Chapter IV: OIG Analysis of Allegations Regarding Blandon's and Meneses' Relationship with the Contras and the CIA
As the evidence we discussed in the previous chapters plainly demonstrates, Danilo Blandon and Norwin Meneses were large-scale drug dealers who supplied massive amounts of cocaine to buyers in the United States. They also both were Contra supporters, although, according to information in DOJ files, their financial contributions to the Contras were not large and were less than the suggestions made in the San Jose Mercury News articles. They were members of local branches of the FDN whose job it was to rally support for the Contras from fellow exiled Nicaraguans. Both gave some contributions to the Contras, in the way any successful exiled businessman might -- only in this case, their successful businesses were cocaine distribution networks.
The Mercury News series alleged not only that Blandon and Meneses were selling drugs for the Contras, but that DOJ, though aware of their trafficking, actively encouraged or, at a minimum, ignored it because the proceeds were going to the Contra movement. The articles also suggested that they had ties to the CIA. This report cannot make definitive findings about whether Blandon and Meneses sold drugs for the Contras or how much they contributed to the Contras. The focus of our investigation was on the activities of DOJ agencies and their employees concerning the investigation and prosecution of Blandon and Meneses, and whether those investigations and prosecutive actions were influenced by any affiliations with the Contras or the CIA. As discussed in the previous two chapters, despite an exhaustive review of the available documents and scores of interviews with relevant witnesses, we did not find any such influence on DOJ actions. This section summarizes what the OIG has learned through our interviews and review of DOJ files concerning the alleged connections of Blandon and Meneses to the Contras or the CIA.
We first examine some of the main sources of information that have given rise to many of the allegations regarding Blandon, Meneses, the Contras, and the CIA. These are: (1) the documents seized by the LASD during their 1986 searches; (2) a statement made by Blandon while testifying before a federal grand jury in 1994; (3) statements collected by law enforcement during the 1980s; and (4) allegations made by various individuals in the press and elsewhere.
The section then recounts the relevant information that we gathered in the course of our investigation about the alleged "Contra connection." We recognize that this information is not conclusive and, in some respects, raises more questions while answering others. However, we believe that it provides important information on the incendiary issue of Blandon's and Meneses' relationships to the Contras and the CIA.
A. OIG Review of Sources of Allegations
1. Defense Arguments in Los Angeles Big Spender Case
The San Jose Mercury News alleged in an article on September 29, 1996, that sealed records in the 1990 corruption trial against former Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff Daniel Garner "may hold the key to unlocking the truth behind the relationship of the CIA and the Contras to the emergence of crack cocaine in black neighborhoods." The article further stated that a legal motion filed in that case "indicates that the drug ring of former Nicaraguan government official Danilo Blandon was connected to the Central Intelligence Agency and efforts to launder drug money to finance anti-communist Nicaraguan rebels."
It has been alleged that the government attempted to suppress the information in the defense motion by filing various motions with the court. We found no support for this allegation. The prosecutors filed these motions about alleged CIA involvement with Blandon's organization, not because it had any such information, but because of the irrelevance of the defense allegations to the prosecution and the concern that the issue would confuse the jury. The facts surrounding the government's actions are as follows:
In 1990, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Eglash prosecuted the first case against Los Angeles deputy sheriffs for corruption as part of the "Big Spender" cases. Deputy sheriffs were alleged to have routinely stolen money when arresting individuals or serving search warrants. In addition, the sheriffs were accused of using excessive force, perjury, and planting drugs. In the first "Big Spender" trial, defense attorney Harland Braun raised the allegation of CIA involvement in laundering drug money. Shortly thereafter, the government filed a motion for a restraining order regarding extrajudicial statements of the parties. The government argued that Braun had made improper and prejudicial statements to the media during the trial, including statements by Braun that his client would testify that the government laundered drug profits which were diverted by the CIA to the Nicaraguan Contras and to Iran.
The government also responded to Braun's claim by filing a motion in limine to exclude any attempt to raise at trial issues relating to the CIA and the Nicaraguan Contras. The government argued that the allegations were totally irrelevant to the issues in the case, were outside the time period of the conspiracy charged in the indictment, would be nothing more than a "smokescreen" to divert the jury's attention from the real issues, and were a waste of time. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eglash told the OIG that he believed that the allegations were an example of another far-fetched claim thrown up by Braun to divert attention from the real issues in the corruption trial. According to Eglash, the defense would "throw up anything to see what would stick." Eglash called the claim "one in a series of fantastic claims that had been raised by the sheriffs' defense" that lacked any apparent basis.
At a hearing held on the government's motion for a restraining order, the court discussed Braun's attempt to introduce such issues at trial:
I suspect it was filed by counsel in bad faith as an effort to get into the public media an argument that you have discussed before and perhaps prior to the time that the court might issue a restraining order. . . . Even if everything you have said in this document is true, it has nothing to do with whether or not your client filed a false income tax return or whether or not he was stealing money and making purchases with the money that was stolen, that is, what the CIA or the Government did has nothing to do with that so far as I can see. I cannot conceive of any theory under which that evidence would be admissible in this case, and therefore, putting this information out in the guise of an Opposition to a Restraining Order simply to ensure that it gets into the public print and perhaps might contaminate this case or create undue prejudice -- frankly I am disappointed in you, Mr. Braun. . . . Because I think this diminishes your stature as an attorney and certainly this court has respect for your skill as a professional attorney but this is very unprofessional.
The court found that Braun's arguments "manifest[ed] a continuing intention to use the media to make statements in the public with the media which violate[s] the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct. . . ." and excluded any reference at trial, or further public comment, about the CIA/Contra issue.
2. OIG Review of Records Seized During 1986 Search of Blandon's Residence
As noted above, the OIG reviewed the files seized by the LASD and copied by the FBI in the 1986 searches of Blandon's residence. Among the documents seized from Blandon's house were records that appeared to reflect deposits in seven bank accounts. The documents listed the check, endorser, location, amount, and balance. Some of these deposits were marked "U.S. Treasury/State" and totaled approximately $9,000,000. Other deposits were marked Cayman Islands and totaled about $883,000.
Among these records was a handwritten note in Spanish, which was later translated to read:
These are the bank statements of the suppliers of the Contra. They have issued checks to different persons and companies, the same to the Cayman Islands.
These are just one part and is the continuation of the report you have.
(I'll later send you the rest so you can laugh.)
The photocopier is really bad again, many thanks.
When we interviewed Blandon and asked him about these documents, he laughed and said that the Spanish letter was from his sister, "Leysla Balladares." He stated that his sister obtained the documents from the records of a United States Congressional investigation and had sent them to him. She believed that the records showed that the Contra supporters were stealing from the funds designated for the Contras and putting the money into their own pockets. Blandon said "we were fighting for something that is good and they [Contras] were making money for that." Blandon said that the records were not his and he only had them because his sister thought he would be interested in them.
We interviewed Blandon's sister, Leysla Balladares, about the letter. Balladares stated that she sent the letter to Danilo Blandon, her younger brother, sometime in the 1980s, along with copies of bank records showing deposits to different accounts. She stated that she had received the documents from her friend, Doctor Aureliano Rugama, before he was killed in Honduras while serving with the Contras. Balladares did not know where Rugama got the documents but said he gave her documents that he thought would be of interest to her regarding the Contras.
Balladares stated that when she reviewed the documents sent to her by Rugama, she noticed what she believed to be the names of two or three persons whom she thought were Contras. She opined that it appeared from the bank records that some of the money that was supposed to be going to the Contras had instead been deposited into their accounts. Balladares sent the documents to her brother, Danilo Blandon, to show him how some Contras were misusing funds, perhaps laundering the money in the Cayman Islands. She stated that she wrote in the letter that she would send more of the records later "so you can laugh" because she felt that Blandon would be amused at the level of corruption of some of the Contras. Balladares could not recall if she later sent Blandon other documents. Balladares said she no longer has the original copies of the bank records and could provide no other details on where they came from. Balladares could not recall if Rugama had told her that the records were from a Congressional investigation, as her brother claimed. Balladares also stated that she was not aware that her brother was a drug dealer or the nature of his relationship to the Contras. She stated that she loves her brother, but knows that he has made some "mistakes."
Balladares added that she was a member of the FDN, but that her only involvement was assisting in the humanitarian effort. She explained that she did participate in "fundraising" in San Francisco, but her group never raised huge amounts of money. Her fundraising activities consisted of small contributions or donations of items which were then raffled to raise small amounts of money. She said that to her knowledge all money raised by her group was used to purchase clothing, supplies, and household items for donation to needy Nicaraguan families, and to pay the travel expenses and freight costs of transporting those items by airplane from San Francisco to Nicaragua. Balladares made two trips to Honduras, both with the purpose of transporting supplies and household goods for the humanitarian effort.
Aside from the bank records, the papers seized from Blandon's home and business included various financial and other records, including bank records, car sale records, tax records, miscellaneous correspondence, and calendar and phone records. The financial records do not evidence any large monetary transactions. Nor do the telephone records reflect a significant number of international calls, although the Rolodex from Blandon's car dealership lists a number for Eden Pastora in Costa Rica. Blandon admitted that Pastora was a friend of his and that he gave support to Pastora, but Blandon claimed to us that Pastora did not know that Blandon was a drug dealer until recently.
In sum, these records do not appear to contain any information that ties Blandon's drug dealing to the Contras. Moreover, nothing in these documents suggests that Blandon was associated in any way with the CIA.
3. Allegation that Blandon Alluded to CIA Involvement in 1994 Grand Jury Testimony in San Francisco
From records posted on the Internet by the San Jose Mercury News, and from the OIG's interview of Blandon, it is clear that Blandon testified in a federal grand jury in San Francisco on February 3, 1994, in a case involving Roger Meneses, Norwin Meneses' nephew.(40) The San Jose Mercury News reported that Blandon "implied that his cocaine sales were, for a time, CIA-approved." However, although Blandon's statements were subject to misunderstanding because of the way he expressed himself, they do not support the conclusion that Blandon's drug dealing was approved by the CIA.
In his testimony before the grand jury, Blandon outlined how he became involved with Norwin Meneses and raised money for the Contras through cocaine trafficking. Much has been made about one comment by Blandon in the course of that testimony. Blandon testified:
Q: Okay. Now, how did you progress in the business? You started off with two or three keys [kilograms of cocaine]. Then what happened?
A: Yes. In the beginning I start doing just because the Contra, because I was working and selling cars.
Q: That was your legitimate job?
A: Yes, my legitimate job. So after that, in 1983, okay, the Contra gets a lot of money from the United States, and they were -- when Reagan get in power, Mr. Reagan get in the power, we start receiving a lot of money. And the people that was in charge, it was the CIA, so they didn't want to raise any money because they have, they had the money that they wanted.
Q: From the government?
A: Yes, for the Contra revolution.
Blandon told OIG investigators that two years after President Reagan's election, the Contras received $19 million from the United States government.(41) Blandon stated: "At that time [Colonel Enrique Bermudez] comes to us and tell us 'the train is running' and the Cheles [Central American slang meaning white people -- like 'gringos'] doesn't want nothing, that we collect no money from nobody."
When we questioned Blandon about this statement, and the interpretation that his statement meant that the CIA did not want Blandon to sell drugs anymore, he said that he was simply stating that the CIA controlled the money that went to the Contras from the United States and denied that he was talking about drugs at all in this statement. Asked if he had any specific information that the CIA was controlling money to the Contras, Blandon said he had been told that the "Cheles" were running things. Several times in the interview, Blandon, whose English was difficult to understand, used the terms "Cheles," "U.S. Government," and "CIA" interchangeably. But he stated emphatically that his comment was not meant to imply that the CIA had any control over or knowledge of his drug trafficking activities on behalf of the Contras, and the language of his testimony appears to support his claim.
4. Information Recorded by Law Enforcement Authorities
In reviewing FBI and DEA files related to the Blandon and Meneses organizations, the OIG found some references to the Contras and the CIA. The following is an analysis of the information we found in various FBI and DEA files.
a. Claims by Ivan Torres
As noted above, as part of a DEA undercover operation, Meneses and a DEA informant, DEA CI-1, met with Blandon and Ivan Torres in Los Angeles in January 1987. According to DEA CI-1, Torres said that he had received counterintelligence training from the CIA, and said that the CIA "looks the other way and in essence allows them (Contras) to engage in narcotics trafficking as long as it is done outside the United States." Torres was also reported to have stated that he was in contact with FBI and CIA representatives as a result of his involvement with the Fuerza Democratico Nicaraguense (FDN), and that the CIA had trained him in San Bernadino, California, in an area made to resemble Nicaraguan terrain.
In response to our request for records, the CIA OIG reported to us that it found no record that the CIA had any relationship with Ivan Torres. We interviewed Ivan Torres directly about this allegation and other issues. He described his background and his ties to the FDN, as well as his relationship to Blandon. When asked about ties to the CIA, however, he denied having any.
Torres was asked about the FDN's alleged ties to the CIA. He replied that he used to joke about the CIA's power. He and his associates would say that their collective actions were irrelevant, because the political parties would change when the CIA decided they would. Torres stated, however, that he never met with or saw anyone associated with the CIA and has received no CIA training. According to Torres, he knows nothing about CIA involvement with the Contras or the FDN whatsoever.
When asked if he, Blandon or Meneses had ever claimed affiliation with the CIA, Torres stated that he recalled a meeting at a restaurant with Blandon, Meneses, and a third man who was Meneses' friend. Torres said he thinks he may have said that the CIA was helping the local Contra group, but it was "bullshit." Everyone went along with the joke. He said everything that was said about the CIA was a joke. He said they were trying to impress DEA CI-1, whom Blandon thought was an informant.
b. DEA Suspicion of Meneses' Ties to CIA
As discussed in the chapter on Meneses, an agent in the San Francisco DEA office told the OIG that after the arrest of Jairo Meneses in 1984, the agent had attempted to get Jairo to cooperate against Norwin Meneses. Jairo Meneses had refused, but suggested that Norwin would work with the DEA. The agent said he later met with Norwin Meneses in an effort to get his cooperation, but Norwin Meneses denied being a drug dealer and said he was only interested in "getting his country back." Although Meneses was "pretty cryptic" about what he was doing to this end, the agent said he had the "impression" that Meneses was moving guns for the Contras. The agent said he also suspected Meneses' involvement with the CIA because of Meneses' claimed ties to the Contras. But when the agent contacted the CIA in San Francisco, it denied having any connection to Meneses.
c. FBI Suspicion of Meneses' Ties to CIA
As discussed in the chapter on Meneses, the FBI queried the CIA as to whether it had any relationship to Meneses, Blandon, or Lister after the October 1986 LASD search of Blandon's and Lister's properties. The CIA denied any relationship with any of these men, but reported that it had information that Meneses was involved in drug activities in Costa Rica and was known as a drug trafficker in Nicaragua prior to the fall of Somoza.
In the spring of 1988, based on reports from informants that Meneses may have been connected to the CIA, the San Francisco office of the FBI asked FBI Headquarters to inquire whether Meneses had any relationship to the CIA. On April 15, 1988, FBI Headquarters informed FBI San Francisco that the General Counsel's Office of the CIA had reported that a search of CIA files and indices located no information indicating that Meneses was ever employed by, or was an informant for, the CIA, and that the CIA did not have any objections or problems with a prosecution of Meneses.
W. Gordon Gibler, FBI Supervisory Special Agent in San Francisco, told the OIG that he worked on the case against the entire Meneses organization, which included Norwin, Guillermo, Omar, and Tony Meneses. Gibler said he had heard that the members of the group, including Jairo Meneses and Renato Pena, were active Contra supporters. Gibler heard unsubstantiated rumors that the Meneses organization was sending money to support the Contras, but he said that he felt they were all selling drugs for money for themselves and not for the Contra cause. Gibler said that he also heard rumors that Meneses was working with the CIA. Gibler said he never received any additional intelligence information about the selling of cocaine to benefit the Contras.
5. Allegations from Other Sources
a. Allegations by OIG Source-1 and Rafael Cornejo
OIG Source-1, who requested anonymity, told the OIG that she is the person who gave Gary Webb the background information for his series in the San Jose Mercury News.(42) OIG Source-1 said that she grew up with Rafael Cornejo, Norwin Meneses, and Jaime Meneses in San Francisco. OIG Source-1 stated that the men spoke freely in front of her because she was a young child and they did not think she was listening closely. Although OIG Source-I initially said she has diaries from this time period and would provide copies to the OIG, she later told us that the diaries were with Gary Webb and that she could not provide copies.
OIG Source-1 stated that she believed that Norwin Meneses was the chief supplier of funds for the Contras and that she had overheard Meneses claiming to be in the good graces of the "top people" in the Contras because of his substantial contributions. She said that Adolfo Calero came to the Meneses home "frequently," and that Meneses appeared always to be aware of Calero's schedule. OIG Source-I refused to answer questions about whether she ever saw Calero in the presence of drugs because she said such answers might possibly incriminate her. OIG Source-1 claimed she was aware of "astronomical amounts of cash" going from San Francisco drug dealers to the Contras, and heard Cornejo and others brag about the "bags and bags" of cash sent. OIG Source-1 never heard anyone talk about the purchase of weapons to send to the Contras. OIG Source-1 said that Cornejo, Norwin Meneses, and Jaime Meneses, would talk about how Calero would brag that he was immune from prosecution because he had been a CIA agent since the 1960s. They would comment that "Calero had their back if anything ever happened." She also said that Danilo Blandon frequently came to the Meneses house.
Rafael Cornejo, who was convicted on cocaine trafficking charges in the Northern District of California in 1995 and awaits sentencing, declined to speak with the OIG without a guarantee that his statement would not be used against him in any criminal proceeding, a guarantee that we were not able to provide. When we told Cornejo's attorney that we wished to interview Cornejo about information that OIG Source-1 had provided to us, Cornejo's attorney stated that many of OIG Source-1's allegations were not true and that, if true, they would implicate Cornejo in criminal activity.
We did not find the allegations of OIG Source-I to be credible. Indeed, some were quite fantastic, including a claim that Oliver North, two DEA agents (whose names she would not reveal), and a Bolivian drug lord met on an island and negotiated a plan in which the DEA would oversee the construction of a cocaine processing plant in Bolivia. OIG Source-I stated that, according to convicted drug dealer and federal prisoner Michael Montalvo, the DEA began manufacturing massive quantities of cocaine, which North imported into the United States. OIG Source-1 stated, without providing any support for the claim, that North used $200 million in seed money from the CIA and later repaid it with his drug profits after he flooded the United States market with cocaine and caused the huge dip in cocaine prices in the mid-1980s. OIG Source-1 recommended that the OIG speak to Cornejo to confirm her allegations. Although, as noted above, Cornejo declined to speak with us, Cornejo never attempted to raise any issue regarding the Contras, the CIA, or Oliver North at his trial.
b. Allegations by "David Morrison"
As discussed in the previous section on Meneses, an American referred to by the pseudonym "David Morrison" in the San Jose Mercury News articles told the OIG that he became involved with the Contra movement in the fall of 1983 while living in San Francisco and working in real estate development. Morrison was quoted in the San Jose Mercury News as stating that he discovered that "Meneses wasn't just smuggling cocaine for himself. He was also doing it for the FDN, and he was selling them weapons as well, with the knowledge of the FDN's military commander and, it appeared, the tacit approval of the government."
When we interviewed him, Morrison told the OIG a different story. He recalled that, in the summer of 1985, FDN members told him that Meneses had made a $40,000 donation in 1981 to the Contras for camping equipment and radios. He also recalled being told that Meneses was "playing both sides" because he was trading weapons for cocaine paste from the Sandinistas. Morrison stated that he believed that Gary Webb "got it wrong" because Meneses was just a drug dealer, had no real connection with the Contras, and did not give them any money after his 1981 contribution.
Morrison told the OIG that Meneses was close to Enrique Bermudez and that he had heard a rumor that Bermudez was involved with drugs. Morrison admitted that this was all "hearsay" and that he was not sure if the rumors were of small drug deals by the Contras or of the Contras receiving payments to allow drug planes to refuel in their geographical areas.
c. Allegations by Michael Ruppert
Former Los Angeles Police Officer Michael Ruppert has made allegations that the CIA aided the Contras by allowing them to smuggle large quantities of drugs into the United States. The CIA OIG initially interviewed Ruppert by telephone, and Ruppert said that he had no first-hand knowledge of any cocaine trafficking by the Contras. He said that he had never met Meneses, Blandon or Ricky Ross. Ruppert stated that he had received information from his friend, former DEA SA Celerino Castillo.
Ruppert told the CIA OIG that he was recruited by the CIA when he was in college at UCLA in 1973. Ruppert stated that he was brought to Washington and met with a CIA recruiter who told him that the CIA wanted him to join the Agency and then be "sheep dipped" back to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). Ruppert said he worked for the LAPD from 1973 to 1978 and claimed that he left the force in 1978 because he uncovered a connection between the CIA and narcotics trafficking in California and Louisiana. Ruppert claimed that his former fiancee was a CIA contract employee who helped the CIA smuggle drugs into the United States and participated in a CIA-organized crime narcotics ring. Ruppert also stated that he was aware of a CIA connection to the assassination of Robert Kennedy.
FBI records show that Ruppert met with FBI agents in 1978 and 1980 and reported that he had been forced out of the LAPD and was harassed by that office because of his allegations that the LAPD was involved with officials of the government of the Shah of Iran and the CIA. According to these records, Ruppert reported in 1978 that his problems had begun when he became involved with Nordica Theodora D'Orsay. D'Orsay had claimed to work for an unnamed government agency and claimed to have detailed knowledge of organized crime and the workings of the LAPD. Ruppert came to believe that D'Orsay worked for the CIA and was planning to overthrow the Shah of Iran.(43) According to Ruppert, D'Orsay moved to New Orleans in March 1977 after an attempt on her life, evidenced by a bullet hole in her car. Ruppert later told the FBI he came to believe that D'Orsay had put the bullet hole there herself so she would have an excuse to leave Los Angeles and to prevent Ruppert from finding out who she was and who she worked for.
Ruppert also reported to the FBI that, after some contact with the Organized Crime Intelligence Division of the LAPD, he began receiving "hang-up phone calls" and was "chased" and surveilled, and believed his telephone to be tapped. Ruppert reported that he became an emotional wreck after a chase by an unknown vehicle in Los Angeles. Ruppert said that he resigned in November 1978 because his life was in danger and he did not believe the LAPD could protect him, especially if violence were to break out in Iran.
In April 1980, Ruppert told the FBI that he believed that the DEA Intelligence Center in El Paso, Texas (EPIC) was also involved in the conspiracy. Ruppert reported his suspicions to a high school friend employed as a DEA agent in El Paso, and the friend advised Ruppert to carry a gun at all times. Ruppert took this as an admission that the conspiracy existed and that Ruppert's life was in danger.
The OIG interviewed Ruppert. Ruppert told the OIG that he had no personal information about misconduct by the Department of Justice but had received information from, and given information to, DOJ officials about CIA involvement in drug trafficking.
Ruppert told the OIG that he met with FBI special agent "Buck" Sadler about CIA involvement in drug trafficking and that Sadler had, according to Ruppert, verified Ruppert's suspicions. Ruppert explained that he met with Sadler and another FBI agent and told them his allegations and his theory concerning the CIA involvement in drug trafficking. Ruppert added that his knowledge included the involvement of "big names" like Richard Secord and President Bush. According to Ruppert, Sadler stated "Mr. Ruppert, we think that your theory is extremely plausible," all the while nodding his head in an up-and-down "yes" motion. Ruppert said he assumed, and continues to believe, that Sadler's head-nodding motion was an intentional, non-verbal affirmation of the truth of Ruppert's suspicions. Ruppert also explained that he believes the conversation was being taped, and that Sadler knew it as well, and therefore Sadler, knowing he could not verbally acknowledge the veracity of Ruppert's allegations, had intentionally made the head-nodding motion to let Ruppert know that he was correct.
The OIG interviewed FBI Special Agent Richard "Buck" Sadler, III about Ruppert's allegations. Sadler stated that Ruppert's information about the CIA was nothing more than a "theory" and that he did not find it to be the least bit plausible. Sadler also stated that he did not intend for any nodding of his head to be interpreted as an endorsement of Ruppert's theories.
Ruppert also reported to us that former DEA SAs Celerino Castillo, Edward Heath, and Brad Ayers; U.S. Customs Service agents Ken Brumfield and George Gibson; and former federal public defender John Mattes, told him -- either directly or "indirectly" -- about CIA involvement in drug trafficking. The OIG was unable to locate former DEA SA Edward Heath or former USCS agent Ken Brumfield. Customs agent George Gibson told the OIG that he went to high school with Ruppert but had never discussed Customs or the CIA with Ruppert. The DEA has no record of any former or current agents named Brad Ayers.
John Mattes was a federal defender assigned to defend Jesus Garcia on a weapons charge in Miami in 1985 resulting from Garcia's involvement in running guns to the Contras. According to Ruppert, Garcia had told Mattes about his involvement with the CIA, and Mattes said he himself had been in houses where weapons were stored "within hours of the drugs having been removed." Ruppert said that Mattes had traced calls made from the houses to George Bush's office. Thereafter, Mattes was threatened and intimidated, and his home burglarized.
When we questioned Mattes about this story, Mattes laughed. Mattes acknowledged knowing Ruppert, but denied the truth of Ruppert's claim. Mattes opined that Ruppert has taken elements and statements from various lectures by Mattes and from books about the Contra revolution, and misrepresented them. Mattes said he did represent defendant Jesus Garcia on weapons charges in 1985. In that case, Garcia claimed that his gun-running was related to the Contras, but neither Garcia nor his codefendants claimed to have been involved with the CIA, as Ruppert alleged. Mattes stated that in the Garcia case he had presented the "Watergate" or "Apparent Authority" defense: that is, he had argued that Garcia believed, based on what he was told by the government informant in the case, that what he was doing was legal because the White House had sanctioned their actions. The jury apparently did not buy into that defense, because Garcia was convicted.
According to Mattes, Garcia had claimed that the Contra infrastructure was comprised of people who were also narcotics traffickers. Although Garcia never specifically alleged that any government agency or agents were directly involved in or had knowledge of narcotics trafficking, he intimated that drug trafficking was taking place at the same time as the gun-running, and that the practice was, in essence, "protected under the cloak of national security." In January 1986, Garcia alleged that in one of the facilities where guns were being stored, unspecified members of the infrastructure were also storing narcotics. That spring, Mattes and his associates traveled to Costa Rica to interview Garcia's "mercenary" counterparts who were imprisoned in La Reforma prison. With only one exception, none of the persons interviewed substantiated Garcia's claim that narcotics were also being trafficked or stored. The one exception, Steve Carr, confirmed that on one occasion he saw an unspecified amount of cocaine (but more than a "personal use" amount) in the gun storage facility described by Garcia.
Based on our review, we believe that while Ruppert communicates his allegations fervently, they have no firm anchor in reality.
40. The OIG was unable to obtain the original grand jury transcript in this matter, because federal law prevents the disclosure of these grand jury materials to the OIG under the circumstances of this review. We therefore had to rely on the transcript posted on the Internet.
41. As discussed in Appendix A, beginning in 1983, and until the Boland Amendment took effect and only humanitarian aid for the Contras was approved in 1984, funding for the Contras was administered by the CIA and was capped at $24 million for fiscal year 1984.
42. OIG Source-1 also complained that the OIG violated her confidentiality during the course of this investigation. When attempting to interview convicted drug trafficker Raphael Cornejo, the OIG informed both Cornejo's attorney and the Assistant U.S. Attorney prosecuting him of the information Cornejo was alleged to have. Both attorneys were informed that this information came from OIG Source-1. The Assistant U.S. Attorney later used some of this information in a court filing, including OIG Source-1's name. This use of her name was not authorized by the OIG, and we requested that the Assistant U.S. Attorney be admonished for using this information without first clearing it with the OIG. The public filing has since been sealed by the court.
43. According to the CIA OIG, there is no record that an individual named Nordica Theodora D'Orsay was associated with the CIA.