By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Photo by Jack GouldThe 1980s. The U.S. appetite for cocaine is insatiable. Everyone's snorting. Nancy Reagan's screaming, "Just say no!" The government decides to kick ass. Uncle Sam goes straight to the source: Central America. South America. Any America that's not North America. We go down there. A familiar face smiles back. The CIA's been there for years. "What took you so long?" The CIA had already hopped from one impoverished country to another. The CIA had already propped up one repressive regime after another. The CIA knows the drug trade. "Fight your silly Drug War," the CIA says. "Just don't fuck up our groundwork." Their groundwork. They know the coke flow is immense. Immeasurable. Unstoppable. The CIA knows about the money. Fuck Woodward and Bernstein! Don't follow the money. It leads back to the CIA. You think Joe Sixpack funds these dictators? Hah! There's enough lucre here to fund secret operations the world over. The Iranians need arms to fight the Iraqis. They helped put Ronnie Reagan in the White House. It's payback time. Drugs are seized before they enter the U.S. Drugs are sold to buy arms. Arms are exchanged for hostages. Drug seizures are celebrated as major victories in the sham Drug War. Drug proceeds that fund black ops are better celebrated in private. In the Star Chamber. Clink your glasses. We win. They lose. They can die. Must die. God bless the Americas.
Santa Ana resident Ken Bucchi says he was a contract soldier in the CIA Drug War. He says the Agency recruited him out of Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky. He says he endured rigorous training in a crater in the Nevada desert. He says his final exam was sinking drug boats in the Florida Keys. He says his graduation included bombing cocaine labs in Colombia. He says he met with then-CIA director William Casey, who is now rotting in Hell. Bucchi says they developed Operation Pseudo Miranda. He says deals were made with the "coke lords," even Pablo Escobar. Bucchi says Operation Pseudo Miranda would stop half the cocaine coming into the U.S. How? By agreeing to allow the other half to arrive at its destination unimpeded. He says the big, protected cartels like Medellin turned the CIA on to smaller, competing drug operations. He says the CIA set about crushing the competition. All in the name of Operation Pseudo Miranda. All in the name of Nancy Reagan's sham Drug War. All in the name of America.
I was at another newspaper seven years ago. Ken Bucchi called. His New England accent was as thick as chowder. He was living in Newport Beach. He'd just written a novel, CIA: Cocaine in America. A small "true crime" house published it. Would I interview him? Interviewing an author is about as fun as a root canal with a rusty nail and no Vicodin. Reading an interview of an author is even worse. But how many local guys claim to be spooks? It was worth at least a listen. He walked into the conference room. Tan. Slim. Athletic. Handsome. Early 30s. Casually dressed, but nice stuff—like you'd find in a Fashion Island men's shop. I listened. I'll admit it now if I didn't admit to readers then: his tale was mighty convoluted. So was CIA: Cocaine in America. The lead character in Bucchi's fictional book was really Bucchi. Obviously. The lead character hobnobbed with dangerous drug lords. The lead character boned a fellow CIA soldier who turned out to be a total babe once you stripped her down. The CIA babe later died in his arms. The lead character may have had a secret meeting with then-Vice President George Bush. May have? Well? Did you or didn't you? Don't know, Bucchi answered. The CIA often arranged meetings between contractors like Bucchi and impostors. He mildly apologized for the way some details were presented in CIA: Cocaine in America. "For storytelling purposes," he said, the publisher made him take a lot of literary license.
Sounded more like literary bullshit. Sounded like Ken Bucchi must be a nut. But something kept nagging at me. At the core of his story were fascinating details about an alleged CIA drug operation. Enough specifics to give Tom Clancy a boner the size and tensile strength of the Red October. How could someone make stuff like this up whole-cloth?
And details like these popped up again. Two years after our interview. The San Jose Mercury News. Reporter Gary Webb's groundbreaking "Dark Alliance" series chronicled the real-life CIA connection to crack cocaine sales on the streets of South-Central LA. The OC Weekly's Nick Schou managed to piggyback onto Webb's coverage with assorted Orange County connections, including the story of a former Laguna cop busted for running coke out of his Mission Viejo domicile. But Webb has since been shit on. Heat came from other newspapers. The Los Angeles Times led the wolf pack. The Times didn't break the CIA-crack story, therefore it couldn't have happened. A Mercury News editor concurred. Webb's story was branded sloppy. He's now out of the biz.