Pinochet 'sold cocaine to Europe and US'
Jonathan Franklin in Santiago
-- -- Augusto Pinochet's $26m (£14m) fortune was
amassed through cocaine sales to Europe and the US, the general's
former top aide for intelligence has alleged.
In testimony sent to Chilean Judge Claudio Pavez, Manuel Contreras
alleges that Pinochet and his son Marco Antonio organised a massive
production and distribution network, selling cocaine to Europe and
the US in the mid-1980s.
According to Contreras, once Pinochet's ally and now a bitter enemy,
Pinochet ordered the army to build a clandestine cocaine laboratory
in Talagante, a rural town 24 miles from Santiago. There he had
chemists mix cocaine with other chemicals to produce what Contreras
described as a "black cocaine" capable of being smuggled past drug
agents in the US and Europe.
Pinochet denied the charges. His son also denied the charges and
said he would sue the former head of intelligence whom he called "a
liar" and "a monster".
The details of Contreras' testimony were published first in the
Chilean newspaper La Nación. The Pinochet fortune, amassed during
the dictator's 1973-1990 rule, is now estimated at some $26m and is
being investigated in Chile, the US and Europe.
The mastermind behind the cocaine operation, alleges Contreras, was
Eugenio Berríos, a renegade chemist who was used repeatedly by
Pinochet's secret police force, DINA, to run clandestine laboratory
experiments. Earlier testimony and documents show that Berríos and
the lab tested anthrax and botulism and were able to produce the
deadly gas sarin.
The biological weapons were slated to be used against Pinochet's
personal enemies and in a massive form against enemy troops in the
event of an invasion by Argentina. The drug operation, says
Contreras, was designed to raise cash for the dictator.
Contreras is serving two jail terms for human rights violations. As
former director of DINA, Contreras is accused of running death squad
operations that led to the murders of an estimated 3,000 Chileans in
The details of the cocaine operation came as part of an
investigation into the murder of Colonel Gerardo Huber, a top
intelligence operative and close friend of Contreras.
Huber was found murdered in the middle of an investigation that
implicated the Chilean army in breaking a UN weapons embargo and
sending arms to Croatia in 1991. Huber, who had extensive first hand
knowledge of the deals and was expected to testify before Chilean
judges, was kidnapped and his body dumped in a remote area.
With mounting evidence that Pinochet personally planned the 1992
execution of Huber, former allies such as Contreras have turned on
Pinochet and are now alleging a stunning list of crimes and
The Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet, called on the courts to
carry out further investigations.
While the allegations of cocaine sales are new, the alleged use of
clandestine arms deals has been under intense investigation for two
years in Chile. Investigators in Chile and England continue to look
at the role of British Aerospace (now BAE Systems) in a number of
payments to Pinochet advisers. Whether those fees were consultant
fees or kickbacks is still under investigation.
In addition to the investigation for tax fraud and falsifying
documents (passports), Pinochet also faces investigation for his
role in "Operación Colombo", an organised massacre of dozens of
regime opponents carried out by DINA in 1974 and 1975.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006
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