurisdiction of ATF."
- In a February 1981 cable to ATF in response to the January 30 cable,
CIA provided biographical information regarding Cardenal and included
information that Cardenal "was in contact with a group of Nicaraguans who
are preparing an invasion of Nicaragua from Honduras and Costa Rica." The
cable also referred the ATF to the FBI "for possible information on subject."
- Moreover, a February 1981 CIA cable to ATF in response to "your
telephonic request dated 17 February 1981" informed ATF that:
. . . .
2. The files of the Directorate of Operations contain no additional
information which would aid in the assessment of subject. Furthermore, this
Directorate has no interest in Cardenal whatsoever.
- In a March 23, 1981 cable to CIA, the FBI reported that it was:
. . . conducting a sensitive Neutrality Act investigation which may
involve a Nicaraguan national, Francesco [sic] Jose Cardenal and an
American citizen. Also possibly involved are two groups, the Nicaraguan
Democratic Union and the Nicaraguan Armed Revolutionary Forces, both believed to
be headquartered in Nicaragua with possible ties to the United States.
In its cable, the FBI requested that CIA furnish it with any information
from its files pertaining to the two individuals and groups.
- A March 1981 CIA cabled response provided the FBI with the same
information that had been provided in February 1981 to ATF. The cable also
included information that Cardenal had been unsuccessful in an attempt to obtain
weapons and financial support from the El Salvador Government. Moreover, the
cable stated that:
. . . .
3. This Agency has no information on [the American citizen].
4. It is suggested that the Department of Treasury/ATF and the
Department of State be queried for information on the Nicaraguan Democratic
Union, the Nicaraguan Armed Revolutionary Forces (FARN) and for additional
information on Cardenal.
- In an April 1981 cable to CIA, the FBI reported that it was involved in
a "pending investigation concerning possible violation of the Neutrality
Act by Jose Fransesco [sic] Cardenal and others." According to the
cable, the FBI--citing the information that CIA had provided in the March 25
cable--reported that a consensually monitored conversation had taken place
between Cardenal and "a private individual cooperating with this Bureau"
The FBI feels this [conversation] may refer to your information, and
your Agency should be aware the above conversation becoming [sic] public
record if prosecution is forthcoming. The cooperation and the individual's
identity will become public inasmuch as he/she has agreed to testify.
- In its August 23, 1982 cable response to CIA, the FBI reported that:
Jose Francisco Cardenal was the subject of an FBI Neutrality Act
investigation in 1981. He was allegedly involved in the recruiting of personnel
to participate in a military coup to overthrow the current Nicaraguan
Government. In August, 1981 [sic] evidence collected on Cardenal was
presented to the U.S. Attorney's Office for possible prosecution. Based on the
facts presented, it was determined that there was insufficient evidence to
proceed with prosecution.
This Bureau has presently discontinued its investigation. We have no
additional pertinent information not already known and/or in your possession.
- In a memorandum to CIA dated March 8, 1985, the FBI requested a "name
check request" on Cardenal. A March 1985 CIA cable to the FBI
provided biographical information regarding Cardenal and information that
Cardenal had been--according to an undated March 1983 report--organizing "the
Nicaraguan insurrectional front to mobilize popular support against the
Sandinistas in Nicaragua." In addition, the cable stated that Cardenal "has
shown a disregard for security by indiscriminately divulging details of
- Bergman Arguello Galo: Background. According to the
October 1982 cable, an INS informant described Arguello as a UDN representative
who was to attend a secret meeting in Costa Rica to discuss a narcotics for arms
exchange. Moreover, the November 1982 cable indicated that Arguello
was the individual who had discussed the purported narcotics for arms exchange.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities.
According to a February 11, 1983 memorandum from CIA's OGC to the INS regarding
The Agency requests that you arrange for an asylum interview for the
subject [sic] in your Miami District Office, on an immediate basis. We
ask that the interview be conducted during the week of 14 February 1983.
It is our understanding that the subject has already submitted an
application. On the chance that he has not, or that it cannot be located, we
will instruct the subject to obtain new forms, complete them, and bring them to
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
- No information has been found to indicate any INS response to the
February 11 OGC memorandum. An INS Biographic Information Form G-325A signed by
Arguello on "10-11-84" included a notation under "Other Agency
Use" that stated "No Derogatory Information" and the date "14
- On March 18, 1983, CIA requested that the FBI conduct "priority
traces" on Arguello. A March 30, 1983 CATF memorandum from the
FBI stated that " . . . FBI has no record on [Arguello]."
- Eden Pastora: Background. Eden Pastora is described in
the November 1982 cable as a UDN representative who was to attend the secret
meeting in Costa Rica regarding an exchange of narcotics for arms. No
information has been found to indicate that Pastora attended such a meeting,
although the November 1982 cable discussed earlier indicated that Pastora flew
from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to San Jose, Costa Rica, "during the week of 1
- Eduardo Jose Sacasa-Urouyo: Background. "Eduard"
Sacasa was described in the November 1982 cable as a UDN representative who was
to attend the secret meeting in Costa Rica regarding an exchange of narcotics
for arms. CIA records indicate that an individual named Eduardo
Sacasa-Urouyo was associated with the UDN during the 1980s and was a close
associate of Fernando Chamorro. Other than the November cable, no
information has been found to link Sacasa with drug trafficking.
- Rolando Murillo Escobar: Background. Murillo was
described in the November 1982 cable as a UDN representative who was to attend
the secret meeting in Costa Rica regarding an exchange of narcotics for arms.
No other information has been found to link Murillo with drug trafficking.
- Information Sharing with Other U.S. Government Entities.
According to a March 1983 CIA cable to the FBI that requested information in
FBI files regarding Murillo, Murillo was described as "a former member of
the Nicaraguan National Guard and former resident of the San Francisco area."
Murillo reportedly was living in Costa Rica, according to the cable.
A memorandum dated March 30, 1983 stated that "FBI has no record on
- Juan Savala/Zavala Mora: Background. Juan Savala was
described in the November 1982 cable as "head of the UDN/FDN training camp
in Costa Rica" where the INS informant claimed the secret meeting would
take place to discuss an exchange of narcotics for arms. The November cable
did not, however, indicate what role--if any--Savala would play at the meeting.
- CIA records indicate that a "Juan Zavala Mora" was a member
of the UDN during the 1980s and was a close friend of Fernando Chamorro.
- No other information has been found to indicate that Savala/Zavala was
suspected of drug trafficking or that he was related to--or otherwise linked
to--Julio Zavala who, in 1983, was arrested in connection with The Frogman Case
in San Francisco.
- Roger J. Ramiro: Background. According to the
November 1982 cable, Ramiro was described by INS as a "known narcotics
violator who recently was indicted on a narcotics charge in Orange County,
California." As reported in the cable, Bergman Arguello had "mentioned"
Ramiro's name in connection with the alleged narcotics for arms exchange. No
information has been found to link Ramiro with drug trafficking.
- Renato Pena Cabrera: Background. Pena, a convicted
drug trafficker, was described in the November 1982 cable as an FDN
representative who was to attend the secret meeting in Costa Rica regarding an
exchange of narcotics for arms.
- Renato Pena says that he associated with Norwin Meneses. Pena also
claims to have participated in Contra-related activities in the United States
from 1982-1984 that were unrelated to his drug trafficking activities. Pena
says that he served as an official, but unpaid, representative of the FDN
political wing in northern California from the end of 1982 until mid-1984,
having been appointed to that position by Edgar Chamorro. According to Pena, his
duties on behalf of the FDN were related to public relations and distributing
Contra-related literature to sympathizers. He claims that his activities on
behalf of the FDN were all conducted in the United States and that he never
traveled outside of the United States because of his immigration status as a
political asylum applicant. Pena says that Norwin Meneses had Contra-related
dealings with FDN official Enrique Bermudez. According to Pena, the specific
U.S.-based religious organization that was allegedly involved with the Contras
and drug trafficking was an FDN political ally that provided only humanitarian
aid to Nicaraguan refugees and logistical support for Contra-related rallies,
such as printing services and portable stages.
- Pena says that his personal drug trafficking activities were unrelated
to the Contras, but claims that the Contras must have had alternative sources of
funding since the money that the Contras received from the U.S. Government was "peanuts."
Pena says that a Colombian associate of Meneses's named "Carlos" told
Pena in "general" terms that portions of the proceeds from the sale of
the cocaine Pena brought to San Francisco were going to the Contras. According
to Pena, "Carlos" said something to the effect that "we are
helping your cause with this drug thing . . . we are helping your organization a
lot." Pena said "Carlos" did not provide him with any further
information. "Carlos" has not been identified.
- Pena says that, when he was removed from his FDN position in
mid-1984--possibly because Contra officials suspected him of drug
trafficking--and replaced by a U.S. citizen, he was appointed to be the "military
representative" to the FDN in San Francisco. He says this appointment
occurred "in part because of Norwin Meneses's close relationship with
- The FDN representative in San Francisco who replaced Pena--who is a
naturalized citizen who immigrated to the United States from Nicaragua in
1963--was active in Contra-related affairs in San Francisco during the 1980s.
He says he first became involved with the Contras after an early 1980s visit to
San Francisco by Contra leader Fernando Chamorro in which Chamorro asked for
volunteers to support anti-Sandinista activities. On July 23, 1986, he says he
was appointed to be the official FDN representative in San Francisco. Prior to
his appointment, he says the FDN did not have an officially authorized
representative in San Francisco. In 1986, the FDN opened an office at
the Flood Building on Market Street in San Francisco with $5,000 provided by the
FDN office in Miami. However, the office was closed some six months later
because it was too expensive to maintain.
- The FDN representative in San Francisco who replaced Pena says that the
Nicaraguan community in San Francisco was poor and the Sandinistas had
considerable support there. "San Francisco was a Sandinista town," he
asserts. He states that the net amount of funds raised for the Contras from the
San Francisco community throughout the years was about $5,000. According to the
FDN representative, the Contra support movement did not even have sufficient
funds to sustain a mailing of brochures and other correspondence. He adds that
people did not want to be on a list of Contra supporters for fear that the list
would fall into the hands of the Sandinistas and cause difficulties for them or
their families. As he recalls, the FDN did, however, make several radio
announcements on local Spanish language radio stations. He says that membership
in the San Francisco FDN was handled informally. Individuals who wanted to
support the FDN could just attend meetings, dinners and participate in other
- The FDN representative who replaced Pena says his activities on behalf
of the Contras in San Francisco consisted primarily of helping to coordinate
Contra fund raising dinners and meetings. He says he often used his personal
funds as security deposits at the hotels and other locations where these
functions were to be held. On one occasion, he says he made up an $1,800
shortfall out of his own pocket when a catered dinner at a local restaurant or
hotel was under-subscribed.
- The FDN representative in San Francisco who replaced Pena says Renato
Pena was not the official FDN representative in San Francisco, having never been
appointed by the FDN directorate to any position. Instead, he says Pena was the
self-appointed representative for the "military section" of the FDN.
He says he learned of Pena's drug-related arrest six months after it occurred.
He says some people in the FDN in San Francisco were critical of Pena and did
not want Pena to continue his association with the movement after the arrest.
However, Pena was never formally expelled from the FDN. According to Pena's
successor, Pena sublet an office in San Francisco from drug trafficker Danilo
Blandon's sister. Blandon's sister attended some FDN meetings in San Francisco.
- The FDN representative in San Francisco who replaced Pena believes that
drug trafficker Norwin Meneses probably knew Enrique Bermudez since Meneses's
brother and Bermudez had been senior Somoza officials. He says he
met Norwin Meneses "a couple of times" when Meneses attended FDN
support meetings in San Francisco. However, Meneses was never a member of the
FDN, and he says he does not know whether Meneses provided funds, goods, or
supplies to the Contras. He says he usually recognized most of the persons at
the FDN meetings, since most of them lived in the community. He says he noticed
when new persons or strangers attended the meetings, commenting that "Sandinistas
probably also attended" the meetings. Average attendance at an FDN
meeting, he says, might be 10 to 15 persons.
- The FDN representative in San Francisco who replaced Pena says he has
no knowledge that Contra organizations--or individuals acting on behalf of the
Contras--engaged in drug trafficking. However, he comments that "People
that did [engage in drug trafficking] may have been taking advantage of the
revolution--that is my opinion."