Elliott Abrams ‘Cabaled Quietly’ to Spring a CIA-Connected Drug Trafficker

Surely, this is just another “loony left” headline about Elliott Abrams, the administration’s point man on Venezuela, whom some say has been unfairly pilloried on Capitol Hill.

If you read this September 1986 National Security Council email, written by NSC staffer Oliver North, you’ll see the headline is not over-stated but factually precise and faithful to the conspiratorial tone of the original source.

When U.S. policymakers needed to spring a convicted CIA-connected drug trafficker from doing hard time in federal prison, who did they call?

Trump’s appointed special envoy to Venezuela, Elliott Abrams.

Rep. Ilhan Omar
Rep. Ilhan Omarhas a question.

On Thursday, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) scorched Abrams for his covering up the infamous El Mozote massacre and lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra conspiracy in the 1980s.

Her interrogation drew rebuke from Max Boot, the apostate conservative, and a chorus of right-wing media commentators. Boot described Omar’s comments as a “disgraceful ad hominem attack.”

Actually the impertinent Congresswoman from Minneapolis could have gone much further about Abrams’ untrustworthy behavior. One of the most revealing stories about Abram’s hypocrisy comes from an impeccably right-wing source, Oliver North, former Republican senatorial candidate and Fox News talking head.


The year was 1986. Abrams served as assistant secretary of state for Latin America under President Reagan. He was a 39 year old lawyer and foreign policy polemicist. Even then his perennial scowl and crooked grin managed made him look furtive and self-righteous at the same time.

Elliott Abrams protests
Elliott Abrams protests

The Iran-Contra conspiracy was in full swing. The conspiracy, permissively labelled “a scandal,” was a Reagan White House plot to subvert the U.S. Congress’s powers of the purse. North was the coordinator of what can fairly be described as an unconstitutional covert operation, while Abrams played the role of bagman.

To bypass the so-called Boland Amendment, Abrams took payments from the Sultan of Brunei, a petroleum potentate from South Asia, and passed them to the leaders of Reagan’s counterrevolutionary army in Nicaragua. When questioned under oath, Abrams lied. He later pleaded guilty to two counts of deceiving Congress.

As part of the conspiracy, Abrams also put in a good word for a convicted drug trafficker, General Jose Bueso Rosa. He was a Honduran general who had helped the U.S. government with  “sensitive operations” in Central America. As Murray Waas and I wrote in the Washington Post, North did “a favor for a felon.”

So did Abrams.

‘Sensitive Operations’

As an episode of CIA-sanctioned drug trafficking, the Bueso story was  typical. Bueso, it turns out, had helped put together a CIA-trained military intelligence unit known as Battalion 316, which served as death squad for U.S. policymakers.  A Honduran government investigation found that Battalion 316 had captured, tortured and executed some 200 suspected leftists.

Bueso had also trafficked multi-kiloton shipments of cocaine. As CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz documented in Volume 2 of his report on contra drug trafficking, the agency did business with more than 50 suspected drug traffickers in the 1980s.

(Lazy reporters sometimes say that the CIA was cleared of the allegation. They didn’t bother to read the Sections 800-1148 of Hitz’s report which detail how the agency took no action against four dozen suspected traffickers who aided Reagan’s–and Abrams’–anticommunist crusade.)

The IG report that lazy CIA reporters prefer not to read.
(Credit: CIA)

Investigating the story for the Post, I spoke on background with law enforcement officials familiar with Bueso’s case. A  wiretap had picked up Bueso repeatedly talking about shipments of “flour” into central Florida, they said.

Given Bueso’s connections, no one in the Reagan Justice Department cared to make a big deal of his cocaine shipments, no matter how hefty. They just wanted a conviction that would put him out of business. Bueso got a generous plea bargain. He would only have to serve five years.

Bueso, however, was led to believe his American friends would save him from serving any time all.  

In his September 1986 email, later uncovered by Iran-contra investigators, North worried Bueso might “break his long standing silence.” He might, in other words disclose unpleasant truths about death squads and CIA drug trafficking that might taint professed U.S. ideals of human rights.

So North “cabaled quietly” with Abrams, as well as top Pentagon, CIA and Justice Department officials.  A presidential pardon was out of the question but transfer to a comfortable “Club Fed” facility was arranged.

At a time when U.S. prosecutors meted out ten-year sentences to young black men for the possession of a few ounces of cocaine, Abrams was part of a gang that thought a multi-kiloton trafficker should be treated leniently. Such was his subtle advocacy of human rights.

Bueso got out of prison early–for “good behavior.” Abrams went on to a long career in U.S. foreign policy. Hundreds of thousands of black men remained in jails for years, if not decades.


Rep. Omar could have asked an even tougher question of Abrams, namely, “Does Trump’s policy toward Latin America today involve protection of drug traffickers as Reagan’s policy did in the 1980s?”

She was certainly justified in questioning his veracity.

“I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony you give today to be truthful,” she said.


Here’s the Omar-Abrams exchange.

8 Replies to “Elliott Abrams ‘Cabaled Quietly’ to Spring a CIA-Connected Drug Trafficker”

  1. I have often wondered just how much of “the picture” the public needs to figure things out.

    Thanks for more paint on the canvas for those who never seem to get it.

    What is with no one commenting, is America at large fearful of the deep state?

    Thanks Jeff

    1. As I was working on my story title is Cochabamba, which I discuss a lot of the information in your article. Oliver North was just one of the high profile characters in my story.
      I know the two people that took down Noriega and put him in jail. They were informants, working with the DEA. They also went to Roberto Suarez Gomez was the real Scarface. His property in Bolivia what is larger than the size of Ireland . My protagonist knew him from her past , so it was easy for her get back in his graces .His property was larger than the size of Ireland, When they came to arrest Roberto Suerez Gomez he fled through the jungles with his son. His son was shot down and killed during their chase through the jungles.
      Suarez Gomez hid in the jungles,until he became sick and died.
      My protagonist had traveled throughout Central and South America taking down some of the biggest drug dealers in the world.
      Before going on her mission, through Central and South America .
      When she started out in Washington DC, she worked with Oliver North, bringing shipments of cocaine from Bolivia into Alexandria Virginia.
      The shipments were taken into a military base in the metropolitan Washington DC area. My protagonist also played two sides of the fence, being both a drug dealer While working with the government to raise funds for Iran contra.
      My story contains some of the highest profile figures in the United States and internationally.
      This is just the tip of the iceberg, with years of investigation and research, I put my story away to bed. I have been thinking about resurrecting .
      I may not be able to use the names, as the Powers that be would be able to hold it up.

  2. We knew she was a good candidate for Congress. This proves it. What is potentially a demoralizing conclusion is that even if someone is convicted of lying they still don’t necessarily go away. Implications for Trump?

  3. I deserved that! She is on her game.

    America got too comfortable with the status quo in DC being a nod and wink to the favored members of the intelligence committee. The machinery got blindsided by the tech savvy youth. There are no longer any secrets. It’s the web, phones. Trump is my age and clueless. The Dims need to find a way to close ranks and present a united front. And if old guard don’t make intelligent contact with this youger group they are doomed.

    These guys are all caught if the public screams loud enough and long enough.

    European governments are wanting settlements from the offshore tax evasion. (ICIJ) I would not want to be Robert MUELLER. He pulled on a loose thread and got a dirty rug.

  4. To Ms. Suzanne Kent Cook, thank you for caring. For me this endeavor is something that fell together without any real organized plan. Something I took on almost full time after I retired.

    One of my observations is that as time has passed and more material came to the light of day and many who had relied on institutional cover from misinformation and other methods to misrepresent facts, lost their fabricated cover.

    That said you may want use considerable tact in your approach. Sometimes rather than stating all the facts you have, asking a question puts the “other” in a position that makes it more difficult for them to come after you. Many times the right question requires the questioned to defend themselves from the obvious.

    For instance. Mike Vigil is the former head of DEA’s international operations.



    So why question Mike, see this https://archive.org/details/Kerry-Report-Drugs-Contras

    I have printed the entire report and it’s quite informative. Even mentions Manaforet, Black & Stone. Members of the committee complained loudly and often that their efforts had been hampered by interference from various D.C. institutions. CIA being one.

    I have not asked Mike this directly but I have proposed the question in some of what I have submitted on the internet.

    How could Mike being head of DEA international operations not have known about have known about CIA’s reported activities flooding the west coast with cocaine, late 70’s to the 80’s. SEE FREEWAY RICK ROSS – the former drug dealer not the rapper who took his name. See the Story’s of Danny Casolaro, Jeff Webb, Mike Ruppert and many others who are no longer alive.

    But a bigger point here for you and I is that this report is out and has been for some time. Computers have made life much more difficult for those who have things to hide. This is very good for folks like you and I. I mean if I am endangering “another” by publicizing commonly available public knowledge and asking obvious questions then something is very wrong with what they have done in the past.

    Mike presents himself as an American hero and has amassed quite a fortune himself. He appears on Drug Crime tv shows recounting some of his escapades while with DEA.

    I have learned that when CIA cleaned house after the Church-Pike congressional hearings (1974 forward) many who were cut from the CIA work force were picked up by a fledgling DEA created by Nixon 1973 in one of Nixon’s many reorganizations.

    I have avoided snooping too much in Mikes past but his own stories date his time with DEA. He was there during a very busy time in the international drug trade.

    With wiki leaks and the Panama and paradise Papers uncovering the would wide network of off shore money laundering the game has changed in your and my favor.

    We must thank folks like Jeff Morley and the crew at Muckrock for the reams of information. Muckrock is where I found the link to the Kerry Report.

    I will be happy to help in any way you think I might be able.

    I don’t know, naturally, when you shelved your work but right about now might be a good opportunity to dust it off.

    Thanks Jeff & Suzanne

  5. Robert Mueller investigated BCCI while Asst AG of the DOJ criminal division 1990-1993, sen John Kerry and Sen Hank Brown released a report on BCCI fall 1992. This work seems to have overlapped time wise by no one seemed to be able to put things together. Likely because Kerry couldn’t get the data he needed to do his job.

    Nobody learns of the real problems with BCCI because the info is ignored by the press I guess. But both Kerry efforts were hampered by lack of cooperation from other government agencies, CIA – DEA – DOJ.

    Suzanne I know not of your protagonist but from where I am standing hero’s and villians in the drug trade seem very hard to separate

  6. To clarify: The work I’m referring to overlapping is the Sen Kerry 1988 DRUGS LAW ENFORCEMENT AND FOREIGN POLICY, Dec 1988 and the BCCI report Sen Kerry and Sen Brown produced fall 1992.

  7. To clarify: The work that overlapped that I refer to is the Sen Kerry Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy investigation report Dec 1988 and the John Kerry Sen & Sen Hank Brown report on BCCI fall 1992.

    July 1991 Mueller uncharacteristically, announced in a news ,”blitz” (?) that the U.S. Gov had been investigating BCCI since 1986. The investigations may not have been connected, investigations are that way sometimes, but they overlapped. DOJ is a v ery large agency but Kerry Brown and Mueller were high ranking officials of the US gov at the time.

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