Jan 1969 to Aug 1974 The Nixon years, 2nd ed. part 18
At the suggestion of the CIA, Andy Tartaglino, BNDD's chief inspector , and, the head of BNDD. John Ingersoll selected CIA officers Robert Medell (a Latino American) and William Logay to run BUNCIN which was based in Miami. Another important BUNCIN agent reporting to Medell was CIA contract case officer Grayston Lynch in Key West. He had in the past served with Lucien Conein "all over" the world.
The CIA Chief of Station in Panama was Lawrence Sternfeld, and he was Manuel Noriega's case officer. Sternfeld was a case officer to many anti-Castro Cuban, Sternfeld was also close to the Israelis and he gave them privileged CIA information. The CIA had been building files on several drug traffickers in Miami, the Florida Keys, and the Caribbean.
CIA officer Bob Medell's (aka Robert Martin) primary job as BUNCIN's covert agent was recruiting principal agents to run agent nets and anti-drug smuggling operations not only in Miami, but "throughout the Caribbean and South America." Bob Medell formed a front company, Robert Martin Enterprises, a "national" consulting firm near Miami International Airport, where Logay kept the safe house. Both Medell and Logay ventured into Latin America on BUNCIN assignments.
Medell set up a nominee account in the Miami Bank and started running agents in March 1973. He briefed Ingersoll that month on his recruitment of assets in Miami, the Caribbean and New York, and about his plans to penetrate the Cuban side of Santo Trafficante's organization based in Tampa. At this point analysts in the BNDD's Office of Strategic intelligence began to research files by BUNCIN assets related to the Trafficante organization.
The Defense Department was in charge of emergency planning and provided BUNCIN agents with special communications equipment. The CIA supplied forged foreign IDs that allowed BUNCIN assets to work for foreign governments or intelligence services.
BUNCIN assets targeted the Cuban side of the Trafficante family (his daughter had married a Cuban) and its drug and gambling operations. Medell hired several notorious Cubans to carry out this task. The assets knew Medell was CIA. They all had worked for the CIA before, and they believed they were working for the CIA again. And many were double agents working for the CIA as well as the BNDD, and FBI.
Medell's principal contract agent was Bay of Pigs veteran Guillermo Tabraue, whom the CIA paid a whopping $1400 a week. Tabraue was also participating in the "Alvarez-Cruz" multi-million dollar drug smuggling ring he ran out of a jewelry store in Miami. Tabraue also paid off several corrupt BNDD agents and cops in the Miami area. For BUNCIN, he was reporting on anti-Castro Cuban civic and political groups with connections to Santo Trafficante and Meyer Lansky. Through Tabraue's construction, drug and gambling rackets, Bob Medell developed counter-intelligence information on how Manuel Noriega's security forces in Panama were spying on CIA officers in Panama and Colombia.
CIA case officer Grayston Lynch was already running agents from Miami into Latin America when Conein hired him into BUNCIN. Lynch's main job was to identify "suppliers at the other end," largely through contra pilots. An experienced sailor, he also penetrated an exile Cuban smuggling ring belonging to Francisco Chanes Rodriguez (who later was involved in Iran-Contra), owner of the CIA front companies Ocean Hunter and Mr. Shrimp. Chanes' fisher men had contact with Cuba's fishing fleet and exchanged all sorts of information and items.
Yet another criminal and BUNCIN asset, Sixto "Tito" Mesa in Key Biscayne, was one of the most powerful drug smugglers in the anti-Castro, exile Cuban community. Mesa was intimately connected to Rafael "Chi Chi" Quintero and Thomas Clines of Iran-Contra and Edwin Wilson infamy. According to Lynch, Tito offered him $80,000 to hire Cuban mercenaries for President Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua.
Howard Hunt had been Manuel Artime Artime's CIA case officer for years. Tito Mesa. BUNCIN assets worked closely with CIA officerTom Clines.
BUNCIN contract agent Carlos Hernandez Rumbault was a member of the Alvarez-Cruz drug smuggling network. In 1969, Rumbault was arrested and prosecuted for trafficking in marijuana and become a informant of BNDD. During Operation Eagle, he aided in the arrest of some 120 plus drug smuggling anti-Castro Cubans – many of whom were exonerated and soon went to work for the BNDD.
Rumbault spied for BUNCIN in Costa Rica. Fugitives from American justice Robert Vesco and Santo Trafficante moved to Costa Rica. They were both were friends of Costa Rican President José Figueres. Rumbault became the head of the Costa Rican narcotic unit and he formed a vigilante squad with President Figueres' son and an assistant attorney general, and that together they murdered rival narcotics gangs.
Customs Agent Al Seely and BNDD Agent Pete Scrocca were waiting at the Miami airport and arrested a drug trafficker who was wanted on a Customs indictment. US Attorney Tom Puccio in New York called and ordered Agent Seely to back off (let the S.O.B. go).
An Alabama prosecutor requested the extradition of Carlos Rumbault back to the US for sentencing for a crime. But like every anti-Castro, exile Cuban agent in BUNCIN, Rumbault also had a CIA get out of jail free card. Federal officials convinced the governor of Alabama to make the prosecutor stop the extradition proceedings in the interests of national security. They also got the State Department to back off of their concerns.
In 1980, The number two head of the FBI W. Mark Felt (aka Deep throat) and Assistant Director Edward Miller were convicted of conspiring nearly a decade earlier to violate the civil rights of domestic dissidents in the Weather Underground movement (operation COINTELPRO from 1956 to 1971). President Ronald Reagan then issued a pardon.
Under Hoover the FBI had performed hundreds of illegal break-ins for other presidents, as well as illegal wiretaps on various political leaders and kept secret files with which he could use to blackmail elected officials and thereby keep his position as FBI Director.
Violation of the 4th Amendment did not improve after Watergate. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Devens, MA was involved in Operation Orwell, which was a mission to spy on US Congressmen and Senators. It included 8,400 police departments, 1,370 churches, and approx. 17,900 citizens have been monitored. This Special Forces Group was connected to the Shadow CIA’s cocaine smuggling from Latina America. I describe this in more detail in my chapter about the US Justice Department’s failure to prosecute and covering up of CIA drug trafficking.
I tell this story in chapters of this book about the early 1980s.
On Aug. 9, 1974, Pres. Nixon resigns.
Copyrighted Nov. 28, 2011