This is a transcript from the 2009 Coalition on Political Assassinations Conference. Douglas Valentine, author of Strength of the Pack discusses the nexus of CIA drug trafficking and the JFK Assassination. Original video of the talk can be found on COPA's ustream channel here.
It's certainly ... quite a honor to be able to speak tonight, to such a well informed and curious audience. I hope that what I can say in the next couple of minutes makes something of a difference. I would like to talk today about the impact of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, what I'll call the FBN. What the FBN played in some of the events surrounding the assassination of JFK.
And I'd like to suggest, and try to show how it might have been possible that an assassin might have moved in and out of position in Dallas as part of a drug smuggling network that was protected, to some extent, by the CIA and certain witting FBN agents. And I'd also like to raise the possibility that the assassin could have been a double agent who had penetrated one of the protected networks that made its way into Dallas.
So let me begin by pointing out that spies and drug smugglers and Federal narcotic agents have one thing in common that's very important. They all assume false identities to smuggle illegal items across borders. They are also experts in avoiding and corrupting police and security officers. I'd like to give you a little relevant history, just to set the stage for what I'm going to say.
In America, spies and drug smugglers have worked together as a matter of official but unstated policy since world war two, when the military hired mafioso, all around the country to ferret out Nazi saboteurs along the coastline, as well as to prevent labor strikes along the waterfront.
Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano made the deal with the military, and later in the war the mafia worked with US intelligence in Italy and France and just about every other place around the world. Criminology professor Alan Block, who some of you may be familiar with, has asserted that this so-called "Luciano Project" marked a turning point in America in political history in which professional criminals continued to ply their trade but for new patrons. And those new patrons were America's master spies. People like CIA counterintelligence James Angleton, so this is a very big deal.
But keep in mind that the drug smugglers and that drug smugglers and assassins in the underworld may also be double agents, working for enemy intelligence services, and Angleton certainly always considered this. So I believe and I'll try to show why, some of the secrecy surrounding the JFK assassination has a lot to do with covering up this unholy alliance between America's top drug smugglers, politicians and spies. I'll give you some more history that's relevant to events in Dallas and why I feel this way.
US Government protection of drug traffickers began long before the CIA existed. Starting in 1926, the government secretly protected the drug trafficking Chinese nationalists, because, of course, the nationalists were fighting the communist Chinese. And America always supports anybody who's fighting the communists. In the 1930's and 40's, several very important FBN agents knew that the Chinese Nationalists, that their heroin was entering the US through ports in Galveston, at Tampa, New Orleans, San Francisco and New York, as well as overland from Mexico into Texas. But for many reasons they just stood back and watched. More reasons than I can get into now.
The Mafia got involved in this Chinese Nationalist protected drug network in 1939, just a little bit before the Luciano project started up. When Meyer Lansky sent his confidential agent, Virginia Hill, to Mexico, where she famously seduced a number of top Mexican politicians, army officers, diplomats and police official and brought them into this Mafia-drug network, Virginia Hill bought a nightclub in Nuevo Laredo, and started smuggling heroin into Texas with a woman named Dr. Margaret Chung. Very important, Dr. Chung was a member of the drug smuggling Hip Sing Tong, which was pretty much the outlet for Chinese Nationalist heroin in the United States, and she was also the attending physician to the Flying Tigers, which was the private airline that the government formed to fly supplies to the Chinese Nationalists.
Okay, so the Flying Tigers were the parent of the CIA's drug smuggling airline Air America, which JFK had a lot of problems with. By 1915 the CIA was underwriting both the Chinese Nationalist drug smugglers as well as working with the drug smuggling Mexican intelligence service, the DFS, which professor Peter Dale Scott has written about more recently.
Okay, so witting FBN agents knew that Dr. Chung was trafficking in San Francisco, New Orleans, New York and Chicago, and they watched her for years but they never made an arrest. They looked away, not only because the nationalists were fighting the communists, but because by the 1950's, Federal and local police forces were allowing the Mafia to distribute drugs to the black community in the United States for purposes of political repression. So, you have to always remember, the war on drugs is an instrument of political repression, just like the assassination of John Kennedy can be seen in the context of political repression as well.
And the assassins, who serve the elite, the national security elite who run the country as instruments of political repression, these assassins are often bred In that dark corner of the underworld, where spies and drug smugglers mingle, and I'll tell you a little bit about that. This is where is gets more relevant.
Through the 1950's and 1960's a few witting FBN agents naturally assumed a central role as intermediaries between the CIA and the drug smuggling underworld assassins. One of these FBN agents was Charlie Siragusa, and in 1960, when CIA officer Bill Harvey was looking for someone, later codenamed QJ/WIN, to recruit assassins for the CIA, FBN agent Charlie Siragusa appeared at the top of Bill Harvey's list. Siragusa was an expert on Corsican and Sicilian assassins, and Corsicans were recommended, Harvey said, because Sicilians could lead to the Mafia. Which again brings us to the connections the CIA had with the Mafia through the Luciano Project.
Why would the CIA want to hire Corsicans in order to protect the drug smuggling Mafioso in its employ? That's the question that rises from Harvey wanting Corsicans, and of course the answer that comes to mind is that the CIA was planning assassination in the United States. Corsicans would be less likely to be tracked back to the CIA through the mafioso.
Okay, so the person chose for the QJ/WIN job was a drug smuggler, and QJ/WIN being the recruiter of assassins, and the person chosen for that QJ/WIN job was a drug smuggler who worked for the FBN, in Luxembourg in the 1950's. In 1962, the CIA quashed drug smuggling charges brought against this guy QJ/WIN, so he would be free to arrange the assassination of Patrice Lumumba. So the CIA, by 1962, is using drug smugglers, brought to his attention by the FBN, in political assassinations.
I'll give you another example of how this works. There is evidence to indicate that Harold Meltzer, a big time drug smuggler and a major player in the protected Mexican drug network I mentioned, was probably very likely another assassin the CIA tried to recruit for through the FBN. Back in the 1940's, the FBN knew that Meltzer traveled regularly between Mexico City, Cuba and Hong Kong. And in 1951 FBN agents arrested him and sent him to prison. After he got out of prison, Meltzer settled in Los Angeles, and in November of 1960 someone, almost certainly FBN agent George White, who some of you are probably familiar with, put Meltzer in touch with Johnny Roselli, and in December 1960 the CIA through Roselli asked Meltzer to join an assassination team. So again, another example of the CIA actually using FBN agents to reach out to assassins for some kind of work that ... Nobody, I'm sure, knows all of the assassinations that they conducted, but the facts are there that they're doing this.
Okay, now it's also ... significant, in terms of the Kennedy assassination, that FBN agents George White and Charlie Siragusa both provided cover for the CIA's MKULTRA drug testing program, which had, as one of it's aims, creating push-button assassins, who would possess no memory of their deeds. In the summer of 1960, the CIA directed FBN agent Charlie Siragusa to open an MKULTRA safe house in New York City, and soon after that they asked him to recruit an assassination squad. This is documented fact. The CIA was offering $1,000,000 per hit. The CIA also asked FBN agent Siragusa to set up a detective agency as a front for illegal CIA operations in America. Siragusa said he refused to do either of these things, and that may be true, but certainly other people, people like Guy Banister for example were certainly willing to play along.
I don't know that Banister did exactly, but he seems to me like a person that would have. I should also note that the CIA used these FBN safe houses to get politicians high on drugs, and film them with prostitutes, some who were probably intelligence agents ... A person like Ellen Romstadt comes to mind ... And the CIA also used these MKULTRA safe houses to accommodate it's drug smuggling assets from around the world, from the far east, from Burma, Corsicans ... A lot. These are places where drug smugglers can stay, for free, without anybody knowing they're in the country.
So by 1960, unwitting FBN agents, agents who weren't working for the CIA were increasingly making cases on Corsicans linked to the French intelligence service SDECE, and it's rival the Secret Army Organization, the OAS, as well as the CIA. This too leads up to Dallas. A little known fact is that one Corsican the FBN arrested in 1960 named labor Irving Brown as an accomplice. The unwitting FBN agents found, in their investigation, that Brown was a CIA agent, and that he had port privileges in New York, meaning that his bag was never checked by customs. And they also found out that he frequently traveled with a Corsican drug smuggler named Maurice Castellani.
The CIA notably shut down the FBN's investigation of CIA agent Brown and Castellani who he was traveling with. They certainly knew everything that was going on with these people. Then in 1962, unwitting FBN agents, those not working for the CIA, arrested Castellani's partner, a Corsican smuggler named Francois Scaglia. But Scaglia's controller in this operation, a Frenchman using the alias John Moran escaped, and I cant get into all the details but he never should have. It's almost as if he was allowed to escape. I believe through years and years of research that John Moran very likely was Michel Victor Mertz, a SDECE agent who managed a heroin network between France and New York with Santo Traficanti Jr.
As you all know, the CIA in 1960 hired Traficanti to assassinate Castro, using MKULTRA technology, in part developed by FBN agents working for the CIA. Once Trafficanti, who was probably the biggest drug smuggler in the United States, went to work for the CIA, his drug network was protected. That protection, evidently, carried over to Michel Victor Mertz, as it also did to Irving Brown and Maurice Castellani. This protected Traficanti-Mertz network, drug smuggling network reached Dallas through Traficanti's courier Benny Indiviglio. And again, this is a documented fact, so the question becomes, could, or did the CIA use one of it's protected drug networks to infiltrate and assassin into Dallas. The system was set up, we know there's protected drug networks, we know it hires assassins who are drug smugglers, and they are there. So they could have done it.
And it's also possible that a drug smuggler, a professional drug smuggler and assassin like Mertz could have infiltrated the CIA's protected drug trafficking networks, and use the opportunity to carry out an assassination. In other words the CIA could have been tricked at it's own game. As some of you, or all of you may know, Michel Mertz emerged as a suspect in the assassination in 1964. When the French asked the FBI to investigate reports that ... OAS terrorist Jean Souetre was in Dallas on November 22nd and had been expelled by the INS that very same day. Souetre was questioned, denied the charge and said that Mertz, a SDECE agent who had infiltrated the OSS was impersonating him. The INS agents description somewhat fit Mertz, but no one ever compared that description to any photographs FBN had of the mystery man from 1962, Jay Moran, nor was in compared to any photographs the FBN may have had of Souetre, who allegedly was a drug trafficker as well, and had been followed for years by the FBN in Marseilles.
The CIA was certainly monitoring Souetre and Mertz, so it would be impossible for them, especially counter-intelligence chief Jay Angleton, to confuse the two. It's his job to know who these people are, and what they're doing. But if, as has been alleged, Angleton was a Soviet or Mossad mole, he could have moved an assassin into Dallas using the Brown-Castellani network I mentioned, or the overland route that had been established in 1939, the Nationalist Chinese one that moved from Mexico into Texas overland, or he could have used the Mertz-Traficanti-Indiviglio route into Dallas. All these things are possible. And, through MKULTRA, Angleton, a central figure in all of this could have used Jack Ruby to assassinate the designated patsy, Lee Harvey Oswald. And here again, witting FBN agents who were virtually absent from any investigation that anybody ever did into the assassination, these FBN agents potentially play a critical role. They work for the CIA protecting it's drug smugglers, recruiting it's assassins, and staffing it's MKULTRA safe houses.
The usual suspects are George White and Charlie Siragusa. Both were involved in the Luciano project and worked for the CIA. Both were assassination experts, and both knew Angleton. White notably, and this is just a little more history, met Santo Traficanti Sr. in September 1945, and right after that meeting, Traficanti acquired total control of the Cuba-Tampa drug connection. Three weeks after that meeting George White became the FBN supervisor in Chicago, where at the same time, Guy Banister was a senior FBI agent. In 1946 in Chicago FBN agent George White obtained none other than Jack Ruby as an informant.
The Chicago mob sent Ruby to Dallas in 1947. In the 1950 through, FBN agent White, Jack Ruby briefed the Kefauver Committee about organized crime in Chicago, on the one condition that the committee stay away from Dallas, and the committee went along with that. I believe that White and all the committee members agreed to stay out of Dallas to protect the CIA Nationalist Chinese mafia drug operation out of Mexico, into Texas, at Laredo.
Ruby, and again this is documented fact, was a small part of this protected drug realm. By 1958 the FBN, the part of it that's not connected with the CIA, had established that Ruby's boss Joe Civello ran the heroin business in Dallas. In 1958 the FBN linked Civello to Traficanti and described Civello as Carlos Marcello's deputy in Dallas. And yet the Warren commission found no significant link between Ruby and organized crime ... Again, I believe at least partially, to deflect attention from the CIA's connection to all the drug smuggling that was going on. Again, this is why the FBN, the Bureau of Narcotics is the one element that never gets brought up in the assassination. Nobody wanted it to track back to the CIA protected drug routes and the assassins and all of that stuff.
Obviously there were compartments within the FBN. For example, Murray Brown, the FBN supervisor in Dallas on November 22nd, 1963 said to me that he knew nothing about the mafia in Dallas, and he insisted to me that Ruby was not an FBN informant. Okay. But FBN headquarters in Washington had a file on Ruby, which Secret Service chief James Rowley requested on November 25th, 1963. Ruby's file is given to Rowley, but he never returned it.
Likewise, the file on Jack Ruby in the New York office went missing after the assassination, and again I believe in both cases it's because Ruby was George White's secret informant, but in White's capacity as a CIA agent, not as an FBN agent. The one thing that I think is most important about this, is I interviewed an old FBN agent who later became a DEA inspector, named Richard Solomey. In 1978, Solomey was part of a joint CIA-DEA investigation at MKULTRA. Solomey told me that he found evidence that George White had used Ruby to kill Oswald. I wrote about this in my latest book.
Solomey said that he was told by his CIA bosses on this victim's task force, not to tell senator Ted Kennedy about his findings. Senator Kennedy had generated this victim's task force investigation into MKULTRA. Solomey told me that he had also found evidence that JFK had used the New York MKULTRA safe house to compromise his political enemies, and that that is why senator Kennedy agreed to censor his report, which is not part of, obviously, the uncensored part is not a part of the official record, and as far as I know Solomey never told this to anybody else. I can't prove it, but he did tell me.
Another little known fact about the FBN, right after the assassination, Mexican officials intercepted a call to Havana from the Cuban embassy in Mexico City. The Cuban's were allegedly claiming credit for the JFK assassination, but instead of telling the FBI or the CIA, they told the FBN agent in charge of Mexico City, a guy named William Durkin. Durkin called FBN headquarters in Washington, which relayed this particular piece of information to, again, secret service Chief Rowley, at which point the theory that Castro had arranged the JFK assassination began to emerge as a viable alternative to the 'Lone Nut' theory. You folks all know much more about this than I do, there may have been other reports coming in about this, but it did come in through the FBN as well.
So, there are lots of dots to connect, that connect the FBN to the assassination of John Kennedy. One last thing I'd like to say is that ... Before closing is I would like to remind you that Rose Cheramie predicted JFK was going to be killed. She was ... Cheramie was a drug addict and a prostitute, working for Ruby I believe, and she heard of this assassination plot while she was traveling from Florida with two men who were Italians, or resembled Italians. The men were taking her to Dallas to obtain money to buy heroin from a seaman. The seaman was to meet them in Houston, after disembarking in Galveston. The customs agent in Galveston verified that the seaman was being investigated for drug smuggling, and the coast guard confirmed that it was interested in the ship. But the seaman, like Moran in 1962, got away, and when asked by the House Select Committee on Assassination, customs officials said that neither the agent nor his reports could be found.
You may not know this, but in 1963, November of 1963, approximately 20 CIA officers were in Texas and Florida operating under customs cover as part of a special unit organized in Houston, to penetrate anti-Castro terrorist groups in the United States. Any one of these 20 CIA agents, posing as customs officials could have facilitated the movements of this seaman, with or without realizing that the seaman may have been an assassin. So, that's yet another potential drug-connected route that an assassin could have used to get into the country.
And that takes up all of our time, before I can even touch on the army of CIA-protected Cuban drug traffickers associated with the assassination of people like Rolando Cubela, a Traficanti associate who enjoyed diplomatic immunity and could travel without his luggage being checked. Cubela traveled between Spain, France, Mexico, Paris and New York, all the major transit points in the illicit drug trade. And, as again, a lot of you probably know, on November 21st, 1963 in Paris, CIA official Desmond Fitzgerald, who replaced Harvey handed Cubela an MKULTRA pen loaded with poison. A pen that had been tested in San Francisco by FBN agent George White, and was rigged with a hypodermic needle designed specifically for assassinations.
So there's just a lot of it going on, a lot of connections between the FBN and assassinations, and I believe the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.