Does The CIA Control The International Drug Trade?

On December 10th 2004, the bloody corpse of reporter Gary Webb was found at his home in Sacramento, California Within days, coroners had ruled the death a suicide

Yet, with two violent gun wounds to the head, this outcome seemed suspicious Webb would have had to have shot out his brains, after blowing one side of his face off Many, such as author and former drug kingpin Rick Ross, have raised concerns about the verdict Webb had been on a CIA black list since the 1990s for publishing an exposé series known as the “Dark Alliance” This controversially alleged that the CIA were running an international drug ring, distributing Central American cocaine to LA gangs

He claimed the intelligence agency had engineered the “crack explosion in urban America” The CIA rejected these claims, and Webb – who had previously worked on a Pulitzer Prize winning investigation – was ousted from his post at the Mercury News, fading into obscurity The murky circumstances around his death brought his investigation to light once more Importantly, his allegations are not isolated Webb was not the first reporter to find evidence of secretive CIA drug trafficking

In 1972 Alfred McCoy – now an award winning Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison –made similar allegations about CIA activities in South East Asia In his book “The Politics of Heroin in South East Asia”, McCoy claims that the CIA was profiting from large-scale heroin production in the so-called narcotics “Golden Triangle” of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar He argues that the CIA indirectly facilitated the growth of the heroin trade in this region by turning a blind eye to illicit activities in exchange for political patronage He says they made allies with drug lords and provided them with arms, political protection and transport Crucially, this strategy helped the Golden Triangle become the world’s largest exporter of opium

By the mid-seventies it was producing 70% of the world’s opium supply, and 30% of US heroin imports As well as generating income, CIA involvement brokered links between them and dangerous organisations, which covertly strengthened American power overseas Webb also blamed political motives for the CIA’s links to the Nicaraguan drug trade During the country’s Civil War, the CIA supported Contra rebels Webb says that under the pretence of ignorance, the CIA helped rebels transport and distribute cocaine worth millions

Although an internal investigation found insufficient proof that CIA officials had deliberately trafficked narcotics in Nicaragua, many believe this was a cover up During the 1990s, informant Coral Baca was a close aide to Rafael Cornejo, a formidable Nicaraguan coke kingpin In a 2012 interview, Baca described delivering huge sums of drug money to Contra leaders on American soil She says the CIA was well aware of what was going on Many thought so long before Webb came along

In 1989 Senator John Kerry responded to tip-offs by launching an inquiry His concluding report claimed that there was “considerable evidence” that the Contras were funded by the illicit weapons and drug trade – and that US intelligence knew about this Given that the US was backing the Contras in its battle against socialism, this theory is completely plausible In 2012 fresh allegations surfaced after Mexico’s Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla was jailed by US law enforcement for trafficking over $1 billion of cocaine and heroin After his capture, Niebla’s defence team claimed he had been working as an informant for the US Drug Enforcement Administration

His counsel said that he had been promised immunity against prosecution in exchange for providing intelligence That same year, Mexican official Guillermo Terrazas Villanueva accused the US of deepening the country’s drugs problems Specifically, he said that the CIA controls the entire trade by operating foreign intelligence networks through high-powered cartels With so many allegations across decades, might there be more to these claims than just hearsay? Despite these controversies, more recent investigations have found no evidence of CIA affiliation to drug trafficking A US Senate subcommittee investigated McCoy’s 1972 allegations at the time

One major claim was that the CIA blocked US narcotics investigators’ access to Laos to hide their involvement The subcommittee found no proof for this, or the other drug trafficking accusations Despite this, even Robert Bonner – former head of the DEA – disagrees He previously blamed the CIA for importing a ton of cocaine to the States in collaboration with the Venezuelan government There is no concrete proof of the CIA actively trafficking drugs

However, there is significant evidence indicating that the organisation has followed a policy of “studied ignorance “ for decades Can its numerous links to global drug networks really be a matter of coincidence? Until more information becomes available, we will never know

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