End of The Green Beret Drug War
Daily Mail 20th September 1980
A CONSPIRACY to Invade' America with £500 million-worth of drugs was smashed yesterday.
AN international gang planned to protect their precious cargo with squads of ex-commandos armed with automatic weapons. They had been ordered to 'dig in' at landing fields where the high - grade narcotics and marijuana war to be flown in from Colombia.
Such was the scale of the operation that three DC-3 airliners were to be used in transporting the huge South American stock-pile of drugs. But nine days ago, authorities made their first move and broke the operations sea-going 'connection' with a dawn raid on San Francisco's famous water-front.
They seized 21 tons of marijuana, and the former mine sweeper The Valkyure.
Stored in drums
Police also moved in on the Potomac, a yacht which acted as Franklin D. Roosevelt's Presidential flagship during World War II, and which was more recently owned by Elvis Presley. And in a big round-up of suspects, 20 people have now been charged, with seven others expected to be arrested this weekend.
The sophisticated smuggling operation —far bigger than the so-called 'French Connection' smuggling racket from Europe —involved nearly 90 tons of high-quality Columbian marijuana, and 4,000 tons of cocaine.
The main centres in the 'South American Connection' were the Columbian capital of Bogota, and the southern Californian city of San Diego. From there, supply routes fanned 9ut by air, sea, and land to Other distribution centres throughout America.
Last night, the U.S. Attorney in San Diego, Mr James Lorenz, who led a nine-month undercover investigation of the conspiracy, said: "There was every possibility of bloodshed If we had made our move at the airstrip where the main haul •was to be landed . ...-but we were prepared for It.'
He said there were 102 illegal acts involved in the conspiracy, including smuggling nearly £1 million-worth of stereo speakers back to Columbia.
Undercover narcotics agents had managed to trace the cocaine shipment, stored in 55-gallon drums in the San Martin area of Bogota. And if the Columbia-California route had been opened up successfully, yesterday's planned shipment would have been the first of many, said drug detectives last night.
The eventual aim was to swamp America with marijuana and cocaine. And narcotics agents believe that this would have then been the bridgehead to open up illicit trade routes to the lucrative Canadian and European markets. The gang were negotiating to a buy a DC-6 aircraft and a C-130. An experienced Eliot had been offered a job with them at a fixed salary of £400,000 a year.
'Everything they planned was in a big way. It was the most ambitious scheme ever to bring drugs into this country,' the U.S. Attorney's oce said last night.
Federal, State and local law agencies along the Californian coast are still investigating the 'Connection' and more charges may be brought. But officials would not say if Columbian authorities were helping them in the investigation.
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