The Wheaton Lead: An Exploration
by Larry Hancock and David Boylan, April 2020
In support of the JFK Records Act of 1992, an independent agency - the Assassination Records Review Board - was formed, with the charter of locating and bringing into the national archives materials pertinent to the assassination of President John Kennedy. While the Board's primary focus was on unreleased government documents, it operated under the premise that assassination materials included both public and private materials - regardless of how they were labeled - which described, reported on, or interpreted the activities of persons or events related to the assassination itself as well as to subsequent inquiries.
The Board and its staff began work in October, 1994 and operated for four years. As part of its activities, Board staff held regional meetings to identify new sources of JFK materials, in particular those which might be held outside the primary agencies involved in the initial Warren Commission inquiry. Going beyond documents and written materials, its staff took testimony from individuals felt to hold relevant information - primarily from those with firsthand knowledge of events related to the assassination. Due to media visibility over the JFK Records Act and the Board's public meetings and work, a number of individuals privately contacted the Board with information they felt to be relevant to the Kennedy assassination. [ i ]
One of those individuals, Gene Wheaton, approached the ARRB with a fax to its chairman John Tunheim on October 20, 1995. Wheaton indicated that he felt he might have information relevant to the Board's work. As part of that contact Wheaton provided a four page biography of himself, as well as a letter of commendation from President Richard Nixon for Wheaton's earlier anti-drug work during an assignment in Iran. Wheaton's career experience was in law enforcement and security operations, initially with police work and then service with both the Air Force Office of Special (criminal) Investigations and with the Army Counter Intelligence Division (criminal and narcotics investigations). Following military service he had obtained his Bachelors Degree in law enforcement, and a Masters Degree in Public Administration. After obtaining his Masters he had moved into security consulting in the Middle East, working in Saudi Arabia, in Egypt (security design for the Cairo Airport) and as an advisor on security, police practices and anti-terrorism to the government of Iran. His work on counter-drug activities with Iranian law enforcement resulted in a special commendation from President Richard Nixon.
While in Iran he also worked as Director of Security for Rockwell International on its IBEX program, a project involving both photographic and communications intelligence surveillance and intelligence collections. [ ii ] Following his IBEX assignment, Wheaton did security consulting work with Iran, Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia; his assignments included working for Bechtel Corporation in the development of the huge Jeddah airport project. Wheaton's biographical data - which has been confirmed - was impressive, not only in respect to law enforcement, but in terms of his experience in intelligence and security practices.
letter to the ARRB (click to view)
See all ARRB Wheaton docs
In response to his initial outreach to the ARRB, Wheaton was sent a standard form letter signed by John Tunheim, the ARRB Chairman, thanking him for his interest and advising a staff member would be in touch with him. A follow-up letter was sent to Wheaton by ARRB staff member Thomas Samoluk in early February 1995, and Wheaton responded in a two-page written fax, accompanied by a CV of the individual whom he wanted to offer as a potential source of information on the assassination. He noted that the individual had worked for him in the mid-1980s, and had been a close personal friend at that time. The individual had an earlier career as a senior CIA paramilitary officer (his wife was also a high level CIA employee). He had worked as an operations officer on the CIA's Cuba project as well as in follow-on anti-Castro activities - his work had involved infiltrations, sabotage and assassination. While working for Wheaton in air transportation/logistics sales related to the Nicaraguan Contra effort, the individual had introduced Wheaton to Cuban and American veterans of the CIA's anti-Castro operations.
Wheaton's two-page fax stated that the conversations he had heard suggested that the former CIA officer and one of his key Cuban operatives had knowledge of a conspiracy against JFK and of individuals involved in the murder of President Kennedy. When Wheaton had first become aware of that information, he offered to work with the two men to arrange for Congressional immunity for their information - they had adamantly rejected that idea. At that point Wheaton was not sharing the identity of the CIA officer with the ARRB, instead he requested a personal meeting to discuss his information.
to Wheaton (click to view)
See all ARRB Wheaton docs
Wheaton's information was confirmed in a return letter from Thomas Samoluk and shared within the ARRB; Samoluk raised the question of whether or not to assign a staff member to determine Wheaton's credibility and the value of his information. Based on that discussion, a staff member (Anne Buttimer) was assigned and in April 1995 conducted a telephone call with Wheaton. Buttimer's call report states that Wheaton was only willing to discuss limited information by telephone; he made it clear that he possessed no documents directly confirming a conspiracy, but would provide documents confirming his association with the CIA officer in question, as well as documents confirming the officer's background.
As context Wheaton summarized the Contra-era activities, during which he had obtained his information, as well as the Cubans who were involved with Oliver North's Nicaragua project - outlining their conversations during which the Kennedy assassination had been discussed. He also described their remarks that the "street level" Cuban exiles involved in the assassination considered Kennedy a traitor for his actions as the Bay of Pigs; they had killed him for that treachery. He also noted remarks that the people "above the Cubans" had motives beyond simple revenge. Wheaton offered his information to the Board but insisted that he not be personally involved or that his name be used, because at the time he had initially offered to work on immunity arrangements, his former associates had promised to destroy his reputation if he pursued taking the information to the authorities. He concluded the interview by reaffirming that he was only offering a lead, but could provide documentation confirming his association with the individuals and their backgrounds with the CIA.
It appears that at some point a personal meeting between Wheaton and Buttimer did occur; it is referenced in a follow-up letter from Buttimer which makes mention of their meeting on July 11, 1995 and Wheaton's provision of certain materials. The materials Wheaton provided included a photo of the passport of Carl Jenkins, a detailed resume of Jenkin's education and work history including a reference as Chief of Base for the Cuba Project during 1960-61 (that position involved selection and training of cadre, assignment of officers, maritime infiltration and operational management of small teams and agents). It also documented Jenkin's 1964-65 assignment as a Senior Operations Advisor for a "still-sensitive" CIA Cuba project. Other documents included Wheaton's letter of July 9, 1985 appointing Jenkins as the Washington D.C. liaison for National Air. At the time Wheaton was Vice President of National Air (an air transportation business with some 23 aircraft, National Air had officers in Washington D.C, California and Lexington, Kentucky), copies of Jenkin's business cards (including mail drop locations with appropriate business "covers"). The copy of Carl Jenkins business card contained a note naming various individuals with whom Jenkins had made connections for Wheaton, including Rafael (Chi Chi) Quintero, Nestor Pino, Bill Borde and Rob Owen.
Based on ARRB internal communications and records we know a good deal about what Wheaton offered and made available to the Board. However follow-up research by Stuart Wexler determined that the ARRB staff member with the most contact with Wheaton left the Board at the end of 1995. [ iii ] Following her departure no further Board contact was made with Wheaton. Frustrated, he made his own final outreach to the ARRB in March, 1998. In a fax to the Board, Wheaton reviewed his earlier contacts and the materials he had provided - including those passed on to Buttimer. He then inquired as to whether the Board had conducted any actions or inquiries with his lead. In response he was sent a standard form letter thanking him for his materials and assuring him all the leads provided to the Board had received careful review. That letter came not from ARRB staff but rather from the Press and Public Affairs Officer of the ARRB.
Wheaton's attempt to offer an assassination lead to the ARRB, similar to information which he had previously been willing to take to Senator Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania, was provided confidentially to a body created by the U.S. Congress, clearly not in any attempt to gain public visibility or profit for Wheaton. There is no indication that Wheaton tried to publicly promote the lead which he provided to the ARRB. We only know of Wheaton's approach to the ARRB and of the material he provided because of the public release of the ARRB's own documents.
Researcher Malcolm Blunt came across those documents while working in the records at the National Archives and brought them to the attention of one of the authors (Hancock). Hancock and Stuart Wexler were then able to locate CIA documents which fully corroborated Wheaton's description of Carl Jenkins as well as with one of the individuals - Rafael Quintero - noted by Wheaton as an associate of Jenkins in anti-Castro operations. Over time further research confirmed extensive details of the association of the two men as well as Jenkin's involvement in the anti-Castro activities and projects which Wheaton had briefly referenced.
It is important to note that Wheaton himself offered no information about the Kennedy assassination other than certain remarks he heard - remarks made in conversation among the men he was associating with during his Contra-era air transport sales efforts. Those remarks had been made while recalling old projects and individuals the men had worked with operationally in anti-Castro efforts for the CIA. The individuals involved and being discussed had either been trained by Carl Jenkins or were known to him through anti-Castro CIA projects.
Wheaton himself had assumed that the information he had provided to the ARRB would remain confidential. However information from his correspondence eventually allowed him to be located. With documents provided by Hancock, researcher William Law managed to locate Wheaton and inquire as to his approach to the ARRB, informing him that the documents he had provided them had actually been released to the public.
Wheaton was surprised but agreed to a personal conversation with Law. During that conversation he acknowledged his approach to the ARRB and confirmed he had submitted the documents shown him. He also agreed to a spontaneous request for a brief video interview by Law (as filmed by Mark Sobel). During that interview Wheaton remained consistent in refusing to suggest that he personally knew anything further about the assassination than the lead which he had offered the ARRB. He was however willing to expand on his own personal and business relationships with Jenkins and Quintero. His comments during that interview provide us with the only insight into his experience and his lead beyond the materials he had provided to the ARRB.
The Wheaton Interview
In this interview with Wheaton, conducted by William Law and Mark Sobel, Wheaton opened up to a limited degree about what he had witnessed. The following quotes are excerpted from the interview [ iv ], which can be watched in its entirety by clicking the image above.
"Carl Jenkins was a retired high-level paramilitary specialist for the CIA.....He headed up the largest covert base in Laos during the secret CIA wars over there when the open war was going on in Vietnam.....[Jenkins] invited me to stay in their home.....In 1985 he [Jenkins] became my Washington representative when I took over as Vice President for a cargo airline called National Air.....I was like a brother to Carl.....Carl was the head recruiter and trainer of the Bay of Pigs invasion for the assassins and saboteurs that were going into Cuba for the pre-invasion to lay the groundwork for the Bay of Pigs.....He trained the 17, 18, 19 year old exiles and became their father figure.....Chi Chi Quintero became like a son to Carl.....He [Quintero] and two or three others, Felix Rodriguez, Nestor Pino, all went to Vietnam with him.....Chi Chi was a shooter. He was trained by I.W. Harper.....There was a CIA funded program to assassinate Castro and Carl was in charge of training the Cubans from Miami.....They were the ones that diverted the Castro assassination funds and training for their own agenda to snuff Kennedy.....They had a thing called a triangulation shooting team.....[Describing the Bay of Pigs and JFK backing off the air strike] They were furious and still are to this day.....And there was another clique above them.....they would reminisce about the past and what went wrong and what went right....."
As background to Wheaton's ARRB lead and the comments in his interview it is important to note that the Contra era conversations Wheaton heard significantly affected him, both in regard to his personal friendships with Jenkins and Quintero and by raising his concerns about rogue/illegal actions by CIA operations officers. The "war stories" and gossip had deeply troubled him - suggesting illegal arms deals as well as a pattern of CIA activities involving political assassination. In retrospect, certain of those rumors have proved to be quite correct, emerging in the Iran/Contra scandal. Others, involving rogue activities by CIA officer Theodore Shackley, were little more than gossip and remain questionable even though we can now confirm that both Shackley and Jenkins were indeed involved in both multiple efforts to assassinate Fidel Castro.
Eugene Hasenfus broke the Iran-Contra story
Wheaton's concerns about such Contra-era Nicaraguan activities led him to express his concerns to journalist Daniel Sheehan. Wheaton supported Sheehan's efforts to investigate rogue actions in Nicaragua, even writing an affidavit in support of an investigation. However Wheaton was embarrassed by the fact that his primary source for the information - Carl Jenkins - ultimately refused to support his affidavit, thus undermining Sheehan's claims. In his book on Theodore Shackley (Blond Ghost), David Corn calls out the specific assertions made against CIA officer Theodore Shackley as being nothing more than gossip, gossip inferring that "a rogue element in the U.S. government had engaged in a host of nefarious activities including assassination".
Certainly it is true that Wheaton himself had no firsthand information on such activities and was simply making inferences from things he had heard. It was also fair for Corn to assert the lack of actual facts linking Shackley to rogue activities. However with the information and documents that have surfaced over more recent decades it is also accurate to observe that CIA officers including Theodore Shackley, Tracy Barnes and Carl Jenkins certainly were associated with a variety of political assassination efforts - efforts not sanctioned or known to the highest levels of the American government, including the President or National Security Council. [ v ]
Beyond that, certain elements of Wheaton's "gossip" about rogue operations in Central American and Iran have also been historically substantiated. In fact the investigation of the Reagan/North era Contra activities and the Iran/Contra scandal (including information in Oliver North's notebooks) confirmed the involvement of several of the persons (including Rafael Quintero and Felix Rodriquez) which Wheaton had mentioned to Sheehan. [ vi ]
In regard to the JFK assassination, the remarks which Wheaton had heard and his commitment to his career in law enforcement led him to conclude that the proper thing to do would be to encourage his friends Jenkins and Quintero to take information on an assassination conspiracy to the authorities. He expressed that to them, offering to work at brokering an arrangement for immunity. Both men declined to participate, instead warning Wheaton that they would deny any information he himself might offer. While Wheaton and Quintero appear to have remained somewhat friendly (Quintero never actually refuted Wheaton's narrative, simply saying he might have misunderstood some aspects of the conversations), Carl Jenkins became far more hostile, denying everything and making bitter remarks against Wheaton.
In later years, concerned by the rumors he had heard of CIA clandestine operations and rogue actors, as well as the revelations in the Iran/Contra scandal, Wheaton continued to remain interested in and actively investigated other incidents which he felt to have been suspicious - and which might have involved CIA actors (sanctioned or otherwise). His interests ranged from the Arrow Air crash in 1980 to the Gander crash in 1985, both of which he suspected might have involved retaliation for clandestine CIA operations. In later years Wheaton pursued other investigations as a consultant, including the rumors of drug smuggling though Mena, Arkansas (smuggling which reportedly involved former CIA anti-Castro figures) and later the murder of Vince Foster.
While his work on those investigations remains controversial, the fact remains that until the JFK Records Act and the formation of the ARRB, Wheaton made no move to promote or tout his Kennedy assassination lead - and when he did approach the ARRB it was only to offer them a lead - and two names, Carl Jenkins and Rafael Quintero.
It is that - those names, and the concept that individuals involved in anti-Castro operations and in Castro assassination efforts were also involved in Kennedy's murder - that is the subject of this research paper.
Exploring the Wheaton Lead
One of the most fundamental challenges in JFK assassination research is dealing with third party sources who appear to provide insights into the origins and motive(s) of a conspiracy related to President Kennedy's murder. The starting point in evaluating the sources is obvious. First there must be independent documentation verifying that they were personally associating with the individuals they themselves name, at a point in time when they claim to have obtained the information. Second, their sources must be determined to have been in a position to have heard or otherwise obtained the information being described.
Beyond that, information which has been officially offered to law enforcement or official investigative bodies gains an additional level of credibility given that the source is not only exposing themselves to legal action but also demonstrating a personal risk by being on record with information which may become public.
Finally there are consistency checks on the information itself. One of the most important is whether any connections can be determined among the names related by the sources. If multiple separate sources independently provide names which can then be verified to actually have been connected in a historical context, the information rises to a higher level of credibility.
This paper has two goals. First it summarizes our efforts to investigate the Wheaton lead and apply rigorous vetting criteria. That involves an especially deep document dive into the CIA backgrounds of Carl Jenkins and Rafael Quintero. That has been a work in itself, simply because before Wheaton's surfacing of Jenkin's name virtually nothing was known about the major role he played in the initial Cuba Project under President Eisenhower, in association with Castro assassination efforts and his 1963 return to a key role in the highly secretive AMWORLD project. The extent of Quintero's involvement in those projects was also not known, nor was his later role in the Reagan era Contra covert action under Oliver North.
Manuel Artime and Ricardo Chavez
Beyond that the paper goes further - and deeper - than the attempt to direct inquiries towards Carl Jenkins and Rafael Quintero. That became possible as our initial research effort expanded into a study of Jenkin's and Quintero's own associations, during the Contra era where they were working with Wheaton, but much more importantly into their extensive anti-Castro activities of the Eisenhower/Kennedy administrations and the individuals with whom they were associated during those paramilitary operations. That research led us into a great deal of detail which appears to corroborate Wheaton's belief that Jenkins and Quintero (and other unnamed individuals likely present during the Contra era conversations) were indeed in the position to have heard the remarks which Wheaton described.
And in sum, the Wheaton lead lends considerable weight to a remark directly attributed to Wheaton's friend Rafael Quintero in Quintero's own obituary: [ vii ]
"If I were ever granted immunity, and compelled to testify about past actions, about Dallas and the Bay of Pigs, it would be the biggest scandal ever to rock the United States."
Following the Lead
Wheaton related to the ARRB that in the mid-1990s he had heard conversations among individuals who commented on the motives and activities of participants in the murder of President Kennedy. The conversations involved former CIA operations (paramilitary) officers as well as Cuban exiles who had been involved in CIA activities for decades. At the time Wheaton was managing an air transport company and seeking business shipping materials to Central America in support of the Reagan-era covert North/Secord Contra warfare against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua.
Based on documents Wheaton supplied to the ARRB, we know that two of the men involved in the conversations were Carl Jenkins (CIA pseudonym James Zaboth), hired by Wheaton to lead his sales effort, and Rafael Quintero (CIA Crypt AMJAVA-4), a personal friend of Jenkins and one of the two Cuban exile field managers running Contra support operations in Central America for Oliver North and Richard Secord.
While Jenkins did not specifically name the other individuals involved in the conversations it seems likely that they included Felix Rodriquez (AMJOKE-1), the other Cuban exile logistics manager working along with Quintero for North/Secord. Luis Posada (AMCLEVE-15, CIFENCE-4, WKSCARLET-3) is another probable participant, brought into the Contra project by Felix Rodriquez and working with Contra supply logistics and transportation. Much less likely would have been the participation of Ricardo (Rene) Chavez, initially brought into Contra activities by JMWAVE CIA officer Tom Clines. [ viii ]
Felix Rodriquez was literally a legend within the CIA and Cuban exile communities, one of a very few paramilitary officers to be publicly acknowledged as a CIA employee. We now know that he was also a key figure in a highly secret CIA effort to kill Fidel Castro in a sniper attack, prior to the Cuban exile landings at the Bay of Pigs beaches in Cuba. Released CIA operational and personnel documents provide a good deal of context on the anti-Castro operations of 1960-1964, specifically the roles played by Jenkins, Quintero, and Felix Rodriquez. In contrast Posada and Chavez had nothing like Rodriquez's experience, although Posada had trained at Fort Benning as had Rodriquez, and Chavez had been recruited into the same Artime/AMWORLD project of 1963/64 which Felix Rodriquez had also joined. Chavez's role was as a Swift boat driver and later head of the Maritime section as Major Chavez.
While Wheaton himself offered no names beyond those of Jenkins and Quintero, and no details of the conversations to which he was privy to during late night social sessions, the author's research offers the following speculation on those conversations, based on a deep dive into the history of the anti-Castro and Contra era associations of Jenkins and Quintero.
It seems quite likely that the anti-Castro era names who would come up during the late night drinking/talk sessions Wheaton described would include not only men who had been operationally active with Jenkins, Quintero and Rodriquez during anti-Castro missions, but also names which would relate to their then-current Contra activities in Nicaragua. One name that would come up in respect to both would be that of one of the earliest Cuban exile volunteers to enter the Contra struggle in Nicaragua, Nestor "Tony" Izquierdo. Izquierdo (Brigade number 2586) had also been one of the earliest volunteers for the CIA anti-Castro project circa 1960.
with Rodolfo Hernandez and Hal Feeney
He had escaped from Cuba via Mexico and shortly after his arrival in Miami had been recruited into a group being trained to go into Cuba as part of a covert effort to organize a successful resistance movement against the Castro regime. That effort evolved in the first major CIA Cuba Project and Izquierdo's skills earned him entry into parachute jump training. He became one of a select number of volunteers (including Felix Rodriquez and Rafael Quintero) who were infiltrated into Cuba prior to the 1961 Cuban Expeditionary Force landings. Izquierdo was successfully inserted into Cuba in a variety of missions.
While both Rodriquez and Quintero went into Cuba multiple times by boat, Izquierdo reportedly dropped onto the island in a very risky night parachute jump. Izquiredo was inside Cuba at the time of the Bay of Pigs landings but managed to work his way off the island following that disaster. It also appears that Izquierdo may have used the Navy base at Guantanamo during his missions and he was associated with Navy ONI officer Hal Feeney, Navy chief of intelligence at Guantanamo; Feeney is on record as supporting JMWAVE missions into Cuba and also consulted with CIA Miami Station staff including David Morales in planning anti-Castro activities.
After making his way back to Florida Izquierdo became a regular CIA asset, part of the exile group used in ongoing CIA JMWAVE maritime infiltrations. He continued in that effort into 1963, participating in numerous maritime missions into Cuba - missions personally organized and led by Rip Robertson.
By early 1964 Izquierdo, along with Felix Rodriquez, had been recruited into a new and highly deniable offshore anti-Castro project designated as AMWORLD. As part of that project he was covertly exfiltrated out of the United States to Nicaragua. Later in 1964 Izquierdo was recruited by Rip Robertson for a very select paramilitary team sent into secret operations in the Congo. Following his time in the Congo, Izquierdo became involved with some of the most radical exile groups including CORU. Ultimately he became one of the earliest Cuban volunteers to go to Nicaragua to train Contra rebels to fight against the Sandinista regime. He was killed in 1979, during an air mission into Nicaragua.
Luis Posada, brought in to work on Contra logistics support operations by Quintero and Felix Rodriquez, had been associated with Izquierdo in one of the most violent and activist Cuban exile groups - CORU. Posada was one of the founders of CORU and was himself involved in multiple assassination efforts against Fidel Castro (working as a covert asset of CIA officer David Phillips) as well as in the mid-air time bomb attack on a civilian Cuban airliner.
Along with Izquierdo, another familiar figure most likely to have come up in the war stories heard by Wheaton would have been Rip Robertson (William "Rip" Robertson; CIA pseudonyms Irving Cadick and William Rutherford). Robertson was a key figure in the men's former missions, as well as in relation to Nicaragua. Robertson had been one of the early post-WW II CIA paramilitaries (as was Carl Jenkins) and had served in the CIA's first major covert regime change operation - PBSUCCESS, the Guatemala project which replaced the elected president of that nation in 1954. In PBSUCCESS Robertson served along with CIA officers David Phillips, David Morales and Henry Hecksher; later all would become deeply involved in the CIA efforts to oust Fidel Castro.
During PBSUCCESS, Robertson, known as a "cowboy" within CIA field operations, had become so close to Nicaraguan president Somoza that at Somoza's urging he had sent an airstrike against a neutral freighter off Guatemala, causing an international incident. That had so annoyed CIA headquarters that Robertson was essentially banned from CIA missions for several years, taking up residence in Nicaragua and starting his own business there.
Cuban maritime mission team in 1962
However, with the start of the CIA Cuba project (JMARC/JMATE) Robertson was brought back into CIA activities - primarily because of his long and close personal relationship with President Somoza. Somewhat surprisingly given his past "cowboy" history, Robertson was designated as the key American liaison to Somoza for the first Cuba Project. Robertson coordinated all JMATE activities in Nicaragua and was effectively in control of establishing and operating the CIA strike base established at Porta Cabezas in Nicaragua (JMTIDE).
Robertson was in Nicaragua from December, 1960 through mid-February 1961. He returned to Guatemala in April to sail with the Cuban Expeditionary Force and participate in the Bay of Pigs landings. He earned the respect of the Cuban volunteers by going ashore and fighting alongside them - against specific orders not to do so. His "hands on" reputation and his bond with the Cuban volunteers was enhanced by his personally leading maritime missions into Cuba for the CIA following the disaster at the Bay of Pigs. During those missions, he repeatedly violated standing orders; on one mission he directed his mission crew to conduct a machine gun attack on Che Guevara's residence. There was no CIA officer more respected and well regarded by Cuban anti-Castro fighters than Robertson, who always fought right along with them, regardless of orders.
Robertson died in Dallas in 1970 after overseas service in the Congo and Vietnam. Anecdotal stories, circa 1964 in the Congo, describe him as a separate source of information about the JFK attack in Dallas. He appears to have rather openly discussed the nature and motives for the assassination with his Cuban exile team in the Congo, a team which included several of his long time maritime mission personnel including Nestor Izquierdo.
Robertson is especially interesting to the JFK assassination given the missions he was involved with during the summer of 1963, including the TILT operation - a mission which violated a host of standard CIA security guidelines and involved a number of non-CIA authorized Cuban exiles, as well as civilians such as John Martino and former American ambassador William Pawley. The TILT mission (intended to obtain evidence that Russian missiles were still deployed inside Cuba) was approved by Western Hemisphere chief J.C. King, at the highest levels of the CIA - approved apparently without the knowledge of the Special Group, the NSC or RFK/JFK. If it had succeeded, the revelations would have been a tremendous political blow to the Kennedy administration. TILT included the participation of William Pawley, previously an American ambassador, earlier a secret Presidential liaison to the Batista regime and one of a very select group who had made an early, highly classified evaluation of American intelligence for President Eisenhower.
Rip Robertson and TILT
The TILT mission remains somewhat mysterious for many reasons, even though we do have documents on its origins and a detailed after action report from the operation's mission leader, Rip Robertson. Members of the DRE group floated rumors of missiles still being in Cuba during the winter of 1962. Following his release from a Cuban prison, that rumor was endorsed and promoted by John Martino through his media visibility and anti-Castro political contacts in Miami. The purported objective of the mission was to connect with a revolutionary group inside Cuba that was hiding four defecting Soviet missile technicians from Banes, Cuba.
The Russian technicians supposedly (according to the DRE sources) had remained in Cuba after the Soviet agreement to remove all missiles from the island. Supposedly, they were willing to provide statements and evidence that Soviet missiles - and possibly nuclear warheads - remained in Cuba. Arrangements were in put in place by William Pawley and Senate Internal Security committee chair James Eastland to immediately provide their information to Congressional and media sources in a manner that would have been highly damaging to the Kennedy Administration and JFK's upcoming election campaign.
What the available documents confirm is that the TILT mission was authorized at the level of the CIA's Western Hemisphere chief, J.C. King, and supported by Ted Shackley, the head of the JMWAVE station in Miami. It was approved and carried out at a point in time when all missions into Cuba required approval by the Special Group covert action oversight committee and Presidential concurrence. Yet there is no indication that TILT was communicated to the Special Group or approved by the president.
Besides Robertson, the CIA included experienced maritime paramilitary officers Rudy Enders and George "Mickey" Kappes. The CIA along with Anita Pawley secured "Max" as the translator. "Max" was CIA veteran Tony Sforza. Sforza was one of the CIA's principal agents in their stay behind network. This network remained in Cuba after the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Another principal agent of this network was Emilio Rodriguez. Henry Hecksher originally recruited Rodriguez in Cuba in 1960. Emilio Rodriguez's brother Arnesto Rodriguez was an early acquaintance of Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans and referred Oswald to his friend Carlos Bringuier, head of the local DRE group. [ ix ]
The TILT mission itself involved a host of violations of standard CIA security practices, including the participation of a LIFE magazine photojournalist. In addition, it involved the personal participation of William Pawley, a former US Ambassador. Beyond his work as an ambassador, Pawley had been a consultant on national security and the organization of the CIA, submitted an Eyes Only secret report on the national intelligence to President Eisenhower. TILT also involved the participation of a number of non-CIA vetted Cuban exiles involved with Commandos-L (a proscribed exile military group at that point in time) and of John Martino, recently released from prison in Cuba and a highly visible critic of the Kennedy Administration policies on Cuba.
In Rip Robertson's after action report to Ted (Shackley)/Bob (Moore), Robertson opined that the "inventors" plan for TILT differed from KUBARK's (CIA) version. Essentially, the "inventors" real plan was to assassinate Fidel Castro, and the CIA fell for the fake Soviet defectors story. Bob Moore was Shackley's Deputy Chief of Station and handled the JMWAVE maritime operations. Grayston Lynch told HSCA staffers that Moore was Chief of Operations for the invasion Task Force (Bay of Pigs) as well as Deputy PM and Chief of Operations for JMWAVE at one point. [ x ]
While speculative, Rip Robertson may also have been the CIA officer who was described by Rolando Otero in his remarks to House Select Committee on Assassinations investigator Gaeton Fonzi. Otero stated that to his personal knowledge a CIA officer had been circulating among certain Cuban exiles in the late summer/early fall of 1963 - making remarks that the U.S. was abandoning its support of the Cuban exiles and its efforts to oust the Castro regime. Otero himself was a personal friend of Nestor Izquierdo; both were members of Cuban exile parachute group. Otero blamed radical Cuban exiles for the murder of President Kennedy and provided Fonzi with the name of a local Cuban exile who purportedly had a broader knowledge of those involved - Bernardo de Torres.
Beyond Otero and his information about a CIA officer spreading the word against the Kennedy Administration and JFK in Miami another Miami local became quite public in remarks that the effort against Castro was being abandoned - due to a secret Kennedy accommodation with Castro.
While John Martino had aggressively and publicly tried to link Fidel Castro and Lee Oswald to a conspiracy against JFK in the weeks and months following the president's murder, decades later he admitted to close friends (shortly before his death) that he had been involved in a minor role in the conspiracy itself - including acting as a courier in trips to Dallas. He related his limited knowledge of both the plan for Dallas and the motives for those who were involved in the attack. His friends, first anonymously and then officially, relayed that information to the HSCA. In later years both his wife and his son confirmed that he had prior knowledge of the attack in Dallas and provided a limited amount of information as to whom he had been associating with in the period in which he had apparently become involved.
Martino independently supports other sources who described that the word had been spread among certain Cuban exiles in Miami that there was a secret JFK/Castro dialogue emerging. That fact can be confirmed by references which Martino made in speeches and writing, both prior to and following the assassination. He also admitted to the knowledge that Lee Oswald was being used in a relatively minor role in the conspiracy, pointing the attack on JFK towards Fidel Castro.
Speculation on Martino's sources, and who might have involved him in the conspiracy, seems to rest with individuals known to be Martino's most trusted associates in the September/October 1963 time frame. Certainly his most relevant anti-Castro activity, one quite surprising for a man his age, had been his personal participation in a Operation TILT, the highly secretive maritime mission into Cuba. Given mission leader Rip Robertson's operational role at JMWAVE, Martino would have been one of the few "outsiders" that Robertson would have been in contact with in the summer of 1963.
Beyond contact during the period of the mission into Cuba, Martino's son related that Rip Robertson was a frequent visitor to the Martino home during much of 1963, another definite violation of CIA security protocols. Other visitors included Felipe Vidal and Frank Sturgis (Fiorini). Both men circulated at will through the Cuban exile community.
Although Vidal was not a major exile "political" figure, he was well respected for his bravery, commitment and naval experience. During 1963 Vidal was operationally involved in ongoing efforts to stage independent paramilitary missions into Cuba with Roy Hargraves and Bernardo de Torres. Hargraves was photographed preparing for independent and unsanctioned boat missions, in the company of Bernardo de Torres and Felipe Vidal. However both Vidal and Hargraves were independent actors with extremely limited resources and certainly with no support from the CIA.
Significantly, Vidal himself related that he was aware of the fact that JFK was about to betray the Cuban exiles once again, negotiating some sort of accommodation with Fidel Castro - an accommodation that would leave Castro in power and abandon the Cuban exiles. Vidal described himself as having devoted effort to spreading the word within the exile community that JFK was actually a threat to them. It is also a matter of FBI record that, like Martino, Vidal himself did travel to Dallas during the fall of 1963.
In addition, Roy Hargraves was independently reported to the FBI as having known of and possibly as being involved in some fashion in a plot against JFK. Research has confirmed that Hargraves was the subject of the report to the FBI, and Hargraves himself confirmed (in a recorded interview with researcher Noel Twyman) that he and Vidal had been taken to Dallas in support of an action against the president.
Given their lack of direct association with CIA paramilitary operations, it seems unlikely that names such as Otero, Martino, Vidal or Hargraves would have come up during the conversations referred to by Gene Wheaton. However there are other names operationally associated with Felix Rodriquez, Rafael Quintero and Carl Jenkins that very likely might have surfaced during anti-Castro "war stories". In fact one of the few items of detail remarked on by Wheaton gives us a lead to such names. In later years, following his Contra era activities, Wheaton became acquainted with a journalist, Paul Hoven, and mentioned his experience with Jenkins and Quintero. Hoven has commented that Wheaton was circumspect and offered no extended details, but that he did comment that the people who carried out the attack on JFK had been Cuban exile volunteers who had been trained at a base in the south-east of Mexico. They had been trained to carry out assassinations, and ultimately those skills had been transferred from Cuban operations (with Fidel Castro as a likely target) to President Kennedy. [ xi ]
At the time neither Wheaton nor Hoven could have known that there was a group of very special Cuban exile volunteers that had indeed been trained - not inside south-east Mexico itself, but across the border in Guatemala. The training that those individuals received was quite special and it elevated them into unique missions against Cuba - both before and after the disaster at the Bay of Pigs. Several of those men were especially close to Cuban exile leader Manuel Artime, both before the Bay of Pigs and in a new Artime project which developed during 1963, a project under the oversight of Carl Jenkins and Rafael Quintero.
with President Kennedy
Manuel Artime Busa (crypt AMBIDDY-1) had been one of the Cuban exiles meeting with Senator John Kennedy as early as the Democratic Convention in July 1960; he became well acquainted with his brother Robert Kennedy. Artime became one of the more well-known Cuban exile political figures. Known widely inside Cuba for his anti-Batista activities, he became a highly symbolic figure in the American anti-Castro efforts. While the CIA would ultimately back away from the idea that a wide scale uprising against Castro was part of the plan for sending the Cuban Expeditionary Force on to the island at the Bay of Pigs, we now know that to be false. In fact, we know that their plans involved sending Artime into Cuba in advance, with special groups of pathfinders and scouts, to link up with active resistance groups on the island. A number of the personnel used in those infiltration teams, taken from the CIA's Guatemala camp, were as of January still under the command of Carl Jenkins. Others were taken from maritime operations teams (AMHAZE) which had been established at bases in the Florida Keys. One handpicked three-man infiltration team (Jorge Sotus, Carlos Hernandez and Jorge Giraud) staged out of Ramrod Key. [ xii ]
Beyond that there is strong reason to speculate that putting Artime and a total of four special teams into Cuba, in an operation approved directly by the CIA Director, was part of an initiative to assassinate Fidel Castro and trigger a general uprising which would have been climaxed by the arrival of the Cuban Expeditionary Force.
Under orders from CIA Director Helms, Artime and two special Cuban exile teams were sent under extremely high and compartmentalized security from Guatemala to Florida in early February, 1961. Seven team members were to personally accompany Artime. Members of the seven-man team included Nestor Izquierdo and Raul Villaverde. In addition, a separate three-man team traveled on the same transport aircraft, carefully isolated from Artime and his team. The three-man team was headed by Emilio Adolfo Rivero Caro (AMPANIC-7). Their goal was to deliver arms, blow up a central power plant and possibly assassinate Castro. Other members of Rivero's team were Jose Pujals Mederos (AMCOAX-1) and Alfredo Izaguirre Revoi (AMPUG-1). Izaguirre had previously plotted an assassination attempt of the Castro brothers after meeting with General Maxwell Taylor. This plot was most likely controlled by Commander Hal Feeney. Related documents suggest that prior to the actual mission teams proceeding into Cuba, Artime was to receive a special CIA headquarters briefing.
Beyond that we know of other covert military efforts to assassinate Castro. Projects again involving names becoming increasingly well known - Felix Rodriguez, Rafael Quintero and Carl Jenkins.
Castro Assassination Operations
We are far from having the full details of the extremely secret CIA paramilitary initiative which targeted Fidel Castro for assassination in early 1961. It is even unclear to what extent the heads of the Cuba Project and the CIA Director himself were informed as to the operational details of its various efforts. As with many areas of the overall Cuba Project, deniability and compartmentalization appears to have overruled effective communications and operational coordination. The best we can do is to detail some of the episodes now known to have occurred.
During the first three months of 1961 at least three different military missions were planned. Those missions targeted Cuban leaders and specifically Fidel Castro. They appear to have been inserted within a broader range of missions intended to contact on-island resistance groups in an effort to encourage sabotage and guerilla actions in support of the upcoming landings of the Cuban Expeditionary Force. One mission (possibly planned under the cover of "Pathfinder" operations in advance of the landings) was intended to carry out an attack on Fidel Castro at a location near the Bay of Pigs resort where he routinely vacationed. It appears that plan may have included details of Castro's personal travel and activities, including information from sources previously close to Castro inside Cuba such as Frank Sturgis (aka Fiorini). Prior to his departure from Cuba Sturgis had offered to personally carry out a lethal attack on Castro, however the CIA had declined his offer at that point in time. Sturgis's name appears in one January 20, 1961 report which includes a reference to "Pathfinder".
at what is now the site of the Miami Zoo
A second plan - known to Carl Jenkins, if not directly managed by him - did go operational; it involved the insertion of personnel who were to carry out a well-planned sniper attack on Fidel Castro at his retreat on Varadero Beach, east of Havana. The mission was supported with maps and annotated drawings of the Varadero (formerly DuPont-owned) Estate. Those materials were prepared from aerial and possibly satellite photo imagery processed by the imagery staff assigned to JMWAVE. We only know about these two assassination projects because certain of the WAVE personnel were later transferred to the National Photo Imagery Center (NPIC) and they provided information to the Church Committee investigating assassinations. The very limited records which describe the two plans were submitted to the Church Committee by managers at NPIC; they included statements from some eight personnel who had worked on projects related to attacks on Castro.
According to Edward Cates, the chief of the Image Exploitation Group at NPIC, "a number of our photo interpreters [8 individuals] supported Carl Jenkins of the DD/P (Deputy Directorate of Plans) concerning a plan to assassinate Castro at the DuPont Varadero Beach Estate, east of Havana. Castro was known to frequent the estate and the plan was to use a high powered rifle in the attempt. The photo interpretation support was restricted to providing annotated photographs and line drawings of the estate."
It appears that the CIA may have performed its own internal investigation of those missions in the mid-1970s. Two memoranda from June and August, 1975 record the statement of a Cuban CIA officer (in 1961 a contract employee) that he participated in three abortive Cuban infiltration missions, including an effort to land him near Varadero Beach. The objective of that mission was a long range rifle attack on Fidel Castro. One of the memos mentions the names of two Cubans involved in the mission, "Felix" and "Segundo". Based on this information, it appears that Carl Jenkins may have been transferred out of Guatemala to manage a number of covert infiltration missions, involving at least one which involved Felix Rodriquez and a sniper attack on Fidel Castro.
The "Segundo" mentioned in the CIA document is Segundo BORGES Ransola. Felix Rodriquez verified Segundo's identity and role in the Castro assassination project in an interview many years later - stating that both he and Segundo trained in Panama and then were asked to volunteer for the infiltrations. Rodriquez noted that both he and Segundo were only 19 years old when they entered training in the Panama camp and then were prepared and sent on special missions into Cuba prior to the Bay of Pigs. In the summer of 1963, Segundo Borges joined Manual Artime for a recruiting trip to Fort Benning, Georgia. The stated goal was to recruit men for a new combat effort based out of offshore camps. Although Borges was initially identified as one of Artime's aides at the "Nicaraguan Revolutionary Training Camp" his real role was leader of the AMWORLD maritime infiltration team. [ xiii ] During a November, 1963 recruiting visit to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Borges reportedly told trainees that Artime had money to buy arms and ships and many places where he could establish a training base.
A CIA memo also discloses that the boat used for the special mission into Cuba, the "yacht", had aborted one insertion due to engine problems. That observation, when combined with information in related documents, allows us to identify the yacht as the Tejana III and the individual named Felix as Felix Rodriquez. CIA documents record the missions of the Tejana III, which began in late February, 1961 and ended in early April. The Tejana made four trips into Cuba during that period, carrying infiltration personnel and supplies for on island groups intended to support the planned uprising. Some 27 personnel and 60 tons of supplies were covertly transported into Cuba. It appears that Felix Rodriquez was sent in on a one-man mission in early April, a mission which was forced to abort due to an engine problem with the Tejana III. [ xiv ]
A separate CIA document, the debriefing of Felix Rodriquez prior to his separation from the CIA in 1976 (and a very unusual authorization for the public disclosure of his CIA service), records his own statement that in December 1960 he had volunteered to kill Fidel Castro, stating that it was the only solution to the Cuban problem. He also stated that he had been supplied with a special sniper weapon for missions into Cuba and that he and another CIA Cuban had made three missions into Cuba. [ xv ]
Rodriquez did not identify the CIA officer who had given them the assignments or state any details on the missions. In his own biography, Rodriquez provides more detail on the assassination plan, describing a German bolt action sniper rifle with a telescopic sight. The rifle itself was pre-sighted according to the specifics of the mission, based on the exact location in which Castro was to be attacked.
While we have a good level of detail on the abortive sniper attack involving Felix Rodriquez, the earlier mission - apparently scheduled for March - remains far more mysterious. However, we do know that Richard Helms himself approved the transportation and staging of four different teams that apparently were scheduled for missions in the March time frame, missions which either aborted or failed. One of the teams would have involved Manuel Artime, another a special three-man mission which ultimately failed in a major sabotage attempt on the Havana power system - as well as the planned assassination of Castro. While characterized to the Church Committee as a rogue operation, that effort clearly was sanctioned and involved a three-man team sent out of Guatemala by Carl Jenkins.
At the same time, another team consisting of 7 exile personnel and two deniable team leaders was also sent out of Guatemala. Interestingly, one of the team leaders may have been one of the Russian defectors who had been used for Cuban exile military training in both Panama and Guatemala. That possibility is indicated by the fact that a CIA document indicates him as associated with AEDEPOT. The AE crypt can be shown to be used for Soviet Union sources, in particular defectors and agents.
For reference, it should also be noted that the CIA's efforts to use Havana casino connections to poison Fidel Castro did not get underway before March 1961. The first effort failed and a second effort was hurriedly put together in early April, immediately prior to the dispatch of the Cuban Expeditionary Force. That effort aborted because the conduit for the poison, Tony Varona, was sequestered along with other exile political leaders immediately before Brigade 2506 sailed from Guatemala. President Eisenhower's initial timeframe for putting exile forces into Cuba would have inserted them prior to the November, 1960 elections. When that failed he requested that the CIA carry out an operation in December. However, the CIA's plan had changed so dramatically over time that even the basic missions in support of an internal uprising in Cuba - much less the actual elimination of Fidel Castro - were not operational prior to January, 1960.
By this point the names - Carl Jenkins, Rafael Quintero and very likely Felix Rodriquez - directly related to Gene Wheaton and the war stories he was privy to are becoming familiar. However those three individuals were also operationally associated with a number of other persons of interest in regard to the stories being told, from the earliest covert operations against Cuba and Fidel Castro to the newest CIA project which was coming into being in the fall of 1963 at the time of the attack on JFK. Given their operational history, their demonstrated skills, and the possibility that one or more of their names might have been included in the conversations between Jenkins, Quintero, and Rodriquez, it seems worthwhile to turn our attention to those names, and to the activities of those individuals in 1963.
What all of them had in common as of fall 1963 is that they were becoming involved with a new and highly deniable CIA operation designated as AMWORLD, an operation headed on the CIA side by Carl Jenkins (operations and logistics) and Henry Hecksher (political action operational deniability) and on the Cuban exile side by Rafael Quintero (operations and logistics) and Manual Artime (political action and public relations).
Hecksher had previously served with the CIA in Berlin, Guatemala, Laos, and Tokyo as well as on the Cuba projects - including special missions to Mexico City in 1962. Hecksher's second in command was Carl Jenkins. Jenkins had prior service across SE Asia including Laos and Indonesia, as well as in training the initial Cuba project Cubans in Panama along with Glen "Rocky" Farnsworth, who was involved with running pre-invasion maritime missions into Cuba out of CIA bases in the Florida Keys. Although it is not possible to be specific on their assignments, at least one of those individuals appears likely to have been associated with a new element of the AMWORLD project, a renewed effort to assassinate Fidel Castro (AMTHUG).
Given that the Artime project was to be exceptionally deniable and highly autonomous, associates of Artime and the Cuban exile project personnel became directly involved in field activities without direct CIA officer supervision or involvement - to an extent never seen in previous CIA projects. Working under the umbrella of Desmond Fitzgerald's new Special Affairs Staff, Hecksher and Jenkins and a very small CIA staff provided AMWORLD support including the provision of false identities and travel paperwork (required to covertly exfiltrate them outside the United States) as well as business and employment covers. At this point only two other CIA officers are known to have been involved in the early months of AMWORLD operations; they will be identified and discussed later in this research paper.
Among the first of the Cuban exiles to join the AMWORLD project were Segundo Borges - serving as Artime's primary recruiter - and Felix Rodriquez, personally recruited for AMWORLD by Artime and Borges. However, Artime quickly brought in a number of individuals with whom he had worked in the anti-Castro resistance inside Cuba. Those men had been among the very first to volunteer for the CIA's original anti-Castro effort and had participated in a number of Cuban infiltration missions.
It is significant that prior participation in independent and unsanctioned maritime missions against Cuba or in illegal activities involving violations of U.S. federal statutes did not prevent individuals from being taken into Artime's operation. In fact, several individuals being investigated by the FBI as of August, 1963 were taken into the AMWORLD project during the next three months. That represented a dramatic break with prior exile activities sponsored by the CIA, where all personnel were security screened prior to any assignments.
One of the earliest 1963 AMWORLD recruits was Carlos "Batea" Hernandez Sanchez (Cuban Brigade trainee 2523). Carlos was personally close to Artime, having been a member of Artime's "Commandos Rurales" in Cuba, along with Nestor Izquierdo and Rafael Quintero. Hernandez was a black belt in judo and a sharpshooter. It was his expertise in judo and his friendship with Artime that had led Artime to request Hernandez as his personal bodyguard while traveling in Latin America early in 1960. Carlos had also been one of the first volunteers for the CIA's Cuba project - receiving training as part of a small number of exiles to be inserted into Cuba. Their mission would be to join on-island resistance groups, stimulating guerrilla activities and triggering a counter-revolution against the Castro regime.
Carlos Hernandez began his CIA paramilitary training under Carl Jenkins at the CIA's Panama camp (JMRYE). Training included infantry combat, guerrilla operations, and sabotage as well as radio communications. Following training in Panama, Hernandez was moved into an advanced group, ultimately receiving special training in the use of explosives and infiltration skills, at a CIA camp operated outside Belle Chasse, Louisiana (JMMOVE). [ xvi ] A number of the earliest Cuban exile volunteers went through Panama training and moved on to Belle Chase - that list includes Nestor Izquierdo, Carlos Hernandez, Victor Espinosa Hernandez, Jorge Giraud, and Frank Bernardino. Those individuals were then "sheep dipped" as malcontents and officially taken out of the program - instead they were actually moved into safe houses and then into Cuba infiltration missions (AMHINT, AMHAZE, etc.) managed out of the CIA's base in the Florida Keys (JMFIG). [ xvii ]
While many of these maritime missions remain to be explored, we do know details of one involving an AMHAZE team, a team involving Carlos Hernandez and designated as Operation Yeast. That mission was to launch from Ramrod Key with the assistance of the MDC and connect with DRE resistance elements and stimulate an uprising in Cuba's Oriente Province. Another of its team members, Luis Sierra, would also join AMWORLD, becoming chief of its commandos. As with several of the missions associated with stimulating on-island resistance to Castro, Operation Yeast apparently aborted due to Castro military forces in the intended landing area. Other operations (PEPE, PATRICIO and GORDO) sent in teams including Carlos Hernandez and Jorge Giraud (AMHAZE-2524) to contact and coordinate with DRE resistance groups - all those missions aborted, reportedly compromised by Cuban counter intelligence.
The Cuban exiles involved with these teams and missions remained fervent anti-Castro activists, several participated in further JMWAVE maritime missions through 1962 and even following the Cuban missile crisis. However, with the public agreement between the Kennedy Administration and the Soviets, the number and aggressiveness of those maritime missions significantly decreased as the months went on in 1963. By the summer many of the early volunteers were separated from ongoing JMWAVE activity.
Some who were also DRE and AMHAZE members were placed on a retainer and held as an inactive DRE military reserve. DRE itself had been receiving CIA payments since prior to the Bay of Pigs although its primary role was supposed to be propaganda and political action. However, the DRE members were generally young, notoriously hard to control and eager to go into combat against Castro. After his release from post-Bay of Pigs JMWAVE maritime missions, Carlos Hernandez became a very active DRE member, part of its military leadership and a trainer for DRE infiltration teams. He was a participant in a dramatic and internationally publicized DRE boat raid on Havana in August, 1962.
By the summer of 1963 DRE activists such as Carlos Hernandez and John Koch Gene (whose brother had died at the Bay of Pigs landings) had been out of JMWAVE maritime operations for months.
Clearly frustrated by inaction, and part of an organization that was continually seeing its request for combat operations rejected by the CIA, several of the DRE members began to initiate their own projects - attempting to buy weapons, to set up an offshore base of their own and as private funding allowed, participating in plans for their own strikes against Cuba.
Coming Together in 1963
DRE (AMSPELL) affiliations and their common training and operational experiences brought several of these men back together in July and August of 1963, first in a plan to launch bombing attacks from Florida and then in a more ambitious plan to actually assemble a large quantity of bombs and stage a two-plane bombing raid on Cuba. Surplus bomb cases were purchased, dynamite was bought from a source in Illinois and it was all carried to a rural area outside New Orleans (LaCombe Louisiana) for assembly. When the bombs were ready, the B-26's were to fly in (reportedly from the Houston Texas area), stop only briefly for weapons loading, and be on their way.
The Cuban exiles participating in both these summer, 1963 projects were Student Directorate (DRE) members, and the financing for their efforts reportedly came from former Havana casino figures, primarily from Mike McClaney, via Sam Benton. The FBI conducted an extensive investigation of the bombing efforts (the FBI summary report runs to 112 pages) but in the end no charges or other legal actions were taken against any of those involved. The effort had been quite serious, involving a massive amount of material, some 48 cartons of dynamite alone plus other bomb making materials. Enough so that after the FBI raid confiscated them the materials had to be housed in a military storage depot for explosives.
The dynamite intended for the bombs had been obtained from a long time explosives and weapons dealer in Illinois, (Richard Lauchli) with a history of selling to Cuban exile groups including the DRE.
Explosives and other materials for the abortive bombing project had been obtained in Illinois, where DRE members had been traveling in the summer and fall of 1963, seeking weapons for new military activities. By that point in time the Kennedy Admiration was opposing any of their military missions and supporting them only in public relations and propaganda activities.
Several of the names in the LaCombe project are familiar from Cuban maritime operations and the special group requested by Manuel Artime for his Cuba Project commando operations. They include Carlos Hernandez, Victor Espinosa Hernandez and John Koch Gene (AMHINT-26) as well as Frank Bernardino and Antonio Soto. Both Soto and Herrera had flown Brigade 2506 aircraft in support of the Bay of Pigs landings. At the time of the project, Soto was on leave following a six-month tour of duty in the CIA-organized Makasi air group operating in the Congo. He would return for a second tour at the end of November, 1963.
John Koch Gene, Carlos Hernandez and Victor Espinosa Hernandez had met with Mike McClaney as part of the bombing project and McClaney was identified by the FBI as the source of funding for what was essentially a DRE rogue mission. Details of the LaCombe project and the FBI's investigation are included as Appendix C in this paper.
What the Miami and LaCombe plans illustrate is that several of the more activist, independent exiles had begun coming together as the CIA's JMWAVE missions slacked off in 1963 and as the Kennedy Administration began to push the FBI and even the CIA to begin interdicting any missions against Cuba from the continental United States. There was a growing sense of frustration and even hostility within much of the Cuban exile community. During April, 1963 the head of the Cuban Revolutionary Council resigned, with harsh words for the Kennedy Administration, claiming that JFK had promised the exiles another invasion but had instead settled on a course of peaceful coexistence with Fidel Castro.
Beginning in the spring of 1963, FBI activities in Miami, Chicago, New Orleans and Dallas escalated, with surveillance on exile groups and camps as well as stings intended to abort attempts at purchases of explosives and weapons. During the course of the year, efforts to form new independent exile movements inside the United States launched and then floundered by the end of the year. The DRE had received some level of funding and support from the CIA with its leaders and a small military group on retainer; it had even received some amount of weapons and ammunition and encouraged to perform military training. But following the disaster at the Bay of Pigs, DRE members had become harshly critical of the CIA, blaming the U.S. for deserting them and even offering threats against CIA personal.
The CIA found itself increasingly unable to control DRE's independent military activities and by the end of 1962 DRE had become aware that the U. S. was pressuring the Dominican Republic to shut down the group's missions launched from that country. Internal CIA reports described the DRE as being the most bitter of all exile groups towards JFK and his policies, and in April the DRE officially advised the CIA that it "could no longer operate under the restrictions of U.S. policy". The DRE's own leaders had become quite public in proclaiming that the United States had deserted them and that they would need to fight own entirely at their own, harshly criticizing the betrayal of the Kennedy Administration.
Such harsh words about JFK, perhaps more strongly expressed, were repeated in Dallas. A visiting DRE member from Dallas spoke so harshly about the Kennedys - remarking that "they" would take care of Kennedy one way or the other when came to Dallas - that when he realized he was being taped he literally threatened the individual (stating that he held a black belt) with the tape in order to retrieve it.
Later, following the attack on President Kennedy in Dallas, his recollections of the climate and remarks being passed within the DRE led one CIA officer who had worked on the Cuba Project in Miami - and who was familiar with a number if the DRE members - to formally suggest that the DRE should be investigated in regard to the President's assassination.
By mid-1963 the DRE was increasingly involved in soliciting private funding from virtually anyone, in weapons purchasing efforts and in attempts to organize its only independent military activities. The organization would continue to request CIA support for its military operations, but by October it was receiving increasingly negative responses and ultimately it would be made very clear that DRE's military activities would not be tolerated.
The lack of any ongoing DRE military operations, along with the dramatic cut in JMWAVE maritime operations against Cuba, left many of the most experienced Cuban covert operations personnel with literally no options to continue their struggle against the Castro regime. It was at this point in time we find DRE members such as Victor Espinosa Hernandez, Carlos Hernandez and John Koch Gene reaching out to their former maritime action associates to involve them in projects such as the LaCombe air mission.
However even before the FBI investigation of that effort had been completed, while several of the individuals involved were still under investigation, a brand new opportunity opened up for them and we find several of the other names with which we have now become familiar being recruited into a brand new CIA project - AMWORLD. The group that came together in AMWORLD, under Artime and Quintero, was first recruited inside the U.S. beginning in the summer of 1963. We know that it included DRE members involved in the LaCombe project including Carlos Hernandez, John Koch Gene (AMHINT-26), Antonio Soto and Gonzolo Herrera. Other recruits included Felix Rodriquez, Nestor Izquierdo, Jorge Giraud, Luis Sierra and Antonio Iglesias Pons. Quintero and Iglesias Pons would eventually become the individuals responsible for the AMWORLD camps.
The exact locations and movements of the personnel recruited into AMWORLD in the fall of 1963 remain hazy; we do know there were funds made available for activities inside the United States such as lodging, travel and even the purchase of supplies and weapons. We also know that some training was conducted; as an example Felix Rodriquez reportedly trained 30 people on communications equipment and practices. Other documents suggest that some personnel may have undergone training at Camp Stanley, outside San Antonio Texas. Camp Stanley (referred to as the "Midwest Depot") served as a secret storage depot for CIA weapons, explosives and other equipment from the time of the Cuba project, through AMWORLD and into the 1970s, supplying material for CIA covert operations in Angola and later in support of the Contra-era activities in Nicaragua.
During the Cuba Project Camp Stanley conducted some local training (apparently on communications equipment) and also supplied materials used to support the training which was conducted at Belle Chase - when that training concluded the materials were returned to the "Midwest Depot".
There is documentation suggesting that AMWORLD may have sourced explosives from Camp Stanley. Given the indications of covert military training at the base, it is certainly possible that some of the personnel receiving advanced training for Cuban operations or for AMWORLD did spend time at Camp Stanley. That seems especially interesting given that one of the few details that Gene Wheaton related was that he had heard that some of the individuals involved in the Dallas attack had trained in Texas.
One of the AMWORLD project's most distinctive aspects was that unlike earlier CIA operations only a handful of CIA staff were involved. Two of the only officers involved at all in its field operations became so concerned by its management and security that they offered to be removed from the assignment. Key Cuban volunteer personnel were allowed to rotate from camps offshore back to Miami and gossip and rumors about AMWORLD were rife. In the end the general knowledge about AMWORLD within select portions of the Cuban community became comparable to that which had preceded the landing of the Cuban Expeditionary Force at the Bay of Pigs.
Off the Grid
We do know the names of a number of the AMWORLD recruits of August/September 1963, including several of those who would have been well known operationally to Jenkins, Quintero and Felix Rodriquez. Virtually all those individuals essentially went out of sight during the last quarter of the year.....including Rodriquez himself. The names - Carlos Hernandez, Nestor Izquierdo, John Koch Gene, Jorge Navarro - begin to reappear in the records only in January and February of 1964, in camps in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. It appears that recruits from the DRE were covertly exfiltrated "black" via an AKL ship called the Joanne and via a "chartered" DC-3. Most of them ended up in Costa Rica, either at Camp Guillot or at a camp near Puerto Viejo near the Panamanian border.
Documents from 1964 reveal several of the key leaders serving under Artime and Quintero. Sixto Mesa handled the group's finances while Quintero had overall charge of the camps as Deputy Chief. The number three man and the individual actually in the field, serving as the military leader running the camps, was Antonio Iglesias Pons. He had been a prisoner in Cuba, taken during the Bay of Pigs landings and was one of the first of the group to go outside the U.S., to Nicaragua in December, 1963. Later, friends would remark that Iglesias Pons had talked of knowing something about the conspiracy that killed JFK.
Segundo Borges, a veteran of the earliest CIA Castro assassination missions and lead recruiter for Artime in the AMWORLD project, became the operations commando team leader. Luis Sierra Lopez, who apparently received some form of early training in Texas, was also a commando team leader.
Felix Rodriquez appears in the AMWORLD documents, but strangely (given his extensive covert operations experience) never in paramilitary activities - only in communications training and management. The first record of any actual AMWORLD operations appears to be the dispatch of a commando team - designated as Black Nine - to covertly depart the United States on a ship (the Joanne) which was being leased for equipment transport. The ship was sailing out of Baltimore and one hold had been converted to secretly house the team when the ship sailed. The team actually boarded the ship on November 27, remaining under cover on board. Due to apparent fitting and crew problems the ship did not actually sail until December 1, then had problems at sea. Apparently this activity was so sensitive that it was under overview by the CIA Director.
In spite of the high priority for deniability and covert operations, during 1964 and 1965 the project maintained a relatively large office and staff in Miami, even allowing its field leaders like Iglesias to travel back and forth between its bases and Miami on a fairly routine basis. This led to a great number of leaks, compromised operational security and in the end totally frustrated CIA officers assigned to the project. More details in regard to the AMWORLD project are provided in Appendix B of this paper.
What seems missing in all the 1963/64 documentation on AMWORLD are the activities of what would seem to be its most experienced and operationally skilled members. While Carlos Hernandez, Nestor Izquierdo, John Koch Gene, and Jorge Navarro all appear to have gone to Nicaragua, they do not show up as military leaders in the project nor even in operations. It seems strange that individuals such as they, and Felix Rodriquez - selected for something as highly secret as a Castro assassination project, demonstrably skilled in both infiltration and exfiltration and trusted by the seasoned CIA paramilitary officers such as Rip Robertson - would go off the grid, and stay off the grid, out of any significant AMWORLD operations or activities.
One More Lead
Although it most definitely did not come from Gene Wheaton, there is one lead which appears to connect certain of the individuals associated with the AMWORLD project to inside knowledge of the Kennedy assassination. First uncovered by an English author/researcher decades ago, it has taken even more years to fully vet and potentially connect. Only now is it possible to speculate on that lead, which in itself might define the "circle" of individuals involved in the actual Dallas attack.
Wayne January operated an aircraft servicing and sales company at Red Bird airport in Dallas. [ xviii ] During 1963 he was involved with a small number of multi-engine transport aircraft which were being sold to a third party company associated with the Houston Air Center. January was responsible for servicing, checking and making any fixes required by the buyers who were accepting the aircraft. The last aircraft being sold was actually a WWII troop carrier which had been heavily modified, having all the seats removed and reconfigured as a cargo carrier.
Early in the week of November 22, 1963, two individuals arrived to take receipt of the last aircraft. One was an American, who left immediately and only returned that Friday. The second was Latino; he essentially accepted the aircraft, overseeing any corrective maintenance work which was required. The Cuban spent the week working alongside January.
While the aircraft was being accepted, the pilot/aircraft mechanic conducting the acceptance identified himself as a Cuban (he spoke English with no particular accent) who had previously flown similar aircraft in Cuba. He had joined the Cuban Expeditionary Force as a pilot and had flown at the Bay of Pigs (both B-26 fighter bombers and parachute troop transports were involved in support of the landings). The Cuban told January that he was familiar with the type of aircraft which was being accepted and had flown similar planes as an officer in the Cuban Air Force. Later he mentioned that the American who had arrived with him to take possession of the aircraft was a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force. The American had departed Red Bird immediately after arrival and did not appear again until around mid-day on November 22.
The Cuban became comfortable after talking with January over several days, and was outspoken in relating that his friends had died during the Bay of Pigs landings - because JFK had not delivered the promised air cover for them. Talk of the President coming to Dallas apparently agitated the Cuban and he stated to January that JFK would be killed in revenge for his comrades' deaths. January felt the man to be quite sincere but that he was simply exaggerating. No more was said about the subject until the afternoon of November 22. January talked to the Cuban for a few moments after the assassination of JFK and was told that things were happening just as he had been told. In the shock and excitement of the afternoon January did not talk to the American again nor did he actually observe the aircraft depart or observe who was in it.
Nothing about the pilot's remarks indicates he was directly involved in the Dallas attack; he had been there working on the aircraft's checking and acceptance since Nov. 18. It does suggest that he was associating with individuals - his "friends" - who were talking about JFK in terms of betrayal and revenge. His remarks reveal the same motives overheard by Wheaton and independently related by Martino, Otero and Vidal - that revenge was the motive and that to those involved, JFK's death was a matter of executing a traitor.
At this time virtually all the details of January's story have been researched and confirmed. The aircraft in question was real and it was sent off to a firm in Houston, remaining on its books for two years until it was ultimately turned over to a Mexican air transport company. [ xix ] As with the Wheaton incident, the question becomes whether the pilot's remarks can be associated with any particular group of individuals. With what we now know it appears highly likely the aircraft was destined for AMWORLD project.
While speculative, it is also possible that the Cuban pilot was someone quite familiar to us by now. While AMWORLD was to be focused on deniable attack missions against Cuba from offshore locations - making it almost entirely a maritime effort - it did require limited air transport and a small number of pilots were brought into the project. A small number of pilots were recruited for AMWORLD; one of them was Antonio Soto, the individual involved in examining the bombs to be built for the Lacombe Louisiana bombing plan previously discussed. Documents reveal that Soto had previously been in the Cuban Air Force; he was recruited into the Brigade and had flown a B-26 in support of the Bay of Pigs landings. Beyond that, CIA documents reveal that he spoke very good English. And somewhat strangely, after flying at the Bay of Pigs, Soto was recruited into JMWAVE maritime operations in October 1962 - at the height of the missile crisis. He was then recruited from those missions into the new CIA Congo air operations (Makasi), beginning his first six-month tour there in November, 1962.
Another AMWORLD pilot was Jorge Navarro. Although Navarro was a pilot and had been in training in the Cuban Air Force before going into exile, he did not fly for the Cuban Expeditionary Force but rather was assigned to paramilitary operations. His experience in unarmed combat and in sharpshooting appears to have qualified him for assignment to the special group of individuals inserted into Cuba prior to the Brigade 2506 landings. Navarro was part of a 15-man team that included Carlos Hernandez and the previously mentioned Luis Sierra. [ xx ] The record indicates that his insertion was operationally conducted by Rip Robertson.
Navarro was recruited into the Artime project in August, 1963 and served in it as a pilot until 1965, at which time he and many other members were recruited by the CIA for special operations in the Congo. Navarro stated that he was one of the pilots that flew C-47s in Nicaragua for the Artime project. Antonio Soto was also recruited for CIA air operations in the Congo. His stay in Nicaragua was very brief and he never actually flew for AMWORLD before transferring to the Congo. His second Congo tour was from the end of 1963 until May 1964.
Another possible candidate for the AMWORLD mechanic/pilot/navigator is Mario Ginebra-Groero. Ginebra was known as "Chiqui" Ginebra during the Bay of Pigs operation. His first tour of the Congo was during the first part of 1963 where he partnered with Rene Garcia and flew with Antonio Soto. The exact date of his assignment to the AMWORLD project is not known, but he was the C-47 navigator as noted in an AMWORLD report of 11/29/63. His brother Francisco also applied to join the AMWORLD project but was given a six month cooling off period because he had just returned from a tour in the Congo.
While there is no way that we can determine the exact identity of the Cuban pilot who told Wayne January that his friends were planning to kill JFK in revenge for his treachery, it is true that Soto fully matches the description and remarks related by January. We even know that Soto's English skills were excellent, both reading and speaking. Later he would translate a diary belonging to Che Guevera during the CIA Cuban force's actions against Cuban military units led by Che in the Congo.
While equally speculative, it is quite possible that the American who arrived with the Cuban was a CIA officer whose duties and known travel exactly fit the time frame for an appearance to accept an aircraft in Dallas.
U.S. Air Force Lt. Colonel Manny Chavez, pseudonym Russell Sambora and alias Manuel Gomez (Major Gomez) aka "the Mexican", was assigned from JMWAVE to support the AMWORLD effort in October 29, 1963. He had been at JMWAVE with David Morales on the Cuba project since 1960. He and Morales had previously served in Venezuela together before assignment to the JMMATE project. Chavez had trained as a pilot and flew during World War II with the Army Air Force. During the Korean conflict he was called back to active duty and received training at the U.S. Army Counterintelligence School. In early October 1963, he was a member of the USAF interrogation team.
Chavez's roles in the early months of AMWORLD were threefold. He assisted with the logistics of moving major pieces of equipment and shipments of weapons for the project, he appears to have done some contact work to set up the logistics for the project's air support and he was directly charged with monitoring and reporting on the operational security of the project. While details on his work are limited at present, we do know that Chavez traveled to help organize activities in the early days of the project, and that his travel included at least one trip to Mexico City where he was scheduled to arrive by November 25. On that trip he was to contact both David Phillips and officers from the Mexican Air Force. More details on his work and reports are contained in documents referenced in Appendix C.
Directions for Further Research
then-Marine Carl Jenkins, who
remains 'in the background' of
It's unlikely that we will ever be able to definitively identify the individuals that Quintero, Jenkins and likely Felix Rodriquez mentioned in their war story sessions (or to know if they even named them or used true names). It also appears that Wheaton heard little in the way of details; if any "true" names were mentioned in the talk sessions he certainly was unwilling to share them - and they may have meant nothing to him at the time. It's a terrific challenge to explore the names connected to Jenkins and Quintero - even with the new resources we now have available. Thirty years ago it would have been virtually impossible for a single individual to connect the dots even in the speculative manner that we have done in this working paper. Yet there is more research that can be done.
1) Obviously one of the most important steps would be to identify the source for Quintero's sensational quote, as cited in his obituary. If that could be vetted and explored it would directly contradict any dismissive remarks which Carl Jenkins has offered over the years in regard to Gene Wheaton.
There is also a good deal more that could be done to flesh out the material in this research paper and possibly to corroborate certain portions. Certainly if Manny Chavez could be located and interviewed about his first months with AMWORLD, it could be a game changer. If he did travel to Dallas, and if he did remember the Cuban's name, that would be explosive.
2) Beyond that, further details on what the AMWORLD volunteers were doing in October and November is critical. If they were "off the grid" and just waiting, with time on their hands and the ability to travel to Dallas, it leaves open the possibility of a true rogue action on their parts. Felix Rodriquez bragged about how at times he fooled his own CIA case officers in order to take private jobs, even traveling overseas with them having no idea of his movements.
3) There remains an open question as to whether information shared among select Cuba Project mission cadre could have been related to the reported appearance of Cubans associating with Lee Oswald in Texas in the fall of 1963. As an example, in early 1961, Carlos Hernandez served on a handpicked infiltration team with Jorge Sotus. The two men, both early MRR members inside Cuba, spent considerable time together in advance of the mission. Sotus had been one of the founders of MRR inside Cuba along with Manual Artime. As a senior MRR military officer Sotus worked with an American (Robert McKeown) in smuggling arms into Cuba for the revolution against Batista. Sotus was among those charged with neutrality violations for the smuggling, when McKeown was arrested for his weapons dealings.
When Sotus managed to escape from prison on the Isle of Pines, he made his way to Miami and he too joined the CIA project. Both men had a lengthy history with MRR and with Artime and when a plan to insert Artime into Cuba to stimulate on-island resistance was developed, Sotus specifically requested Hernandez to be part of a select three-man team to be inserted into Cuba in advance of Artime's return. The Sotus/Hernandez relationship is especially interesting in that MeKeown related that he had previously encountered the man who had accompanied Lee Oswald in a visit in which they attempted to buy weapons and a high caliber, scope-equipped rifle. He remembered that man as someone involved with his earlier weapons smuggling into Cuba, but could only recall a last name, "Hernandez".
4) What was Rip Robertson actually doing after TILT and before heading off to the Congo in 1964? Was he free enough to contact and organize an attack team for Dallas? We know our persons of interest would have trusted him operationally; did he take advantage of that? Where are the JMWAVE records on him for that fall?
5) The same goes for the JMWAVE maritime staff like Izquierdo; were there no missions to send him on? Ditto for Felix Rodriquez. Documents show that officially Rodriquez's only operational role was to conduct communications equipment training for 30 men - yet another document reveals that the 14 radio sets intended for AMWORLD never left Miami and after AMWORLD ended, Artime was trying to sell them. There remains a real question as to what any of the AMWORLD recruits were doing prior to leaving the U.S. in January/February, 1964.
6) Just where did those AMWORLD recruits go in October/November, 1963? Was it to Texas and Camp Stanley? Or did they just stay at home in Miami? Interestingly enough, we know that Carlos Hernandez and others were used in DRE political activities; did they go to Dallas? Were they involved in any way with Lee Oswald?
And of course there is the mystery of the Black Nine team. Some 9 combat team members were sent to Philadelphia to exifiltrate via the boat outbound for Costa Rica - but documents also show that 9 Cuban exile crew from the boat resigned and somehow made their way back to Miami before the boat sailed. That appears not to have raised any concern or discussion - from an operational security view it certainly should have and Manny Chavez should have been up in arms about it. How did the crew get replaced so quickly? Or was something more sinister in play in this apparent personnel shuffle?
We would like to thank Bill Simpich for his advice, research and the work that he has done with crypt identification and the posting of his research at the Mary Ferrell website. Crypt identification has been critical to being able to read and understand the documents cited in our research.
Appendix A: Backgrounds and Context
Jenkins began his military service during WWII, following the war he was commissioned as a Second Lt. in a Reserve Rifle Company (1950) and became an instructor for the CIA in 1952, teaching courses in paramilitary operations, survival and Evasion and Escape during 1952 and 1953. During the 1950s he conducted training across SE Asia, including training Thai and Nationalist Chinese personnel and served in Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia. His specialties included maritime infiltration and guerrilla/resistance tactics.
In 1960 Jenkins (CIA pseudonym James D. Zaboth) was assigned to the CIA's Cuba project (JMATE) in 1960/61, placed in charge of training of Cuban exiles and expatriates. The initial training work was carried out at a CIA camp in Panama. From Panama, Jenkins was assigned to develop a much larger training facility in Guatemala, where he served as Chief of Base for the ground forces training there (JMTRAV). In February, Jenkins was reassigned, apparently to run a variety of highly covert infiltration missions into Cuba, missions related to preparing the way inside Cuba for the landing forces. He was associated with the abortive effort to move Artime and special teams into Cuba in March, and appears to have been involved with the covert efforts to send in personnel to carry out attacks against Fidel Castro in early April.
Following the failed landings at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961, Jenkins was sent to Vietnam, where he served as a special warfare advisor to I Corps in the northernmost region of South Vietnam, operating out of DaNang. In 1963 Jenkins was assigned to a new project, designated AMWORLD. That assignment most likely had to do with his earlier experience in covert Cuban operations as well as his prior service as a case officer for Rafael Quintero (AMJAVA-4), a participant in the very early covert maritime missions into Cuba.
AMWORLD continued as an active CIA project following the death of JFK, however Cuba did not remain a priority for President Johnson as all attention turned towards Vietnam. The Artime project struggled on, only to be quietly closed down by 1965. Following his AMWORLD assignment, Jenkins was assigned as a senior advisor to the Dominican National Police and following that as Senior Advisor on Security and Training to the national police of Nicaragua. In 1969 he moved to Laos, becoming Chief of Base for CIA military operations in southern Laos during 1971-73 (a position earlier held by David Morales, former Operations officer for the JMWAVE station in Miami). Jenkins retired at the end of the SE Asian conflict, although he was called back for special duties as late as 1979.
Rafael Quintero was the second individual named by Gene Wheaton as having knowledge of the individuals involved on the attack on President Kennedy.
Quintero had been involved with infiltration missions into Cuba prior to the failed landing of the Cuban Expeditionary Force and had operated covertly on the island, as had Felix Rodriquez. He had managed to evade and escape capture during the landings and the following massive round up of suspected insurgents, as had Rodriquez. Following his return to the United States, he had drafted plans for a new covert operations initiative and presented them to Special Group leaders Robert Kennedy and Maxwell Taylor, who in turn offered the plans to CIA Deputy Director Richard Helms.
Quintero was well respected, both within the CIA community and by senior members of the Kennedy Administration who thought highly of him. Helms was favorably impressed and forwarded Quintero's plans on to the president's military representatives. [ xxi ] As the Artime project evolved into AMWORLD, Quintero was appointed second in command of the new project and accompanied Artime to the most secret meetings - with Carl Jenkins continuing as his case officer, as he had been during the early 60/61 JMATE project.
Quintero was involved in AMWORLD military operations through 1965. It appears that given his experience with autonomous operations and deniable military logistics, he was then retained as a contract employee working with a variety of companies in Mexico and Central America that functioned as CIA fronts. He officially separated from the CIA in 1971, but still maintained contact with his former associates. In 1976 he was approached by former CIA officer Ed Wilson, and personally loaned Wilson ten thousand dollars to help set up a new freight forwarding company. Shortly afterwards Wilson approached Quintero to take part in an assassination; Quintero assumed it was CIA sanctioned and he and an experienced Cuban exile demolitions expert flew to London to be briefed on the mission.
During the briefing it became clear that Wilson was involved with a strictly private project and that Russians were involved. The project was actually one of the Gadhafi/Libyan deals that Wilson and other Americans had become involved with, and Quintero immediately returned to the U.S. and reported it to his longtime friend, Carl Jenkins. Jenkins advised him to have nothing to do with Wilson.
By 1985 Quintero was in a new position, as field logistics coordinator for the Reagan Administration Contra initiative against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. He traveled across Central America, arranging shipping and weapons clearances with multiple governments - working directly for Richard Secord (under Oliver North). With no official US government clearances or standing, Quintero established senior level government arrangements with foreign governments and military agencies. Quintero supported Secord in establishing airfields and setting up a covert air operation in support of the Contra effort - all after Congress had passed legislation officially removing the CIA from Contra military activities.
At the same time, another long time CIA asset - Felix Rodriquez - had also been brought into the North era Contra operation.
Rodriquez (possible crypt AMJOKE-1) was deeply involved in the pre-invasion maritime missions into Cuba, as well as in plans for an abortive sniper attack on Castro. On key missions he traveled via the Tejana III, operated by Alberto Fernandez (AMDENIM-1)
He became one of the earliest recruits for the AMWORLD project, personally approached by both Artime and Quintero while in U.S. Army training at Fort Benning in the early fall of 1963.
Rodriquez was among the Artime recruits "black exfiltrated" out of the U.S. at the end of 1963. His role in the project, other than in radio communications coordination, is undocumented. Following the end of AMWORLD, Felix Rodriquez was retained by the CIA as a totally deniable field agent. In his own biography he describes being paid as a principal agent, but only under a verbal agreement with no contract and no paperwork. Following a short assignment to Venezuela, Felix Rodriquez, along with two other Cuban exiles, was moved into a project in Bolivia - a project specifically targeting Che Guevara. Operating under commercial cover, Rodriquez became a key figure in the operation which ultimately led to Guevara's death.
Afterwards Rodriquez continued activities across Latin America, conducting counter insurgency training under the cover of being an American military officer. Following that service, he was moved to SE Asia, where he supported Project Phoenix field operations out of Saigon; after Vietnam he was redirected back to Latin America, to a post in Argentina in 1972.
While working as an "off the books" CIA employee, Rodriquez had also pursued other work - serving as a security consultant in Lebanon and then joining Ed Wilson (as Quintero did) for work supplying weapons to militias in that country. He writes of "hoaxing" his CIA case officer to go overseas for that work. His activities across Latin America introduced him to a host of senior military officers in the region. He officially separated from the CIA in 1976 and received a virtually unique approval to publicly talk and write about his CIA employment. By 1981/82 he became involved in a number of private initiatives against the Sandinista leadership in Nicaragua, implementing what he called his own "tactical task force" of experienced anti-Castro Cuban exile fighters.
Ultimately Rodriquez, like Quintero, became deeply involved with the North/Secord Contra operations, organizing and managing transportation and supply logistics for the effort. It was during this involvement that Quintero became reacquainted with Carl Jenkins and in which Jenkins went to work for Gene Wheaton, seeking air transportation contracts to support the North/Secord Contra effort.
Nestor "Tony" Izquierdo
Izquierdo was one of the early volunteers for the Cuba Project, having been among the first to join in the movement against the Castro regime inside Cuba, along with Artime, Quintero and Tony Varona. Along with Quintero and Felix Rodriquez he took initial training in Panama under Carl Jenkins, reportedly parachuting into Cuba prior to the Bay of Pigs landings. Following the disaster at the Bay of Pigs, Izquierdo managed to make his way out of Cuba and joined CIA JMWAVE maritime missions against Cuba, missions often personally led by Rip Robertson.
Izuierdo became one of Artime's early recruits for the AMWORLD project. Both Robertsion and Artime clearly had a good deal of respect for Izquierdo's operational skills. Robertson recruited him out of AMWORLD for a special hostage rescue mission into the Congo in the fall of 1964.
Ultimately Izquierdo ended up being one of the last AMWORLD recruits to leave Nicaragua as that project was being closed down. He and Silvano Pozo Carriles helped secure the cache of AMWORLD armaments at Monkey Point in Nicaragua. In June 1965 Carl Jenkins managed to obtain work for both men in Panama, in jobs under George Cabot Lodge, son of Henry Cabot Lodge.
Upon his return to the United States, Izquierdo became involved with some of the most activist Cuban exile groups, joining CORU along with Rolando Otero, Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles. Izquierdo was also one of the first Cuban exile volunteers to train Contra rebels to fight against the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. He was killed in 1979 during an air mission into Nicaragua.
Appendix B: Artime and AMWORLD
The plans to put Artime into Cuba in February/March of 1961 - to encourage on-island resistance activities and possibly to help generate a general uprising after the assassination of Fidel Castro which never came to pass. Instead he rejoined the expeditionary force and Brigade 2506 in Guatemala and became the senior exile political leader to actually go into the fight with the Cuban brigade. Along with many of them, he was captured and spend 20 months in a Cuban prison during 1961/62.
In late 1962 Artime was released from Cuban captivity along with the remaining prisoners from Brigade 2506 and he initiated a new contact with the CIA through JMWAVE operations chief David Morales - as well as direct personal contacts with Robert Kennedy. David Morales had been Artime's case officer in Cuba during Morales' assignment there. Morales (alias Dr. Gonzalez) had posed as a priest in contacts with Artime, then in hiding for his opposition to Castro. Morales had assisted in Artime's exfiltration.
In January, 1963 William Harvey, acting head of Task Force W (which was still supporting the second-generation anti-Castro Mongoose project) recommended Artime for use by the CIA, initially for propaganda purposes. Artime also continued to meet directly with RFK from February-April, 1963. There were May meetings between Theodore Shackley, head of JMWAVE (pseudonym Andrew K. Reuteman), David Morales (pseudonym Stanley R. Zamka), Henry Hecksher (pseudonym Nelson L. Raynock) and Artime (crypt AMBIDDY-1; alias Ignacio).
While we know a good deal about the logistics, funding and even the purchasing activities of Artime's new project, we have very limited details on the activities of his personnel, especially during the fall of 1963. Given that the role of the CIA officers assigned to AMWORLD was vastly different from previous CIA covert operations, this is understandable. Hecksher, Jenkins and the small logistics staff functioned as advisors and coordinators rather than directly in either personal activities or actual military operations. Their role was to support financing, shipping and the purchasing activities that required supporting what was to appear as a totally independent and autonomous military initiative against Castro. A variety of commercial and civilian covers were required, not just for personnel but for major buys of deniable weapons from commercial arms dealers. Ships and barges of various types had to be bought or leased, transit papers arranged, and most importantly off-shore bank accounts established. And in addition to offshore accounts, deniable shell accounts were established inside the United States.
Those accounts were run by Sixto Mesa, a close personal friend of Artime's from the days of anti-Castro activities in Cuba. It appears that multiple "working accounts" (including accounts at the First National Bank of Miami) were established inside the U.S., each constantly funded at the level of $25,000. Those accounts were used for domestic travel and lodging, recruiting, maintaining communications channels such as letter drops and generally funding activities including the purchase of materials available in the United States. Over the period of its life, the overall AMWORLD project as a whole was provided with some $7,000,000.
It also seems important to note that Artime's official cover story for the AMWORLD operation - vital to distance it from the CIA, the United States and the Kennedy administration - was that it was a totally independent movement, funded by President Somoza of Nicaragua and with European donors. Artime is quoted telling potential recruits at Fort Benning that the U.S. government was not going to do anything more against Cuba, they had become an obstacle and he intended to obtain bases and support totally outside the U.S. The people Artime was recruiting were essentially being told the public story that the exiles had been abandoned in their fight against the Castro regime.
Initial organizational moves in the new project began in June 1963 and by July/August the first funding and recruiting for AMWORLD was in progress. By the end of June, matters had proceeded to the point where Artime's close friend Frank Fiorini (Sturgis) was dispatched to Dallas by Artime to investigate a source for transport aircraft to be used in project operations. While most of Artime's military operations were intended to be seaborne raids, transport aircraft would be required, and records show that at least one C-47 transport was obtained for AMWORLD use. Major covert financial funding for AMWORLD began in July, 1963.
AMWORLD did not actually become operational until early in 1964. The first ship to be used in its maritime operations was the Joanne, which spent some months fitting out in Baltimore and only at the end of November was ready to sail. A special, unidentified combat team (designated "Black Nine") was secretly placed in prepared storage areas in the ship's hold - supplied with communications equipment, generators, weapons (including silenced weapons), ammunition and other combat equipment. This was the first "black exfiltration" of an Artime combat team and it did not actually depart Baltimore until December 10, 1963.
On the evening of November 22, 1963, (as of 8:30 pm) - when the entire nation was focused on the assassination of President Kennedy - documents show that David Morales was responding to a priority message from the CIA Director related to a month's earlier message in regard to specifications for a boat which JMWAVE might be interested in purchasing. Morales' reply indicated he had not been interested at the time, could not find the specifications related to the boat and referred the Director back to the original sender of the message.
It would be some months into 1964 before any actual AMWORLD operations bases at Monkey Point, Nicaragua and at Puerto Cabezas in Costa Rica were prepared and available to begin maritime operations. The first actual mission took place in May, 1964 - largely destroying a Cuban sugar mill in Oriente Province. Overall, the AMWORLD project proved to be an extremely costly effort, funded at $225,000 each month. Much research has been done into its activities during 1964/65 by Gary Murr, and readers of Shadow Warfare (Larry Hancock) will find Murr's work and other details of the project in Chapter 12, "Autonomous and Deniable".
Most recently, documents have revealed that two additional CIA officers were assigned to the project in its early months of actual operation. Manny Chavez, pseudonym Russell Sambora and alias Manuel Gomez (Major Gomez) aka "the Mexican" was assigned from JMWAVE to support the AMWORLD effort on October 29, 1963. Chavez had been at JMWAVE with Morales on the Cuba project since 1960. He and Morales had previously served in Venezuela together before assignment to the JMATE project. Chavez had trained as a pilot and flew during World War II.
During the Korean conflict Chavez was called back to active duty and received training at the U.S. Army Counterintelligence School. He subsequently served as an air attache in 10 countries: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. He served as military attache to the Guatemalan government during the Arbenz regime and was apparently involved in the ouster of Arbenz in a coup orchestrated by CIA officers including David Morales and Rip Robertson. Later he was detailed to the CIA. He officially left the Air Force as a Lt. Colonel.
In later years, Chavez talked of his service as an intelligence officer attached to the American Embassy in Venezuela during 1957-1959, serving with David Morales during Morales's CIA assignment to Venezuela. The two men worked in Miami from 1960-1964, actually sharing desks for some four months in 1961 before JMWAVE moved into a larger facility. Apparently due to his liaison work in logistics for covert CIA activities, Chavez and General Ed Lansdale were close. Chavez later found out that Lansdale was his "godfather" in the Pentagon.
Chavez traveled to help organize activities in the early days of the AMWORLD project, including travel to Mexico City, arriving there on or around November 25. He was to meet David Phillips in Mexico City on December 9, 1963, however he was also scheduled to meet with Mexican Air Force officers.
We also know that one of Chavez's duties in support of AMWORLD involved assistance in coordinating the transfer of weapons purchased in Europe from Interarmco.
Chavez/Sambora was also expected to report back to CIA on the security, effectiveness and leadership involved in AMWORLD operations. His reports show a definite lack of satisfaction as time passed with the project. Apparently that opinion was shared by David Morales of JMWAVE who also continued to meet with Artime and deal with his personnel issues under the pseudonym Dr. Gonzales into 1964.
Ultimately Chavez became highly critical of the AMWORLD operation, of Artime, and of the total lack of operational security which was essentially defeating all its on-island military efforts.
In addition to Colonel Chavez, another experienced CIA officer was also assigned to the AMWORLD project. Colonel Napoleon Valeriano (pseudnym Vallejo) had a long history with the CIA including paramilitary activities and more importantly, covert actions supporting psychological warfare. He had served as one of Edward Lansdale's action officers in the Philippines, conducted Cuba project training under Carl Jenkins in Panama and Guatemala and at the end of 1963 was assigned as a propaganda and psychological warfare officer in support of the AMWORLD project.
We have a documented record of what Valeriano (referred as "the Filipino" in AMWORLD reports) did in regard to training for the Cuban Expeditionary Force prior to the landings in Cuba, however we know virtually nothing about his actual work for AMWORLD in 1964.
In the Philippines Valeriano had supported the CIA's dirty tricks operation and Valeriano himself is quoted as stating that "These ranged from 'one-shotters' designed to destroy the credibility of a notorious opponent . . . to sustained operations designed to create distrust or enmity between the Huk and the mass base." Some later became standard practices in the repertoire of American counterinsurgency. Bohannan and Valeriano describe many of them in some detail, including the dissemination of cartridges "loaded with dynamite," designed to blow up the weapon and the person holding it when fired."
We do know from Quintero's initial proposals and his ongoing involvement with planning that the AMWORLD project was to include both assassinations and a combination of terror attacks on the Castro regime infrastructure. Given Valeriano's experience in the Philippines and his expertise in such activities, it seems likely that if the Artime project had fully developed we would have seen similar tactics inside Cuba. Tactics which would have been both deniable and extremely "dirty".
Appendix C: Coming together in Louisiana
The FBI summary report on the LaCombe/Cuba bombing plan states that Carlos Hernandez Sanchez, Acelo Pedroso and two others (possibly including Soto) went to New Orleans together. They met Victor Espinosa Hernandez there and he led them to where the dynamite and bomb casings were stored. The bomb casings were for training/practice bombs, designed to hold sand as filler.
Pedroso did tell the FBI he had seen two planes, which he believed to be B-26's not B-25's. The FBI report states it failed to locate any such aircraft. Their report also notes that the trailer on the McClaney property did indeed contain the equipment needed to make live bombs. July 19 FBI research/searches suggested the only location fitting Pedroso's description of an air field which might have been used for the B-26's was a municipal airport at Houma, La.
That location and other airfields were checked for aircraft with no success. On July 20 Acelo Pedroso also told the FBI that he had been told the bombing effort was a DRE project. In further conversation he stated the aircraft were not based near New Orleans but were located further away, perhaps in Houston. He had been told they would be flown in and loaded for the attack only when the bombs were ready. The planes would not remain on the Louisiana airfield for more than four or five hours before departing on the mission. (Note: Pedroso had a CIA POA and was sent to the Congo in 1964. He was a trusted and vetted weapons specialist, working with B-26's during the CIA Mikasi air operations there.)
Soto later told one of the Fort Benning trainees being recruited for AMWORLD that the dynamite found at LaCombe was unsuitable for the bomb casings. That source also said that Soto had been a pilot in the Cuban Air Force and had entered a U.S. Air Force training program, becoming a 2nd Lt. The Air Force did train a number of Cuban exile volunteers at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. Soto ultimately resigned to join operational activities against Cuba.
The FBI phone record search suggested that Miguel Alvarez Jimenz was coordinating purchases and logistics for the LaCombe/Cuba plan - working for Sam Benton and Mike McClaney. Alvarez had previously been associated with Batistianos Col. Orlando Piedra and Col. Angel Sanchez.
Time line of the LaCombe / Cuba bombing project:
June 20 - 24 practice bombs shipped to Miami.
July 7? - U-Haul rented in Chicago by Victor Espinosa Hernandez driving a Chevy station wagon with Florida license 7E868 63, registered to Mears Livery Corp.
July 11 - Victor Espinosa Hernandez, residence listed as New York, rented Avis car in St Louis at the airport branch, 63 Chevy station wagon has Florida license 7E868 Car to be checked back in to Avis in New Orleans.
July 13 - Carlos Hernandez takes sick leave from his employer.
July 13 - Rental car taken out, green Chevy station wagon; car rented by John Koch Gene for Carlos Hernandez Sanchez (Batea).
July 14 - Rental car with Carlos, Soto and Acelo Pedroso leaves for New Orleans; Soto wants bombs to be examined as he plans to fly one of the aircraft. They meet Victor Espinosa Hernandez upon arrival and he leads them to the U-Haul.
Upon examining the material in the trailer Acelo advised Carlos and Soto the material in the trailer was totally unsuitable for an actual live bombing mission.
July 17 - Rental car from St Louis turned in at New Orleans with 1,138 rental miles.
July 17 - Acelo Pedrosa returns to Miami from airfield in Louisiana.
July 18 - MM-T1 report to FBI with his info.
July 19 - FBI researches and unsuccessfully searches airfields near Houma for B-25 (four engine) aircraft based on initial Miami informant report.
July 19 - Customs officer observes Victor and Carlos Hernandez with others in Miami in green rental station wagon.
July 19 - FBI conducts first interview with Acelo.
July 20 - FBI searches for air strips in general area described by Acelo but still has not located McClaney farm or trailer.
July 20 - Rental car returned July 20.
July 21 - Carlos Hernandez returns from sick leave on 21 or 22, unclear.
July 24 - FBI still searching unsuccessfully for location described by Acelo.
July 26 - FBI locates LaCombe house with U Haul behind it.
July 29 - T-1 confidential source associates house with Mike McClaney; FBI surveillance begins.
July 30 - McClaney identified and profiled in New Orleans; Acelo confirms house identification.
July 30 - Warrant issued.
July 31 - U Haul seized, 24 cases of "stick" dynamite plus bomb parts and explosives.
.....the FBI report contains no mention of Soto or of the actual arrest of Soto or Miguel Alvarez
Appendix D: Operational Associations
Cuba Project / Panama Training Camp: Under Carl Jenkins (prescreened by the CIA at Useppa Island, off Fort Meyers Florida) - Felix Rodriquez, Segundo Borges Ranzola, Nestor "Tony" Izquierdo, Victor Espinosa Hernandez, Jorge Navarro, John Koch Gene, and Carlos Hernandez
Cuba Project / Pre-Bay of Pigs Maritime Missions: Into Cuba from the Florida Keys - Felix Rodriquez, Segundo Borges, Nestor Tony Izquierdo, John Koch Gene, Jorge Navarro, Jorge Giraud, Luis Sierra, Michael Alvarez
Cuba Project / Artime's commando team: Requested for operations before and during the Bay of Pigs landings but unavailable due to ongoing maritime operations into Cuba: Carlos Hernandez, Victor Hernandez and John Koch Gene (AMHINT-26) as well as Frank Bernardino, Antonio Soto and Gonzolo Herrera
Post-Bay of Pigs Maritime missions: Into Cuba from the Florida Keys - Victor Espinosa Hernandez, Nestor Izquierdo, Carlos Hernandez, John Koch Gene, Jorge Navarro, Antonio Soto
AMWORLD: Felix Rodriquez, Segundo Borges, Nestor Izquierdo, Jorge Navarro, John Koch Gene, Jorge Giraud, Ricardo Chavez, Carlos Hernandez, Luis Sierra, and Ramon Orozco
[ i ] Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked, Appendix I, "Echoes from Dallas"
[ ii ] Bob Woodward, "IBEX Deadly Symbol of U.S. Arms Sales Problems", Washington Post, January 2, 1977, also Seymour Hersh, "Iran signs Rockwell Deal for Persian Gulf Spy Base", Seymour Hersh, June 1, 1975, also:
[ iii ] Based on information from the ARRB records, researcher Stuart Wexler eventually did locate and communicate with the staff member who had contacted Wheaton. She had no recollection of Wheaton, a telephone contact or a personal meeting or of any materials he had provided to the Board.
[ iv ] Some of Wheaton's remarks relate to the CIA Castro assassination efforts during the Cuba Project and possibly even during AMWORLD, others relate to the Kennedy assassination. All the remarks are shown to be consistent and corroborated by the research detailed in this paper.
[ v ] Larry Hancock, In Denial / Secret Wars with Air Strikes and Tanks, Chapter 7, "Hidden Measures"
[ vi ] Larry Hancock, Shadow Warfare / The History of America's Undeclared Wars, Chapter 18 "Pushing Back", Chapter 19 "The Outsiders", Chapter 21 "It Happens"
[ vii ] Quintero himself consistently confirmed his close personal friendship with Gene Wheaton, never expressing any animosity towards him.
[ viii ] Ricardo Chavez appears to have been brought into Tom Clines' various questionable activities after Clines left the CIA; Clines was not at all hesitant to contact and attempt to use Cuban exiles who had worked in JMWAVE activities. He successfully used Felix Rodriquez in at least two instances, failed to bring Rafael Quintero into an assassinations project (Carl Jenkins advised Quintero to pass) and apparently used Ricardo Chavez as a local representative in Miami for various banking transactions and in Clines' front company (API Distributors) used in a variety of questionable international sales and money laundering activities. There is no evidence that Chavez was involved in the types of Contra field logistics and transportation activities conducted by Felix Rodriquez and Luis Posada. Chavez had been with Artime's MRR organization in Cuba and was Secretary of Operations. Chavez was initially recruited as part of the AMWORLD project in October 1963 to head the maritime component. He ended commanding a Swift boat called "The Monty." "The Monty" and Chavez were later assigned to the Congo. "The Monty" was named in honor of Manuel "Monty" Guillot (AMBRONC-5). Guillot was a close friend of both Artime and Rafael Quintero.
[ ix ] Emilio Americo Rodriguez (AMIRE-1) had been one of the principal agents of the CIA's stay behind network inside Cuba where he worked closely with Tony Sfoza, Warren Frank, David Morales and James O'Malley. His recruitment and original request for Operational Approval was initiated in May of 1960 by Nelson Raynock whose true name was Henry Hecksher. Hecksher went on to become the point man for the CIA's AMWORLD project. Emilio was exfiltrated in June 1961 along with Tony Sforza and Warren Frank. Emilio reported to David Morales at the JMWAVE station in Miami before moving on to the Foreign Intelligence branch at JMWAVE where he reported to Warren Frank. On November 9, 1967 he was at Dulles International Airport with a scheduled plane trip to Miami. He went to the First Aid station complaining of chest pains. Emilio, originally identified as David Cordova, was then transported to the Fairfax Hospital where we pronounced dead by Dr. Cassidy. Dr. Cassidy, a CIA contract employee, recognized several names in Emilio's address book. It included names and addresses of prominent CIA employees David Phillips, William Broe, Rip Robertson, Dick Helms, Hal Swenson, Jake Esterline, Desmond Fitzgerald, John Hart, John Dimmer, "Matt", probably PM Officer Charles Matt and "Moore", probably Bob Moore.
[ x ] Moore used the pseudonym of Frederick Inghurst at JMWAVE. Moore may have been involved in a plan called Operation AMHINT which was a plot to assassinate a Soviet official with silenced rifles as part of the Bay of Pigs invasion. David Phillips, Jake Esterline, and Ed Stanulus appear to have had knowledge of AMHINT.
[ xi ] During the period of December/January in 1966/1967, John Roselli (a documented participant in the CIA effort to poison Fidel Castro) reached out to a number of high level individuals in Washington DC. This was at a point in time where New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison had taken his secret investigation of the JFK assassination to Miami, in search of mysterious Cuban exiles reportedly in contact with Lee Oswald in New Orleans during the summer of 1963. Roselli used his Washington contacts, including lobbyist Irving Davidson and media figure Jack Anderson, to offer details on a conspiracy which had killed JFK. The attackers were Cuban exiles who had been trained to kill Castro but who had somehow been "turned" on JFK by Castro himself. The story was given to Earl Warren, to the FBI, the Secret Service and in the end to President Johnson himself. Roselli was interviewed by the FBI, however no deep interest was expressed in the details he was purportedly prepared to offer, and the matter was dropped with no real investigation. The response demonstrated that official Washington had no interest in reopening the JFK assassination - however it did alert the FBI and CIA to the Garrison investigation and both agencies began immediate damage control operations to protect information and block Garrison's access to FBI officers and CIA assets.
[ xii] Jorge Sotus was one of the early figures in the revolt against Batista, associated with Carlos Prio and was a founding member of MRR along with Manual Artime. As part of that effort he worked with Robert McKeown out of Houston, Texas and was ultimately charged along with McKeown for neutrality act violations. After the MRR turned against Castro, Sotus was arrested and imprisoned on the Isle of Pines. He managed to escape from Cuba in 1960 and joined the exile volunteers in the CIA's Cuba project. Because of his long association with MRR and Artime, Sotus was selected to be part of the effort to stimulate armed resistance inside Cuba, to be infiltrated to work with the MRR - and to be joined by Artime himself. Sotus was allowed to handpick a small team to infiltrate as part of that effort; the team included especially-trusted Artime supporters such as Carlos Hernandez. Ultimately that mission, and the insertion of Artime, was aborted due to increased Cuban security.
[ xiii ] The AMWORLD infiltration team trained at Camp Guillot on the Orlich ranch located in the Sarapiqui region of Costa Rica. This camp could be reached from the landing at Tortuguero by traveling the Rio Sarapigui to Cornelio Orlich's finca (farm). This team consisted of nine men plus Borges. The team members were: Julio Yanez Pelegrin, Aramis Pinon Estrada, Armando Caballero Parodi (Brigade 2716), Miguel Penton (Brigade 2579) who was with Felix Rodriguez in Cuba before and during Bay of Pigs, Victor Herrera (Brigade 3215), Porfirio Bonet "El Nino" who was later associated with Frank Castro, Marmerto Luzarraga (Brigade 3516) and Humberto "Che". Humberto was most likely Humberto Solis Jurado (Brigade 2510). Trained with Carl Jenkins and "Gordon". Was "Gordon" Gordon Campbell per Ayers?
Additional MRR members were training at the Starke ranch in Costa Rica before political circumstances forced both Borges team and the MRR Cubans to relocate to Nicaragua. The Starke ranch was owned by Ludwig Starke Jimenez, a Costa Rican ultra-right wing political figure. Camp Guillot was named after Manuel Guillot (AMBRONC-5). Guillot aka Octavio Barroso Gomes had gone on many infiltration missions in Cuba and was later arrested and executed by Castro. Clarence Smeryage (true name Tom Clines) was his CIA case officer.
[ xiv ] Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked, Appendix D, "The Way of JMWAVE", 352-359.
[ xv ] Ibid, Appendix I, "Echoes from Dallas", 389-391.
[ xvi ] There remains a possibility that certain of the trainees may have also trained at Camp Stanley in Texas.
[ xvii ] Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked, JFK Lancer Publications, 2010, Appendix E, "Student Warrior", 360-363.
[ xxi ] RIF 145-10001-10121 and 145-1001-10122, "Operational Plan Submitted to CIA by Quintero". See these records in he Appendix I section of larry-hancock.com.