Eulalio Francisco Castro Paz (Frank Castro) was born in Cuba in 1942. An opponent of Fidel Castro he fled to the United States and took part in the Bay of Pigs operation in 1961. On his return he was recruited by the CIA and was later trained at Fort Jackson.
In 1963 Manuel Artime obtained funds from the CIA via Ted Shackley head of the JM/WAVE station in Florida. Artimemoved to Nicaragua where he formed a 300 man army. Artime was joined by several other anti-Castro Cubans including Castro, Rafael Quintero and Felix Rodriguez.
Artime also covertly acquired arms, supplies and boats for an invasion of Cuba. According to David Corn (Blond Ghost): "The CIA trained Artime's men as Artime pulled together a small navy, obtained several planes, and collected over 200 tons of American-made arms. The CIA budget for Artime's war would come to total $7 million." The invasion of Cuba never took place. After the assassination of John F. Kennedy, President Lyndon B. Johnson cancelled what had become known as the Second Naval Guerrilla operation.
Frank Castro eventually became head of the Cuban National Liberation Front. During this period he ran a training camp in the Florida Everglades. According to Peter Dale Scott (Cocaine Politics) "Castro became one of the most militant of the exile terrorists." Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. Cassidy who prosecuted some of his associates remarked "Frank Castro is a very dangerous individual. He's CIA trained." A CIA report claims that by the 1970s Frank Castro had developed a reputation as an important Florida drug dealer.
In 1976 Castro helped to establish Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations (CORU). Other members included Luis Posada, Orlando Bosch, Armando Lopez Estrada and Guillermo Novo. CORU was partly financed by Guillermo Hernández Cartaya, another Bay of Pigs veteran closely linked to the CIA. He was later charged with money laundering, drugs & arms trafficking and embezzlement. The federal prosecutor told Pete Brewton that he had been approached by a CIA officer who explained that "Cartaya had done a bunch of things that the government was indebted to him for, and he asked me to drop the charges against him."
One Miami police veteran told the authors of Assassination on Embassy Row (1980): "The Cubans held the CORU meeting at the request of the CIA. The Cuban groups... were running amok in the mid-1970s, and the United States had lost control of them. So the United States backed the meeting to get them all going in the same direction again, under United States control." It has been pointed out that George H. W. Bush was director of the CIA when this meeting took place.
Castro told the Miami Herald why he had helped establish CORU: "I believe that the United States has betrayed freedom fighters around the world. They trained us to fight, brainwashed us how to fight and now they put Cuban exiles in jail for what they had been taught to do in the early years."
In October, 1976, Cubana Flight 455 exploded in midair, killing all 73 people aboard. This included all 24 young athletes on Cuba's gold-medal fencing team. Police in Trinidad arrested two Venezuelans, Herman Ricardo and Freddy Lugo. Ricardo worked for Posada's security agency in Venezuela and admitted that he and Lugo had planted two bombs on the plane. Ricardo claimed the bombing had been organized by Luis Posada and Orlando Bosch. When Posada was arrested he was found with a map of Washington showing the daily route of to work of Orlando Letelier, the former Chilean Foreign Minister, who had been assassinated on 21st September, 1976. Ricardo Morales Navarrete later admitted that he was part of this bomb plot.
CORU took credit for fifty bombings in Miami, New York, Venezuela, Panama, Mexico and Argentina in the first ten months after it was established. In a CBS interview on 10th June, 1977, Armando Lopez Estrada, a member of CORU, claimed: "We use the tactics that we learned from the CIA... We were trained to set off a bomb, we were trained to kill."
In April, 1978, the Miami Police Department arrested Ricardo Morales Navarrete and he was charged with possession of marijuana. The following year he was arrested once again and charged with carrying a concealed firearm. He was soon released and it appears that at this point he agreed to work as a FBI informer. He infiltrated a Miami based group that were importing cocaine from the new military rulers of Bolivia (Operation Tick-Talks). The group included Frank Castro, Rafael Villaverde, Jorge Villaverde and 50 other right-wing anti-Castro Cubans. In an interview with Jim Hougan, CIA agent Frank Terpil claimed that Ted Shackley, Thomas G. Clines and Richard Secord were also involved in this drug operation.
Rafael Villaverde vanished on a fishing trip after bonding out after his arrest in 1982. According to Edward Jay Epstein, Villaverde's "speedboat exploded off the coast of Florida". His body has never been found. Soon afterwards Ricardo Morales Navarrete was killed in a bar in Key Biscayne.
Frank Castro, charged with four counts of importing, delivering and selling marijuana. However, as a result of the death of the key witness, the case was dismissed in a plea bargain in which Castro pled guilty to a weapons charge and was fined $500. It is the only time Castro has ever been convicted of a crime.
In 1983 Castro was indicted for conspiracy and smuggling 425,000 pounds of marijuana into Beaumont, Texas. This was part of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Operation Grouper. These charges were also dropped in June 1984. It has been suggested by Pete Brewton (The Mafia, CIA and George Bush) that the reason for this was Castro's involvement in the Iran-Contra Scandal. As Brewton pointed out: "From July 1983 to January 1984 - the same period in which he was under indictment for drug smuggling - Castro we was providing food, equipment and weapons for a secret military training camp for Nicaraguan Contras in the Everglades near Naples, Florida."
Key figures in the Iran-Contra activities became concerned about the involvement of people like Frank Castro. In November 1984, Oliver North's emissary Robert Owen wrote a report for his boss in Washington: "Several sources are now saying Pastora is going to be bankrolled by former Bay of Pigs veteran Frank Castro, who is heavily into drugs. The word has it Pastora is going to be given $200,000 a month by Castro."
CIA Inspector General Frederick P. Hitz carried out an investigation into Frank Castro. Hitz discovered that the CIA knew that Castro was implicated in terrorism and drug trafficking, but as Robert Parry pointed out in Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, The Press & Project Truth, this information was withheld from John Kerry and his senate investigation into the Iran-Contra Scandal. According to another CIA document dated 7th March, 1986, Frank Castro was the main liaison between Colombian drug dealers and Miami-based Cubans.
The FBI was also investigating Frank Castro. One report confirmed that Castro had met John Hull concerning the training of the Contras. In another document dated 13th February, 1987, a FBI agent reported that "Castro has very good connections with the Medellin cartel". According to Robert Parry "federal authorities were hesitant to move because of Castro's CIA ties."
In June 1988, Frank Castro and five others were indicted for violating the U.S. Neutrality Act for taking part in a "military expedition and enterprise to be carried on from thence against the territory of Nicaragua, a foreign state with whom the United States, at all times mentioned herein, has been and is now at peace." It was claimed that Castro financed the 60 man training camp in the Everglades. The defendants argued that they had set up the camp and trained the Contras with the approval of the Ronald Reagan administration. Eventually the judge ruled that Castro and his co-defendants had not broken the law as the "United States was not technically at peace with Nicaragua at that time."
A formal agreement between DINA and CORU was made in November 1975. Michael Townley was selected as liaison between the groups.
In July 1976 Cuban terrorists and Michael Townley met in Bonao in the Dominican Republic at the executive lodge of the Falcondo Mining Company to plan joint ventures: both the Cubana bombing and the Letelier killing. Sacha Volman, the veteran CIA agent, and Cuban exile Frank Castro, another CIA man working with Gulf and Western, hosted the meeting. Volman had been a key CIA-labor operative in the Dominican Republic under David Phillips.
In 1977, Ambassador George Landau entered the case as a principal and revealed the circumstances of the Paraguayan passports. The false names and photographs of the two men had been lost by the CIA. Now, after Landau remembered them, they reappeared. "Juan Williams Rose" would later be identified by Chileans as Michael Vernon Townley, and the Department of Justice had no choice but to call the Cuban exiles identified in Penthouse before a grand jury. But it was too late to call Aldo Vera.
Researchers working on this book have learned that, by October 1976, only days after Letelier was murdered, the FBI was pressing Aldo Vera for information and that Vera was co-operating. Vera had been expelled from Accion Cubana in June 1976-according to FBI documents newly discovered-because of his informant activity. On October 25, 1976, he was murdered in San Juan. He and Townley had started out together in the SAO and P y L. Then Vera had helped to set up Cruz in France. Now he was dead, and Townley and his wife feared for their lives.
Eulalio Francisco "Frank" Castro is one bad hombre. Although he is a well-known terrorist and drug smuggler, his rap sheet shows only one conviction-for carrying a weapon in Miami in 1981. That same year, he was charged with four counts of importing, delivering and selling marijuana. The case was later dismissed.
Then, in 1983, he was indicted for conspiracy and smuggling 425,000 pounds of marijuana into Beaumont, Texas, as a spin off of the Drug Enforcement Administration's "Operation Grouper." (Some of the Grouper targets' drug money was laundered through Marvin Warner's ComBanks in Florida.) These charges against Frank Castro were also dropped, in June 1984.
From July 1983 to January 1984 - the same time period in which he was under indictment for drug smuggling - Castro was providing food, equipment and weapons for a secret military training camp for Nicaraguan Contras in the Everglades near Naples, Florida. Castro told FBI agents that he provided food, ammunition and an M-14 rifle to the camp. He would go to the camp almost weekly to take supplies, Castro told the FBI.
Castro also traveled to Costa Rica and met with John Hull and a Contra leader. "Castro went to Costa Rica in order to assist [Rene] Corvo and the Cubans fighting there," said an FBI report. Castro tried to tell the FBI agents that John Hull "does not work for the Central Intelligence Agency but funnels information to them."
That statement is laughable. John Hull not only worked directly for the CIA, he worked for Rob Owen, who was a gofer for Oliver North, who was a cutout for the CIA. More important, according to the CIA's official pronouncements, its primary work is the funneling of information. Perhaps Castro didn't realize that stated purpose when he has worked for the CIA. Perhaps he perceived its work to be the elimination of foreign politicians it doesn't like.
A Cuban exile, Frank Castro was a member of the famous Brigade 2506 that participated in the CIA-supported Bay of Pigs invasion to oust Fidel Castro. The head of the National Front for the Liberation of Cuba, Frank Castro was also a top dog in CORU, an alliance of anti-Fidel Castro Cuban terrorist organizations that was connected to and partly financed by Guillermo Hernandez-Cartaya. Castro, who owned the Golden Falcon Skydiving Club in the Florida Everglades, shuttles between Miami and the Dominican Republic, where he is lives with his wife, the daughter of an admiral close to the president of the republic.'
"Frank Castro is a very dangerous individual. He's CIA trained," according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Cassidy, who prosecuted some of Castro's associates involved in drug smuggling and control of a bank.
In the mid 1970s when Castro's compadres Orlando Bosch and Rolando Otero were going around blowing up all sorts of things, like post offices and passenger airliners, Castro told the Miami Herald, "I believe that the United States has betrayed freedom fighters around the world. They trained us to fight, brainwashed us how to fight and now they put Cuban exiles in jail for what they had been taught to do in the early years."
The CIA-trained Cuban exile Frank Castro, a significant figure in the Costa Rican-based Southern Front, has received scant mention by any of the official congressional investigations of the Contras, including the Kerry subcommittee's. Yet he brought together the intelligence, terrorist, and criminal forces in the Contra movement.
A veteran of the CIA's abortive Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961, Castro later trained at Fort Jackson to continue the war against communism. He then joined the guerrilla camp of Manuel Artime, political head of the Bay of Pigs operation, in Central America.' With CIA support, Artime's group attacked Cuban economic targets, including sugar mills and freighters. From these efforts, it was only a small step to outright terrorism. As head of the Cuban National Liberation Front, Castro became one of the most militant of the exile terrorists. In 1976, he helped found a new terrorist front uniting the most extreme organizations. Known as CORU, it unleashed a wave of bombings, kidnappings, and assassinations throughout the Americas in the late 1970s.
Castro also apparently began another line of work on the side: trafficking in drugs. According to federal prosecutors, he joined some of the biggest cocaine and marijuana rings of the mid- and late 1970s. Castro was indicted for smuggling more than a million pounds of marijuana into the United States.
Despite - or because of - Castro's narcoterrorist record, he found a significant role with the Contra movement in Costa Rica, with the knowledge of the National Security Council and the approval of the CIA station chief, Joseph Fernandez. Oliver North's personal representative on the scene, Robert Owen, reported back to Washington in November 1984 that "several sources are now saying [Southern Front Contra leader Eden] Pastora is going to be bankrolled by former Bay of Pigs veteran Frank Castro, who is heavily into drugs. It was Castro who gave Pastora the new DC-3 and has promised the planes. The word has it Pastora is going to be given $200,000 a month by Castro."Less than a year later, Owen told his boss that the CIA's Fernandez believed Castro and his fellow Cubans "can be helpful."" Castro visited the Costa Rican farm and Contra staging area of CIA agent John Hull, with another former drug defendant in tow, to assist other Cubans fighting on the Contras' behalf.
In early June, Miami buzzed with rumors about a large group of exile heavies converging on Bonao, a mountain resort town in the Dominican Republic. The alleged organizers of the meeting were Bosch and Frank Castro, a Cuban exile who had married into an influential Dominican-based family (Frank Castro's wife was the daughter of retired Admiral Cesar de Windt, an intimate of then President Balaguer). The meeting ended in mid-June with a consensus for action and the formation of a new group, CORU, the Commando of United Revolutionary Organizations.
Word reached Miami that CORD-which sounds in Spanish like a rooster's crow-had an impressive membership. Although Bosch's minuscule Cuban Action group was listed first, CORU included the leaders of the Bay of Pigs veterans' Brigade 2506, the largest and most respected of the exile groups, with almost a thousand active members; Frank Castro's Cuban National Liberation Front (FNLC) and Felipe Rivero's CNM-groups that claimed adherents with long action records.
CORU patterned itself on the Palestine Liberation Organization: ideologically undefined, but united in support of the tactics of world-wide terrorism to focus attention on their struggle to recover their homeland. CORU members accepted the CNM strategy of "war throughout the roads of the world." Reports filtered through to Miami that CORU had reached a tacit "understanding" with United States authorities. Some informants claimed that CORU had agreed not to carry out any acts of terrorism in the United States; others said the agreement simply restricted CORU from claiming credit for acts of terrorism in the United States. There was no dispute about one fact: the FBI had "covered" the meeting, meaning its informers had penetrated the meeting and the organization. Some sources in Miami said the Bonao gathering and the creation of CORU had the active support of the CIA and at least the acquiescence of the FBI, and that CORU was allowed to operate to punish Castro for his Angola policy without directly implicating the United States government.
A wave of bombings, killings, and kidnappings swept North and South America, most of which were claimed by CORU or eventually traced to its operations. Up to October 6, the attacks had cost the lives of three Cuban diplomats. On that day, CORU's toll rose to seventy-six dead. With Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt, seventy-eight had died in less than four months.