Volume I: The California Story
Was CIA involved in the California-based drug trafficking of Ricky
Donnell Ross, Danilo Blandon or Juan Norwin Meneses Cantarero?
Did CIA have any relationship or dealings with Ross, Blandon or
- 1996 Agency Declaration in U.S. District Court. On September 18,
1996, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California requested that
the Agency determine whether CIA had any relationship with Ricky Donnell Ross,
Oscar Danilo Blandon Reyes, Juan Norwin Meneses Cantarero, Ronald Jay Lister, or
David Scott Weekly. All five of these individuals were mentioned in the August
1996 San Jose Mercury News articles that implied CIA was
connected to the drug trafficking activities of Ross, Blandon and Meneses.
- In response to this request, the Records Validation Officer (RVO) for the
Agency's Directorate of Operations (DO)* submitted a Declaration to
the U.S. District Court on November 4, 1996 in the matter of U.S. v Ricky
Ross (case # 95-0353-H). The RVO's Declaration detailed the steps that had
been taken by the Agency to review all records in the possession of the DO and
the CIA's Directorate of Administration, the two directorates that maintain
records concerning all individuals with a past or present staff, contract, or
operational relationship with CIA. The RVO Declaration certified to the Court
that this review had located no information indicating that the Agency had any
past or present relationship--whether operational, contractual, or
employment--with the five named individuals.
- The RVO's Declaration further certified that CIA records included no
information of any kind concerning Ross. With respect to Blandon, Meneses,
Lister, and Weekly, the Declaration explained that there was relevant
information in CIA files, but no information in CIA records indicated there was
any Agency relationship with these individuals.
- Concerning Meneses, the RVO certified that CIA had responded to requests
by the FBI in 1986 and 1988 regarding any CIA knowledge of or interest in
Meneses. Both of these responses indicated, according to the Declaration, that
CIA had no relationship with Meneses and described information in CIA files that
had been provided by CIA sources who reported that Meneses was a drug
trafficker. The RVO Declaration also stated that reviews of these issues by CIA
components in the late 1980s had revealed "no evidence that anti-Sandinista
groups which received support from the U.S. Government engaged in
- CIA Records. This investigation confirmed the accuracy of
statements contained in the RVO's Declaration that was provided to the U.S.
Attorney for the Southern District of California. As noted earlier, the U.S.
Attorney for the Southern District of California requested that the Agency
determine whether the CIA had any relationship with Ross, Blandon, Juan Norwin
Meneses Cantarero, Lister and Weekly. In response, a search was conducted of
Agency records for any information that would indicate any such relationship.
Though Meneses' name was misspelled as "Menesis" in the Declaration,
the records search by variant spellings as described by the RVO ensured that any
relevant information would be identified. The Declaration was not required nor
intended to present or describe all information in Agency files relating in any
way to the activities of any of the individuals in question. Additional
information, particularly regarding Meneses, was included in CIA files, and is
described in detail below. However, no Agency record cited in the Declaration,
and none of the other Agency documents that have been reviewed in the course of
this investigation, indicate that the CIA had any operational, contractual, or
employment relationship with Ross, Blandon, Meneses, Lister, or Weekly.
- CIA Records: Ross. No information concerning Ricky
Donnell Ross has been found in CIA records, except that received after September
18, 1996 relating to the criminal prosecution of him in the U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of California. No information has been found to
indicate that there has ever been any CIA relationship with Ross.
- CIA Records: Blandon, Meneses and Lister. Blandon's
name, along with those of Norwin Meneses and Ronald Lister, appeared in an
October 30, 1986 cable from a Station of the DO's Foreign Resources Division to
CIA Headquarters. The cable notified Headquarters that Blandon, Meneses and
Lister had been arrested for narcotics trafficking and were claiming that they
were in some way connected to CIA. The cable read:
Three individuals claiming [CIA] affiliation have been arrested by Los
Angeles county sheriff's department on narcotics related charges. Details as
received via [FBI] are sketchy. However, request preliminary traces to
determine if any of the three listed below have [CIA] connections . . .
. Please respond immediate indicating what portions of response may be passed
to local law enforcement authorities.
The cable contained an error in that Meneses and Lister were not arrested
along with Blandon and his wife, but had only been implicated in the
On October 31, 1986, Headquarters responded to the cable:
There are no [Headquarters] traces on Ronald ((Lister)) or Danilo
((Blandon)). [An LA Division Station reported on] 05 Dec 84 that a Norwin
Meneses was apparently well known as the Nicaraguan Maifa [sic], dealing
in drugs, weapons and smuggling and laundering of counterfeit money (U.S. and
[Nicaraguan] colones) [sic]. Subject was residing in Miami as a result
of unspecified drug related charges by the Costa Rican government. A 25 Mar 85
message from [another LA Division Station] described a Norwing [sic]
((Meneses)) Cantarero as the kingpin of narcotics traffickers in Nicaragua prior
to the fall of Somoza.
- On December 11, 1986, FBI Headquarters sent a cable to CIA and the
Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) for information concerning Blandon, Meneses
and Lister, as well as Aparicio Moreno, Orlando Murillo and Richard (last name
unknown), also known as (a.k.a.) "Oklahoma Dick." The FBI cable
. . . the captioned matter is an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement (OCDE)
task force investigation focused on a cocaine distribution operation principally
comprised of Nicaraguan nationals. Significant quantities of cocaine are
reportedly distributed throughout the west coast. Information provided to FBI
Los Angeles indicates that subject Ronald Jay Lister has made statements
concerning his "CIA contact," identified by Lister as "Mr.
Weekly." Investigation has also identified documents indicating that
Lister has been in contact with "Scott Weekly" of the "DIA.".
. . . Receiving agencies [CIA and DIA] are requested to advise the FBI,
attention: Organized Crime Section, Criminal Investigation Division, whether or
not any of the captioned subjects are currently of operational interest to your
- CIA responded on December 17, 1986:
In response to [the December 11 FBI request], this Agency is forwarding
the following for your information: In 1984 one Norwin ((Meneses)) was involved
in drug activities in Costa Rica. He is apparently known as the Nicaraguan
Mafia, dealing in drugs, weapons, smuggling and the laundering of counterfeit
money. In December 1984 Meneses was residing in Miami as a result of
unspecified drug related charges by the Costa Rican Government. Prior to the
fall of former Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza, one Norwing [sic]
((Meneses)) Cantarero was called the kingpin of narcotics traffickers in
Nicaragua . . . . In 1983 Orlando Murillo, Nicaraguan exile, was described as a
former official with the Swiss bank in Managua. We have no traces on other
names [Blandon, Lister, Moreno, Richard (LNU), Weekly] referred to in [the FBI
- CIA records include additional cables regarding Meneses between 1983
and 1995. On April 1, 1983, a DO Latin America (DO/LA) Division Station
reported information provided by a Nicaraguan expatriate who had made an
abortive attempt to contact members of the Nicaraguan resistance. The
Nicaraguan reportedly stated that, around October 1982, he was:
. . . hoping to contact a friend named Norbin [sic] ((Meneses))
in Miami, who would direct him to counter-revolutionary training camps in South
Florida and eventually to join Miskito combat units in Honduras. Meneses . . .
was not contacted and was found to be living in California.
- On December 5, 1984, a Latin America (LA) Division Station informed
Headquarters of allegations that Meneses and another trafficker, Tuto Munkel,
were involved in drug trafficking with Sebastian Gonzalez Mendieta in Costa
Rica. Meneses was reported to be living in Miami as a result of unspecified
drug charges by the Costa Rican Government, and it was reported that Meneses
owned a restaurant in which Gonzalez might have had a financial interest.
According to the Station, Meneses, Gonzalez and Munkel were well-known as the "Nicaraguan
Mafia, dealing in drugs, weapons smuggling and laundering of counterfeit money."
- The LA Division Station provided Headquarters with additional
information on December 27, 1984. According to the Station, one and a half
kilograms of cocaine, packed in rattan clothes hampers, were being forwarded
weekly to Meneses in Miami. The Station requested that another LA
Division Station conduct a records search concerning Meneses.
- On March 25, 1985, Meneses was again referred to in CIA reporting when
an LA Division Station reported information concerning a Sandinista-run business
known as H&M Corporation. According to the report, H&M Corporation was
a conglomerate of several FSLN-owned businesses that were engaged in a host of
legal and illegal enterprises in an effort to obtain hard currency for the
Sandinista Government. The report also stated that Federico Vaughn, a known
narcotics trafficker and an official of H&M Corporation, was said to be "an
associate of Nicaraguan narcotics trafficker Norwing [sic] ((Meneses))
- Meneses' name was next reflected in CIA reporting on June 11, 1986,
when an LA Division Station informed Headquarters that a Contra leader, Fernando
Chamorro, had allegedly been asked by Meneses in August or September 1984 to
help "move drugs to the U.S." On June 27, 1986, a DO
National Collection Division office reported that it had learned from a
Nicaraguan expatriate who was in contact with another U.S. Government agency
that he suspected "Meneses was involved in the transporting of drugs."
- On September 3, 1987, CIA responded to a DoS request for a name trace
in connection with a visa application by Meneses. The response included an
information copy of the Agency's December 17, 1986 response to the FBI request
for information concerning Meneses and advised DoS that:
According to information dated March 1985 . . . one Norwing [sic]
Meneses Cantarero, probably identical with subject, was the kingpin of narcotics
traffickers in Nicaragua prior to the fall of Somoza. According to information
dated December 1984 . . . one Norwin Meneses, probably identical with subject,
was involved in drug activities in Costa Rica. He was apparently known as the
Nicaraguan Mafia, dealing in drugs, weapons, smuggling and the laundering of
counterfeit money. In December 1984, Meneses was residing in Miami as a result
of unspecified drug related charges by the Costa Rican Government. You are
referred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for possible information on
- On March 31, 1988, OGC Associate Deputy General Counsel Gary Chase
responded in writing to an FBI request that sought to determine if there were
any Agency relationships with Juan Norwyn (sic) Meneses-Cantarero, a.k.a. Norwin
Meneses. Chase's letter to FBI/Assistant Director, Criminal Division,
Floyd Clarke, stated that "an extensive search of the files and indices of
the appropriate office located no information indicating that Mr.
Meneses-Cantarero a.k.a. Norwin Meneses was ever employed by, or an informant
for, the Central Intelligence Agency."
- CIA records do not mention Meneses again until January 18, 1991 when an
LA Division Station reported to Headquarters that it had received information
that four men were bringing narcotics from Central and South America to Miami,
Chicago and Milwaukee. It was reported that one of the men, Juan Dewey
Thomas-Altamiraro, a Nicaraguan cocaine trafficker, was an associate of Meneses.
However, no details concerning the nature and extent of his association with
Meneses were reported. In response to this report, another LA
Division Station advised the first Station on January 23, 1991 of the "Nicaraguan
Mafia" allegations concerning Meneses and the fact that "Meneses was
known to be involved in the drug trafficking activities of Sebastian Gonzalez
- Meneses was next mentioned in CIA cable traffic as a result of his
November 1991 arrest in Managua following an attempt to ship 764 kilograms of
cocaine from Cali, Colombia, to the United States. Subsequent to this arrest,
Meneses was convicted in Nicaragua of cocaine trafficking and was sentenced to
25 years in prison. His sentence was later reduced to twelve and one-half
years. An LA Division Station cabled the following information to Headquarters
on November 4, 1991 concerning Meneses' arrest:
. . . the Sandinista police made a major drug bust this weekend. They
captured 764 kilos of cocaine and arrested five people. They also claimed that
the drugs were being sent from the Cali cartel probably to the United States . .
. . Those arrested were Norwin ((Meneses)) Cantarero, his brother Luis Enrique
((Meneses)) Canteraro [sic], Enrique ((Miranda)) Hyame [sic], an
engineer Carmelo ((Lacayo)) Briceno who was in charge of concealing the drugs
for movement, and Carlos Francisco ((Merlo)) Bermudez . . . .
- Agency records also indicate that Meneses' arrest was reported in
November 1991 through Department of Defense and Department of State channels.
Those reports included reference to a trip to Colombia by Meneses and Miranda in
September 1991 and to the group's loss of a Ford Escort "loaded with
cocaine" in Houston in September 1991.
- The November 1991 arrest of Meneses was also summarized in a January
30, 1992 "Narcotics Update For Latin America" that was published by
the DO and sent to Stations and Bases in Latin America to provide background
information. The Update article indicated that "ringleader Norwin Meneses
is believed to be the top Cali Cartel trafficker in Nicaragua."
- The last references to Meneses that appeared in CIA reporting occurred
in December 1995 when three cables discussing "Possible Attempts to Link
CIA to Narcotraffickers" were sent by the DO's LA Division to certain
Stations. On December 4, 1995, Headquarters asked one of the Stations whether
it possessed any information concerning Meneses:
In November 1995, we were informed by DEA that a reporter has been
inquiring about activities in Central America and any links with the Contras. .
. . ((Meneses)) is currently in jail in Managua for trafficking 800 pounds of
cocaine. DEA [has been alerted] that Meneses will undoubtedly claim that he was
trafficking narcotics on behalf of [CIA] to generate money for the Contras.
Query whether Station can clarify or amplify on the above information to better
identify Meneses or confirm or refute any claims he may make. HQS traces on FNU
((Meneses)) reveal extensive entries. One possible hit is: Norwing [sic]
((Meneses)) Cantarero, who was a kingpin of narcotics trafficking in Nicaragua
prior to the fall of Somoza . . . . one Norwin Meneses probably identical to
above kingpin, was involved in drug activities in Costa Rica. He was apparently
known as the Nicaraguan Mafia, dealing in drugs, weapons, smuggling and the
laundering of counterfeit money.
- In response, the Station provided the following information to
Headquarters on December 5, 1995:
Based on our traces and HQS . . . information, we presume the individual
to whom DEA referred to be Norwing [sic] ((Meneses)) Cantarero. We have
no information, however, substantiating his claims to have been actively
involved in the Contra movement, nor do we know whether [CIA] was ever in touch
with him if he was.
- Headquarters responded to the Station with the following additional
information on December 14, 1995:
Please pursue inquiries on [where Meneses] resides or in incarcerated .
. . . We are still very anxious to verify whether Meneses exists, and whether
there was ever any [CIA] contact with him . . . . The only additional
information we have on Norwin ((Meneses)) is that in late 1986 he was one of
three individuals arrested by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on
narcotics related charges. Meneses was described as an accomplice of Ronald
((Lister)), also arrested. Lister claimed that for many years he had assisted
in supplying small arms and helicopters to [CIA] contacts in Latin and Central
America. [Headquarters] traces give no indication that Juan Norwyn [sic]
((Meneses)) Cantarero a.k.a. Norwin Meneses was ever employed by, or an
informant for [CIA].
- No other information concerning Blandon, Meneses or Lister has been
found in CIA records. Additionally, no information has been found in CIA
records to indicate that there has ever been any relationship between CIA and
Blandon, Meneses or Lister.
- CIA Records: Weekly. No information has been found in
CIA records to indicate that Weekly--who Lister said was his "CIA contact"--had
any relationship with CIA. Additionally no information has been found in CIA
records to indicate that Weekly claimed to have worked for CIA on behalf of the
Contras. Media reporting also indicates that Weekly does not claim to have
worked for CIA on behalf of the Contras. Although Lister alleged in the 1980s
that Weekly was his "CIA contact," he did not make this allegation in
his 1997 interview with CIA/OIG and DoJ/OIG.
- No information has been found to indicate that Weekly had any
connection to the drug trafficking activities of Ross, Blandon, Meneses, and
Lister. CIA records, however, include information regarding Weekly's activities
in connection with a private group concerned with Prisoner of War/Missing in
Action issues in the 1980s. In addition, CIA records include a Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) report that Weekly was arrested in 1986 for
carrying explosives on a commercial airliner. The BATF report indicated that
Weekly claimed he had done this for CIA. No information has been found to
indicate any relationship between Weekly and CIA, or any information to support
his 1986 claim that he carried explosives on a commercial airliner for CIA. No
information has been found to indicate that CIA was ever asked to respond to
Weekly's purported claims during his trial.
- Individual Statements. Ross, Blandon, Meneses, Lister, and
Miranda were each interviewed. Each was asked whether he had any prior dealings
or relationship with CIA. Each denied any such dealings or relationships.
- Individual Statements: Ross. Ross was interviewed at
the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Metropolitan Correctional Center, San Diego,
California, where he is serving a life sentence without parole for conspiracy
and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Ross states that he has dealt
with no one, directly or indirectly, who claimed to be a CIA employee or
representative. He also denies that he ever had any relationship with CIA or
the Contras or that either organization had anything to do with his drug
trafficking activities in Los Angeles or elsewhere.
- Ross states that he believes CIA was somehow involved with Blandon and
Meneses, but acknowledges that he has no information to support this contention
other than his belief that Blandon received a relatively short prison term.
Ross says that he never saw Blandon deal with anyone other than persons Ross
already knew to be narcotics dealers. Ross adds that he never saw Blandon
meeting or dealing with anyone whom Blandon claimed was a representative of CIA
or the U.S. Government.
- Individual Statements: Blandon. Blandon states that
he has never had any relationship with anyone employed by or in any way
connected to CIA. According to Blandon, he never previously met with anyone
- Individual Statements: Meneses. Meneses was
interviewed in Tipitapa Prison, Managua, Nicaragua. He denies that he ever had
any contact or relationship with CIA, DoS, the U.S. military, or U.S. civilian
assistance groups that provided assistance to the Contras. He also denies that
he trafficked in cocaine or other narcotics on behalf of CIA or any Contra
- Individual Statements: Miranda. Miranda was
arrested in November 1991 along with Norwin Meneses in connection with the
attempted transshipment of 764 kilograms of cocaine through Nicaragua to the
United States. He was interviewed in Masaiya Prison, Grenada, Nicaragua.
- Miranda claims that the Sandinistas believed that Norwin Meneses worked
with CIA to arrange flights carrying arms. Miranda says that Meneses told him
sometime in the late 1980s that he was working for the Contras and that he had
the support of CIA. Miranda says Meneses also said he was receiving support
from Oliver North and that he was passing on funds to support Contra groups.
Miranda could provide no information to corroborate his claims, including those
that Meneses had smuggled drugs for the Contras and had the sanction of CIA for
- Miranda states that the Sandinistas were involved in trafficking to
raise funds and that he was personally involved in this effort from 1981 until
1985. He says that he was asked by his superiors in the Sandinista military to
contact Meneses in 1981 about the possibility of drug trafficking on behalf of
the Sandinistas, but that Meneses declined to participate. Miranda states that
Meneses told him that Colombian aircraft would transport cocaine to Costa Rica
where it would be transferred to other planes that had brought weapons for the
Contras from the United States. The aircraft returning to the United States
would land near Ft. Worth, Texas from which the cocaine would be shipped by
ground vehicles to California.
- In commenting on Enrique Miranda Jaimie, Meneses explains that Miranda
was a childhood friend who had worked in Meneses' construction business in 1991.
Meneses believes that Miranda acted on behalf of the Sandinistas to implicate
him in the narcotics trade, but denies ever being asked by Miranda to traffic in
drugs to support the Sandinistas.
- Individual Statements: Lister. Lister is a former
member of the Laguna Beach, California Police Department and a convicted felon.
Lister was also a member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department as well
as the Maywood, California Police Department. Lister says that, after leaving
law enforcement in 1980, he started Pyramid International, a private physical
security company. Lister also states that he formed Mundy Security Group,
another private security firm.
- In 1981, Lister says he met both Blandon and Meneses and began selling
cocaine for Blandon shortly thereafter. Lister denies he was ever an employee
of CIA or that he was ever approached by any employee of CIA with any request to
assist Blandon or the Contras in any legal or illegal activity.
- Lister states that he met Blandon through a Beverly Hills business
connection in late 1981 and Blandon, in turn, introduced Lister to Meneses.
Lister provided physical security for both men and reports that both always paid
him in cash. Lister recalls that one of Lister's employees, Bill Downing, told
Lister shortly after Lister met Blandon that Blandon and Meneses were cocaine
dealers. Lister states that Downing was the first to broach the idea of selling
cocaine for Blandon. Lister approached Blandon and "began doing business
with him right away." Lister states he would get cocaine from Blandon and
give it to Downing who would sell the product to his friends. Lister had the
impression that Blandon wanted to keep Lister away from Meneses.
- Lister was not aware of all of Blandon's sources for cocaine, but was
aware Blandon often got cocaine from Colombian suppliers Roger Sandino and
Aparicio Moreno. Lister states that he went with Blandon on trips to Colombia
and was present when Blandon made deals with the Colombians. Lister recalls
that the price of one kilogram of cocaine went from approximately $60,000 in
1982 to a low of approximately $20,000 in 1986 when Lister stopped distributing
- Lister states that, prior to the San Jose Mercury News articles,
he had never met Ross or heard Ross' name. He does recall a November 1985 drug
deal in which Blandon instructed Lister to deliver 100 kilograms of cocaine to a
"good black client" in South Central Los Angeles. Lister states that
he and another of Blandon's associates drove one of Blandon's cars containing
three boxes of cocaine to a restaurant in South Central Los Angeles and met with
Blandon. Lister recalls the original source of the cocaine provided to the
buyer by Blandon was a Colombian student at a local college. Lister states that
Blandon met with the "black client" and exchanged the cocaine for
$2.95 million. Lister then transported the money for Blandon as they left.
Lister recalls he was paid $50,000 for this deal. Lister now assumes that the
buyer was Ross because Blandon told him the "black client" was the "biggest
dealer" he dealt with. However, Lister cannot provide any evidence to
support his belief.
- Lister recalls that Blandon and Meneses would occasionally speak about
the Contras and their desire that the Contras win the war in Nicaragua.
Blandon would say, "We do business [drug dealing], but we want to get the
Commies out." Lister states that Blandon made statements about his desire
to help the Contras, but "the money always went back into our pockets."
Lister says he was not aware of any effort on Blandon's or Meneses' part to
fund or supply the Contras. Lister characterized Blandon's statements
concerning his desire to help the Contras as "beer talk" as opposed to
any serious organized effort. Lister states that he would have been very
surprised if any significant amount of Blandon's money went to the Contras
because "we were drug dealers. We did it to make money for ourselves."
- Lister does recall that Blandon asked him for help in the 1982-1983
time frame to buy weapons, some of which Blandon claimed were going to "my
friends down South." Lister states that Blandon did not specify whether
this referred to the Contras or his Southern California drug customers.
Lister states that he, Downing and another employee, Ronald Orgle, bought a
total of 15 to 20 semi-automatic weapons for Blandon. The weapons were assorted
handguns, semi-automatic Uzi machine pistols, KG99 "Tec-nine" machine
pistols, and possibly semi-automatic AK-47's. Lister says he did not purchase
ammunition for Blandon, but recalls purchasing a small number of commercially
available "off-the-shelf" night vision devices for Blandon. Lister
says he does not know what Blandon did with the devices.
- Lister also recalls that he traveled to Hialeah, Florida, sometime in
1982 or 1983 and met with a Contra member named "Dr. Sabario" in an
effort to sell "military supplies" to the Contras. Lister states that
the military supplies were commercially available equipment such as
non-reflective paint for equipment and surveillance detection gear of the type
that can be purchased at electronic shops and "spy" stores. Lister
states that this meeting with Dr. Sabario did not have any connection to
Blandon, but was part of Lister's private security business. Lister states
that, in the end, no purchases were made from him by the Contras.
- Regarding the October 27, 1986 search of Lister's and Blandon's
residences, Lister states that the LASD surveillance of his residence was
spotted and made him aware of the impending searches. Lister recalls that one
of his neighbors told Lister a couple of weeks before the October search that
the neighbor had seen two men with "police-type" radios watching
Lister's house and taking notes. Based on this, Lister assumed the police were
about to arrest or search him. Lister told Blandon and Lister's attorney,
Joseph Heneghan, about the incident. Lister states that Blandon simply smiled,
but did not comment. Heneghan told Lister to call him if police arrived, but
not to let them in without a warrant.
- Lister recalls that five LASD deputies appeared at his door on the day
of the search and told him that they had a valid warrant to search his prior
residence, but would wait on his doorstep until they obtained another warrant
for his present residence. Lister states that, despite the fact that the LASD
did not have a warrant for his current residence, he chose to allow the search
so as not to attract notice from his neighbors. It was at this time that Lister
told the lead deputy, "You should not be here. I'm going to make a call."
Lister states he was referring to a telephone call to his attorney and not "Mr.
Weekly at the CIA" as was later reported in the San Jose Mercury
News series. Lister denies he made any claims of a CIA connection or that
he intended to call CIA. In his 1997 interview with CIA/OIG and DoJ/OIG
representatives, Lister says he did not allege in the 1980s that David Scott
Weekly was his "CIA contact."
- Lister states that he did not call his attorney until after the
deputies had departed. Lister states that, during the search, one of the
deputies found one of the night vision devices he had obtained for Blandon and
stated, "What are you . . . CIA?" Lister states that he denied any
CIA connection, but did tell the deputies that he supported the Contras and that
he had been in El Salvador.
- Concerning the alleged "CIA documents" that the San Jose
Mercury News series reported were seized by the LASD, Lister states that
what was seized at his house and later reported in the newspaper as "CIA
documents" was actually a hand-written business journal that he had
prepared to document future legitimate business opportunities for his security
company. Lister states that he was not in possession of any "CIA papers"
at any time.
- Lister also refutes the claim in the "Dark Alliance" series
that "federal agents swooped down on the LASD and took the evidence which
was seized at his house." Lister states that, to his knowledge, the only
person who went to the LASD to retrieve property was Heneghan, acting in his
capacity as Lister's attorney.
- Lister states that he cooperated with the Costa Mesa Police Department
and also helped the San Francisco FBI office on a narcotics case. Lister states
that in 1989 he worked with several FBI Special Agents to target a Central
American drug dealer named Nelson Magana. Lister says he had previously sold
cocaine to Magana, and an FBI Special Agent wanted to use him against Magana.
Lister claims that an FBI Special Agent was convinced that Lister, Blandon and
Meneses were connected with CIA. Lister claims that FBI Special Agent wanted to
prove a connection between the U.S. Government, the Contras and drug smuggling.
- In discussing his cooperation with the DEA and the San Diego United
States Attorney's Office, Lister states that he cooperated with the U.S.
Government in its targeting of Blandon. Lister states that he attempted to
cooperate honestly with Deputy United States Attorney Amalia Meza and a DEA
Special Agent, but that both accused him of not keeping his end of their
agreement and of continuing to engage in criminal activity. Lister states that
the DEA Special Agent also accused him of laundering money for members of a
Colombian drug cartel. Further, the DEA Special Agent accused Lister of
stealing money from the cartel and then telling the Colombians that their money
was "with the CIA." Lister denies these charges, but admits that he
traveled to Mexico without telling the DEA Special Agent or Meza. Lister states
that the DEA Special Agent returned him to jail, but later offered to give him
protection from the Colombians. Lister states that he declined the DEA Special
- Lister asserts that he has never told anyone that he worked for or with
CIA. He claims that the "Dark Alliance" series is "ridiculous,"
and says he does not believe the claim that Blandon was financing the Contras or
that CIA was involved. Lister states that all the rumors about his connection
to CIA are "mist and fog" perpetuated by San Jose Mercury News
reporter Gary Webb and members of Congress. Lister admits that people may have
received the impression that he was connected with CIA and that such
misconceptions did not hurt his security business, but this was not his
intention. Lister also states that he was never asked by anyone claiming to be
connected with CIA to provide any support for the Contras or to smuggle cocaine
on behalf of the Contras or CIA.
- Other Individual Statements. Deputy to the
United States Attorney for Special Prosecutions Amalia L. Meza, Southern
District of California, states that she was formerly assigned to the Narcotics
Section in the United States Attorney's Office. Meza recalls that she
prosecuted Lister in 1989 in connection with a "buy-bust" scenario in
which Lister attempted to sell approximately five to six kilograms of cocaine.
Meza recalls that Lister agreed to cooperate with Narcotics Task Force agents
and provided information regarding the source of his cocaine. Shortly
thereafter, the DEA Special Agent advised Meza that he was interested in talking
to Lister about a cocaine smuggling organization led by Blandon. While Lister
was still in custody, Meza approached his attorney about enlisting Lister's
cooperation in the Blandon investigation.
- Meza states that Lister's attorney, Lynn Ball, indicated he would check
with Lister to see whether Lister was interested in assisting the U.S.
Government with the Blandon investigation. According to Meza, Ball indicated
that Lister was going to have to check with "the Agency" first to see
if he could provide information regarding the Blandon organization. Ball later
indicated that Lister had been given "clearance" to cooperate. Meza
and the DEA Special Agent say they assumed Lister was referring to CIA, but did
not ask. Lister entered into a plea agreement that could reduce his sentence
based on future cooperation.
- Meza further recalls that the DEA Special Agent requested that Meza
facilitate Lister's release from custody so he might assist the DEA Special
Agent in the Blandon investigation. A warrant for Lister's arrest had been
issued in connection with a state narcotics action in Orange County. Meza says
she and the DEA Special Agent met with Orange County Deputy District Attorney
Craig Robison to request that the arrest warrant be withdrawn so that Lister
could be released from custody and provide assistance to DEA. Robison was very
angry with Lister and explained that Lister had "conned" Robison into
arranging Lister's release ostensibly to work on cases, but then had been
arrested in San Diego. Robison warned Meza and the DEA Special Agent that
Lister would do the same to them, but agreed nonetheless to work with the Meza
and the DEA Special Agent in getting Lister released. The DEA Special Agent
assured Robison that he would closely monitor Lister. Thereafter, Lister was
released on a personal appearance bond that restricted his travel to California
and required him to stay in close contact with DEA.
- Meza recalls that Lister alluded to CIA during debriefings, but no one
from the investigative team pursued that subject. The focus of the U.S.
Attorney's investigation was on cocaine smuggling. Meza says she never
questioned Lister about, nor allowed him to discuss, any involvement of CIA or
any other U.S. Government agency during these debriefings.
- Meza recalls that the DEA Special Agent learned in June 1991 that
Lister was engaged in laundering drug money for Colombians and had failed to
return $500,000 to them. According to Meza, this information was corroborated
and the Colombians wanted their money back, but Lister had told them he could
not return it yet because it was "with the CIA." Reportedly, this did
not assuage the Colombians, and the Colombians had put out a murder contract on
- Meza says DEA decided to terminate its relationship with Lister
immediately, and arrest and search warrants were obtained. Lister was arrested
upon his return to the United States and admitted to the DEA Special Agent that
he had been to Mexico in violation of his bail conditions. Meza proceeded with
the sentencing for Lister relating to the "buy-bust" case, and the
U.S. Government no longer allowed Lister to cooperate or provide any information
regarding the Blandon organization. There were no further meetings with Lister,
and Meza refused to request a reduction in sentence based upon Lister's
- Meza states that she also ceased working on the Blandon narcotics
investigation at that time. Meza states that she did not halt her investigation
of Blandon due to any CIA or governmental interference and no pressure was
received from anyone or any agency to discontinue the Blandon investigation.
She states that at no time did anyone from CIA contact her about Lister or the
Blandon organization. Meza terminated her cooperative relationship with Lister
solely because he proved to be untrustworthy and unreliable as a source of
information. Meanwhile, Assistant U.S. Attorney L. J. O'Neale
continued developing his money laundering investigation of Blandon, an
investigation that had other reliable and credible witnesses. It was this
investigation that led to Blandon's arrest and ultimate incarceration.
- Craig Robison, a former Orange County Deputy District Attorney who is
now a municipal judge, recalls that Lister was arrested in 1988 by Costa Mesa,
California police after selling approximately one kilogram of cocaine to an
undercover officer. Robison states that Lister came to the attention of the
Costa Mesa Police Department because Lister told a local prostitute that he was
a drug dealer. The prostitute was an informant for the police and turned Lister
in to narcotics officers.
- Robison, who is also a former police officer, recalls that Lister was a
former Laguna Beach police officer. At the time of Lister's arrest, Robison
handled narcotics cases exclusively and began working with local detectives who
requested that Lister be released to work as their informant. Robison recalls
that Lister was released on personal recognizance and helped the Costa Mesa
Police Department set up a 10 kilogram cocaine and marijuana bust that targeted
a local real estate agent and a former local judge. Robison also believes
Lister aided the San Francisco FBI Field Office in a narcotics case there, but
he does not recall any of the specifics. Robison also recalls members of the
Costa Mesa Police Department saying something to the effect that Lister was
telling people that he "worked with the CIA."
- Robison recalls meeting with Meza concerning her request to use Lister
as an informant in one of her investigations. Robison has no independent
recollection that the investigation was targeted against Blandon, but is aware
of this now as a result of media reports. Robison states he met with Meza and a
federal agent--probably a DEA Special Agent--and agreed to have Lister's
original arrest warrant for his one kilogram sale of cocaine to the local
undercover officer withdrawn so he could cooperate with Meza. Robison says he
warned Meza and the agent that Lister "was trouble and had provided false
information" to the Costa Mesa Police Department. Robison states that Meza
and the federal agent understood this but chose to use Lister nonetheless.
- Robison states that he purposely had little contact with informants,
but recalls Lister as a former police officer and "a pretty disgusting guy."
Robison does not take Lister's claims of a CIA connection seriously and states
that he was never approached by anyone claiming to be a representative of CIA
with any request to stop any investigation of Lister.
- Individual Statements: Ruppert. Michael Ruppert, a
former Los Angeles Police (LAPD) officer, was interviewed by telephone after he
attended former DCI Deutch's appearance at a Los Angeles "Town Hall"
meeting on November 15, 1996 to address the issues raised by the San Jose
Mercury News "Dark Alliance" series of articles. During DCI
Deutch's appearance, Ruppert claimed that he had evidence of CIA participation
in drug trafficking.
- Ruppert states that he was an LAPD officer from 1973 to 1978, and
alleges that he was forced to leave the LAPD after he uncovered a connection
between the CIA and narcotics traffickers operating in California and Louisiana.
Ruppert also claims that this connection involved elements of the organized
crime underworld. Ruppert also states that he is aware of "mob"
participation in the Bobby Kennedy assassination. According to Ruppert, he
learned of the CIA/narcotics connection from his former girlfriend, Theodora
D'Orsay, who Ruppert states also worked for CIA.
- Ruppert states that he has never met Juan Norwin Meneses, Oscar Danilo
Blandon, or Ricky Ross, but says he has met Ross' attorney, Alan Fenster.
Ruppert says that he comes from a "CIA family" and is aware of a
connection between Meneses, Julio Zavala and "The Frogman Case."
Ruppert states, however, that his only source of information concerning that
case and a Meneses/Zavala connection has come from media sources. Ruppert also
states that he has been a close friend of former DEA Special Agent Celerino
Castillo since 1993 and that Castillo has given him additional, unspecified,
- Ruppert claims that he was first approached to join CIA in 1973 while
he was a senior at the University of California, Los Angeles. Ruppert states he
was brought to Washington, D.C. and met with a CIA recruiter at the Old
Executive Office Building. The recruiter allegedly told him that CIA wanted
Ruppert to join the Agency and be "sheep dipped" back to the LAPD.
Ruppert has no specific information regarding what duties a "sheep dipped"
CIA employee would perform with the LAPD nor is he able to define that term.
Ruppert states that he declined the recruiter's offer. Ruppert states that he
is aware of another LAPD officer who was "sheep dipped" by the CIA and
placed undercover in a Mexican weapons factory. Ruppert states that this
officer was placed in the factory to support the Contras.
- Ruppert also states that he is aware of involvement in narcotics
trafficking on the part of former President George Bush. Ruppert claims that
then-Vice President Bush was the head of "Operation Amadeus," or "Operation
Amadeous." Ruppert has no specific details regarding this operation, but
claims that he met with an unidentified aide to Vice President Bush on October
26, 1981 to discuss CIA involvement in a drug smuggling operation which involved
the former Shah of Iran and the Iraqi Government. Ruppert states that the
operation involved an effort to fund the Iraqi Kurds through narcotics
- No information has been found to indicate that Michael Ruppert has ever
had any relationship or contact with CIA. Additionally, no information has been
found to indicate that Ruppert had any connection with the Contras. No
information has been found to indicate that CIA was involved in "Operation
Amadeus" or "Operation Amadeous" or that an operation such as
that described by Ruppert was ever considered or conducted by CIA. No
information has been found to indicate that there was any "sheep dipping"
program--presumably, use of LAPD as cover for CIA officers--involving CIA and
the LAPD. No information has been found to indicate that Ruppert's former
girlfriend, Theodora D'Orsay, has had any relationship or contact with CIA.
- Did CIA have any relationship or dealings with Ross, Blandon or
Meneses? No information has been found to indicate that any past or present
employee of CIA, or anyone acting on behalf of CIA, had any direct or indirect
dealing with Ricky Ross, Oscar Danilo Blandon or Juan Norwin Meneses.
Additionally, no information has been found to indicate that CIA had any
relationship or contact with Ronald J. Lister or David Scott Weekly. No
information has been found to indicate that any of these individuals was ever
employed by CIA, or met by CIA employees or anyone acting on CIA's behalf.
Was the drug trafficking of Ross, Blandon or Meneses linked to CIA
or Contra activities?
- Individual Statements: Ross. Ross states that he began dealing
powdered cocaine in 1979 or 1980 and was introduced to the cocaine trade by one
of his former vocational school teachers. Ross also says he learned to "cook"
powdered cocaine into crack cocaine from another Los Angeles acquaintance
sometime in 1981. Ross recalls that, prior to his introduction to Danilo
Blandon, "I had the market in [Los Angeles]. I was the largest cocaine
supplier at the time." He says that by 1981, he had access to and could
sell "pound" quantities of cocaine. He says that his suppliers at the
time were cocaine dealers Henry Corrales and Ivan Torres and that he was larger
than any other Los Angeles cocaine dealer that he knew of in the 1982 time
frame. "I knew this because it was my business strategy to know my
competitors and stay on good terms with them," Ross says.
- Ross states that he met Blandon through Corrales in mid-late 1983 and
began by buying ounce quantities of powdered cocaine from Blandon. Ross
estimates that his business had grown so much by 1984 that he was purchasing
approximately 100 kilograms of cocaine each week from Blandon. Ross further
states that at the same time he was buying cocaine from Blandon, he bought
between 40 and 100 kilograms a week from Ivan Torres. By 1984, he says, all of
his customers wanted crack instead of powder. Selling crack from "rock
houses" was his biggest money maker. He says he had six or seven such
houses in South Central Los Angeles that were used exclusively for this purpose.
- Ross estimates that, at the height of his business in 1985, he was buying
and reselling up to 700 kilograms of cocaine a month and was making between $1
to 2 million a day from cocaine sales. Ross states that he continued to obtain
his cocaine from Blandon until 1988 or 1989 when he claims to have stopped
dealing in drugs. Ross states that, during his time in the cocaine trade
(1979-1989), he sold cocaine in Ohio, Florida, Missouri, Texas, Washington
State, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, as well as California.
- Ross states that he did not know many of Blandon's cocaine suppliers and
did not know how Blandon imported cocaine from overseas into the United States.
Ross states he did know that Blandon dealt with a Colombian who was nick-named "Fluco"
[sic] and another man named "Tony" from New York. Ross never
learned Fluco's or Tony's real or full names or the narcotics organizations with
which they were associated. Ross also states that he never personally met
Norwin Meneses or Ronald Lister.
- Ross states that Blandon often spoke of Nicaragua, but never mentioned
the Contras, CIA or any effort to give money to the Contras. Ross
states that Blandon only spoke to him about the possibility of investing in a
business idea of Blandon's to export legitimate U.S. merchandise to Nicaragua.
Ross states that Blandon also attempted to get him to invest in other legitimate
business ventures at various times.
- Ross states that, while Blandon was still living in California, Ross
bought several handguns, as well as semi- and fully-automatic machine guns and
pistols--including Uzis, Mac 10s, Thompson submachine guns, and AK-47 assault
rifles--from Blandon. Ross states that he and other members of his 30-person
drug organization stored weapons in an unregistered automobile that was later
impounded by one of the local California police departments. Ross states that
Blandon only supplied him with weapons and that he had his own source for
- Ross states that he believes that the San Jose Mercury News series
"Dark Alliance" is true and that CIA was involved with Blandon. Ross
states that this belief is based solely on what he has learned from the media
and what he and his attorney, Alan Fenster, have been told by San Jose
Mercury News reporter, Gary Webb. Ross states that Webb provided
information about the allegations of CIA involvement in drug trafficking to him
and Fenster and told Fenster what questions to ask witnesses at Ross' trial.
But for Webb, says Ross, he and his attorney would have had no information
regarding the CIA and Contra allegations. However, Ross states, "I
was a small fish compared to Blandon . . . . It just makes sense to me that
[Blandon] is CIA because of the great deal Blandon got from the prosecutors."
- Individual Statements: Blandon. Blandon says he left
Nicaragua in June 1979 following the overthrow of Anastasio Somoza, and
resettled in the United States, initially in Miami, later in Los Angeles. He
recalls that he sold used cars before becoming involved in the cocaine trade.
- Blandon states that he first met Norwin Meneses in 1981 through a mutual
friend from Nicaragua. Although Blandon states he knew the family name and was
aware that Meneses had a reputation as a "Nicaraguan Mafia type," he
also states that he did not know Meneses was a cocaine trafficker in the United
States when they were introduced. A short time after their introduction,
however, Meneses offered to "help" Blandon by giving him cocaine to
sell. Blandon states that Meneses provided him with two kilograms of powdered
cocaine at no cost on the understanding that each cost $60,000 and that
repayment would be made out of the sales profit. Blandon sold this cocaine to
co-workers at the used car dealership where he worked and paid Meneses.
- Blandon recalls that he made approximately $40,000 in profits from the
cocaine trade in 1981 and 1982. Blandon states that he and Meneses stopped
working together in the cocaine trade sometime in 1983 after a dispute.
- Blandon states that he first became involved with black drug dealers
from South Central Los Angeles in 1984, and that he was introduced to Ross by
another drug trafficker sometime that year. However, he says he did not sell
any cocaine to Ross until about 1985. Blandon states that he continuously
supplied Ross with cocaine for only two years, 1985 and 1986.
- Blandon recalls that his first deal with Ross was for 12 kilograms of
cocaine, after which Blandon supplied Ross with two to three kilograms a day.
To simplify the logistics of supplying Ross, Blandon later gave Ross
25, or occasionally 50, kilograms at a time. Blandon denies--as is claimed by
Ross--that he provided Ross as much as 100 kilograms weekly.
- Blandon acknowledges supplying Ross with guns. Blandon says he
purchased them from Lister, but denies that he sold Ross large quantities of
weapons or any type of gun that could not be purchased at a local sports or gun
shop. Blandon says he did not have access to military weapons and did not
supply such weapons to Ross.
- At some point in 1985, Blandon recalls, he began dealing with a drug
dealer named Aparicio Moreno. Blandon was introduced to Moreno by Meneses.
Blandon says he worked with Moreno until 1987 and was involved in at least one
one-ton delivery that was delivered by air via Oklahoma. Blandon recalls that
he and his associates thought "the plane might be connected to the CIA
because someone had placed a small FDN sticker somewhere on the airplane. This
was just a rumor though."
- Shortly after his arrival in Los Angeles, Blandon says he met and began
socializing with 20 or so other Nicaraguan expatriates. Blandon states that the
group met weekly to talk about developments in Nicaragua and that the other
members of this group also opposed Somoza and the Sandinista regime.
recalls that the group was a loose affiliation with no formal structure,
officers, or membership requirements, etc. Blandon states that the Nicaraguan
expatriates simply came together to share common experiences and discuss their
mutual desires to see the Sandinista Government out of Nicaragua. Blandon
states that this group of "California Contra sympathizers" held no
position whatsoever in the official FDN military or civilian leadership in
Honduras. Blandon states that, sometime in 1981, the group, like many others
around the country, was visited by Colonel Enrique Bermudez, who was then the
military leader of the FDN. Blandon states that Bermudez came to a meeting of
the group to give a "pep talk" and to ask that the group keep the idea
of a free and democratic Nicaragua alive by publicizing the Contra cause in the
- Blandon states that Bermudez asked the group at this meeting to adopt
the colors and flag of the FDN. From that time on, Blandon and the other
members of the group called themselves FDN and used the FDN's colors, flag and
letter-head. Blandon states, however, that at no time during this or subsequent
meetings did Bermudez ask Blandon or the "California sympathizers" to
raise funds by trafficking in drugs.
- Blandon recalls that he gave several thousand dollars --he was unable
to furnish an exact amount--to the California-based Contra sympathizers in
1981-82. Blandon states that he never told anyone in the group that the money
came from drug trafficking, but rather gave the impression that the money was
derived from his legitimate business activities. Blandon states that this money
was used to support the operating expenses--plane tickets, rent, office
supplies, etc.--of the California sympathizers and that none of this money went
to support Contra operations in Central America.
- Blandon states that, while both he and Meneses continued to attend
meetings of the California sympathizers, they also continued their cocaine
business. He and Meneses traveled to Bolivia in 1982 to make a drug deal, and
stopped en route in Honduras to see some of Blandon's family friends. It was
during this stop in Honduras, Blandon states, that he and Meneses met Bermudez
for the second time.
- According to Blandon, Bermudez told them of the trouble FDN was having
in raising funds and obtaining equipment and asked him and Meneses to help,
stating that "the ends justify the means." Blandon states
that Bermudez never asked either of the men to raise money through drug
trafficking and states his belief that Bermudez was not even aware that he and
Meneses were already in the drug business. Blandon states that Bermudez also
asked whether the two men could assist in the procurement of weapons, but that
neither followed through in helping to obtain weapons for the Contras.
- Blandon states that, after this meeting, both he and Meneses were
escorted to Tegucigalpa airport by armed Contras. Unbeknownst to Bermudez and
the Contras, Blandon says he was carrying $100,000 in drug proceeds to be used
in the Bolivian drug deal. In the process of departing the airport, Blandon was
stopped and detained by Honduran officials. Blandon states that his Contra
escorts, seeing that Blandon had been detained with money, assumed that Blandon
had been given the funds by Bermudez to purchase arms for the Contras. As a
result, the Contras interceded on Blandon's behalf, effected the return of the
money and secured Blandon's release.
- In securing his release, Blandon recalls, the Contra escorts told the
Honduran airport authorities that Blandon and Meneses were Contras. Blandon
states he was allowed to leave the next morning and that he then joined Meneses,
who had not been detained and who had been allowed to travel to Guatemala.
According to Blandon, the intercession of the Contra escorts was fortuitous.
- Blandon says he can only recall one occasion during his association
with the California Contra sympathizers when he purchased anything of any real
substance with drug profits for the group. Blandon states that on one occasion
he used $2,000 or $3,000 in drug profits to put a down payment on a pickup truck
to be used by FDN military forces. Blandon obtained the truck, filled it with
medical supplies and radios, and turned it over to others to drive to Central
America. He says that the truck was, in fact, later used by the FDN in
Honduras. Blandon states that all of his later donations were in the form of
much smaller amounts over a period of time and that those funds were used for
office supplies for the California group. In total, Blandon estimates that he
gave approximately $40,000 over the entire course of his association with the
California Contra sympathizers.
- Blandon says he does not know the total amount of money that Meneses
gave the California sympathizers. He estimates, however, that Meneses may have
given the group as much as $40,000 from drug profits during 1982-83. These were
not cash donations, Blandon states, but instead involved payment by Meneses of
various operating expenses such as plane tickets and office supplies. Overall,
Blandon characterizes Meneses' role vis-à-vis the California sympathizers
as primarily that of a "personnel recruiter" for the group.
- Blandon recalls that he met Bermudez a third time at some point in
1983. Bermudez reportedly told the California group at that time that the FDN
needed people, not money, because the CIA was providing money.
- Blandon states that his final meeting with Bermudez occurred in 1983 at
a Fort Lauderdale hotel where a "unification summit" of the five top
Contra leaders was held. Blandon says he cannot recall all of the participants,
but recalls that Bermudez and a member of the Chamorro family attended. Blandon
states that he and several other California sympathizers were invited to attend
but did not participate in decisionmaking meetings. Blandon states that he came
away from the summit dissatisfied with the political leanings of the leaders and
thereafter donated no money, from drug profits or other sources, to the FDN.
- Despite this cessation of his support for the FDN, Blandon states, he
did arrange a meeting between Lister and members of the California FDN in 1983
or 1984. Lister had claimed that he could procure weapons and equipment for the
Contras, but it is Blandon's assessment that no one in attendance at the meeting
took Lister seriously and no deals were made. Blandon recalls that, in addition
to the usual attendees, several top Contra leaders were also in attendance,
including Eden Pastora, Adolfo Chamorro, and Mariano Montealegre. Blandon also
says Ivan Torres was present. The attendees showed no interest in Lister's
offer and Blandon received the impression that the military arm of the Contras
was already being supplied by CIA or another U.S. Government agency.
- Although Blandon claims he made no further donations of money to the
California sympathizers after 1983, he recalls having further contacts with
various Contra personalities. However, he characterizes these contacts as being
solely of a personal nature.
- Blandon states that he allowed Eden Pastora, a leader of the Southern
Front Contra movement, to live rent-free in one of his homes in Costa Rica from
approximately 1984 to 1987. Blandon says he could have charged Pastora as much
as $1,000 per month in rent if he had chosen to do so. Blandon states that "Pastora
never asked me to raise money by selling drugs, but Pastora always asked
everyone he came in contact with to help raise money for the Contra cause."
- Further, Blandon recalls that, while living in California in
1985-86, he gave Pastora approximately $9,000 in funds for Pastora's personal
use. Blandon states that these funds were derived from profits from his
legitimate businesses. Blandon also says that he gave Pastora two automobiles
to use in 1986. Blandon adds that, during the 1980s, he never informed Pastora
that he was a drug trafficker and Pastora never asked. Blandon denies
allegations that Pastora asked Blandon to bring him into the drug business.
- Blandon states that he was never approached by any other person,
including any U.S. or foreign government representative or member of any Contra
group or faction, with any request to raise money for the Contras by drug
smuggling or any other means. Blandon denies the allegation in the San Jose
Mercury News that he "raised and funneled millions of dollars to
the Contras by selling crack cocaine in California or anywhere else." The
dollar sums that he says he provided are as follows:
- Blandon estimates that during his entire association with the California
Contra sympathizers he donated approximately $40,000. He states that this money
was used for the purchase of supplies and vehicles. Of this sum, Blandon
estimates that approximately 70-80 percent derived from his drug business.
- Blandon estimates that the total monetary assistance he provided to
Pastora was approximately $30,000. Blandon states that this amount includes the
estimated value of the housing in Costa Rica that he provided Pastora rent free,
both during and after the Contra conflict.
- Individual Statements: Lister. Lister recalls that Blandon
and Meneses would occasionally speak about the Contras and their desire
for a Contra victory. He says that Blandon made statements about his desire to
help the Contras, but "the money always went back into our pockets."
Lister also characterizes Blandon's statements concerning his desire to help the
Contras as "beer talk," rather than a serious organized effort.
Lister states that he would be very surprised if any significant amount of
Blandon's money went to the Contras because "we were drug dealers.
We did it to make money for ourselves."
- Lister does recall that Blandon asked Lister in the 1982-83 timeframe
to help him buy weapons, some of which Blandon claimed were going to "my
friends down South." Lister states that Blandon did not specify whether
this referred to the Contras or his Southern California drug customers.
Lister states that he and two colleagues supplied one or two guns monthly to
Blandon, but he says that he does not know what Blandon did with the weapons.
- Lister also recalls that he traveled to Florida sometime in 1982 or
1983 and met with a Contra member named "Dr. Sabario" in an effort to
sell "military supplies" to the Contras. Lister states that this
meeting did not involve Blandon and that, in the end, the Contras never made any
purchase of supplies through him.
- Individual Statements: Pastora. Pastora denies that he was
involved in any effort to raise money for the ARDE by trafficking in drugs.
Pastora states that he received money from several persons who later were
arrested for, or convicted of, drug trafficking. Pastora states, however, that
he did not learn that any of the donations he received were from narcotics
trafficking until after those involved had been arrested.
- Pastora acknowledges that, while he led the Southern Front forces, he
received funds and the use of a C-47 cargo aircraft, as well as another smaller
aircraft, which had been donated by narcotics trafficker Jorge Morales. Pastora
states that he was not aware of Morales' drug trafficking activities until
October 1984. Pastora states he canceled the cooperation deal in
early January 1985 when he realized the potential political fallout from dealing
with a narcotics trafficker. Pastora says he ordered the planes
donated by Morales be returned when he learned Morales was a drug trafficker.
- Pastora states that, in addition to the aircraft provided by Morales,
he also received approximately $40,000 from Morales for various expenses.
Pastora states that he also received approximately $20,000 from a Cuban, whose
name Pastora could not recall, who was later charged with drug trafficking. In
addition, Pastora received approximately $40,000 and the use of two helicopters
from Leo Fernandez, another Cuban living in the United States. Pastora states
that former Panamanian General Manuel Noriega gave him approximately $25,000
over the course of Pastora's visits to Panama.
- Concerning Blandon, Pastora states that he was given two used pickup
trucks by Blandon whose value Pastora placed at approximately $1,500 each.
Pastora states that "it cost me more to get the trucks to Costa Rica than
they were worth." Pastora states that Blandon also gave him approximately
$6,000 and allowed Pastora to live rent-free in one of Blandon's houses.
- Individual Statements: Meneses. Norwin Meneses claims that he
was falsely implicated in the cocaine trade by pro-Sandinista elements of the
Nicaraguan Government and by fellow Nicaraguan and convicted drug trafficker
Enrique Miranda Jaimie. Despite his conviction in Nicaragua, Meneses denies
that he was ever involved in cocaine trafficking in the United States or
- Meneses denies that he ever raised money for the FDN or any other
Contra organization by smuggling cocaine and diverting the profits to the
Contras. In fact, Meneses denies that he was a fund-raiser for the California
sympathizers and estimates that he gave the California FDN at most approximately
$3,000 between 1982 and 1984. Meneses states that the funds were always in
small amounts--$50 or $100 at a time--and were provided to pay local operating
costs of the group.
- Meneses states that he was never asked by Adolfo Calero, Enrique
Bermudez, or any other member of the Contras to raise funds through drug
smuggling. Meneses states that he and other sympathizers were well aware that "Bermudez
was very strict and did not want anyone involved in drugs to be involved in the
[Contra] movement." In addition, Meneses states that he is not
aware of any other Contra members or sympathizers who were involved in drug
trafficking for personal profit or as a method of raising funds for the
- Meneses states that, between 1983 and 1984, his primary role with the
California sympathizers was to help recruit personnel for the movement. Meneses
says he was asked by Bermudez to attempt to recruit Nicaraguans in exile and
others who were supporters of the Contra movement. Meneses has no recollection,
however, of the number of people that he may have recruited for the FDN.
- Meneses states that he was not directed to recruit people with any
specific skills--such as pilots or doctors, but was simply told to seek out
anyone who wanted to join with the FDN. Meneses states that he was also a
member of an FDN fund-raising committee, but was not the committee's head.
Meneses states he did not raise "any significant amount of money" for
the Contras during his association. Meneses adds that he was involved in 1985
in attempting to obtain "material support, medical and general supplies"
for the Contra movement.
- Meneses states that he recalls Blandon telling him that he gave funds
to the Contras, but Meneses says he does not know how much Blandon gave or the
source of Blandon's funds. Meneses states that "Blandon tended to
exaggerate his importance to people and may have inflated the amount of money he
gave to the Contra movement in order to make himself appear more important."
- Individual Statements: Luis Meneses. Arrested along
with Norwin Meneses in November 1991 on narcotics trafficking charges was his
older half-brother, Luis Enrique Meneses. Luis Meneses says he was a member of
the military arm of the FDN and fought in the field with Bermudez and FDN
forces. He states that he has no knowledge of anyone in the FDN leadership, the
FDN rank and file, or officials of the U.S. Government being involved in cocaine
- Luis Meneses states that he has no knowledge that his brother, Norwin
Meneses, or Blandon ever donated any money or equipment to any Contra group.
Meneses states he is only aware that his brother Norwin helped the Contras by
recruiting personnel from the Nicaraguan community in the United States. Luis
Meneses says that his brother told him that he never gave any money to the
- Individual Statements: Miranda. Miranda was arrested along
with the Meneses brothers in 1991. He says that Norwin Meneses told him that
Meneses' drugs were shipped from Colombia to public airfields he could not
identify in Costa Rica. There, the drugs were transferred to cargo aircraft
that then flew on to the United States. He says the aircraft were in Costa Rica
and were empty because they had been used to transport arms from the United
States to the Contras.
- Miranda says Norwin Meneses also told him that Salvadoran military
aircraft would transport arms from the United States to the Contras and would
return carrying drugs to an airfield near Ft. Worth, Texas. Miranda says
Meneses allowed him to witness one shipment arriving near Ft. Worth. He says
that, when the aircraft arrived, maintenance people took the drugs and gave them
to Meneses' people who placed them in vans. Miranda says Norwin Meneses told
him in later years that he ceased selling drugs for the Contras in 1985 when he
moved to Costa Rica.
- Individual Statements: Renato Pena. Renato Pena Cabrera is a
convicted drug trafficker who says that he associated with Norwin Meneses and
claims to have participated in Contra-related activities in the United States
from 1982-1984. No information has been found to indicate
that CIA had a relationship or contact with Pena or that he was of operational
interest to CIA.
- Pena says he met Norwin Meneses in 1982 at a San Francisco meeting of
the FDN, for which he served as an official, but unpaid, representative of the
political wing in northern California from the end of 1982 until mid-1984. Pena
says he and Meneses met through Meneses' nephew Jairo, who was in charge of
Norwin Meneses' drug network in the San Francisco area. Pena says Norwin
Meneses had Contra-related dealings with FDN official Enrique Bermudez.
Pena says that, when he was removed from his FDN position in mid-1984--possibly
because Contra officials suspected him of drug trafficking--he was appointed to
be the "military representative to the FDN in San Francisco," in part
because of Norwin Meneses' close relationship with Bermudez.
- Pena says he made from six to eight trips from San Francisco to Los
Angeles between 1982 and 1984 for Meneses' drug-trafficking organization. Each
time, he says he carried anywhere from $600,000 to $1,000,000 to Los Angeles and
returned to San Francisco with six to eight kilograms of cocaine.
Pena says that a Colombian associate of Meneses' 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.
- CIA Records. An October 22, 1982 cable from a DO/Domestic
Collection Division (DCD) Station reported that a U.S. law enforcement entity
had reported that:
. . . there are indications of links between [a U.S. religious
organization] and two Nicaraguan counter-revolutionary groups . . . . These
links involve an exchange in [the United States] of narcotics for arms.
In addition, the cable said there was to be a meeting among the participants
in Costa Rica regarding this exchange. According to the cable, the U.S. law
enforcement entity also was in contact with another U.S. law enforcement entity
regarding this matter. On October 27, 1982, Headquarters advised the
DCD Station by cable that there was further interest in the report if the
allegations "have some basis in fact" and asked the DCD Station to
recontact the U.S. law enforcement entity for additional information.
- After further consultation with the U.S. law enforcement entity that
had provided the report, the DCD Station reported to Headquarters in a November
3, 1982 cable that it had learned that the attendees at the meeting would
include representatives from the FDN and UDN, and several unidentified U.S.
citizens. The cable identified Renato Pena as one of four persons--along with
three unidentified U.S. citizens--who would represent the FDN at the Costa Rica
- In the November 3, 1982 cable, the DCD Station Chief expressed concern
regarding further CIA involvement in this matter because of the apparent
participation of U.S. citizens. On November 13, 1982, Headquarters replied that
"in light of the apparent involvement of U.S. persons throughout, agree you
should not pursue the matter further."
- No information has been found to indicate whether the meeting took
place. However, a November 17, 1982 Headquarters cable to an LA Division
Station discussed the alleged meeting and stated:
It is [Headquarters'] opinion that much of information . . . 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 [U.S.
religious organization]). We see a distinct possibility that the [the U.S. law
enforcement entity] 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 of [LA Division Station'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].
In its November 18, 1982 response to Headquarters, the LA Division Station
reported that it was aware that several Contra officials had recently gone to
the United States for a series of meetings, including a meeting with Contra
supporters in San Francisco, but the Station had no further information to offer.
- Pena says the U.S. religious organization that had been named by the
U.S. law enforcement entity 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. He also
says his Contra-related activities 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.
- Was the drug trafficking of Ross, Blandon or Meneses linked to CIA
or Contra activities? No information has been found to indicate that Ross
provided any money to any Contra group at any time, or that he had any contact
or connection to the Contras or CIA.
- No information has been found to indicate that the drug trafficking
activities of Blandon and Meneses were motivated by any commitment to support
the Contra cause or Contra activities undertaken by CIA.
- Blandon and Meneses claim that they each donated between $3,000 and
$40,000 to Contra sympathizers in Los Angeles. No information has been found to
substantiate these claims. Moreover, no information has been found to indicate
that Meneses or Blandon received any CIA or Contra support for their drug
- Blandon did have a personal relationship with Eden Pastora and provided
him with financial assistance in the form of rent-free housing and two vehicles.
Much of this assistance was provided to Pastora after he left the Contra
- CIA Records: No information has been found to indicate that CIA
was involved in any way on Blandon's, Ross' or Meneses' behalf in any
prosecution or investigation of their illegal activities.
- Individual Statements: Ross. Ross says he suspects that CIA was
involved with Blandon. This suspicion is based solely on Ross' assumption that
Blandon should have received a longer prison sentence after being convicted of
drug trafficking in 1994 and that some sort of U.S. Government intervention in
the judicial process must have occurred to favor Blandon. Ross acknowledges he
has no other documentary or personal information to support his suspicion of a
CIA connection to Blandon.
- Individual Statements: Blandon. Blandon states that no one from
CIA or any other U.S. Government agency warned him of the October 1986 search of
his residence by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD). Blandon
says that he suspected there would be searches after FBI agents interviewed one
of his employees and that this caused him to ensure that his house contained no
drugs or other evidence of his unlawful activities.
- Blandon also disputes the numerous press accounts alleging that his
defense attorney made any statements to the LASD to the effect that the CIA
would "wink at this kind of stuff." Blandon does not know the source
of this story, but states that he had no contact with CIA and never told his
lawyer there was such a connection. Thus, he doubts that his defense attorney
made such a statement.
- Other Statements. A member of the LASD who headed the task force
that investigated Lister and Blandon states that he is aware of no statements by
Blandon's defense attorney regarding CIA. Further, the LASD officer says that
neither he nor any member of his team received any pressure from CIA or other
federal agency to "back off" from the investigation of Blandon and
Lister. He adds that he has seen the press reporting concerning missing
evidence allegedly taken by "unnamed federal agents who swooped down and
took it away," but that he is aware of no evidence that ever disappeared or
any federal agents who took any such evidence.
- Did CIA intervene or otherwise play a role in any investigative and
judicial processes involving the drug trafficking activities of Ross, Blandon or
Meneses? No information has been found to indicate that CIA hindered, or
otherwise intervened in, the investigation, arrest, prosecution, or conviction
of Ross, Blandon or Meneses. CIA shared what information it had--specifically
on Meneses' 1979 drug trafficking in Nicaragua--with U.S. law enforcement
entities when it was received and again when subsequently requested by the FBI.