Nov 17, 1984

Ignoring the right-wing link to the narcotics trade | by Jerry Meldon | Published in The Boston Globe, November 17, 1984


Echoing the late, discredited Narcotics Bureau chief Henry Anslinger, conservatives on the trail of drug traffickers have been shouting Red. Oblivious to the narcotics trade that finances right-wing extremists – like the eight nabbed by the FBI earlier this month in a plot to assassinate the president of Honduras – the Republicans in their campaign platform asserted:

            “Communist dictators – Cuba, the Soviet Union, Bulgaria and now the Sandinistas in Nicaragua – are international pushers, selling slow death to young Americans in an effort to undermine our free society.”

            In the 1960s, Anslinger’s bete noire was Communist China. When he retired, the Narcotics Bureau repudiated Anslinger with a report that China had wiped out the illicit production of opium (from which morphine and heroin are derived) by the mid-1950s. A bureau agent told Al McCoy, the author of “The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia,” that “Anslinger … always said the same thing – the [Communist Chinese] are flooding the world with dope to corrupt the youth of America. … There was no evidence for Anslinger’s accusations, but that never stopped him.”

            Today’s Republicans are certainly not getting their information from the Drug Enforcement Administration, or its director, Francis Mullen. In September, Mullen and other DEA officials told the New York Times there was no concrete evidence linking the Soviets to the drug trade, or Communist-run governments to more than a trickle in the narcotics flood.

            No, the Republicans seem to be quoting such conservative journalists as Michael Ledeen. In a Times article last spring, Ledeen asked: “Are [the Sandinistas] within their rights when they organize a vast drug and arms-smuggling network to finance their terrorists and guerrillas, flooding our country with narcotics?”

            Preoccupied with this perceived Communist conspiracy, journalists on the right seem unaware of the escapades of the right-wing terrorist/traffickers, like those who recently planned to overthrow the Honduran government with the help of 760 pounds of cocaine.

            Then there is the case of Eduardo Arocena, head of the Anti-Castro Cuban exile terrorist group “Omega 7.” On Nov. 9, Arocena was sentenced in New York City to life plus 35 years for a decade of bombing Cuban embassies and ordering the assassination of a Cuban diplomat. He has also been charged with arranging contract murders for drug dealers. Such experience must have qualified Arocena, as he claimed on the witness stand, to assist “intelligence” groups in Central America investigating Communist involvement in drugs coming out of Cuba.

            Stefano Delle Chiaie has also lived in a conservative blind spot. Known by the nickname “Il Caccola” (Shorty), Delle Chiaie is an intriguing right-wing terrorist because he masterminded the August 1980 bombing of the main railway station in Bologna, Italy.

            The Bologna bombing left 85 dead and 185 maimed. It drove Il Caccola and his neo-Nazi cohort, Jochen Fiebelkorn, to Bolivia. There the two joined the “Bridegrooms of Death,” a paramilitary death squad under the aegis of Gestapo war criminal Klaus Barbie, “the Butcher of Lyons,” formerly of US intelligence. The gang doubled as a goon squad for the Bolivian military dictators and as enforces for cocaine billionaire Roberto Suarez.

            In 1982 democracy returned to Bolivia. Barbie was extradited to France, and the authorities raided the Bridegroom headquarters. But Il Caccola, apparently tipped off, was out, and Fiebelkorn had turned himself in when a warrant for his arrest was issued in Bologna.

            Fiebelkorn did not surrender to the Italians, who sought him for the train station massacre. He went instead to West German authorities, who indicted him on narcotics charges. That led the tale to its most bizarre twist. On trial that spring in Hamburg, Fiebelkorn revealed that while a Bridegroom in Bolivia, he was a paid agent of the US Drug Enforcement Administration – until 1981, when the DEA, told of the Bologna blast, farmed him out to West German intelligence.

            Unbeknown to the Republican Party platform committee, the narcotics business transpires in a netherworld habituated by extremists of all shades, financing nefarious activities with tiny cuts of an annual take in excess of $100 billion.

            Conservatives would have us believe the Reds alone are drugging us. To convince us, they must distort the truth.