Monday, May 20, 2019

Cuba's Revolutionary Cocaine Habit

The Castro regime's decades long affair with cocaine trafficking

Panamanian soldier guards part of the shipment of drugs from Cuba that were seized.
Andrea Torres of Local 10 News reported today that "Panama seized a shipment of cocaine valued at $90 million. It was inside of a container that was in a ship that was coming from Cuba, authorities said. Panamanian authorities intercepted the cargo Saturday at the Puerto de Cristóbal. There were 1,517 wide bricks of cocaine hidden inside of 46 large black duffle bags with wheels." This means that the cocaine was seized on May 18, 2019.  According to shipping documents these items were supposedly bags of coal.

This was not the first time, three years ago in April of 2016 Panamanian police seized more than 400 kilograms of cocaine in a Cuban ship on its way to Belgium. However Panama is not the only channel.

Cocaine shipment from Cuban ship hidden under molasses discovered in Panama
Agence France-Presse reported on July 12, 2017 that Ermal Hoxha (age 42), the grandson of former Albanian communist dictator Enver Hoxha, was found guilty of belonging to a "criminal group involved in cocaine trafficking from Cuba through Albania to west European countries," the court statement said. The dictator's grandson was arrested in January 2015 and 264 pounds of cocaine were also confiscated.

The Castro regime's documented involvement in drug trafficking stretches back at least 37 years to 1982. Cuba was placed on the list of state sponsors of terrorism on March 1, 1982, less than three months after the US State Department confirmed that the Cuban government was using a narcotics ring to funnel both arms and cash to the Colombian M19 terrorist group then battling to overthrow Colombia’s democratic government.

Noriega's link to Castro and Cocaine
During General Manuel Noriega's 1992 trial information emerged publicly implicating the Castro regime that Sun Sentinel reported at the time:

"Federal prosecutors say Noriega traveled to Havana to ask [Fidel] Castro to mediate a potentially deadly dispute with top members of Colombia`s Medellin cocaine cartel. They say the cartel chiefs were upset because a major drug lab had been seized in Panama despite payment of millions of dollars in protection money to Noriega. According to the Noriega indictment, Castro negotiated a peace accord between the cartel and Noriega at the 1984 meeting. The allegation forms a cornerstone of the racketeering and drug trafficking charges against Noriega."
At the same time convicted cartel leader Carlos Lehder implicated Raul Castro and U.S. fugitive Robert Vesco "to route cocaine flights through Cuba." Capitol Hill Cubans blogged how two years later, a federal indictment listed General Raul Castro as part of a conspiracy that smuggled seven and a half tons of cocaine into the United States over a 10-year period but the Clinton administration overruled prosecutors

General Manuel Noriega with the late Fidel Castro

In a 1991 Frontline documentary, Cuba and Cocaine, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Commander Jeff Karonis, stated, "We would observe in the middle of the day an air drop going on inside Cuban waters. The scenario would be for a small twin-engine airplane with maybe 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of cocaine to fly over Cuba, drop the drugs to a predesignated rendezvous point to several boats. Then it would exit back down off Cuba, and many times a Cuban military vessel would be in the immediate vicinity, right on scene with them.'' 

Ignoring this history led to a bizarre outcome. A peace process that led to an explosion in cocaine production. General Raul Castro played a high profile role in mediating the peace negotiations between the Santos government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) FARC in Colombia. FARC are known for funding their conflict with Cocaine production. The State Department's report offers ominous news on Cocaine production in Colombia:
 The United States estimates that the area devoted to coca cultivation in Colombia increased 42 percent in 2015 to 159,000 ha from 112,000 ha in 2014, returning to cultivation levels last seen in Colombia in 2007. 
Jackson Diehl in The Washington Post reported on Venezuela, the FARC, Cuba trafficking axis on May 24, 2015 in the article "A drug cartel’s power in Venezuela":

Ever since Colombian commandos captured the laptop of a leader of the FARC organization eight years ago, it’s been known that Chávez gave the Colombian narcoguerrillas sanctuary and allowed them to traffic cocaine from Venezuela to the United States with the help of the Venezuelan army. But not until a former Chávez bodyguard [ Leamsy Salazar] defected to the United States in January [2015] did the scale of what is called the “Cartel of the Suns ” start to become publicly known.

The day after Salazar’s arrival in Washington, Spain’s ABC newspaper published a detailed account of the emerging case against Cabello, and last month, ABC reporter Emili Blasco followed up with a book laying out the allegations of Salazar and other defectors, who say Cuba’s communist regime and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah have been cut in on the trafficking."
 Over the past 37 years Castro regime agents have used cocaine to fund both their revolutionary activities and lavish lifestyles at the expense of destroying lives while seeking to undermine Western democracies.  Policy makers ignoring this reality do a disservice to their constituents.

DEA target Diosdado Cabello with General Raul Castro and his Foreign Minister

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