Posted by Mike Sylwester
Rubenstein Smuggling Operation
Rubenstein Smuggling Operations, 1948-1952
Sending Trucks To Castro, 1959
Personalities at the New Orleans CRC Branch, 1961
Cuban Exile Intrigues, January - April 1961
The Deportation of Carlos Marcello, April 1961
David Ferrie Joins Guy Banister Associates
At the end of the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War, thousands of leftists who had fought on the defeated Republican side retreated across the border from Catalonia to southern France, especially to Marseille-Toulon, which is the main urban region there. During the decade 1938-1948, one of the biggest international leftist causes was to resettle these refugees to better locations. Church groups and charities were persuaded to offer their support.
While in Marseille, a group of these refugees became employed in the secret narcotics trafficking system known as the French Connection. The main smuggling trail for opium to the West was from Burma overland to Turkey, then by various routes to Marseille, where it was processed and then distributed everywhere.
During World War Two, this route was disupted, and other routes became more important. One of the major new routes was from China and Burma, smuggled on US military ships around South Africa, to Florida, which had the main supply ports for the China-Burma-India Theater. Much of this smuggling operation was under the control of Communists allied with Mao Tse Tung. I quote from Joseph Douglass's book, Red Cocaine, pp 1-2:
[quote] In 1928, Mao Tse-Tung, the Chinese Communist leader, instructed one of his trusted subordinates, Tan Chen-lin, to begin cultivating opium on a grand scale. Mao had two objectives: obtaining exchange for needed supplies and "drugging the white region," where "white" was an ideological, not racist, term that Mao used to refer to his non-communist opposition.
Mao's strategy was simple; use drugs to soften a target area. Then, after a captured region was secured, outlaw the use of all narcotics and impose strict controls to ensure that the poppies remained exclusively an instrument of the state against its enemies.... [unquote]
Jack Rubenstein apparently became directly involved with this smuggling operation and with US military counter-intelligence through his military service during World War Two. He joined the Army Air Corps in May 1943 and served until February 1946.
During the War, Jack's brother, Sam Rubenstein, also served in the Army Air Corps and served as a counter-intelligence informer. Sam would "keep an eye on Communists and Nazis" in the US military and write letters to his brother Jack about his observations. However, Sam testified (WC, Vol 14, pg 503) that although he wrote the letters as if they were to his brother Jack, he actually addressed the evelope to a US military counter-intelligence officer. Supposedly, this reporting arrangement was ordered by the counter-intelligence officer for security purposes, but it really makes little sense. It makes a lot more sense that Sam did actually send such letters to his brother Jack, who passed them to Air Corps counter-intelligence. This relationship has never been explained by the US Government.
At the same time, Jack Rubenstein continued to organize Communist cells. A citizen named George Fehrenbach testified to the Warren Commission (WC, Vol 15, pp 289-321) that he saw Rubenstein doing this several times in a three-story building in Muncie, Indiana. The third story was a union hall where gambling often happened during evenings and weekends. (Investigators found several other people who also said that gambling did take place on the third story.) Fehrenbach testified that several of the people associated with the activities on the second and third stories of the building were Russian Jews and were Communists.
On three occasions, in about summer 1943, early 1944, and early-47 (all these absences were possible, according to his military leave record), Jack Rubenstein came from Chicago to Muncie to participate in some mysterious meetings in this building. On the second of these occasions, Fehrenbach happened to have a two-hour lunch talking with Rubenstein and became fairly well acquainted with him. Because of the overall circumstances, Fehrenbach deduced that Jack Rubenstein was there to meet with the Communist cell. Fehrenbach had the impression that "very seldom would there be over three or four at any one time" at these cell meetings (pg 300), but that when Jack Rubenstein came to Muncie, "there was a meeting that apparently had some significance to it, because there were so many people coming in" (pg 316).
He reported for active duty to Camp Grant, Illinois, on May 28, 1943. There, he was not assigned to any unit until June 4, when he was assigned to the 1633 SU (Student Unit?). He was there just five days, until June 9. Sometime just before or during this period of semi-activity, he could have gone to Muncie.
On June 10, 1943, he was moved to Company AAF (Army Air Field), Military Police, Recruit Training Center, Keesler Field, Mississipi. He was there almost four months, until September 3, 1943. Apparently, he trained to be be a military policeman, but then, as we shall see, he was for some reason transferred to become a mechanic for reconnaissance aircraft.
From September 5, 1943 -- a little more than five months -- through February 15, 1944, he was at the 793 Technical School Squadron, at Seymour Johnson Field, North Carolina. According to the reference book Air Force Bases, starting in September 1943, this base "accomodated an Aviation Cadet Pre-Technical School Training program (bomber mechanics). However, Rubenstein was pre-trained to become a reconnaissance aircraft mechanic. During these five months, he probably received general instruction on aircraft mechanics, to prepare him to then specialize.
To receive his specialized reconnaissance aircraft mechanics training, he then moved on February 15, 1944, to the 18th AAF Technical Training Detachment, Republic Aviation Crops, Farmingdale, on Long Island, New York. He was there about five weeks, until March 23, 1944. A book titled World War II Photo Intelligence, by Col Roy Stanley II, provides a description about Republic's aircraft program at that time (pp 95-96):
[quote] Republic Aviation also proposed an aircraft to meet the 1943 call for a long-range, high-speed, high-altitude photorecon aircraft. Their version, the F-12. Two prototypes were in testing in early 1944 and initially looked promising, but by mid-1944, tests showed that F-12 performance did not surpass that of the stripped B-29s already being used for photo work in the Pacific.
In a 24 August 1944 memorandum, Brig. Gen. Marvin C. Gross, Chief of the Air Staff Requirements Division, informed the Materiel Division, that though he had previously recommended cancellation, he now agreed to continue the F-12 as "an insurance against failure of the F-11 [another reconnaissance aircraft being developed by Howard Hughs], either because of production difficulties or operational limitations." He referred to the fact that the F-12 "does not meet the requirement for high maneuverability desired in combat photographic reconnaissance aircraft," but had to conceed that the "F-11 and the F-12 are the only airplanes currently being built wich approximately meet the military characteristics prescribed by G-2 [Intelligence] of the War Department for a photographic mapping airplane." [unquote]
In other words, Jack Rubenstein had been sent to Long Island, directly to the Republic factory, where US Army Air Corps Intelligence was developing the first two prototypes of a promising, technologically controversial photoreconnaissance aircraft being tested at that time, especially for use in the Pacific Theater.
After that, he went on leave for 19 days, from March 24, 1944, until April 11, 1944. This period provided the opportunity for the second trip to Muncie.
After that, he returned to Bluethenthal Field, North Carolina, near Seymour Johnson, where he had been previously. He was there from April 26, 1944, to June 7, 1944 -- about six weeks. His unit there was called "D-2 Static Crew Section." I think that this was the tests that were described in the above phrase "by mid-1944, tests showed that F-12 performance did not surpass that of the stripped B-29s already being used for photo work in the Pacific." One of his fellow soldiers, Stephen Belancik, has added the detail that Rubenstein was assigned to the 321st Fighter Squadron (Exhibit 1294).
Then, from June 9, 1944, to November 27, 1945, Rubenstein was assigned to the 114th Air Force Base Unit (B), Chatham Field, near Savannah, Georgia. On July 17, 1944, Robins had been reassigned to AAF Materiel and Services Command. As mentioned above: "In a 24 August 1944 memorandum, Brig. Gen. Marvin C. Gross, Chief of the Air Staff Requirements Division, informed the Materiel Division, that though he had previously recommended cancellation, he now agreed to continue the F-12." The book Air Force Bases says that during this period, Robins was "primarily a logistics depot....military personnel trained at Robins for overseas duty during World War II." Irving Zakarin, one of Rubenstein's fellow soldiers at Chatham Air Field, remembers that they served as airplane mechanics with about 15 other men, servicing P-47s, which were classified as "transit aircraft." (Exhibit 1295)
I believe that during this half year at Chatham, a secret logistics base with trade to reconnaissance units in Asia, Ruby become involved in a long-distance Communist smuggling ring, receiving opium from Burma.
During the period 17 Aug 1944 through 23 October 1944, while Rubenstein was at Chetham, the First and Second Fighter Squadrons were organized at Tampa, specifically at Drew and Lakeland Fields, for a deployment to the CBI Theater. The P-51 bomber was reconfigured as a special reconnaissance version called the F-6, which deployed from Tampa to India.
On November 27, 1945, until February 17, 1946 -- for about three months -- Rubenstein was assigned to the Tampa area, first at Drew Field and then in Tampa, where he was closer to the shipping port. On February 17, 1946, he traveled back to Illinois, where he was discharged from the Service.
Jack Rubenstein's living arrangements and activities during the first postwar years are only known at a few points in time. In about October 1946, he was in Dallas, Texas, where his sister Eva Grant had been living since about 1943. In Dallas, he built a log cabin, where he hosted a private night club that was open mostly only on weekends. The evidence is confusing about whether he considered Dallas to be his main residence. In August 1947, he was in a Chicago hotel, but in October 1947, he told government authorities that he was only "visiting" Dallas. As late as 1951, he was living in only a YMCA room in Dallas. (HSCA vol 9, pp 522, 1080)
Fehrenbach claimes he saw Jack Rubenstein for the third time in Muncie in about early 1947, for only for a few seconds, when Rubenstein walked into the second-story office. Some days after that visit, Fehrenbach found an unlabeled list of more than 100 names that was left by mistake on the third floor. That list included local people he suspected of Communist sympathies and also included the name of Jack Rubenstein. Fehrenbach stole that list and turned it over to his father-in-law, who was a local police officer. Several of the local people he thought were Communists accused him of stealing the list, but he denied it.
After that, during the second half of 1947, Fehrenbach was subjected to an intensive surveillance. Every day when he left work, for about six months, a car with two or three people in it would follow him out to his rural home and park across the street for several hours. His wife confirmed this surveillance. Fehrenbach deduced that the people watching him were doing this on the behest of Communists who were concerned about the missing list. The surveillance lasted until about Christmas 1947 and then stopped. .
As we will see, there are also statements that Jack Rubenstein was also spending a lot of time in hotels in Florida in the late 1940s, involved in various smuggling operations.
During these postwar years, the new Communist governments of East Europe led the reintroduction of opium into the West. Yugoslavia grew opium and smuggled it across the border to Trieste, Italy. That operations was disrupted when a lot of those smugglers were arrested in Italy in 1950. Subsequently, the major smuggling route went through Greece. This smuggling ring was run by a married couple of Greek Communists and a refugee from the Spanish Civil War. This ring was arrested in the early 1950s. There was also a major opium-smuggling ring operating out of the Romanian Embassy in Switzerland, primarily buying Western industrial equipment in exchange for opium. (Charles Siragusa, The Trail of the Poppy: Behind the Mask of the Mafia, chapters 5 and 7).
The Mafia was also trying to establish new smuggling networks. In 1946, the Mafia sent Paul Roland Jones, who had been operating a casino in Mexico City, to Dallas for this purpose. Jones began by attempting to bribe some police officers in November 1946 to allow him to set up a gambling casino in the back of a Dallas restaurant. Police investigators tape recorded all these conversations, and Jones was arrested for bribery on December 18, 1946. (HSCA, vol 9, pp 517-518).
The HSCA tried hard to prove that Rubenstein was involved in Jones attempt to establish this casino. There was some circumstantial evidence, and one officer involved in the bribery sting, Steve Guthrie, later remembered to the assassination investigators that Ruby was supposed to operate the casino restaurant.
However, there were also contrary evidence. Rubenstein was never mentioned in any of the extant tapes or notes from the bribery sting, and another officer involved in the sting, George Butler, told the FBI (ibid, pg 520):
[quote] Ruby was not involved in the bribery attempt. In fact, he [Butler] had never heard of Ruby until after the investigation and trial had been completed. He stated the way Ruby came into the picture was a number of individuals who were involved in the bribery attempt and in particular Paul Roland Jones began "hanging out" at Ruby's club after the sentence. [unquote]
Jones and the Rubensteins also said they did not meet until after the bribery attempt. Eva Grant said that she first met Jones in early 1947, when Jones tried to buy a Dallas restaurant she owned. She refused to sell it, but she did talk about business ideas with Jones and suggest that Jones contact Hyman Rubenstein in Chicago to discuss other possible business ideas. Shortly after that, Jones traveled to Chicago and did meet with Hyman Rubenstein, but supposedly no business enterprises were established during that meeting. Shortly afterwards, Jones returned to Dallas.
In Dallas, Jones was trying to organize a drug smuggling operation and other businesses (he was also an egg broker and a liquor store owner). According to Eva and Jack, Eva introduced Jack to Jones in about June or July 1947 at her restaurant. At about the same time, Hyman recontacted Jones to suggest a business of shipping excess metal pipe from Chicago to Dallas. On August 2, Jones returned to Chicago to conduct various business and telephoned Hyman Rubenstein from his hotel room to discuss the proposed pipe business. During this period, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) had Jones under surveillance and noted that Jones had telephoned from his hotel to a local number that belonged to Hyman and Jack Rubenstein. Jones remembered that he met Jack Rubenstein in a hotel lobby there. Shortly afterwards, Jones returned to Dallas.
On August 27, 1947, one of Jones' accomplices was arrested trying to smuggle 48 pounds of opium across the border. On October 29, 1947, Jones was also arrested, supposedly because he was implicated by the accomplice. On that same day, the FBN interviewed Jack Rubenstein in Dallas. Rubenstein told the FBN that he had met Jones in Dallas four or five months previously, but that they had never discussed any drug smuggling and had not been in contact when Jones was in Chicago. The FBN also questioned Hyman, who told the story about the proposed pipe business.
None of the Rubensteins were charged, but Jones was confined to jail for the bribery and smuggling convictions until March 1952. After he was released, he moved away from Dallas. (HSCA, vol 9, pp 517-523). In the meantime, Jack Rubenstein proceeded to establish the casino restaurant and smuggling operation that Jones had failed to establish. Whereas Jones and his Mafia partners had been surveilled, stung, and prosecuted very successfully by government investigators, Rubenstein and his partners were not. I think it's worth considering the possibility that the Rubensteins even helped sabotage Jones' efforts in order to set up their own operation.
Rubenstein Smuggling Operations, 1948-1952
In 1948, there was another develoment, in Guatemala, which at that time was ruled by a Communist-dominated regime. In 1948, a leading Guatemalan Communist serving in the embassy to France granted immigration visas to 300 veterans of the Spanish Civil War. As one expert on subsequent developments, Daniel James, later observed:
[quote] A veritable International Brigade, which could claim kinship with its Spanish original, functioned as part of the Little Cominform apparatus [in Guatemala]....Trained by the Soviet police in Spain, they ...were employed to spy and inform on Communism's enemies, to burglarize and break up anti-Red centers, and to beat up, of if need be, assassinate opponents. [unquote]
Almost immediately after these Spanish Civil War veterans arrived, the subversion in Latin America spread so dramatically that the United States embargoed all arms sales to Guatemala and convinced many other suppliers, including Great Britain, Denmark, Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, and Switzerland to break off sales agreements. Nevertheless, Guatemala managed to buy weapons for a while from smugglers, many of whom flew them to Guatemala on small airplanes.
An FBI informant designated AT T-1 recalled that Ruby had lived in Daytona, Florida, for a while in the late 1940s. Another FBI informant, designated as AT T-2 (real name, Blaney Mack Johnson), also told the FBI that Ruby was in Florida in the early 1950s and was smuggling weapons and counterfeit money to leftist rebels in Cuba (Exhibit 3063, pp 634-635, 638):
[quote] He stated that in the early 1950s, Jack Ruby held interest in the Colonial Inn, a nightclub and gambling house in Hollandale, Florida. He stated that Jack Ruby, known then as Rubenstein, was active in arranging illegal flights of weapons from Miami to the Castro organization in Cuba. According to T-2, Ruby was reportedly part owner of two planes used for these purposes.
T-2 further stated that Ruby subsequently left Miami and purchased a substantial share in a Havana gaming house in which one Collis Prio (phonetic) was principal owner. T-2 stated that Colis Prio was within favor of former Cuban leader Batista, but was instrumental in financing and managing accumulation of arms by pro-Castro forces.
T-2 stated that one Donald Edward Browder was associated with Ruby in the arms smuggling operation. Browder is reportedly incarcerated in the US Penitentiary, Atlanta, after conviction on a US Customs violation. T-2 also stated that Joe Marrs of Marrs Aircraft, 167th Street, Miami, Florida, allegedly contracted with Ruby to make flights to Havana. T-2 further stated that Leslie Lewis, formerly Chief of Police, Hialeah, Florida, and now possibly a pistol instructor in Dade County, Florida, Sheriff's Office, possessed detailed knowledge of persons involved in flight of weaons to Cuba and had specific knowledge of Ruby's participation. .... T-2 also named Clifton T. Bowes, Jr, formerly captain of National Airlines, Miami, Florida, as having been acquainted with Rubenstein and his activities. ....
He also indicated that the Colonial Club in which Jack Rubenstein had an interest was a place where counterfeit money was handled. [unquote]
However, when the FBI interviewed Marrs, Lewis, and Bowes, they all denied they knew Jack Ruby. Furthermore, financial records showed that the Colonial Club had been closed in 1948. Johnson also had trouble identifying photographs of Ruby. However, he still insisted he was correct. He said Browder was called Don, Eddie, and Don Eduardo. (ibid, pg 642)
On April 21, 1964, the FBI did find Browder in a prison. The FBI agents devoted a third of their report to the fact that they had carefully informed him that he did not have to answer their questions (ibid, pg 643):
[quote] Edward J. Browder, Jr, also known as John Smith, Earl Brewder, who has FBI Number 4840823, and presently serving a three year sentence at Federal Correctional Institution, Tallahasee, Florida, was interviewed on April 21, 1964. Browder was sentenced from Federal Court at Miami, Florida, on June 3, 1960, for receiving and concealing stolen Canadian securities.
At the outset of the interview, Browder was advised by Special Agent Robert W. Clark that he did not have to make any statement or talk to the interviewing agents and that any statment he did make could be used in court, even against him at a later date. No threats or promises were made, and Browder advised that he was aware of his right to consult an attorney before saying anything to the interviewing agents.
Browder advised that he was not acquainted with Jack Leon Ruby, whose picture he had seen in the newspapers many times and that he was never associated with Ruby in the smuggling of arms to Cuba in the early 1950s or any other time. Browder advised that he had never used the name Donald Edward Browder and he did not know any person by that name. Browder advised that he was not acquainted with a Blaney Mack Johnson, Leslie Lewis, or Clifton T. Bowes, Jr, but was aware that several years back, there was a Marrs, possibly Joe Marrs, who operated a repair shop for airplanes in Miami, but he, Browder, was not acquainted with the man. [unquote]
However, Browder was lying at least about his name. Joe Marrs told the FBI that he knew Browder and knew him as Donald Edward Browder (ibid, pg 639):
[quote] He [Marrs] had never heard of Jack Ruby. .... He said he knew Donald Edward Browser as an ex-Royal Canadian Air Force ferry comand pilot who came to Miami about 1945. .... Marrs said Browder spoke of plans to set up an air transport service to South American countries, but to Marrs' knowledge, did not succeed in doing so. Marrs has read of Browder's alleged escapades of smuggling, but has no knowledge of them. [unquote]
(It is also worth noting that CIA employees H. Howard Hunt and James McCord both used the alias Don Eduardo when dealing with Cubans. (Jim Hougan, Secret Agenda (New York: Random House, 1984), pg 18)).
Ruby was not seen in Dallas for several months in 1952. In an interview with the FBI (HSCA, Vol 5, pg 186) he explained this absence thus:
[quote] Ruby said he went broke in the night club business in 1952 and had a "mental breakdown." He continued along this line by saying he was "mentally depressed" and that he "hibernated in the Cotton Bowl Hotel" for three or four months, declining to see his friends. He said he went back to Chicago briefly, and his brother Earl tried to help him out financially. He returned to Dallas, however, in 1952. [unquote]
In about 1953-54, Sam Ruby disappeared for about a year. Sam and Earl were partners in Earl Products, Co, in Chicago. That company manufactured salt and pepper shakers, key chains, bottle openers, screw drivers, and small hammers. The company employed about 40 people, and grossed about a quarter million dollars a year (WC, Vol 14, pgs 370-71). In fact, this company was also involved in smuggling, because Hyman Rubenstein was shipping bootleg liquor to Oklahoma in boxes labeled to show they contained salt and pepper shakers (David Scheim, Contract on America, pg 103).
In 1955, after Sam Ruby returned from his year's absence, Earl gave him $30,000 to buy him out of the business, and Sam then moved to Dallas, where he went into various vague "advertising specialty businesses" and gave Jack Ruby about $5,500 (WC, Vol 14, pgs 371, 494-96).
Ruby's Smuggling Operation, 1956-1958
In about January 1956, a pimp named James Breen met with Ruby to discuss collaboration in managing three prostitutes. However, Ruby was primarily interested in discussing narcotics smuggling with Breen. This was "a large narcotics setup operating between Mexico, Texas, and the East." A few days after that first meeting, Ruby returned with another man, and they showed Breen a film of border guards, narcotics agents, and a Mexican contact. Breen was "enthused over what he considered an extremely efficient operation in connection with narcotics traffic." One typical load of narcotics was valued at about $350,000, and Breen received $2,400.
In addition, Ruby tried to set up an arrangement to sell pornographic pictures through Breen's prostitutes. Ruby said he had "a large quantity of material available to him." However, the prostitutes refused, because if they were caught with this kind of pornography, the charges against them would be much more serious. Although the pornography is not described, it must have been something much more objectionable than just pictures of naked women.
Later, two of Breen's prostitutes informed the FBI about all of this. (WC, Exhibits 1761-1762). That FBI report from one of these prostitutes, Eileen Curry, concludes with these words:
[quote] CURRY advised that one RALPH HEDRICK has been a close friend of BREEN's, when both were incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution at Seagoville, Texas.
She stated that HEDRICK, in 1956, was in his 30's and had already completed 15 years of various penal servitude. She said that HEDRICK was, at that time, employed in a print shop in Dallas, Texas, and was active in some type of lecture tour wherein he spoke about his criminal background before youth groups. CURRY advised that she had no knowledge as to whether BREEN would have confided in HEDRICK or whether HEDRICK would have known RUBY, but felt that HEDRICK was BREEN's closest frient in the Dallas area.
CURRY advised that she had heard rumors in Dallas, Texas, the source not now recalled, to the effect that BREEN's contact and protection in Muskogee, Oklahoma, was allegedly the Cief of Police of Muskogee. [unquote]
The FBI report from the other prostitute, Bunny Breen (she had been married to James Breen), added this supplementary information:
[quote] She believes James [Breen] made connections with the narcotics ring through a former associate from Seagoville Prison, where James served time. [unquote]
In other words, Hedrick, who spoke about his criminal background before youth groups, was not a peripheral character in all this, but might have been a central one. Breen tried to steal some of the narcotics from the ring and disappeared. But that doesn't mean that Hedrick also betrayed the ring. He may have stayed loyal to this smuggling ring and continued to preach to youth groups in Dallas.
In 1958, this weapons-smuggling network developed. Ruby's own role broadened when one of his Dallas gambling partners, Lewis J. McWillie, moved to Havana to become manager of the Mob-owned Tropicana Hotel. Ruby shipped weapons to Cuba through McWillie. Another Ruby associate from Dallas, Russell Douglas Matthews, a convicted narcotics smuggler, also opened a bar business in Havana in 1958. (HSCA, Vol IX, pgs 524-586.)
Three related witnesses have described Ruby's very personal role in this gun smuggling in 1958. The first of these witnesses was Mary Thompson (Exhibit 3065):
[quote] On about May 30, 1958, she traveled to Islamerada, Florida, accompanied by her daughter and son-in-law, Dolores and Richard Rhoads. They visited her brother and sister-in-law, James and Mary Lou "Butch" Woodard, who resided in a cottage. .... While there they met Jack and Isabel (last name unknown), acquaintances of the Woodards. There was not sufficient room in the Woodard cottage, and Jack and Isabel suggested that Dolores and Richard spend the night at their home. ....
[Thompson then listed several facts that indicated that this Jack was Jack Ruby -- grew up in Chicago, ran a bar in Dallas, also called Leon, same physical description, etc]
Mary Lou said that Jack had a trunk full of guns and inferred that Jack was going to supply them to the Cubans. Mrs Thomspons stated that she was told that there were supplies of guns hidden in the marshes that were being collected by the Indians in the area to be sold to the Cubans. This was at the time of the revolution in Cuba. [unquote]
In a separate FBI interview, the daughter Dolores confirmed the story. She added:
[quote] [Her husband at that time,] Richard Rhoads, and [her uncle] James Woodard got drunk one night, and Woodard said that he and Jack would run some guns to Cuba. .... He said that Jack had a lot more guns than he did. [unquote]
A separate FBI report based on an interview with James Woodard said only:
[quote] Woodard, in a somewhat rambling and incoherent manner, alleged he had participated in an invasion of Cuba prior to the Castro regime; that he had participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion, and has furnished ammunition and dynamite to both Castro and Cuban exile forces. [unquote]
The FBI agents who wrote this report neglected to ask him if he had worked with or known Jack Ruby. Most of the report was devoted to statements by relatives that Woodard was a liar. (ibid) However, Scott Malone noted in a memorandum, dated September 24, 1977 (Ruby file, Assassinations Archive) that Woodard has said he knew both Browder and Ruby.
David Scheim in his book Contract on America (New York: Kensington, 1988), adds another detail (pg 221):
[quote]In 1958, Ruby wrote a letter to the State Department's Office of Munitions Controls "requesting permission to negotiate the purchase of firearms and ammunition from an Italian firm." And the name "Jack Rubenstein" [Ruby's birth name] was listed in a 1959 Army Intelligence report on U.S. arms dealers. Although located by clerks of these two federal agencies in 1963, both documents are today inexplicably missing. [unquote]
Another person who was apparently involved in this gun smuggling to Cuba was David Ferrie. Born in 1918, he worked in the late 1940s as a pilot for an oil drilling firm that had jobs in Latin America. In 1951, he became an Eastern Airlines pilot and moved to New Orleans. There, he also became a leader in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), where is reported to have befriended a young Marxist named Lee Harvey Oswald. Ferrie started a secret group within the CAP, called the Omnipote nts, which "trained cadets in what to do in the event of a major attack on the United States." The House Select Committee on Assassinations summarized his activities at the end of the 1950s thus:
[quote] Ferrie's job and ownership of an airplane enabled him to travel frequently around the country with relative ease. He told officials he frequently travled to Texas and other parts of the South, including Miami. He also visited New York on occasion. The amount of time Ferrie spent in these other cities could not be determined. In August 1959, while in Miami, Ferrie was put under 24-hour surveillance by customs agents who believed he was involved in gun smuggling. Following a brief investigation, including a tapping of his telephone conversations, it was determinted that Ferrie ws not involved in any illegal activity, but merely planning an outing for his "scouts." The investigation was dropped. [vol 10, pg 109] [unquote]
In the summer and fall of 1958, Donald Edward Browder, the ex-Canadian pilot who was reported to be involved with Ruby since the late 1940s, was arrested for smuggling guns to Castro. Browder was later sentenced to three years in prison for this (Scott Malone's memorandum, dated September 19, 1977 in Ruby file, Assassination Archives, Washington DC):
[quote] Browder [was] in a US prison serving three years for a conviction of receiving, transporting, and possessing stolen Canadian securities. The securities were stolen from the Brockville Savings and Trust company and two other Canadian financial institutions. While the FBI supplied several reports to the Warren Commission concerning Browder, including his denial about knowing Ruby, they withheld hundreds of reports from Browder's file which illuminated his extensive involvement in gun smuggling to Cuba and the stolen Canadian securities. Both the gun smuggling to Cuba and the stolen Canadian securities were activtities controlled by Norman Rothman. Rothman admits to knowing Browder.
On July 7, 1961, Browder gave a sworn deposition to the American Surety Company in which he stated that he had obtained the stolen securities he was arrested for ($136,000) from the 26th of July Movement, Fidel Castro's revolutionary group, in exchange for arms during the summer and fall of 1958. Browder stated that he had obtained the weapons from the International Armament Corporation (InterArmco) in Alexandria, Virginia, starting in late May and early June of 1958. Browder was apparently the purchasing agent for the Rothman gun-running operation to Castro's forces.
According to a memorandum of a House Un-American Activities Committee investigator, Cubans driving station wagons and small trucks were purchasing automatic weapons from InterArmco at this time with the approval of the CIA. [CIA agent] Frank Sturgis has admitted to being involved with this operation at this same time. Efren Pichardo, associate of Browder, has also admitted to being involved in this operation (he drove a station wagon) at the exact same time with Sturgis. Pichardo was working for Browder at the time. Pichardo also confirmed that many of the weapons were hidden in the marshes of Islmorada, Florida, where Ruby has been identified by independent witnesses as "babysitting" a large arms cache. ....
While Browder has ample underworld connections, he is not lacking in intelligence connections either. Browder claims to have known the chief of intelligence for the Mexican Air Force, as well as a Canadian Minister of Defense. His "rap sheet" reveals that although he had numerous arrests, he spent relatively little time behind bars. [unquote]
Sending Trucks to Castro, 1959
On January 1, 1959, Castro seized power in Cuba and arrested Santos Trafficante, the Mafia Chief in Cuba. Until that time, the Communists, not the Castroites, had before that time been smuggling narcotics. Two good books on this Communist-Castroite rivalry are Maurice Halperin's The Taming of Fidel Castro and Mario Llerena's The Unsuspected Revolution. Halperin describes how the Castroites discredited and even legally charged the Communists for the past narcotics trading.
The Mafia had been exporting weapons and importing narcotics from the Cuban Communists, not the Cuban Castroites. Trafficante told the HSCA that he simply had not expected Castro's victory. Therefore, a new deal had to be negotiated.
In the following weeks, Ruby, as a major smuggler, tried to intercede through Robert McKeown, who had been smuggling weapons to the Castro forces. Ruby asked McKeown to write a personal letter of introduction to Castro or otherwise help free Trafficante. In return, Ruby has admitted, Ruby tried to send jeeps and "other similar equipment" to Castro (Hall (C. Ray) Exhibit No. 3):
[quote] Ruby volunteered that some years ago, "at a time when Castro was popular in the United States," he read of an individual [McKeown] in the vicinity of Houston, Texas, having been engaged in "gun running to Castro." He said he attempted by telephone to get in touch with this individual, as he had in mind "making a buck" by possibly acquiring some jeeps or other similar equipment which he might sell to persons interested in their importation to Cuba. He said nothing came of this. He said he had never attended any meetings concerned with "gun running," smuggling of persons in or out of Cuba or otherwise in relation to Cuban affairs. [unquote]
On April 27, Castro himself visited McKeown in Houston and offered McKeown a post in the Cuban government. However, McKeown turned down the offer because he was on probation for gun-running and therefore could not leave the United States.
Apparently at this meeting, Castro agreed to some kind of ransom terms for Trafficante, but the Mafia suffered a major fiasco in trying to meet them. In early May,1959, the Mafia stole $8.5 million from a Canadian bank and also stole a large number of Arms from the Ohio National Guard. A police investigation showed that Rothman had spent $6,000 of the money to rent airplanes to smuggle the arms to Castro's forces in Cuba. On July 3, Rothman was arrested for this series of crimes.
During this period, Ruby was heavily involved in these negotiations. Many people who have studies Ruby's life have assumed he was working for the Mafia, but perhaps he was representing other clients instead or in addition. In retrospect, we should consider that this truck business would also be useful to the Teamsters labor union and to the CIA. The overthrow of Batista dictatorship seemed to open the possibility for the rapid development of labor unions like the Teamsters in Cuba. It is also worth noting that US labor unions (especially for example the AFL-CIO) cooperated closely with the CIA's efforts to plant its own agents in foreign countries. The Teamsters might well have had a similar relationship with the CIA. Therefore, the role of the Mafia in Ruby's activities then might have been only secondary or even tertiary.
Anyway, on April 27, when Castro had visited Houston, Ruby rented a mysterious safe deposit, which he accessed several times during that summer. He was also called in for questioning by the FBI several times, starting on April 28. In August, 1959, David Ferrie was put under 24-hour surveillance in Miami for gun running. In September 1959, Ruby traveled to Cuba twice, supposedly to visit Trafficante in prison on the pretense of visiting McWillie, who was now working at another Trafficante casino in the Capri Hotel in Havana.
In prison with Trafficante was a Soviet agent named John Wilson, who was at least observing and possibly had also participated in all this. I quote from a book called Who Was Jack Ruby (pp 132-134) by Seth Kantor:
[quote] The CIA file on him went back to 1951....Wilson, well educated at Oxford University, had been born in Liverpool, December 29, 1916, had reached Chile on January 28, 1939 [apparently a refugee of the Spanish Civil War], from Buenos Aires, and "was a contact of one Bert Sucharov, a suspected Soviet agent in Santiago, Chile."
Wilson was outspoken as a pro-communist and foe of the United States. He posed occasionally as a British Royal Air Force captain in uniform and two attempts by the British embassy to have him expelled from Chile failed -- after Wilson apparently convinced authorities inside the embassy that he had "worked on a special mission for the British government in Germany, Egypt, and Turkey at the close of World War II."
The CIA source in Chile pegged John Wilson as "very probably an intelligence agent." Wilson always seemed to have a lot of money without an apparent income. he held UN press pass no. 287, issued in Santiago, and another pass from the Chilean secret police which allowed him special access.
At the end of June, 1959, Wilson and three Americans were arrested in a suburb of Havana as they planned to carry out a sneak bomb raid on Nicaragua, using three airplanes and a small volunteer attack force. Fidel Castro had nothing to do with the attack plans and ordered Wilson and the other ringleaders arrested; thus John Wilson was in jail at the time of the Ruby visit.
In prison in Cuba, Wilson says he met an American gangster gambler named Santos [Trafficante] who could not return to the USA because there were several indictments outstanding against him. Instead, he preferred to live in relative luxury in a Cuban prison. While Santos was in prison, Wilson says, Santos was visited frequently by an American gangster type named Ruby.
Inexplicably, one of Ruby's notebooks had this entry, which Dallas police located on the day Oswald was shot: "October 29, 1963 -- John Wilson -- bond." The FBI checked police and sheriff's records in Dallas to see if a John Wilson had made bond. The FBI also consulted two different private attorneys in Dallas whose names were John Wilsn, but who had never had dealings with Ruby. The FBI said it found no reason for the notebook entry. [unquote]
I want to specially point out a couple of elements of this situation. First, Wilson's story of how he himself was imprisoned is fishy. What sense was there in flying three small airplanes to Nicaragua to drop a few bombs? Perhaps this was some kind of smuggling flight that was prevented at the last minute.
Second, Trafficante's imprisonment seems to be somewhat of a hoax. Trafficante himself testified to the Select Committe on Assassinations that he was released from prison and left Cuba in August 1959. He then returned to Cuba to defend himself in a trial during October-November 1959 and then voluntarily returned to his Cuban "prison." (HSCA, Vol 5, pg 355). He also testified (pg 367) that his own lawyer's brother later became the Minister of Sports in Communist Cuba.
I think that Trafficante was really negotiating an agreement for the Mafia to give up its gambling interests in Cuba in return for Cuban cooperation in continuing the Mafia's narcotics-weapons smuggling network in Latin America. Trafficante returned to the United States again in early 1960.
As noted earlier, Ruby had apparently committed himself to send trucks to Cuba in order to free Trafficante from prison in August 1959, but then said that he never sent any trucks. Would Castro have suffered such a double-cross and still allowed Trafficante to leave Cuba? Did anybody ever supply the trucks? It seems that in accordance with Ruby's negotiations, the trucks were supplied to Castro by Guy Banister.
Personalities at the New Orleans CRC Branch, 1961
Most people who understand that the Kennedy assassination was a conspiracy explain Banister and his Cuban associates generally in the following manner. Banister and his associated anti-Castro Cuban exiles were right-wingers who hated Kennedy. They agreed to participate in the conspiracy, which was controlled by the Mafia or the CIA/FBI. Their role was to manipulate and frame Oswald so that there would be lots of evidence that he was pro-Castro. Then, after the assassination, the American public would blame Castro and help the anti-Castro Cubans.
This theory is based on a stereotype that all anti-Castro Cuban exiles were right-wingers and hated Kennedy. In fact, many of them were left-wingers and looked to Kennedy's support as their key opportunity to overthrow Castro, who they considered an egomaniac, and establish a more authentic socialism on Cuba. It is certainly possible that Banister shared those goals and was working for left-wing superiors in the U.S. Government or abroad. I suggest that the conspirators attempted to frame Banister and his Cubans along with Oswald.
The House Select Committee on Assassinations described the role in all this intrigue that was played by Guy Banister and Sergio Arcacha Smith.
[quote] In 1960 [-] early 1961 Banister ... was helping to establish the Friends of Democratic Cuba organization as an adjuct to Sergio Arcacha Smith's CRC. At the time, Banister's investigative business and the CRC were both located in the Balter Buiding. In February 1961, Banister was conducting background investigations of the members of the CRC from a list provided by Arcacha Smith. [vol 10, pg 110 ]
The ... first New Orleans delegate to the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC), Sergio Arcacha Smith, told the Committee that he arrived in Miami in August 1960 and at the request of Antonio de Varona, a director of the CRC, agreed to establish a chapter of this group in New Orleans. Arcacha Smith was initially afforded free office space in the Balter Building; he later rented space at 544 Camp Street. He occupied an office at 544 Camp Street for about six months during 1961-62 [October to February] . [HSCA, vol 10, pg 61]
The CRC in New Orleans was affiliated with the main branch of the CRC in Miami, which had been receiving funds from the US Government. Some of these funds may have been disseminated to the New Orleans branch to cover operating costs. [In this regard, the HSCA cited, but did not reproduce or even summarize a] CIA Office of Security memo from Raymond G. Rocca, May 31, 1961, Item F; also a memo from Donovan E. Pratt, Sep 28, 1967, items A, B, and C, regarding Arcacha Smith. The Sep 28, 1967, Pratt memo [was] also found in [the] Office of Security file for David W. Ferrie. One local office did believe the group had the "unofficial sanction of CIA," according to Lieutenant Martello. [vol 10, pp 109, 119, note 106]
Early in 1961, Banister helped draw up a charter for the Friends of Democratic Cuba, an organization set up as the fundraising arm of Sergio Arcacha Smith's branch of the Cuban Revoutionary Council. Coincidentally, Gerard F. Tujague, owner of Gerard F. Tujague, Inc. Forwarding Company, who had employed Oswald as a messenger from November 1955 to January 1956, was also a member and officer (vice-president) of Friends of Democratic Cuba.
Banister described his work for the Council:
"Our work was primarily to gather food and clothing for the refugees. However, because of my being known in connection with that, my background being know with Arcacha Smith and others, I have had high-ranking Cuban refugees in my office asking me how to go underground, and I gave them diagrams for that. I have talked to military and political leaders from the various provinces of Cuba that have slipped out and slipped back."
The FBI files indicate Banister was performing another service for the Cuban exile group. He ran background investigations on those Cuban students on the campus of Louisiana State University who wished to be members of Arcacha Smith's anti-Castro group, ferreting out any pro-Castro sympathizers who might be among them. Banister also talked Sam Newman into leasing 544 Camp Street to the Cuban Revolutionary Council. [HSCA, vol 10, pp 126-127; note 64]
During his tenure as head of the New Orleans delegation, Arcacha Smith endeavored to raise funds by selling CRC bonds and was instrumental in organizing several rallies to promote the cause of the Cuban exiles. [vol 10, pg 61] [unquote]
Anthony Summers reported in his book Conspiracy (pp 579-580) that Roselli and Maheu were also involved with Guy Banister in New Orleans:
[quote] Banister's personal secretary, Delphine Roberts, offers one further clue to the way 544 Camp Street was caught up in the dirtier undercurrents.... She came up with the names "Roselli" and "Maheu" as having had dealings with the Banister office. Robert Maheu was the man used by the CIA, as early as 1960, to enlist Mafia help in assassination plots against Fidel Castro. John Roselli was the first underworld figure Maheu recruited.
Mrs Roberts' claim that Banister was in touch with Maheu is not wholly implausible. Years previously, the two men had been agents together in the Chicago office of the FBI, and Maheu admits he knew Banister. He denies, however, contacting Banister in 1963. ....
New Orleans would have been a natural enough place to find John Roselli. Delphine Roberts says she believes he was there and actually visited 544 Camp Street. [unquote]
Cuban Exile Intrigues, January - April 1961
In January 1961, as de Varona began planning to poison Castro for CIA's Office of Security, Guy Banister in New Orleans drew up the charter for a new organization, Friends of Democratic Cuba, to raise money for de Varona's New Orleans protege, Sergo Arcacha Smith. (HSCA, vol 10, pg 126). One of the new organization's first acts was to send a person with the name Oswald to buy several trucks from a local automobile dealer. Jim Garrison described this strange event in his book On the Trail of the Assassins (pp 57-58):
[quote] As we later learned from [automobile] salesmen Fred Sewall and Oscar Deslatte, two men claiming to represent an organization called Friends of Democratic Cuba arrived at the Bolton [Ford dealership on North Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans] on January 20, 1961. This was only three months before the abortive Bay of Pigs attempt to invade Cuba. .... One of the men was a powerfully built Latin with a thick neck and a distinct scar over his left eyebrow. The other was a thin, young Anglo-Saxon who obviously was in charge.
The two men indicated that they wanted to buy ten Ford pickup trucks. They wanted a bid from Bolton Ford on the price. The Latin identified himself as "Joseph Moore,"but said the bid had to be in the name of "Oswald." The young Anglo-Saxon confirmed this, explaining that "Oswald" was his name and that he was the one with the money. Instead of asking the buyers to sign, Deslatte himself printed the name "Oswald" on the form.
Of course, as all the world now knows, the real Lee Oswald was in the Soviet Union that day and would be for more than another year. .... I [Garrison] pondered the implications of this staggering information. In the very month that John Kennedy was inaugurated, an intelligence project being run by Guy Banister was using the name "Oswald" in bidding for pickup trucks for apparent use in the Bay of Pigs invasion. [quote]
However, Garrison's interpretation of this purchase is disputable. It's not so certain that these trucks were being purchased for the Bay of Pigs invasion. President Kennedy had frozen the invasion plans on November 18, 1960, and the plans were still frozen solid on January 20, 1961. In addition, at first glance, the name "Friends of Democratic Cuba" seems supportive of Castro's regime -- similar to the later "Fair Play for Cuba," which was also run out of Banister's office. In other words, Moore and Oswald may have been purchasing the trucks for Castro. In the context of de Varona's simultaneous planning to poison Castro, the trucks might have been a Trojan Horse to enter Cuba as part of the poison plot.
The fact that the purchaser's name was Oswald is intriguing. There is some reason to speculate that this was an attempt to create the impression that Lee Harvey Oswald had already returned from the Soviet Union and purchased these trucks in January 1961. The Vice-President of Friends of Cuba was Gerard F. Tujague, who had employed Lee Harvey Oswald as a messenger in 1955-1956 and probably knew that Oswald was a Marxist who had defected (HSCA, Vol 10, pg 134, note 64). In this case, a possible explanation for this deceit was to use a false Lee Harvey Oswald, for which there was local evidence of a Marxist background, in order to reinforce the impression that Friends of Democratic Cuba was a **pro-Castro** organization. The target of this deceit would have been Castro's government, which didn't necessarily know that Oswald was still in the Soviet Union.
A similar possibility is that the Oswald who purchased the trucks might have been a relative of Lee Harvey Oswald. There were other Oswalds who were mysterious, besides Lee Harvey Oswald.
Anyway, this mysterious Oswald ordered the trucks for the Friends of Democratic Cuba almost three months before President Kennedy authorized the invasion of Cuba. Morrow described Kennedy's position as follows:
[quote] In late February, [1961,] when Kennedy still failed to let the CIA proceed with the invasion, Dulles warned the chief executive that to delay any longer could be fatal. The young President, after talking it over with brother Bobby, the new Attorney General, instead ordered Dulles to stop all anti-Cuban operations. .... William Wieland and the leftist factions in the exile community -- seeking to regain their power over the Brigade and to save their influence with the new administration -- had proclaimed to the new President and Attorney General that the rightist-controlled Brigade was being funded in part by the Mafia. .... [unquote]
The House Select Committe on Assassinations described the next development:
[quote] The FRD [had] set up headquarters initially in Mexico, but recruited most of its proposed invasion force from Miami. The military arm of the FRD was known as Brigade 2506. The Brigade was eventually composed of 1,443 men who were trained by US Army specialists at two sites on the south coast of Guatemala. ....
In March 1961, the State Department pressured FRD leaders to accept the Movimento Revolutionario del Pueblo (MRP), headed by Manuel Ray Rivero, into the FRD. The inclusion of Ray's group into the alliance of Cuban exiles was reportedly also "terribly important to the White House," which wanted to broaden the political base of the FRD. In an effort to attract Ray and his group into the FRD, ... Dr Jose Miro Cardona was elected its new president. Dr Miro Cardona was a former Havana jurist who broke with Castro after serving him as his first Prime Minister. [vol 10, pg 57] ....
[Manuel Ray Rivero had been appointed by Castro as] Minister of Public Works in February 1959. .... Ray's tenure in Castro's government was short lived. He was relieved of his official position in November 1959. No definite reason for this sudden move has been documented but, according to one source, Ray did not leave Castro because of ideological or policy discrepancies, but rather because of a personality clash with Castro's Miniter of Labor, who almost shot Ray after a stomy cabinet meeting. .... For whatever reason, Ray did permit his name to be associated with the Castro regime until May 1960, when he formed the Revolutionary Movement of the People (MRP). ....
Having waited until May 1960 to organize his resistance group, Ray was criticized as being suspiciously tardy to the anti-Castro movement. Charges of "Fidelism without Fidel" were made against him and the MRP because of their leftist ideologies. .... A [US Government] officer who met with Ray in November 1960 noted that his political posture was "doubtful" as far as US Government acceptance was concerned, and a further assessment portrayed Ray as so far "left in his thinking that he would be as dangerous to US interests as Castro."
Some prominent Cubans also expressed negative opinions about Ray, among them Dr Jose Miro Cardona, president of the FRD. Miro opposed Ray because he considered his program too Marxist and declared Ray was bitterly anti-American as well as probably totalitarian in his thinking. ....
Although aware of his controversial political philosophy, attempts were continued to recruit Ray to join the FRD, because the White House and State Department pushed for his inclusion. Ray received full operational approval as a "political asset" on February 7, 1961. [ibid, pp 137-138] [unquote]
After the formation of this new alliance, Kennedy now approved the invasion of Cuba.
Shortly before the invasion of Cuba (which began April 16, 1961) a group of men attempted to take $3 million that was supposed to help pay for the invasion. The CIA had given this money to the Cuban exiles through a false religious front and confiscated it back from the group. The men in the group were not arrested or punished for taking the money. President Kennedy was somehow involved in trying to divert this money and felt betrayed when the group was caught. Apparently, Kennedy had arranged for the group of men to divert the money to a Cuban exile faction that he favored. Kennedy's annoyance at the CIA's interception of this money helped provoke him to cancel US Air Force support of the invasion, which allowed Castro to defeat the invaders.
In about 1968, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison received a letter from an anonymous informant who had heard more of this story from one of the participants. The complete letter follows (Old Catholic Church file, Assassinations Archives, Washington DC):
The following account may be fiction or it may be fact, I dare not commit myself by trying to substantiate it. The story was told to me in bits and pieces over a period of three months by a man, whom, I admit, has very little credibility to his character. The only reason I take the time to relate this to you, is because it is now past the realm of coincidence.
I fully realize the consequences of my actions, and so therefore I am prepared to co-operate with your office to the fullest extent, if you think the information I have warrants it.
Naturally, what I refer to is the Kennedy assassination.
It is hard to know where to begin, because the beginning was years before I had occasion to come upon this information. This is the story, the best I can relate to you:
It seems that back in 1960 and 1961 a group of men in this country began collecting money for a so-called invasion force into Cuba. This "army" was prepared to attack and capture Castro's Cuba in an invasion sponsored by the CIA. This is common knowledge, but what is not so well known, is WHY THE INVASION FAILED! As the information was given to me, a few of the leaders of the anti-Castro force in this country decided to flee the country with a good deal of the funds collected from the sympathizers of the Cuban refugees. These men whom I will name later, were arrested in the Miami airport with the money in their possession. The arresting officers, members of the CIA, confiscated the money; amounting to almost three million dollars. Then, as the story goes, President Kennedy, feeling that he had been duped, and would be left holding the bag, and ... realizing the international consequences of such an invasion, pulled the air support that had been orally committed. This, of course, led to the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion.
Since most of the 1400 or more invasion members were either killed or captured, the Cuban leaders in this country put most of the blame upon President Kennedy himself. I feel that I have evidence, though admittedly hearsay, that can prove this course of events.
I was told this story by a man who allegedly was a part of the Cuban revolutionary movement in this country. He claims to have been one of those arrested in Miami. Also, he claims to have been under FBI investigation at various times. I was in Omaha Nebraska at the time this was told to me, and at about the same time, so I'm sure you remember, your office was trying to get Perry Ruso's girl friend; Mrs McBlaine or something to that effect, down to New Orleans for questioning. It seems rather strange to me that she would wind up in Omaha since she really had no people there. Also, WHY did the gentleman whom I quote decide to come to Omaha? He had no job there, no relatives, and no real desire to find either. He moved to Omaha in March from Lincoln, Nebraska, where he had spent about two months or less with no visable means of support. He had just previously been in the State of Washington with an associate of his.
The following are a few facts that the Omaha man told me, either directly or indirectly.
He told me about the pilot named Ferrie long before your office announced your interest in him. He described the man in great detail and claimed to know him personally. He also predicted his demise.
I overheard numerous telephone conversations (mostly with the man in Washington) in which he asked with great concern whether it was the FBI, the CIA, or who, that had been asking questions about them, and whether it was that they had something on him or on "one of the others."
He claimed to have either known or had met the Mr. Shaw you questioned.
He was originally from New Orleans, and claims to have worked on your staff at one time as an investigator.
He says he saw Oswald in New Orleans. Also a man who "looked like Ruby".
At one time, the Omaha man and the Washington man met in a hotel there and discussed plans to go to New Orleans to see a man called Sergio Arcacha. They went, but could not find him or another man they said was there. Three days later, the local Newspapers Announced that you, too had been looking for Mr. Arcacha for questioning and that he had told you he would talk to you, but not alone.
He described the assassination scene in great detail and told me some facts about it that I had definitely not heard before.
He claims that Oswald was a patsy, a setup, to take the blame for the whole thing. Also that OSWALD WAS A HOMOSEXUAL like Shaw, Ferrie, Tippett (Dallas police officer) and a score of others.
He told me about the motorcycle police officer who claimed to have seen a man with a rifle run from the grassy knowl in front of Kennedy. (incidentally, the Omaha man claims that this is where the fatal shot came from) The police officer mysteriously had a very serious accident right after the incident, and now is a near idiot.
He claimed to have met the late President on a number of occasions, and he talked about him with very little respect.
He claims that he left Louisiana upon the advice of the Governor.
The Omaha man and the Washington man were always in telephone contact with each other, no matter where they were. Once, the Washington man was in Washington DC for some reason or another and they conferred by telephone twice in that one day.
The following is a list of the names for the story above. If you feel that any of them fit into a proper place, or into your current investigation, Please contact me so we can further discuss that.
1. Sergio Arcacha
2. Lucian Rebel
3. Fred L. Crisman
4. Thomas E. Beckham
5. Martin Grassi
Mr Garrison, perhaps this is all hogwash. I really do not know. I can go into moe detail on all of this, and I have the addresses of those mentioned above. I would come to New Orleans myself, but I do not have the necessary finances. Also, I would have to be assured of protection, at least to the best of your ability.
I have arranged to be reached through the Democratic chairman here, Mr Thomas Reagan, 1C1 Woodbridge Way, Mesquite, Texas. His telephone number is: AT 5-4573
If the information I have related to you here is of any consequence, contact Mr. Reagan, and he will contact me.
Good luck in your investigation.
Mr. _______ [unquote]
In the list of five people toward the end of this letter, the first two, Sergio Arcacha and Lucien Rebel (correct spelling: Luis Rabel) were the two top officers in the New Orleans Cuban Revolutionary Council The fourth person, Thomas Beckham, has written an essay about his experiences. That essay does not mention the $3 million, but does describe some of the related developments (Old Catholic Church file, Assassination Archives, Washington DC):
[quote] In 1961, I was 19 years old and living in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was a peaceful time, the best I can remember. I was full of ideas which I like to call undeveloped dreams. My father Arvel Monroe Beckham was away on the high seas trying to make us a living. I was the second oldest of all five boys. It was at this time of my life that I was looking for excitement and fulfillment. ...
Jack [Martin], to me, seemed like "Mister Cool." He knew everything and everyone. He had all types of I.D. and badges. For for this reason, when I met a few of his Cuban friends, I was very impressed. Within just a short while , I found it easy to be a part of the Cuban crowd. They were all very friendly. That's when I met Mr X and Dr X. Dr X was formally a teacher and physician in Cuba, and Mr X was in the dry cleaning business in Cuba. They seemed to welcome my presence without question. I guess because they knew I did not speak Spanish, and I was a friend of Jack's. In any case, they welcomed me as a friend.
As the weeks passed, one day Jack ask while I was at his apartment if I wanted to be a priest. He (Jack) showed me all types of certificates and even a black suit with all the vestments of his holy office. He said he would get me ordained in the Old Catholic Church. In a few days, I became a legal ordained priest. Then a couple of days later, two young Cubans met me at Walgreen's Drug Store on Canal Street and told me that I could be of service to my country. They had some kind of police I.D. they showed me. I was informed they worked for the government. A few days later, I opened up a mission on Rampart Street using funds they had given me. The mission carried the lettering on its glass front of UCMF, which I was told stood for United Catholic Mission Fathers. Which I later learned stood for United Cuban Mission Forces. Strange as it may seem, I ask no questions. At last I myself had become someone important and was really needed. I felt like I was a little general and saint all rolled into one.
I was told that Castro was a criminal and that the CIA was going to kill him and free Cuba. My little two-story mission was only a front, an assembly place for Cubans. And Dr X and Mr X were very high in rank.
It was not long that I, "Rev Thomas Edward Beckham," a priest in the Old Catholic Church, learned that I was just a front for a small group of powerful Cuban exiles which made New Orleans, Louisiana, and Miami, Florida, their home base for the 1,200 man Cuban Brigade, armed and trained in the United States by the CIA.
The things I began to hear shocked me. I guess I was not developed enough to stand the mental pressure. A great deal of money was raised for the movement by the use of bank type tin cans which had two flags crossed, an American and a Cuban. Under them were the wording: KEEP AMERICA FREE, Communists are only 90 miles from American shores." Plus a special coin was used for a badge by officials of the movement for their I.D.
Then one day, I overheard talk about President John F. Kennedy. They said that the CIA was training men for them at Algiers Naval Station and that the President was to give them US Air Support for the Brigade. Then one said he did not trust Kennedy. Then a person said two assassinations are as easy as one.
That's when I wanted to take a walk and fast. I felt like a Jew in a Nazi camp. The next day, I went to see another friend of mine, Mr G.B., a former Special Agent of the FBI. I told him what was going on. I remember just what he said: "Kid, how and the hell did you get your ass in this mess?" ....
It was later I learned that Kennedy was killed with the knowledge of the CIA by the Cubans and this double-agent, Lee Harvey Oswald. It was to look like Castro had it done. Therefore serving the benefit of all.
I also learned that the Cubans did not trust Kennedy, believed him to be a supporter of Castro, because he withdrew air support for the Cuban Brigade. They said Kennedy would pay well in more ways than one. That's when I learned that some of the Cubans met with Kennedy, stating that they could prove him to be a Communist. I don't know how true it was. But they did get him to meet their demands in 1962 to the tune of millions of dollars with the aid of Kennedy's personal friend and attorney to handle the Bay of Pigs survivors. He (Kennedy) assured them (Cubans) that the Brigade flag would fly again. But the machine works were in motion, months ahead of time.
I remember how sick I was when I learned of his death. I felt that in some way, I was a part of it. I also wanted no part of the so-called "justice" of this great country. But time seemed to heal my cuts.
Then one day, almost 7 1/2 later, I found myself as a witness before a New Orleans Grand Jury into the investigation of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I knew someone had set me up again. Why I did not know. At this time, I was living in Omaha, Nebraska. But long before I appeared as a Grand Jury witness, I was advised on what not to say, if I knew what was best for me. And I did -- I wanted to live. As to date, Mr G. B.. was found dead plus all the others I knew personally. [unquote]
The Deportation of Carlos Marcello, April 1961
The country of Guatemala played a mysterious role in the development of the Kennedy assassination. In the preceeding years, it was the scene of intense intrigue and political struggle that had involved many of the same characters as the assassination. Much of Ruby's narcotics and weapons smuggling was ultimately with Guatemala. In 1954, the CIA organized a coup to put a new government in Guatemala, and in 1960-61 the CIA organized and trained the Cuban exiles in Guatemala for their invasion of Cuba. In August 1961, allegedly at Robert Kennedy's behest, Guy Banister and his associates removed weapons from the Schlumberger bunker in Houma, Louisiana, to help overthrow the Guatemala government.
Among the characters heavily involved in Guatemala was the Boss of the Louisiana Mafia, Carlos Marcello. However, it is not clear what role he played in regard to the CIA's role. Was he basically working for or against the CIA in Guatemala? Was this a factor in turning Guy Banister and associates against the Kennedys? I suggest that these questions could be a productive area of research in solving the assassination.
Carlos Marcello was born in Sicily in 1910 and was brought by his parents to Louisiana when he was eight months old. There, his parents grew vegetables on a small farm outside New Orleans. As a boy, Carlos brought the family vegetables to the market at the city dock, which was controlled by the Mafia. He got involved with the criminals there and became a bank robber, for which he was imprisoned in 1930-34. (My main source for Marcello's life is the excellent book, Mafia Kingfish: Carlos Marcello and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, by John H. Davis, Penguin Books, 1989.)
After he was released, he opened a bar that was a front for marijuana trafficking, for which he imprisoned again in 1938. After he was released this time, he obtained the Mafia's authorization to control the slot machines and juke boxes in the region, which lay the foundation for a wealthy conglomerate of criminal businesses. When the boss of the Louisiana Mafia was deported in 1947, Marcello became the new boss.
Marcello's cover occupation was that he owned the Pelican Tomato Company, which gave him an income of about $18,000 a year. This company smuggled most of its tomatoes from Central America and sold them to the US Navy despite a law that required the Navy to buy only domestic produce. It also seems that this business was a cover for Marcellos' continued smuggling of marijuana and other narcotics into the United States.
Although the Pelican Tomato Company is commonly dismissed as simply a front for criminal activities, it actually represents the larger economic base of the Sicilian immigrant community along the Gulf of Mexico. Sicilian immigrants typically began as poor farmers and agricultural retailers. The United Fruit Company, which dominated the import of Central American fruit, especially Guatemalan bananas, was headed by a New Orleans citizen, Samuel Zemurray. This company sent many Louisiana farmers to Guatemala to develop and manage the plantations there.
The Louisiana Mafia was not necessarily an ally of the United Fruit Company. The Mafia's was much more associated with the low-class laborers who viewed United Fruit as an exploitive employer that they could justifiably expoit in return. The secret cultivation of marijuana on United Fruit plantations and the smuggling of marijuana on United Fruit ships were parasitic activities that did not earn any profits for United Fruit. The Mafia had an interest in limiting United Fruit's power.
In 1945, a leftist regime was elected to power in Guatemala. To a major extent, this election was a reaction against United Fruit's control over the plantations and transportation systems in the country. At first, the new government was broadly popular, but was quickly infiltrated by Communists who caused increasing revulsion among the local and neighboring populations. As a reaction, in 1948 the United States embargoed all arms sales to Guatemala and convinced many other suppliers, including Great Britain, Denmark, Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, and Switzerland to break off sales agreements.
Nevertheless, Guatemala managed to buy weapons for a while from smugglers, many of whom flew them to Guatemala on small airplanes. Apparently, Marcello helped smuggle weapons to this leftist Guatemala government in exchange for narcotics, which he sold in the United States. He had long imported marijuana from Guatemala. However, after the leftist Guatemala government arranged for a large number of Spanish Civil War refugees to resettle from southern France to Guatemala in 1945-48, the heroin trade also grew dramatically.
In 1951, Marcello was called before the Senate Committee to Investigate Organized Crime. Since he refused to answer any questions, he was found in contempt of Congress, imprisoned for six months, and ordered deported back to Sicily as an undesirable alien. However, the deportation order was never carried out.
In order to legally confuse the deportation decision, he arranged a fictitous Guatemalan birth certificate in 1953. He hired Carl Noll, a New Orleans criminal with contacts in Guatemala, to arrange this. Noll flew to Guatemala and bribed a lawyer, Antonio Valladores, to help find a local 1910 birth registry with gap, into which they wrote Marcello's birth name. On the basis of this fraudulent registry, the Guatemalan Government gave Marcello a passport. Marcello received this help when the leftists were in power in Guatemala.
In 1954, the Warsaw Pact secretly sent Guatemala a shipload of weapons, but the United States discovered this shipment and used it as a justification to support a coup that overthrew the leftist Guatemalan Government.
In 1957, Marcello was called before the Senate committee to investigate labor racketeering and organized crime. Senator John Kennedy was a member of this committee, and his younger brother, Robert Kennedy, was a staffer. Since he again refused to testify, they harrassed him and renewed the Government's attempts to deport him.
After John Kennedy became President and Robert Kennedy became Attorney General in January 1961, they continued to harrass him and even deported him to Guatemala on April 4, 1961. The events that followed are murky. It seems that one group of officials harrassed and detained him, and another group, led by President Miguel Fuentes, treated him well and arranged his return to the United States. For some reason, US Secret Service agents seemed to be involved with the latter group. Just as Marcello was about to return according to Fuentes' arrangements, he was kidnapped by the first group. John Davis describes the events in Mafia Kingfish (pp 106-108):
[quote] What happened next [after Marcello's first night in Guatemala] is uncertain. Somehow, Marcello ended up in jail and had to promise to pay a $75,000 bribe to a high-ranking Guatemalan official to get out. .... Whatever the case, Marcello was soon out of jail ....
By the time Marcello had taken up residence in the Biltmore Hotel, Guatemala City's most influential paper, El Imparcial, had demanded in an editorial an official explanation of Marcello's presence in Guatemala. Among other things, the editorial implied that the entry of Marcello's birth inthe civil registry at San Jose Pinula was bogus.
By April 12, six days [sic] after his deportation, things were not going so badly for Carlos Marcello in Guatemala City. Ensconsed with his wife and daughter in a suite at the Biltmore Hotel, with two brothers and his lawyer in neighboring rooms, Carlos was meeting with various Guatemalan businessmen... For a while, Carlos and his family were able to enjoy themselves in Guatemala City. The press noted their presence at the racetrack and in the city's finest shops and restaurants.
But El Imparcial would not rest. Finally, its editorials about Marcello stirred up the opposition forces to Guatemalan President Miguel Fuentes so much that about a month after his arrival, the Guatemalan government told Marcello he could return home. In Marcello's words:
"They said they going to give me a permit to go to the United States, so we're all happy. We go to the airport. My wife gets the ticket, and we all ... they got a ticket. When I went there, they say we got orders from the State Department, you can't get a ticket, you can't get a visa to go back. State Department of the United States.
"So my wife, she start to cry, and then I say, 'Well, look, why don't you all go ahead and leave me and Mike [Maroun, his attorney].'
So we went back to the hotel, and it's about eight that night. We had the two Secret Service men staying with us. I find it was funny they was staying there. About an hour later, three more came in there, and they say, 'All right, pack your bags. Let's go.' So they put us in a station wagon, and we go to San Salvador, me and Mike.' [quote]
Davis never explained in his book what the Secret Service agents were doing with Marcello. Anyway, the Secret Service agents took Marcello to an army camp across the border.
David Ferrie Joins Guy Banister Associates
By early 1961, David Ferrie was involved with Arcacha Smith, and in about August 1961, he became involved with Guy Banister's agency. Ferrie never realized that Arcacha Smith and Banister were involved with each other. He thought that Guy Banister Associates really was just a detective agency. The HSCA stated the facts correctly, but misinterpreted them:
[quote] Strangely, although Ferrie seemed to be straightforward during his interviews with FBI agents in discussing his opposition to Kennedy, his conflict with Jack Martin, his involvement with th Marcello case, etc, Ferrie denied outright that he had ever known "of the Cuban Revolutionary Front maintaining an office at 544 Camp Street, nor does he have any knowledge of Sergio Arcacha Smith maintaining an office at the address during the time he was head of the organization and later after he was replaced." This is clearly in contradition to the accounts of the witnesses on this subject. [vol 10, pg 132] [unquote]
It is not a contradiction. Banister and Arcacha Smith had a several reasons to deceive Ferrie. David Ferrie was working for Carlos Marcello, and Guy Banister was working for Robert Kennedy. Ferrie had participated in the Bag of Pigs, while Arcacha Smith's mentor, de Varona was locked up and readied for execution on the beach. Ferrie was going to become a patsy like Oswald.
Excerpts from the HSCA report follow (Vol 10, pp 109-122, 130; text rearranged into chronological order):
[quote] [Ferrie] expressed his views to anyone who would listen. During an interview with an IRS auditor in 1960, Ferrie was "outspoken" in his derogatory comments about the United States. He complained bitterly about his alleged tax persecution.
[Ferrie] reportedly built two miniature submarines..... The submarines were found [later] in a search of Ferrie's house. Also found were a Morse code key, ... a flare gun, and maps [Cuba]. Ferrie had been training Cuban pilots in the new Orleans area.
Ferrie also started a [Civil Air Patrol] group called the "Falcon Squadron," composed of Ferrie's closest CAP associates. A group within this group, the "Ominipotents," was allegedly started to train cadets in what to do in the event of a major attack on the United States. While would-be members claimed approaches were made to them to join the group, Banister [emphasis added] testified there never was such a group by tha name. Several of Ferrie's cadets claimed to have taken trips to Cuba in Ferrie's airplane.
By early 1961, Ferrie and a young man whom Ferrie had first met in the Civil Air Patrol, Layton Martens, were working with Sergio Arcacha Smith, head of the Cuban Revolutionary Front delegation in New Orleans. Martens identified himself to police as Arcacha Smith's second-in-command. Ferrie soon became Smith's eager partner.... According to Carlos Quiroga, a Cuban who had been involved with the CRC, Ferrie often provided Arcacha Smith with funds, stating, "Ferrie lent him (Arcacha Smith) money when he needed it for his family .... He (Ferrie) had $100 bills around all the time." [A New Orleans finance company also stated that] Ferrie assisted Arcacha Smith in obtaining a loan.
Ferrie's vacation [from Eastern Airlines] in April [16-31] 1961 coincided with the Bay of Pigs invasion. The Bay of Pigs invasion began April 17, 1961. [On July 18, 1961,] Arcacha Smith wrote Eastern Airlines then-President Eddie Rickenbacker on Ferrie's behalf requesting a 60- or 90-day leave with pay for full-time work for the CRC. The request was denied.
Ferrie later admitted that after the Bay of Pigs invasion, he severely criticized President John F. Kennedy, both in public and in private. Ferrie was asked to discontinue his remarks at a speaking engagement in July 1961 before the New Orleans chapter of the Military Order of World Wars. His topic was the Presidential administration and the Bay of Pigs fiasco. The organization put a stop to Ferrie's remarks when he became too critical of President Kennedy [and proclaimed that "anyone could hide in the bushes and shoot a President."]. He [later] denied ever making a statement that Kennedy should be killed with the intention that this be done.
Ferrie's troubles intensified [in August, 1961,] when charges were brought against him by parents of boys [the Alexander Landry and Albert Cheramie cases] who had run away from home. .... The parents of another boy complained to authorities [letter from William Bell] that their son was staying with Ferrie. As a result, Ferrie was arrested on August 8, 1961, for contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. Cuban exile leader Arcacha Smith intervened on Ferrie's behalf by telling police that the boy would be returned to his parents if they did not press charges against Ferrie. But Ferrie was arrested again on August 11, 1961, for crime against nature on a 15-year-old boy and indecent behavior with three others.
An intensive New Orleans police investigation of the charges against Ferrie produced statements from several boys that Ferrie had commited indecent acts with them. The boys also told investigators Ferrie had told them he had had homosexual relations with a married man in Houston. On August 26, Eastern Airlines removed him from the payroll for an indefinite period, and the Federal Aviation Administration then opened its own investigation into the charges.
Ferrie managed to stay afloat financially despite his loss of income from Eastern Airlines in 1961. .... Ferrie made payments on his car and met living expenses. According to Carlos Quiroga, a Cuban who had been involved with the CRC, "Ferrie has $100 bills around all the time," even after he lost his job with the airlines.
[Also in about August 1961, Ferrie was accused of extortion. Information about this case was deleted from the HSCA report. See pg 110-111, where footnote 130 should be. The footnote remains and indicates that the extortion might have involved Sam Newman, the owner of the building at 544 Camp Street.]
Jack Martin, a private investigator associated with Banister, may have contacted Ferrie for assistance on his case [apparently Ferrie's extortion case]. Ferrie told the FBI he met Martin in the fall of 1961 ... to assist Martin in a Department of Health, Education, and Welfare investigation into the sale of phony certificates of ordination and consecration. .... Later, Martin wrote letters to the Federal Aviation Administration and Eastern Airlines on Ferrie's behalf.
With this assistance, Ferrie was able to resolve many of his difficulties. Ferrie ... testified that he ... entered into an ... arrangement in February 1962 with Guy Banister. Banister stated he handled Ferrie's case personally. At the end of February 1962, Ferrie was tried and acquitted of the charges of extortion. [unquote]
The House Select Committee on Assassinations noted only briefly one secret operation that Banister's group carried out in August 1961:
[quote] Both Ferrie and Banister were implicated in a raid in late 1961 against a munitions depot in Houma, Louisiana, in which various weapons, grenades, and ammunition were stolen. Banister's role may have been limited to storing the materiel which was reportedly seen stacked in Banister's back room by several witnesses. Others who actually participated in the raid, include Andrew Blackmon, a Ferrie associate and former Civil Air Patrol cadet, Sergio Arcacha Smith, adventurer Gordon Novel, and Layton Martens [vol 10, pp 127, 109; Other participants were Novel's fiancee, Marlene Mancuso, and Rancier Ehlinger; the month of August was specified in Garrison's indictment of Novel] [unquote]
Guy Banister's employees, Jack Martin and David Lewis, explained in their affidavit that this raid was arranged by Robert Kennedy. Kennedy's motivations were to help France prevent a rebellion on two French colonial islands in the Caribbean, to give the leftist Cuban exiles more weapons, and to help overthrow the rightist government of Guatemala:
[quote] Gangland Boss Carlos Marcello (whom R.F.K. was so intent upon deporting while Attorney General) [was] linked with the immediate cooperation which Marcello had received from Guatemala's President, General Miguel Ydigoras Fuentes. It is very easy to understand why the entire political administration of Guatemala just had to go! R.F.K. was so angry because he couldn't win. He lost his case against Marcello and in so doing, lost face. .... General Ydigoras was very friendly to the United States and was a good president of that small, Latin American country, even though it meant no difference to R.F.K. or others -- not one bit! Perhaps via Philby's instructions, these were waiting for just the right moment to seek revenge. ....
About this time, a split in France's political structure arose, and that existing build-up reached its peak. The ranks and staff of all French government were divided at that time. There were the Gaullest and the anti-Gaullest factions, all of whom were secretly back-stabbing each other, fighting over the political and territorial severances from the whole government of Metropolitan France proper.
The French political pot was brewing, especially in the Gulf-Caribbean area. For at that minute, it was in the planning stage to execute a military coup to take over the isles of Guadeloupe and Martinique. These insurgent units were anti-Gaullest militants desiring to institute separate insurgent governments on the two French islands. ....
Right about then, the Schlumberger companies (those in the U.S. and the world over), who were all said to be a part of the Dutch Antilles Schlumberger, Incorporated, located on the isle of St Martin (French Guadeloupe), became involved in this political tangle. This happened through an operation of the anti-Gaullest faction of the DGSS. (the Direction General Service Specialiux, a French counterpart of our CIA), with those anti-Gaullest insurgent activities. Moreover, it should be noted that the secret home offices of all these Schlumberger firms are supposed to be in Paris, France, of all places. This is to say nothing of the fact that those on the upper-echelon plane of command are reported to be venomously anti-Gaullest in their political allegiance.
It seems that all of these anti-Gaullest factions had by devious means slipped some arms and munitions into the U.S. and stored them in one of the Schlumberger bunkers located in Houma, Louisiana. Of course, these were to be used by certain anti-Gaullest insurgents whose forces planned to take over the Guadeloupe and Martinique possessions of Metropolitan France.
Philby and company jumped on this one. It was the proper time, the cue on which to move. After all, we couldn't harbor any of De Gaulle's enemies -- there were various big treaty agreements at stake here! Moreover, we just could not upset De Gaule (France). Due to his erratic nature, he might blow the Alliance completely and no one, especially the President [Kennedy], would like this a bit. ....
Taking immediate action under the masterful direction of Philby, the anti-Castro Cubans of Dr Jose Miro Cardona's FRD (Frente Revolutionario Democratico), commanded in New Orleans by Dr Sergio Arcacha Smith, were promised that they could have these munitions to use at once against Castro. In short, these arms wre theirs for the taking. Yes! This would solve matters and protect De Gaulle's interests as well. ...
We had known those of the FRD unit well. .... Most of their contacts were through William Guy Banister (former FBI Special Agent in Charge), who along with Grady Clifford Durham (former U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel), operated the Friends of Democratic Cuba and the Voice of Radio Free Cuba through the medium of one Billy B. Little Horse (alias William W. Dalzell, former Defense Department Intelligence Agent and a partner of ours). And these were all supported in liaison by Guy P. Johnson (former U.S. Naval Commander and Office of Naval Intelligence Agent), who functioned with Office of Naval Intelligence Civilian Agent Sunsat, joined by CIA Agent Lloyd Ray, to assist these semi-militants, et cetera, behind the scenes. .... [unquote]
Martin and Lewis noted in their affidavit that Robert Kennedy had established his own secret channel of communication to communicate with Banister, by-passing J. Edgar Hoover and the local FBI Special Agent in Charge .
[quote] This FRD group, through Banister, was additionally serviced by an FBI Special Agent, Regis Kennedy, who we often met during this period at Banister's office. Sometimes, we would run into him several times a day. Banister once told [another of his investigators, Joseph] Newbrough and we that [Regis] Kennedy's daily reports on these activities were forwarded straight to one Assistant FBI Director Mohr, subservient only to John Edgar Hoover in Washington, always by-passing [Regis] Kennedy's own local Special Agent in Charge (resident agent) for numerous top-security reasons. From here [Washington], they were viewed by none other than Philby and RFK, the story goes.
Inasmuch as we were for many years associated with Banister, we had upon occasion engaged (independently) in some of these activities, cooperating with FRD and Dalzell operations. From time to time, our code names had been "El Gringo" and "Jauquin" during these periods.
Returning to the subject, RFK allegedly tendered several documents in the form of "Letters-Marques" giving "carte-blanche" status to any and all of those about to participate in this pending pseudo-legal hijacking. These were directed to all concerned to "seize munitions or arms, the property of a foreign government, that are illegally located within the US, which might otherwise be used against nations friendly to the US, using any and all means to do so." They, of course, supposedly bore the signature of none other than RFK himself, because they were issued on Justice Department Attorney General's letterhead stationery.
Needless to say, as we recall it, everyone was overjoyed by this prospective arms hijacking. Furthermore, someone had said that either the FBI or CIA were to supply the keys to pull this "job" (robbery), so no locks would be broken.
Later on that following afternoon, we heard Banister talking over the telephone to who we were told was a Mr M.E. Loy, the South-Eastern Manager of Schlumberger in New Orleans. (Loy at this writing is the President of all Schlumberger incorporations here in the US, whose home office is in Houston, Texas.) This conversation was in regard to the pending Schlumberger operation. Banister seemed to be setting the time and date, like H hour and D date. In short, they of the Schlumberger company knew that we were coming in the fake bakery truck. ....
That evening, FBI Agent Kennedy made his daily appearance at Banister's office as usual. It was about this time that the Letters-Marque and the keys showed up. No one ever said that Agent Kennedy brought them, but they did come to light shortly after he had left.
Anyway, the story goes that it was in the dark of night that the very "chosen people" hijacked those munitions at the Houma Schlumberger bunker, transported, and stored them in their designated location, the storage area ajoining Banister's office. The following day, everyone in the "know" came to look and gloat. Boy, ol' Castro should sure catch hell now! ....
Well, at any rate, it appears that after the Houma bunker haul, Philby and company may have progressed in activity. We say this because later the next evening, apparently some other band of thieves filched those promised arms and munitions from the safety of their hiding place at Banister's office. However, no robbery report was made, nor search launched for them. Banister was ordered to do nothing about this matter and to remain silent, as were the rest of us so instructed.
Some bastard about this time circulated the rumor (we understand that it was believed by all or most of the Cubans) that Dr Arcacha had either sold or had given away these arms and munitions to the pro-Castro Cubans or others. So he engineered another hijacking of his own. On this, they only found low-yield projectiles looking like small aerial bombs, but with not much explosive power. However, the Cubans thought they were for real and feated Arcacha to a blow-out in one of the local hotels (St Charles) to celebrate the occasion. Although a few days later, they (the Cubans) found out that these were oil-well equipment or exploration low-yield explosive units. With this, the Cubans really believed that they'd been crossed, and Arcacha left town immediately in fear of his life. ....
Now, what happened, and where did they [the stolen arms] go? It seems that there were some others, a bunch of discontented people, who just wanted to take over Guatemala using these weapons far more than we needed them to give the "works" to Castro. Thus, via Philby and company, General Ydigoras went out of office, and Guatemala had a completely new political administration. Somebody fulfilled the vendetta for the Carlos Marcello caper in spades! JFK had gotten his revenge one way or another. ....
This left Dr Cardona's Frente under the total command of Arcacha's former assistant, Carlos Quiroga. He claims to be an avid anti-Communist. We believe he protests far too much upon this subject. Hence, we did some checking. Quiroga says he left Cuba just at the time his father was arrested and imprisoned within the Isle of Pines near Havana. Our sources inform us that Quiroga's father may have been assisted into confinement by none other than Quiroga himself, just as he is said to have assisted Arcacha to be removed. He is truly an assistant, however, according to our information. Moreover, it is highly speculative that this subject, Quiroga, may well be as Philby, a double agent. [text rearranged slightly into chronological order; punctuation fixed] [unquote]
Banister's secretary Delphine Roberts also indicated to Police Sgt Fenner Sedgebeer that Banister was involved with Latin American Communists who were exporting items to Central America. Sedgebeer's raw notes records Roberts' encounters with this group (Banister file, Assassination Archives, Washington DC; dots are in original; this is a single, continuous excerpt; capitalization corrected; W.G.B. is obviously Banister):
[quote] Was introduced to six Cubans who were out to overthrow Castro ... They met with W.G.B. behind closed door ... Later, I saw the same men in an office in the Balter Bldg ... Passsed this office going toward Camp Street ... Was about to enter Richard's office (don't recall last name ... he was from Honduras, not a naturalized citizen, I understand) ... He was in export business with Honduras and Guatemala ... They were surprised to see me, and Richard asked to see me another time.
Some time later, ran into Richard on street ... He looked like a tramp ... Wanted to speak to me ... told me he had been beaten up by these people connected with the Communist movement ... "Now, they were the same people connected with the people who put up the money for him to establish a business here -- export-import. I think that was a business front."
I saw Richard two more times ... Same Richard once sold tickets for an airline at Moisant Airport ... Each time, he was in a worse condition and in fear for his life. ...
Banister connected with people associated with both a conservative element as well as the Communist element ... He told me "You rub shoulders with all kinds of characters to get information from both sides." .... He belonged to a world-wide intelligence network. [unquote]
This escapade with Ferrie apparently helped lead to the removal of Arcacha Smith from his position as chief of the CRC's New Orleans branch. HSCA noted that:
[quote] In September 1961, the US border patrol received information that Ferrie was attempting to purchase a C-47 airplane for $30,000 and reportedly had a cache of arms in the New Orleans area.
Lack of funds caused Arcacha Smith to leave town in 1962, his reputation tarnished by his asociation with Ferrie. He was also accused by several Cuban exiles of misappropriation of funds. [HSCA, vol 10, pp 109-110].
When he was relieved of his official position with the CRC in early 1962, Arcacha left New Orleans. Arcacha Smith's replacement, Luis Rabel, assumed the delegate duties in January 1962, but, he told the committee, found it necessary to resign by October of that year because his job entailed extensive traveling. During his short tenure, Rabel said he organized several rallies and brought in prominent Miami speakers to inspire the New Orleans Cuban exile community. Other than going to the Camp Street address to remove office materials left there by Archacha Smith, Rabel said he had no connection with the building and never saw Oswald in New Orleans. [HSCA, vol 10, pp 61-62] [unquote]
Summers notes in his book Conspiracy that:
[quote] On March 9, 1962, the owner of 544 Camp Street, Sam Newman, wrote to the CRC regarding rent arears left behind by Arcacha. The letter was addressed personally to Antonio de Varona, the CRC leader who reportedly -- at the initiative of Santos Trafficante -- played a part in the CIA-Mafia plots to murder Castro (copy of letter is infiles of William Scott Malone) [pg 576] [unquote]
Arcacha Smith and Rabel were two of the group from whom the CIA had confiscated the $3 million in the Miami airport before the Bay of Pigs invasion. I have no more information to offer about Rabel.
The CIA's Counter-intelligence Staff came to believe that Banister and his associates were secret Communists working for Robert Kennedy, also supposedly a secret Communist. Banister had stolen the secret FBI files listing the secret underground Communist leakers, so now Robert Kennedy would supposedly be able to prevent the arrests of these key Communists in a national emergency.
Therefore the CIA's Counter-Intelligence Staff began already in 1961 to concentrate its resources on infiltrating and studying Banister's organization, setting up agents, double-agents, and patsies there.