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Member since: Mon Oct 8, 2007, 11:23 AM
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laweekly: L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Kiki Camarena Murder

How a Dogged L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

In January 1989, Hector Berrellez reported to Los Angeles, handpicked by the head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to get to the bottom of a 4-year-old murder investigation that was a top agency priority. This wasn't just another killing in the seemingly endless bloodshed in the Mexican drug wars; the victim, like Berrellez, was a DEA agent. Enrique "Kiki" Camarena had been kidnapped, tortured and murdered at the hands of a Mexican drug cartel four years earlier. The identity of the killers was clear enough; two cartel bosses had been convicted of the killings and were imprisoned in Mexico. But the DEA had reason to believe there were many more guilty parties in addition to the two capos behind bars.

Berrellez was 42 at the time. A former homicide cop, he'd joined the DEA more than a decade earlier as a prized recruit, a thrill-seeker and trained investigator who spoke Spanish without a trace of an American accent — a natural-born undercover narc. He was posted to DEA operations in Colombia and Mexico, living under assumed identities, infiltrating the Medellín cartel, the Cali cartel, the Guadalajara cartel. " I was good," he says. "I could penetrate cartels as Mexican. When I was asked if I was a cop, I'd tell them, 'Yo ni tengo papeles!'"

One retired fellow agent called him the Wyatt Earp of the DEA. His supervisor in the Los Angeles office said Berrellez had better sources than the CIA. But of the 200 investigations Berrellez had run in his 12 years with the administration, the Camarena case would be the one where he got more information than he bargained for.

Given his experience, Berrellez was an appropriate choice to lead the investigation. Nonetheless, on the day he got the assignment from DEA headquarters, he believed he was the butt of a practical joke. It was December 1988, a month after his cover had been blown in Mexico and he and his wife and children had to be evacuated from Mazatlán under threat of death. A month of kicking around his hometown of South Tucson, Arizona, on administrative leave, bored stiff, steeling his excitable nerves for a desk job in Phoenix. Boy, the guys must have really pulled out all the stops this time; the woman's voice on the phone sounded official: "Yes, Agent Berrellez, please hold for the administrator." Berrellez was a proud rank-and-file agent, wary of Washington, D.C.; he'd managed to fly under the radar at headquarters. He had certainly never fielded a call from the administrator before, and what he expected to hear now were the snickers of his fellow agents over speakerphone, not the voice of Jack Lawn asking if he would like to take over the investigation code-named [font color=darkred]Operation Leyenda[/font]...


PBS' History Detectives

The conspiracy theorists at PBS ...

came to the same conclusion.

Keep up the great work, Octafish.

CBC (9 - Windsor)

Growing up close to Detroit we were able to pull in CBC channel 9 in Windsor and catch great shows like SCTV.

Pre-ESPN .. between the CBC (Hockey Night in Canada, Olympics...) and channel 50 in Detroit we got our sports fix.

Continuum deserves to be on that list...

Excellent show.

I might have Jericho a little higher too .. having just watched the dvd. Caprica .. Dollhouse .. Life on Mars .. Battlestar .. Fringe .. Tru Calling and Threshold are some other must see dvds.

Echoes of JFK's trip to Ireland

John F. Kennedy in New Ross and Wexford, Ireland: June 27, 1963

Adrienne Shelly

I agree with the notion that the very fact that Sandra Bland was ever stopped and then jailed is the real issue here...

But, as I mentioned in this other thread, the case reminds me of how Adrienne Shelly was murdered. It was staged to look like a hanging/suicide. If not for her husband/blogger Andy Ostroy raising doubts about the suicide angle the police would have never investigated further...

Adrienne Shelly's "Waitress"

Recent events brought to mind the talented Adrienne Shelly..

Adrienne Shelly (June 24, 1966 – November 1, 2006), was an American actress, director and screenwriter. She became known for roles in independent films such as 1989's The Unbelievable Truth. In late 2006 Shelly was the married mother of an infant daughter and was waiting to see if her film Waitress, would be accepted for the Sundance festival. On November 1, 2006, Shelly was found dead, hanging in the shower of her Greenwich Village work studio apartment. The initial examination of the scene did not reveal any suspicious circumstances, and police apparently believed it to be a suicide...


There may be a parallel to the Kathryn Steinle case who was allegedly killed by an illegal immigrant. A tragedy which is being exploited by the despicable Donald Trump.

Also the tragic case of Sandra Bland who died in a Texas jail cell. As with the Adrienne Shelly case it appears that a hanging was staged to make it look like suicide.


Today in 1964

Michael Beschloss ‏@BeschlossDC: Civil rights heroes Schwerner, Chaney & Goodman were murdered today1964 in Mississippi:

Also, not to get too far afield here, this Jeffrey Sterling whistleblowing on the CIA case is disgusting ..

Jeff Stein ‏@SpyTalker: Moving story about the vicious prosecution of Jeffrey Sterling.
@the_intercept: "I don't know what my future is. Do I have a future?" CIA whistleblower speaks out: http://interc.pt/1CfF60M

Although it's not totally analogous to the Abraham Bolden case .. there are some parallels.

Gary Webb on Kiki Camarena (audio)

Although the Kiki Camarena story was long before the issues Gary Webb investigated in the '90s he briefly touched on it in the interview below. Gary points out that DEA Agent Celerino Castillo suggested looking into the CIA's role in Camrena's death only to find himself on the outside looking in ...

Show #703
Original airdate: October 23, 2014
Guests: Jim DiEugenio / Gary Webb
Topics: Gary Webb / CTKA / Treefrog / Letters

Gary Webb (1:07:51) Real Media or MP3 download or YouTube Video

*Gary Webb with Len and Anita Langley on BOR Show #47, August 23, 2001
*Gary was a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News in California
*Drug asset forfeitures, cocaine, Crips and Bloods
*Some of the money was used to buy weapons for the Nicaraguan Contras
*"Freeway" Ricky Ross, the start of the crack epidemic, Dark Alliance: (Webb 1999)
*CIA was running the drugs into the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles
The group included an MBA in marketing, a weapons advisor, a macro-economist
*Norwin Meneses, they were untouched by law enforcement for many years
*A professional marketing operation, not a lot of moral examination
*Crack democratized cocaine, a cheaper unit cost, a bigger kick
*Dr. Robert Byck congressional testimony on the smoking of cocaine
*Increased prison sentences, not allowed to study it
*Political overtones to the crack market, Miami, Haiti
*An LAPD Rick Ross task force, civil rights violations
*CIA/Contra evidence disappeared, CIA/Meneses, operated fairly openly
*He could be blatant about it because he was a useful money launderer
*The Sandinista revolution, the Somozas, Reagan, a PR campaign
*"The moral equivalent of our founding fathers", [font color=blue]DEA Agent Celerino Castillo[/font]
*A DEA Investigation of CIA, these things get rooted in systems, they're protected

*Did Gary make a difference? Yes. In African-American society this is still an issue
*This story took off in 1996 on the world wide web, linked to source documents
*The backlash was enormous, the Washington Post, the newspaper's reputation
*CIA was allowed to investigate itself, cocaine brought in on freighters
*3 million dollars a day in crack sales, Dr. Hugo Spadafora
*Cocaine trafficking was the coin of the realm in Central America
*Memorandum of Understanding between the CIA and the Department of Justice
*Agencies were profiting from the Drug War
*Asset forfeiture, property confiscated without being charged


The CIA retains two secret files on New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison

On April 1, 1967, CIA director Richard Helms launched a secret world-wide campaign, entitled “Countering Warren Commission critics,” which sought to discredit JFK ‘conspiracy theorists” with newspaper editors and reporters.

At the same time, James Angleton, chief of the agency’s Counterintelligence Staff, established a secret committee, which monitored Garrison’s investigation for the next two years. Declassified documents show that Angleton’s “Garrison Group” identified scores of CIA assets and sources who figured in the New Orleans investigation.

While intensely suspicious of the CIA, Garrison actually underestimated the extent of the agency’s interest in accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald before JFK was killed.

Angeton’s staff had monitored Oswald for four years after his defection to the Soviet Union in November 1959, according to declassified records released in 1990s. Jane Roman, an aide to to Angleton, told the Washington Post that certain CIA officials had “keen interest” in Oswald in late 1963...

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