Castillo, Celerino III and Harmon, Dave. Powderburns: Cocaine, Contras and
the Drug War. Oakville, Ontario: Mosaic Press (Sundial), 1994. 240 pages.
There were a number of semi-suppressed stories during the Iran-contra
scandal concerning the link between the contras and cocaine. Celerino
Castillo knows about it first-hand. An all-American true believer, Castillo
fought in Vietnam from 1971-1972, where he saw the effects of drugs on U.S.
troops. By 1975 he was a Texas cop, later a detective working drug cases. In
1980 he joined the Drug Enforcement Administration and worked the streets of
New York. Then it was off to Peru in 1984-1985, and Guatemala from 1985-1990.
While stationed in Guatemala, Castillo was the DEA agent in charge of anti-
drug operations in El Salvador from 1985-1987. This is when he discovered
that Oliver North's contras were running cocaine from the Ilopango airport.
He did his best to bust them, but they were protected by the CIA. "By
the end of 1988," he writes, "I realized how hopelessly tangled DEA, the
CIA, and every other U.S. entity in Central America had become with the
criminals. The connections boggled my mind" (page 208). His life was in
danger, and he got out in a hurry in 1990. DEA, meanwhile, was increasing
the pressure with an internal investigation of Castillo. His career was over
and he resigned. Lawrence Walsh's office extensively debriefed Castillo, but
when Walsh released his massive report in 1993, the narcotics connection was
nowhere to be found. End of story -- until this obscure book was published.
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