Where in the world do the seemingly disparate ambitions of the “Green Economy,” the international drug trade, State intelligence agencies, and Islamofascists intermingle? In a real Fourth Estate, the front page of the Times or the Post would be viable candidates, but this, unfortunately, is not the world in which we live.
This perplexing blend is relegated to the realm of Deep Politics, the alternative media outlets incredulous enough to cover it, and you, Reader, tenacious enough to consider its implications.
In writing my recent article on the odious debt burden of $22.6 billion to be placed upon the people of Ghana at COP21 this December, any number of motives for this usurious “greening” of the country came to mind; from DeBeers diamond operations to “grey market” Chinese gold mines, from oil and gas transit lines to fertile Cocoa fields, the Gulf of Guinea has much to plunder and many a “geostrategic interest” for would-be Imperialists to exploit.
Among these is the region’s integral (yet often neglected) role in the international drug trade:
A role in which Ghana and the Gulf of Guinea have been cast for over half a century without so much as a whisper from mainstream American media – likely because the other actors on this stage, the CIA and NATO’s infamous Operation Gladio, would prefer to remain comfortably hidden behind the curtain of “public relations.”
The CIA and Heroin: Picking Up the Post-War Pieces
“Deception is a state of mind and the mind of the State.”
-James Jesus Angleton, Head of CIA Counterintelligence (1954-1974)
During the early reconstruction of Europe following World War II, the fledgling CIA wasted little time in filling the void left by the British “Commonwealth of Nations,” their inheritance of the international heroin trade of chief importance. The men who would make this possible were handed to the late OSS by the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) on a silver platter: A network of Jewish and Italian mob bosses, sprung from jail to assist in the Allied invasion of Europe, who were to be given a second chance at restoring their Prohibition glory days.
This time, however, they wouldn’t be smuggling liquor across State lines, but heroin across international waters. No small feat. If anyone could pull it off, though, it’d be men prepared by a life of covert intelligence operations and black market expertise – and that’s exactly what the CIA had in Meyer Lansky and “Lucky” Luciano.
From 1946 to 1948, Luciano and over 100 of his associates were released from prison and subsequently deported to Italy, with the Justice Department citing “wartime service” as a justification for early release. Comfortably back in Europe with his organization in tact, Luciano worked quickly to ensnare the world opium market. Undeterred by post-war tightening in Italian pharmaceutical regulations, Luciano leveraged his position as an international figure to forge connections with a Lebanese syndicate who would serve as his supply. Of Luciano’s heroin network, Professor Alfred W. McCoy writes:
“Morphine base was now the necessary commodity. Thanks to his contacts in the Middle East, Luciano established a long-term business relationship with a Lebanese who was quickly becoming known as the Middle East’s major exporter of morphine base-Sami El Khoury. Through judicious use of bribes and his high social standing in Beirut society, El Khoury established an organization of unparalleled political strength. The directors of Beirut Airport, Lebanese customs, the Lebanese narcotics police, and perhaps most importantly, the chief of the antisubversive section of the Lebanese police, protected the import of raw opium from Turkey’s Anatolian plateau into Lebanon, its processing into morphine base, and its final export to the laboratories in Sicily and Marseille.
Once heroin had been manufactured and packaged for export, Luciano used his Mafia connections to send it through a maze of international routes to the United States. From Europe heroin was shipped directly to New York or smuggled through Canada and Cuba.”
-Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin, pg. 22
The profits from this network would pass through the hands of Luciano’s money man, Meyer Lansky, with a significant portion ultimately resting in the coffers of American intelligence agencies.
“After [Luciano] was deported from the United States in 1946, he charged his long-time associate, Meyer Lansky, with the responsibility for managing his financial empire. Lansky also played a key role in organizing Luciano’s heroin syndicate: he supervised smuggling operations, negotiated with Corsican heroin manufacturers, and managed the collection and concealment of the enormous profits.”
-Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin, pg. 23
It is by way of the CIA-Luciano-Lansky “maze of international routes” that Ghana originally found itself ensnared in the grip of the Anglo-American Establishment’s heroin trade. While not mentioned in Prof. McCoy’s seminal work on CIA involvement in the heroin market, Ghana was indeed one of the CIA’s original trafficking routes – and remains one to this day.
We know this thanks to a 1952 State Department cable, doubtlessly sent by an enterprising individual who was not “in the know” about ongoing CIA drug operations in the area.
“The first documented use of West Africa as a staging post for heroin smuggling dates from 1952, when US officials noted that parcels of the drug were being transported by a Lebanese syndicate from Beirut to New York via Kano and Accra, using couriers on commercial airlines. One of those implicated at the Beirut end of the pipeline was reported to be an Italian intelligence officer; it was not clear whether he was operating with the approval of his superiors. The US consul-general in Lagos was told by a Lebanese source, described as ‘a competent narcotics and diamond smuggler’, that the existing ‘heavy dope traffic’ from the Near East to the USA via Europe was being diverted to Nigeria ‘to an increasing extent’ to avoid the attention of law-enforcement officers on the European route.”
-Prof. Stephen Ellis, West Africa’s International Drug Trade, pg. 174
A Lebanese syndicate? Heroin destined for New York? An Italian intelligence officer? The CIA and the Luciano network hardly attempted to wipe their fingerprints off this one; they simply operated with diplomatic immunity. Things getting too hot in Europe? Ship it through Ghana and Nigeria, the “former” British colonies, where we’ll receive more impunity; it’s “just” the Third World, after all, right?
Two particular nodes of the early CIA heroin trade warrant further investigation: Lebanon and Italy. Like the Iran-Contra scandal, both Italy and Lebanon include not only CIA drug activities, but a corresponding paramilitary element – none other than the NATO operatives from Operation Gladio.
The Seeds of Gladio
Amidst CIA/NATO intelligence chicanery throughout the post-war heroin trade, Western intelligence agencies were also hard at work developing a bulwark against Communism in a most unsavory manner; via the backing of a network of ultranationalists and fascists throughout Europe. Spearheaded by the CIA and MI6, what came to be known as “Operation Gladio” (its working name in Italy) became a “State within a State,” the front lines of a hypothetical World War III against the USSR.
The war never came, but the “Deep State” of Gladio remained in tact and was quickly repurposed for a new task: Flase-flag terror and color revolution. While the Gladio network spanned throughout Western European nations (Austria, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, among others), its most publicized activities were in Italy, where the Italian justice system attempted to prosecute a number of Gladios throughout the 80s and 90s.
This string of trials gave us a glimpse behind the curtain of Operation Gladio’s covert operations spanning nearly half a century. From staging bombings to be blamed on Communists to a successful coup d’état of a democratically elected Italian government in 1963 code named Operation Piano Solo, the Gladios have had a hand in restricting Italian sovereignty since their inception. Amidst this environment of chaos and political instability, the aim, according to the court testimony of one member of the Gladio team, was to create fear and uncertainty via a tactic known as the Strategy of Tension.
Blogging under the pseudonym of Rusticus, the author and freedom activist operates a website tracing the machinations of the Anglo-American Establishment throughout history while simultaneously documenting the process of creating a truly off-grid homestead. (www.statelesshomesteading.com)