WASHINGTON (Proceso)(apro).– Three former U.S. federal agents decided to end a 28-year silence and simultaneously entrusted this journal and the U.S. Fox news services with an information “bomb”: Enrique Kiki Camarena was not murdered by Rafael Caro Quintero — the capo that served a sentence for that crime — but by an agent of the CIA. The reason: the DEA agent discovered that his own government was collaborating with the Mexican narco in his illegal business.
In interviews with Proceso, Phil Jordan, former director of the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC); Hector Berrellez, former DEA agent, and Tosh Plumlee, a former CIA pilot, claim that they have evidence that the U.S. government itself ordered the murder of Kiki Camarena in 1985. In addition, they point to a sinister Cuban character, Felix Ismael Rodriguez, as the murderer.
“It was I who directed the investigation into the death of Camarena”, says Berrellez, and he adds: “During this investigation, we discovered that some members of a U.S. intelligence agency, who had infiltrated the DFS (the Mexican Federal Security Directorate), also participated in the kidnapping of Camarena. Two witnesses identified Felix Ismael Rodriguez. They (witnesses) were with the DFS and they told us that, in addition, he (Rodriguez) had identified himself s “U.S. intelligence.”
The official story and the version that the DEA continues to assert is that Caro Quintero kidnapped, tortured and murdered Kiki Camarena in February of 1985, in retaliation for the U.S. agent having discovered his enormous marijuana farms and his processing center in the El Bufalo ranch.
Felix Ismael Rodriguez, “El Gato“, has one of the murkiest histories in the U.S. intervention in Central America, mainly in Nicaragua. To this Cuban — who participated in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion and after that, in the Vietnam War — is attributed the capture, and therefore the assassination, of Che Guevara in Bolivia on October 9, 1967.
Helping the capo
Interviewed separately, Jordan, Berrellez and Plumlee coincide on many details in the reconstruction of the events that led the CIA to decide to eliminate Camarena.
The story that the three former agents describe begins with pointing out that El Gato Rodriguez, in addition to having infiltrated the DFS, took a Honduran named Juan Mata Ballesteros, a person known to Colombian traffickers, with him to Mexico.
In Mexico, according to the interviewees, Matta’s mission was to obtain drugs in Colombia for the Guadalajara Cartel, led by Caro Quintero in the 1980’s. The U.S. government allowed the Mexican drug trafficker to sell cocaine, marijuana and other drugs wherever he wanted. Washington benefited, since it shared the profits.
The portion of the money received by the CIA — represented in Mexico by Rodriguez through Mata — was delivered to counterrevolutionaries in Nicaragua, La Contra, in the form of weapons and other military equipment. This is how the U.S. financed the guerrilla war against the Sandinista regimen, then led by the current president of the Central American country, Daniel Ortega.
In his investigations into the drug trafficking activities that Caro Quintero led, Camarena discovered the role that his government played in the illegal business to finance the Contras. And this, in the opinion of the interviewees, was his death sentence.
“The CIA ordered the kidnapping and torture of ‘Kiki’ Camarena, and when they killed him, they made us believe it was Caro Quintero in order to cover up all the illegal things they were doing (with drug trafficking) in Mexico” emphasizes Jordan. He adds: “The DEA is the only (federal agency) with the authority to authorize drug trafficking into the United States as part of an undercover operation”.
The former chief of EPIC, the largest espionage center in the United States dedicated to observing what happens in Mexico and the common border, and who was also a DEA agent and Camarena’s boss when he was murdered, sums up in a quote what the discovery of its involvement in Mexican drug trafficking represented to the CIA:
“The business with El Bufalo was nothing compared with the money from the cocaine that was being sold to buy weapons for the CIA”.
However, “Kiki” Camarena was not the only one nor was he the first to discover the perverse CIA-Caro Quintero-Contra triangle.
The Mexican judicial police officer
Berrellez and Jordan maintain that the first person to inform of this incredible U.S. undercover espionage operation in the early 1980’s was Guillermo Gonzalez Calderoni, who was then the chief of the Mexican Federal Judicial Police.
Gonzalez Calderoni fled from Mexico in 1993; he was accused of collaborating with the Juarez Cartel and he sought refuge in the United States, where the DEA turned him into a protected witness. In 2003, the former Mexican commander was murdered in McAllen, Texas.
— I helped him, I sent a jet and brought him to California. Over here, now under DEA protection, he became an informant and helped us a lot. The Mexican government wanted to extradite him, but I did all I could to prevent that because I knew they would kill him over there. After that, he was accused of corruption and illegal influences and things like that, but I’m telling you: it’s not true — Berrellez states.
— And that’s how he told you about the CIA? — he’s asked.
— Yes. He told me: ‘Hector, get out of this business because they’re going to fuck you over. The CIA is involved in that business about ‘Kiki’. It’s very dangerous for you to be in this.’ He gave me names, among them that of Felix, and details and everything, but when my bosses found out, they took me out of the investigation and sent me to Washington.
The twist to the story about the kidnapping, torture and murder of “Kiki” Camarena “is a bombshell”. What is not clear is why these three former U.S. agents waited 28 years to make it known. They refuse to explain it.
He doesn’t talk much
Plumlee, although he doesn’t talk much, recalls that in the early 1980’s he flew a C-130 airplane to take people from the Contras to receive training at a ranch that Caro Quintero owned in Veracruz.
— I flew drugs on CIA airplanes and I knew the pilot that took Caro Quintero out of the country when he was being persecuted by the government.
— Did you know “Kiki” Camarena? — Plumlee is asked.
— He flew, before he was kidnapped, from Guadalajara to California to inform about the CIA operations with narcos and the Nicaraguan Contras in Mexico, and I remember I said to him “We’re on the same team. Stay out of what I’m doing”.
— What else were you doing for the CIA at that time?
— The United States government was into everything. We smuggled drugs, weapons, and we used the money to finance the operation in Nicaragua.
— How was your contract in all of this?
— We were always subcontractors; that’s why the CIA now said we didn’t have those operations. But it’s all there…