Colombian Says U.S. Covered Up Heroin Scam 

Colombian Says U.S. Covered Up Heroin Scam 
Posted by FoM on July 12, 2000 at 14:06:46 PT
DEA official helped smuggle drugs from Colombia
Source: Reuters
A former chauffeur at the U.S. embassy in Bogota has accused U.S. officials of covering up the scale of a heroin-smuggling ring involving a U.S. military commander and his wife that operated from the mission.Ex-driver and bodyguard Jorge Ayala, held in a top security Bogota prison pending a U.S. extradition request relating to his role in the scheme, also alleged in an interview with Reuters that a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) official helped smuggle drugs from Colombia to the United States as U.S. Marine guards turned a blind eye.
The interview was conducted last Thursday but Reuters held the story while it awaited responses to follow-up queries made to the U.S. embassy, the DEA and the Army department.Ayala's former boss, Col. James Hiett, former Military Group commander in charge of all U.S. Army and anti-narcotics operations in Colombia, is due to be sentenced in a New York court this week after he admitted concealing evidence of how profits from the drug shipments, totaling some 13 pounds (six kg), were laundered.The sentence will come just two weeks after Congress approved a record $1.3 billion package of mostly military aid to help Colombia fight drug trafficking and Marxist rebels.Hiett's wife Laurie was jailed by a Brooklyn court in May for five years after pleading guilty to smuggling heroin worth $700,000 to New York in six packages sent via the U.S. embassy postal service in Bogota between May and June 1999. She told the court she had previously received treatment for drug addiction.The U.S. Department of the Army, which led the initial inquiry, said on Tuesday there was an ``on-going investigation'' into the embassy-based heroin ring but declined to say whether the DEA official named by Ayala was under scrutiny.Embarrassment For Embassy:The case, which broke last year, caused international embarrassment for the U.S. diplomatic compound in Bogota, a bunker-like building with fortress security on the frontline of the U.S. drug war in Latin America.``What moral authority has the U.S. embassy got to request my extradition when there's a group of narco-traffickers in their own ranks that are being covered up by the American authorities,'' Ayala said in the interview.``They wanted to keep the name of the Mil (military) Group and the embassy clean... This also involved the colonel (Hiett) and a DEA official. And what about the Marines and the security company?'' he said.Col. Hiett was initially cleared of any wrongdoing by army investigators. But the U.S. Customs Service pressed on and eventually he admitted involvement in the smuggling racket.A U.S. government source said the DEA conducted an internal investigation against the DEA agent, who was based in Bogota until recently, but took no further action. At one stage in his interrogation, army investigators asked Ayala if he was aware the DEA official had mailed at least one parcel of heroin.A DEA spokesman in Washington said the case would have been referred to the U.S. Attorney's office for review if any evidence of criminal action had been found.Ayala, who worked as a U.S. Military group chauffeur for 15 years, was arrested in February and is being held in a cell alongside some of Colombia's most notorious drug lords in Bogota's maximum security La Picota prison.Driver Said Colonel Pressured Him To Lie:``They're trying to present me as if I were a drug capo,'' said Ayala, who lived in a rented apartment in a working-class neighborhood of northwest Bogota.In initial questioning last year, Ayala told U.S. Army investigators he helped Col. Hiett's wife obtain drugs in Bogota. In a subsequent witness statement, he recanted, saying Col. Hiett pressured him to lie.Ayala told Reuters that Col. Hiett bought a Jeep Grand Cherokee with proceeds from his wife's drug sales. The colonel has admitted paying off bills with profits from his wife's drug sales and keeping some of the illicit cash in an embassy safe.During her trial, Laurie Hiett said her husband had no advance knowledge she was shipping drugs through the embassy postal service, which he ultimately controlled as head of the Military Group. She said she mailed the packages as a favor to Ayala.An embassy spokesman in Bogota declined comment on the case but said security measures in place at the embassy normally involved checking all parcels being brought into the building. Bogota (Reuters)Published: July 12, 2000Copyright  2000 Reuters Limited. The Corruption of Col. James Hiett Pleads Guilty in Drug Case Anti-Drug Colonel Knew Nothing of U.S. Army Colonel to Plead Guilty Two Lives CannabisNews DEA Archives:
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Comment #6 posted by dddd on March 07, 2001 at 04:16:49 PT
My Sincerest Condolence
Jane and John, I wish there was something I could say,or do to somehow awaken the public to thistragedy,and the shocking,and scandalous cover-up,and manipulation of the facts surroundingthe loss of your daughter and the others.. The situation in Colombia is truly a nightmare,and it becomes even more frightful when we realize that our own government is involved in this huge scandal,and that they will do anythingto cover up their dark,criminal deceptions from the American public. "Truth and Justice",is becoming extremely rare nowdays,,,about all we got left is hope. We speak out the best we can here,and if there was some way we could speak louder,,we would.I am confident in saying that you have many supporters here.I hope things will take a turn for thebetter.Sincerely.....dddd
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Comment #5 posted by Jane and John Shafer on March 06, 2001 at 16:07:33 PT:
Death of Capt Jennifer J. Shafer Odom and crew
Dear Sir,I have pleaded for the army to investigate the possible involvement of the Hietts in the plane crash that killed our daughter, Capt Jennifer Jill Shafer Odom. The army knew that Hiett's wife was involved in drugs in Colombia in the spring of 1999. Why didn't they send her back and investigate his possible involvement? Instead they were complacent and negligent and allowed the missions to continue as if nothing had happened. I know that Jennifer briefed Hiett on July 14, 1999 on their operations in Colombia and 9 days later 5 soldiers under Hiett's corrupt command died when their plane crashed into what the army called an "unmarked mountain". I know for a fact that Jennifer would never have made that flight if she had the same information about the Hietts that the army had. Those soldiers died because their commander was corrupt and his superiors knew it and failed to do anything about it. As a result, those five soldiers were totally destroyed and have died in vain. Please advise us as to where we can go for help in getting the truth and justice for these neglected victims.The bereaved parents of Capt Jennifer Jill Shafer Odom, age 29, USMA 92John and Jane Shafer
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Comment #4 posted by Lehder on July 14, 2000 at 10:26:21 PT
hearings disturbance
I watched the live broadcast of the interruption to the hearings caused by the man who called out and displayed the "ask about cocaine" placard. He had about five seconds of fame before being ushered out. With the formation of the committe to examine North's notebooks and investigate this issue, this interruption achieved its purpose. Unfortunately, according to the Powderburn report above, the investigation went no further. I cannot imagine why the media did not hammer on this issue.I often wondered what happened to the man with the sign; at the time of the incident I immediately knew that he was in some quite serious trouble even though the actual disturbance he caused was not even enough to be ejected from a nice restaurant, and certainly not from any whiskey bar on the planet. My fears proved true when some time later I read that this man had been convicted of something or other and sentenced to prison for I think it was 2 or 3 years. I do not know his later fate. He paid a high price for this SCWOD, as have so many.
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Comment #3 posted by r.earing on July 13, 2000 at 10:02:54 PT:
Ayala [?]family connections
In Mike Levines'"big white lie",there was a Sonia Ayala who was reputed to be the onetime "queen of coke".She was used as a DEA informant and turned loose.Reportedly she kept dealing many years after the incident.Does anybody know if this Jorge Ayala is a relative? It would be pretty crazy for the MIL group to hire a reputed narco family member to be a driver.{or would it be?} Anybody know?
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Comment #2 posted by kaptinemo on July 13, 2000 at 09:47:15 PT:
Take a look at this: The story of a DEA agent that tried to blow the whistle on CIA complicity in cocaine smuggling during the Iran/Contra affair: how the CIA got involved in drug smuggling to begin with: by the same author: latest bit of spook legerdemain of Hiett and Company is only the teeny, tiny tip of a vast and filthy dirty iceberg. An iceberg that has been around for over 40 YEARS. It demonstrates the validity of the old Roman question of "Quis custodiet ipsos cutodes?" (Who shall guard the guradians?). And it raises some awfully troubling questions, like: what contact did Hiett have with the narcos, other than his wife? Did he know if the narcos had advanced surface to air missiles? Captain Jennifer Odom, the pilot of the spy plane lost in Colombia had mentioned to her husband that the plane had been 'painted' - targeted- several times by missile radar. I'm sure she must at some point mentioned this, either personally or in a memo, to Hiett. Did he assign Captain Odom to fly into an area where the narcos would be waiting with such weaponry... and in effect, bring about the murder of everyone on her aircraft? This is so rotten it stinks to high heaven.Who indeed, shall guard the guardians, when the 'guardians' are practically dripping with corruption? 
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Comment #1 posted by MikeEEEEE on July 12, 2000 at 16:24:25 PT
As if the DEA or drug warriors ever had any credibility.
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