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CIA Gun Running Drug Smuggling And Money Laundering In Mena Arkansas - CBS Part 1

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Published on Oct 17, 2012

In the 1980's, the Mena airport became one of the world's largest aircraft refurbishing centers, providing services to planes from many countries. Researchers claim that the largest consumers of aircraft refurbishing services are drug smugglers and intelligence agencies involved in covert activities. In fact, residents of Mena, Arkansas, have told reporters that former marine Lt. Colonel Oliver North was a frequent visitor during the 1980's. Eugene Hasenfus, a pilot who was shot down in a Contra supply plane over Nicaragua in 1986, was also seen in town renting cargo vehicles.

A federal Grand Jury looking into activities at the Mena airport refused to hand down any indictments after drug running charges were made public. Deborah Robinson says that Clinton had "ignored the situation" until he began his presidential campaign." Clinton then said he would provide money for a state run investigation of the Mena airport. But according to Robinson, the promise of an investigation was never followed up by Clinton's staff. In fact, a local Arkansas state prosecutor blasted Clinton's promise of an investigation, comparing it to "spitting on a forest fire."

Clinton's involvement in the drug and arms running goes even further than a mere cover-up of the deplorable activities that went on, and are still going on, at the airport in Mena. A federal mail fraud case against an Arkansas pilot-trainer who participated in illegal arms exports to Central America relied on a key Clinton staffer as a chief witness. The case was dismissed for lack of evidence when the CIA refused to allow the discussion of top secret information about the arms transfers.

Terry Reed, a former employee of the CIA's Air America operation in Laos during the Indochina war, claims to have been recruited as a pilot trainer into the Iran operation by Oliver North. Reed said that in 1983 he had agreed to supply North's operatives with "certain items."

In pursuit of the Reagan administration's Contra war against the Sandinistas, the CIA had planted mines in Nicaragua's harbors. In 1984, Congress passed the Boland Amendment, which cut off US aid to the Contras. According to Reed, it was during this period that North aided him to become involved in a covert operation called "Project Donation". Reed was told he would be reimbursed for supplying the Contras by insurance companies that were linked to North's operation.,

Shortly afterwards, Reed reported the "theft" of Piper turbo-prop aircraft and he filed a $33,000 claim on which he eventually collected almost $7,000.

In late 1985, Reed received a phone call from an Air America buddy, William Cooper, a pilot working with Southern Air Transport, another CIA front company. Cooper also was working with soon to be murdered drug kingpin Barry Seal at the same time he was flying re-supply missions for the Contras. In 1986, he was shot down and killed over Nicaragua along with co-pilot Wallace Sawyer. The plane's cargo-kicker, Eugene Hasenfus, parachuted into the arms of waiting Sandinista soldiers. Video images of his capture spanned the world and forced an airing of a tiny part of US covert operations.

Sandinistas who recovered the downed cargo plane searched Cooper's pockets and found phone numbers linking the re-supply operation with Felix Rodriguez, an associate of George Bush, best known for murdering Che Guevara after his capture in Bolivia. To this day, Rodriguez, who works for the CIA, wears Che's watch as a trophy.

Reed says that Cooper told him that the stolen Piper would soon be returned and that he should store it in a hanger at Mena until the Hasenfus mess blew over. "There was a lot of Contra stuff going on in Arkansas." said Reed, "it was the hub."

Meanwhile, Reed went into business in Mexico with the blessing of Rodriguez, who was overseeing the Contra air re-supply operation in El Salvador. Reed's company used Mexico to export arms to the Contras, in violation of the Boland Amendment. Reed went down to Mexico and his operation continued for a year after the Iran-Contra story broke.

According to Arkansas Committee researcher Mark Swaney, in the summer of 1987, even as the ContraGate hearings were going on in Congress, Terry Reed began to suspect they were using his front company for something other than smuggling weapons. One day, he was looking for a lathe in one of his warehouses near the airport in Guadalajara and he opened up one of the very large air freight shipping containers (they are about 28' long, about 7' high and about 8' wide), and he found it packed full of cocaine. (story continued in part 2)

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