Saturday, April 07, 2012

The War on Drugs! (Part 2)

More Furious: U.S. Soldiers Trafficking Arms, Drugs to DEA Agents Posing as Los Zetas
Patrick Henningsen
April 5, 2012
In case you missed it this week, an Afghan War veteran and one other active duty serviceman – along with multiple accomplices, were indicted for their involvement in a year-long federal agency sting. This particular story reads like a supermarket aisle fantasy novel… if only it were.
A gang which included US soldiers allegedly offered ‘wet-work’ murder-for-hire services, narcotics trafficking and stolen US military weapons to undercover Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents… posing as foot soldiers for Mexico’s notorious Los Zetas drug cartel.
Following the conclusion of a year long sting which ended in Laredo Texas, Kevin Corley, a 29 year old formerly active US Army Drill Seargent and Afghan veteran from Fort Carson, active duty soldier Samuel Walker, 28, both of Colorado Springs, CO, and Shavar Davis, 29, of Denver, CO, while two other men – Marcus Mickle, 20, and Calvin Epps, 26 have been arrested and charged in a conspiracy related to drug trafficking and attempted murder. A sixth man, Mario Corley, 40, from Saginaw, Texas, was also arrested in Charleston, S.C. as part of the same investigation.
During the arrest on last Saturday, another man, Jerome Corley was fatally shot.
The federal sting started back in January 2011, when Mr. Mickle entered negotiations with what he thought were members of the Lot Zetas Cartel, in order to purchase marijuana in return for stolen weapons.
(From left, Kevin Corley, Shavar Davis and Samuel Walker)
Mickle and Epps, first tried to organize the drugs shipment with the undercover agents, but are said to have brought Kevin Corley in after agents inquired about arms.
Corley later provided security for a 500 lb shipment of marijuana trucked from Texas to South Carolina, according to the complaint.
In addition, Kevin Corley offered to provide full combat training for 40 cartel members in just two weeks. The Army soldier explained that an array of military weapons could be easily stolen from army posts. According to the complaint document, Corley also “offered to provide tactical training for cartel members, including approaches, room clearing, security, and convoy security. Kevin Corley also offered to purchase weapons for the cartel under his name as long as he could destroy serial numbers.”
Kevin Corley traveled to Laredo on Jan. 7, to meet with undercover DEA agents and discuss the murder-for-hire scheme, where, according to the official complaint filing (PDF), “Kevin Corley proposed a $50,000 fee to perform the contract killing and retrieve the 20 kilograms of cocaine, and Kevin Corley offered to refund the money if the victim survived… also told the agents he would accept cocaine in lieu of the fee for his service, but ultimately agreed to accept $50,000 and five kilograms of cocaine for a full team.”
So we have Kevin Corley leading a US Military hit-squad for the DEA’s faux Zetas, and later conspiring to supplying drugs to these same Zetas.
A few interesting questions remain regarding this latest bizarre operation:
One of the unanswered questions here is why Kevin Corley and Walker was discharged from duty right before their unit were due to be deployed to Afghanistan in February? According to an earlier AP/Huff Post report:
Kevin Corley was discharged from the Army on March 13, according to the Army Human Resources Command. Fort Carson officials said Walker is on active duty, and that both men were assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, part of the 4th Infantry Division.
Fort Carson didn’t know the circumstances of Corley’s discharge, and the Army Human Resources Command declined to provide details. The 4th Brigade began deploying to Afghanistan in mid-February, though it wasn’t immediately known whether Walker or Corley had been expected to be part of that deployment.
More importantly, however, is the question of how Sgt. Corley and his gang were able to organize a 500 lb truck load of marijuana for his undercover DEA associates. The gang’s truck load containing their consignment of marijuana was pulled over and seized by federal agents in mid-January. Kevin Corley, Jerome Corley and Epps were driving in the vehicle ahead of the shipment, but were not pulled over.
Faster and More Furious?
It is within these very kind of operations where Congress has raised the same concern over a gun-smuggling operation known as Fast and Furious, in which agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives(under the direction of the US Department of Justice) allowed suspected smugglers to buy and transport some 30,000 guns across the Mexican border- an operation which eventually led to the death of at least one American Border Patrol agent who was shot to death by Mexican drug cartel gunman, but who really knows how many lives those 30,000+ guns claimed after they were shipped into Mexico via the US federal government.
Corley’s initial truck load of marijuana is said to have been apprehended in South Carolina, but oddly, this set-back which would normally amount to a huge loss in terms of the street value of the drugs lost, did not seem to deter Corley and his gang from continuing to be strung along by the DEA as their sting continued. Despite the seizure, the official complaint alleges that Kevin Corley continued trying to arrange for marijuana shipments in February and March to his accomplice Mario Corley in South Carolina.
One might ask: how could a couple of Afghan soldiers might get a hold of 500 lbs haul of drugs? Possibly Mexico. But Mexico is one of the world’s top marijuana producers…
It might be worth some consideration here that according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Afghanistan is now the world’s largest cannabis producer, surpassing Morocco. It’s well known already that Afghanistan is the world’s largest opium poppy producer as well, supplying more than 90% of the illicit global market for opium and heroin – and that the US military and the CIA, are known to play a pivotal role in facilitating both the production and export side of this lucrative product.
Not that the war zone drug cultivation business is any real surprise to readers who have been following developments in Afghanistan. Still though, it remains one of the most hush-hush subjects, and one which will rarely appear in the spotlight.
Opium production used to be down to almost zero under the Taliban, pre-2001. After the U.S. and UK forces invaded, production picked up exponentially from around 700 tons in 2001, to about 8,000 tons in 2008, for a profit in the region of $500 billion. So by now, in 2012, few can argue against the reality that there exists a genuine link between the War on Terror and the War on Drugs.
U.S. Army soldiers have been growers and guards of the poppy fields in Afghanistan, assisting banks who launder billions and support war lords like Whalid Karzai maintain control of the business there.
As author Michel Chossudovsky explains in his 2007 article on the drugs trade,“The Golden Crescent drug trade, launched by the CIA in the early 1980s, continues to be protected by US intelligence, in liaison with NATO occupation forces and the British military. In recent developments, British occupation forces have promoted opium cultivation through paid radio advertisements.”
Only last month, national reports exposed the likelihood that US forces have recently handed over much of this regional drug-mule work to the Afghan Air Force (AAF), which was established largely with American funds, using their airplanes to transport drugs and arm around the region.
The other protagonist disguised as Los Zetas, the DEA, are by no means above the fray here, as they also have a history of profiting from the very drug trade they are meant to be curtailing, as the New York Times reported in as recently as last year:
“Undercover American narcotics agents have laundered or smuggled millions of dollars in drug proceeds as part of Washington’s expanding role in Mexico’s fight against drug cartels, according to current and former federal law enforcement officials.”
Corley’s 4th Brigade Combat Team is part of the 4th Infantry Division – a unique division where unit are organized in 3-year life cycles, designed to enhance ’predictability’ for members of the unit. Certainly, it would be within this very environment that soldiers inclined towards entrepreneurship could forge strong relationship, and links – even illicit ones.
Far-fetched? Perhaps. But on its face, this federal case involving arms, drugs and active duty US soldiers - is no ordinary one.
But neither are the black operations currently being conducted by the DEA and the CIA.
And neither is the decade-long war in Afghanistan.
U.S. soldier caught smuggling drugs
Robert Lee (
08 March 2012
Prosecutors here have indicted a U.S. soldier without detention for bringing synthetic marijuana into the country, prosecutors said Thursday.
According to Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, the U.S. Eighth Army sergeant first class was caught trying to ship in AM-2201, a synthetic cannabinoid.
The soldier, whose name was not disclosed, had ordered 50 grams of the drug online and shipped it into the country.
“I brought it in so I could use it,” said the soldier as quoted by prosecutors.
Officials are still investigating to see if the soldier had an accomplice.
The issue of synthetic cannabis and other THC substitutes have plagued the U.S. Army, prompting a memorandum from the U.S. Secretary of the Army to prohibit the use of Spice and other variations while on active duty.
Spice, a synthetic drug, remains legal in the U.S., while the Korea Food and Drug Administration classified the drug as illegal in 2009.
According to other news reports, the U.S. military investigated some 1,100 suspected users in 2011.
Is the military using warships to smuggle drugs?
Ian McPhedran
05 January 2012
News that up to 21 navy sailors were allegedly running a drug ring from the Garden Island Navy base in Sydney, and that about 30 more were possibly involved in distributing the contraband, has shone the spotlight into a dark corner of military life.
With recent raids uncovering illicit drugs including steroids, heroin, cocaine and ecstasy, the extent of drug trafficking and substance abuse by military personnel is now being exposed and it is not a pretty picture.
The vast majority of navy, army and air force personnel are clean living, law abiding citizens, but for those who aren’t there are many opportunities to take advantage of their status as returning warriors and their mode of military transport to import illegal material.
This is not restricted to drugs and for years the duty free limits on cigarettes and alcohol have been flouted by some personnel returning to Australia on air force flights or navy ships.
While civilian luggage is subjected to layered security screening involving high-tech equipment such as X-ray machines and less technical methods such as sniffer dogs, military personnel are often given special treatment by their uniformed colleagues from the powerful Customs service.
Soldiers coming home on flights landing late at night at military airports, or sailors on warships sailing back to a grateful nation and their anxious families are not subjected to anywhere near the level of scrutiny that civilian travellers must endure.
This lax approach has provided numerous opportunities for criminal elements to ply their trade and the extent of the navy drug ring, operating right under the noses of the top brass at maritime headquarters in Sydney Harbour, indicates that warships have become the platform of choice for the dealers.
The fact that the dominant illicit substance being marketed by the military pushers is anabolic steroids is another worrying development.
Many young men and women in uniform are obsessed with body image and spend hours each day pumping iron and drinking bodybuilding supplements in a bid to gain an edge in the ripped body stakes. Some are even prepared to run the gauntlet of random drug testing and port security to use and import steroids.
The marketing material used by supplement companies provides an insight into the mind set of the body building industry and their buff clients. They openly peddle "testosterone and growth hormone boosters, fat burners and metabolisers and muscle cell volumisers".
And some firms even use the iconic image of a slouch hat and the Australian flag to promote discounts to members of the Australian Defence Force who they are "proud to serve".
And what self-respecting iron pumper could resist brands such as Redback, Dymatize, Muscle Tech, Body Ripped, Aussie Bodies or our favourite, Muscle Asylum Project?
At military bases throughout Australia and across the world, larders are stocked with bulk-packaged supplements and gyms are bulging with weight lifting equipment.
At forward operating bases in Afghanistan the muscle building equipment might not be fancy but it is effective. After a hard day’s patrolling, diggers from the Mentoring Task Force settle in for a sweaty session of weights and a long supplement drink often followed by a screening of the latest body building DVD featuring men that look more like the incredible hulk than a human being.
Presumably the top brass have judged that the supplements are safe and that pumped up soldiers are happy campers.
The national obsession with body image has seen the market for illicit anabolic steroids boom in recent years. Once the preserve of elite athletes searching for an edge, the substances are now sold by dealers across the suburban landscape where gyms have sprouted like mushrooms.
Steroids are the best known of all banned substances used by sports drug cheats. Unlike supplements that claim to boost testosterone and growth hormone levels, anabolic steroids actually do just that. They increase protein synthesis within cells resulting in the build-up of tissue especially in muscles.
One indicator of steroid use is body mass index (BMI) and soldiers exhibiting extreme BMI are routinely tested for steroid use.
Using anabolic steroids carries significant health risks and users can suffer from high blood pressure, heart problems, shrunken testicles and psychological disorders including the well documented "roid rage" where they fly into uncontrollable fits of anger.
Last year seven ADF personnel were sent home from Afghanistan and drummed out of the army for steroid abuse. Between 2004 and 2009 a total of 351 military staff were sacked for illicit drug use including steroids. These numbers are not large from a work force of 56,000 people, but they do hint at a growing trend in drug abuse by men and women in uniform.
Defence has a zero tolerance drug policy and the top brass deny that the problem is widespread, but they are concerned enough to expand the random testing regime.
Meanwhile, young soldiers will continue their quest for the perfect supplement and spend hours every day bench pressing twice their body weight or snatching and jerking ever increasing loads as they pack on the muscle mass and cut up the fat in search of that perfect "ripped" body.
TSA agents, cops arrested for drug trafficking
LeAnne Gendreau
Sept 13, 2011
Three TSA agents and at least two police officers have been arrested, accused of being involved in a massive oxycodone trafficking operation between Connecticut, New York and Florida, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The arrests come after a five-month joint law enforcement investigation, and the arrested officers include three Transportation Security Administration officers based at airports in Florida and New York, a Westchester County police officer and a Florida State Trooper, whose names have not been released.
Officials said the suspects are accused of receiving cash to assist in moving tens of thousands of oxycodone pills from Florida to New York and Connecticut as well as transporting cash proceeds from the sale of the drugs back to Florida.
U.S. Attorney David B. Fein, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Stamford Police Chief Robert Nivakoff will hold a news conference on Tuesday afternoon in Stamford to discuss the arrests.
British soldiers ‘smuggle heroin from Afghanistan’
Detectives investigate UK troops thought to be smuggling drugs on military planes
12 Sep 2010
Military police are investigating allegations that some British troops returning from duty in Afghanistan are involved in drug trafficking, bringing heroin home with them on flights coming into RAF Brize Norton.
The MoD is taking the claims seriously, increasing the use of sniffer dogs and body and luggage searches on flights which bring 700 troops a week back from Helmand. The checks are so rigorous the MoD has apologised to innocent troops for the inconvenience.
The Hampshire-based Special Investigations branch of the MoD’s military police started their investigation after receiving a tip-off that a network of UK soldiers is buying drugs from dealers in Afghanistan. The investigation centres on British and Canadian troops based at Kandahar’s Camp Bastion.
An MoD spokesman said: “We take any such reports very seriously and we have already tightened our existing procedures, both in Afghanistan and in the UK, including through increasing the use of sniffer dogs.”
Robert Fox, The First Post's defence correspondent, said the revelation was, if anything, somewhat overdue: "If it's true, it comes as no surprise. The use of heroin - and the peddling of it - were rife in the Red Army when the Russians occupied Afghanistan.”
There is also a long tradition of profiteering among soldiers – as portrayed, fictionally, in Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 where mess officer Lt Minderbinder buys and sells his way around the globe.
Opium growing is worth £2bn a year in Afghanistan, which produces 90 per cent of the world supply. Of that, more than half is grown in Helmand province. One Afghan drug dealer spoke to the Sunday Times last year. Identified only as Aziz, he said: “Most of our other customers, apart from drug lords in foreign countries, are the military. The soldiers whose term of duty is about to finish, they give an order to our boss.
“As I have heard, they are carrying these drugs in the military airlines and they can’t be reached because they are military. They can take it to the USA or England.”  

Also See:
The War on Drugs!
(Part 1)
12 December 2011
What Do You Know About George H.W. Bush?
05 December 2011
The Iran-Contra Scandal!
29 December 2011
Illegal Drugs and the Government
14 April 2010
Across the Border in Mexico
27 March 2010