Colombia Death Squad Chief Says US Asked for Help

Colombia Death Squad Chief Says US Asked for Help
Posted by FoM on August 10, 2000 at 09:27:59 PT
Source: Arizona Republic
The leader of Colombia's outlaw ultra-right death squads said he had received a message, via one of his collaborators, from U.S. anti-drug agents requesting his help in wiping out the drug trade. In an interview with RCN television, Carlos Castano, feared leader of the paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), denied meeting U.S. officials in person but said he had warned drug traffickers that he would target them if they did not cease their illicit smuggling operations. 
``A cattle rancher came to me with some information saying he had a friend who was a narco-trafficker and had been talking to the (U.S.) Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and they had sent me a message and through that there was a possibility of ending narco-trafficking in Colombia,'' Castano said. ``I received a call saying the DEA was opening the doors so that Colombian drug traffickers could surrender to U.S. justice and ... it needed a significant force in Colombia that would induce these people to take that decision,'' added Castano. The right-wing warlord controls a force of some 5,000 fighters blamed for massacring thousands of civilians in the course of Colombia's long-running conflict that has claimed 35,000 lives in just the last 10 years. His comments could not immediately be confirmed with U.S. authorities. The U.S. Congress approved a record $1.3 billion package of mostly military aid to help Colombia fight the drug trade and Communist rebels, the bitter rivals of Castano's AUC. TOP-LEVEL US VISIT: The RCN interview coincided with a visit to Colombia's Caribbean coast resort of Cartagena by a high-level U.S. delegation including U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering and the White House's top anti-drug official Barry McCaffrey. President Clinton is himself due to visit Cartagena on Aug. 30, the first visit to Colombia by a U.S. president since George Bush in 1990. In the two hour-interview late Wednesday, Castano rejected suggestions U.S. officials had offered him money or weaponry in return for forcing narco-traffickers to surrender. In the past, U.S. authorities, including the DEA, have accused Castano's paramilitary force of smuggling cocaine and heroin and using the proceeds to fund its fight against the guerrillas. Castano has admitted receiving contributions from drug capos but insisted he was ``an enemy of drugs.'' ``I could not ask for U.S. aid when (U.S. officials) are always accusing us of financing ourselves with drug trafficking,'' Castano said. NO DIRECT CONTACT WITH DEA: Castano said he did not know if the request for the assistance of his paramilitary force was a U.S. policy or a personal request by a handful of agents acting without government authorization. ``I have never had (direct) contact with members of the State Department or any U.S. intelligence agencies. ... I have no proof that this was a policy of the DEA or the U.S. administration or just some individuals within those agencies,'' he explained. It was not clear whether Castano had responded to the U.S. request for his help but he conceded he had threatened some drug traffickers whom he considered had close ties with Marxist guerrilla groups. ``(I told the traffickers) that sooner or later U.S. support in the fight against (guerrilla) subversion and the AUC's anti-subversive fight would eventually target them,'' he added. Both Colombian and U.S. authorities have accused the country's estimated 22,000 guerrilla fighters of funding their uprising with millions of dollars a year in profits from the drug trade.  Bogota, Colombia Contact: feedback arizonarepublic.comPublished: August 10, 2000Copyright 2000, The Arizona Republic. Related Articles:We're Targeting A Colombia We Don't Understand Group Criticizes Colombian Army Ties
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Comment #3 posted by freedom fighter on August 11, 2000 at 11:47:50 PT
biowarfare? A well written article about the biological weapons in drug wareco, thanks for the link.
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Comment #2 posted by eco on August 11, 2000 at 10:30:57 PT
*cia-drugs. Huge PUBLIC ARCHIVE and mailing list. 
The famed ex-agent Mike Ruppert runs this public list.*cia-drugs. Huge PUBLIC ARCHIVE and mailing list. Anybody can click "messages" link to see the latest."For the discussion and informational exchange of ideas, research, articles, and other resources pertaining to the questions of USA intelligence agency presence in the international narcotics trade. List will be lightly moderated. Please keep on topic and civil." 
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Comment #1 posted by Dan B on August 10, 2000 at 21:19:40 PT:
Damage Control City
It looks like this story--oops!--leaked out just in time for the drug czar's trip to Colombia. You can bet that (expletive deleted) is square in the middle of all this. Either he talked directly with Castano, or he made one of his cronies talk with him. Regardless, it is out now, and we should take every opportunity to use this story as a wake up call to the true nature of U.S. involvement in Colombia. Our troops are clearly there to support these right wing paramilitary groups, and the U.S. government clearly has no problem enlisting Castano to do its dirty work. Of course Castano is going to deny getting anything out of his support for Amerikan anti-drug policies in Colombia; I'm sure it was part of the agreement for him to keep his mouth shut. The damage control units are, I am sure, in motion as we read this. They are currently deciding whether it would be best to play this one down for the moment or start denying right away. Interesting--very interesting--that our government is in league with the most violent human rights violators in the Western Hemisphere. Seems rather fitting, given the way people are treated by the feds right here in the U.S.
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