What drug trafficking allegations was CIA aware of, and when, involving Northern Front Contras? How did CIA respond to this information, and how was this information shared with other U.S. Government entities?
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.
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.
. . . 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.
. . . 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.
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.)
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.
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]
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.)
[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].
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?
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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. persons.
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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. persons.
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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.
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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.
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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].
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. . . . 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.
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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.
. . . 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.
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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.
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.
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.
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 the interview.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.