1998 Congressional Hearings
Intelligence and Security

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IN THE 1980'S

OCTOBER 23, 1996

Office of the Inspector General

10th & Constitution Avenue, NW, Suite 4706

Washington, D.C. 20530

(202) 514-3435

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Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee:

Thank you for inviting me to testify about my office's investigation concerning allegations involving the Central Intelligence Agency's suggested link to drug trafficking by supporters of the Nicaraguan Contras. My investigation will examine whether Department of Justice personnel were aware of such information and, if so, what they did about it. Because our investigation is just beginning, my testimony will be limited to some extent. I would like to take this opportunity, however, to describe for you the scope of our investigation and its current status.

As the Committee is aware, these allegations were publicized in August 1996 through a series of articles in the San Jose Mercury News. The articles focused on two convicted drug dealers, Oscar Blandon and Norwin Meneses, who were alleged to have supported the Nicaraguan Contras through the sale of crack cocaine to "Freeway" Ricky Ross, a well-known drug dealer who operated primarily in South Central Los Angeles. While implying that the CIA was involved in the drug trafficking in some manner, the articles also alleged that Department of Justice employees, particularly DEA agents, may have been aware of this CIA connection to drug trafficking. The allegations provoked an angry response from the public, particularly the African-American community in South Central Los Angeles. The Department and I have received numerous letters from members of Congress as well as California officials, Democrats and Republicans alike, requesting that these allegations be fully investigated.

On September 20, 1996, I announced that the Office of Inspector General would be conducting an investigation into these aspects of the allegations that involve Department of Justice employees. For example, we will be investigating DEA's use of Blandon and Meneses as informers; whether the DEA failed to conduct appropriate drug investigations because of a real or suspected CIA involvement; the means whereby Blandon obtained from the INS his green card that allowed him to remain in the United States even though he was convicted of a felony; and the knowledge of DOJ employees of Blandon's alleged CIA connections.

Although I do not have jurisdiction to investigate the conduct of CIA employees, our investigation will necessarily involve coordination with the CIA Inspector General's inquiry, which will examine the CIA's alleged involvement in drug trafficking. I have met with CIA Inspector General Fred Hitz, and we have agreed to coordinate with each other when the investigations overlap and to share documents that are relevant to each inquiry. Our investigative staffs will be meeting on a regular basis to coordinate this process.

Our investigation is fully underway. The investigative team currently consists of three attorneys as well as additional investigators both here and on the West Coast. We have transmitted document requests to all Department of Justice agencies, and we have begun receiving responses to that request. The responses to our document requests have already produced a substantial quantity of documents from various Department components.

To our knowledge, allegations concerning whether the Department had any information suggesting a CIA link to Contra drug traffickers have not been previously examined in a comprehensive fashion by the Department of Justice. Through our ongoing document requests and our planned interviews of witnesses, we will determine what work has been done by Department personnel that is relevant to our inquiry. It would be premature to detail the documents that we have received that are related to these matters.

While I cannot discuss in detail the investigative steps that we intend to take, I can assure you that our investigation will be complete and thorough. The Office of Inspector General has successfully completed similar large-scale investigations. As examples of the type of work undertaken by my office, I would point to our recently completed report on the deception of members of a Congressional Task Force by officials in the INS' Miami District; our report on allegations of racist conduct by federal employees at the Good O' Boy Roundup; and the classified reports of our investigations into the Justice Department's response to the murder of four Marines in the Zona Rosa district of El Salvador and to certain violent crimes committed against U.S. nationals in Guatemala. These reports typify the thorough investigations and reporting that the Office of Inspector General conducts. You can be assured that the investigation into these serious allegations will be no less thorough and no less independent than our previous work.

I am prepared to answer questions at this time.