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Tipping Point

Part 3: People in Motion

by Larry Hancock, December 2020

People in Motion – Fall 1963


The preceding material provides an overview of Cuban affairs under both the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, as well as the view from inside the anti-Castro, Cuban exile community as it had evolved by fall 1963. Beyond that it introduces names and connections that become important in considering the sources I have found credible as to actual remarks about a conspiracy to attack President Kennedy.

As of fall 1963 Cuban affairs as a whole can only be described as being in a state of chaos, with radically diverse actors and agendas involving the Cuban Coordinating Committee, new CIA Special Affairs Staff projects, ongoing Miami Station maritime missions, Cuban expatriate frustration and independent anti-Castro actions. A broad variety of secret tracks were being pursued – involving the CIA, the Department of Defense, the Joint Chief's Special Activities (SACSA) staff and State Department pursuit of the first hints of possible negotiations with Castro himself.

Simply following who was doing what, where and when becomes a challenge. The following chronology and commentary related to people's movements and activities during this key period will set the stage for examining the emergence of the evolving threat to President Kennedy.


August 28: Lee Oswald wrote to the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA) about his plans to relocate to the Baltimore/Washington DC area and asked for advice on whether or not he should go "underground". Oswald's letters were intercepted and copied to the FBI.

August 31: Oswald wrote to The Worker newspaper and discussed his planned move to the Washington area; he offered his services in photography and related work.

September 1: Oswald wrote to both the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) on his pending move (the two organizations were diametrically opposed in their political views). As noted previously, Oswald himself had earlier written, in a personal memoire, that he detested the CPUSA, viewing it as a tool of Russian nationalist geopolitical policy. He expressed the view that Russia was simply using global communist parties as vehicles for its own purposes.

In New Orleans an independent witness, present while a pregnant Marina Oswald was packing to go to Dallas and move in with Ruth Paine, reported Oswald talking of going to Washington. When asked the reason for the move he offered no real reason, but did talk about getting a gun. The FBI appears to have known of Oswald's planned move (which it should have, based on his CPUSA correspondence; all CPUSA mail was monitored). In the earliest FBI post-assassination interviews with his wife Marina, she was questioned as to her knowledge of Oswald's travel to both Washington D.C and Mexico City.

August – September:

Manual Artime began to bring the first AMWORLD recruits into the project, Carlos Hernandez in September, Antonio Soto in October and Felix Rodriquez only by November. Felix Rodriquez officially did not come on board earlier due to an "illness" and his new cover ID for travel outside the U.S. was delayed. In addition to those now familiar names the AMWORLD recruit list also included names from the independent DRE/McClaney-funded projects of summer 1963 - including Carlos Hernandez, John Koch Gene, and Jorge Navarro.

The location and movements of all those individuals recruited for AMWORLD are still hazy but we do know there were funds made available for domestic activities such as lodging, travel and even the purchase of supplies and weapons. Only in December and January were personnel given cover identities and covertly exfiltrated out of the United States to Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Some of them, including Rafael Quintero, Felix Rodriquez and Nestor Izquierdo would return to Nicaragua in the 1970's, key figures during the Oliver North/Contra era.

AMWORLD recruiting and start up activities represented a problem for the DRE, and certain of their military leaders, such as Manuel Salvat (AMHINT-2) and Juan Francisco Blanco held out from August through November, opposing any merger with Artime and MRR. [ 142 ] Increasingly out of CIA control, in mid-September Salvat used money from the CIA to travel to New York City and face off with pro-Castro students speaking at a youth conference – the resulting brawl made the front page of the New York Times. By October DRE "independent action" would become even more significant.

Early September, 1963: Journalist Lisa Howard's friend William Attwood (an advisor with the U.S. delegation at the U.N.) read an article on Cuban relations by Lisa Howard. He called her and after their telephone conversation he volunteered his services to establish a back channel to Castro through the Cuban U.N. delegation.

September 13: President Kennedy's fall trip to Texas was announced to the public in September, 1963. [ 143 ]

September 24: William Attwood had met with President Kennedy and received his approval to proceed with the new Cuba outreach; he had also met socially with Cuban UN representative Lechuga at a cocktail party at Lisa Howard's apartment. Lechuga had been quite encouraging, suggesting that Attwood come to Havana for talks. The CIA was not initially informed of this new back channel negotiation, which was only known to three State Department personnel and to Lisa Howard - who was working the contacts with Cuba. Castro's personal physician and friend Rene Vallejo served as a key channel for Castro.

Commentary: This emerging contact between JFK and Castro was extremely risky. It is now documented that the CIA initially, in the spring of 1963, had strongly opposed the United States responding to any new approach from Castro; senior officers had even taken steps to undermine Lisa Howard as an intermediary. They would do so again in 1964 when Castro once again made a similar appeal to President Johnson.

But in the fall of 1963 JFK initially chose to bypass the CIA and the National Security Council, pursuing the Castro outreach entirely though the State Department. In doing so he made use of Cuban diplomatic contacts at the United Nation, and turned to private messages and meetings carried out with the aid of Lisa Howard.

Both Arthur Schlesinger and William Atwood understood the risk involved in this new back channel, but later admitted they had not fully considered the fact that the CIA monitored adversary nation communications at the United Nations, and the NSA monitored all private calls to Cuba. Both men came to believe the CIA had quickly become aware of the president's new initiative – something they deemed to be extremely dangerous.

Years later William Attwood told author Anthony Summers that he believed word of the impending talks might well have leaked down through the CIA to radical officers at JMWAVE, and from them to extremist Cuban exiles. He felt that they would have reacted violently – it was the end of their dreams of returning to Cuba and they might have been moved to "violent action". [ 144 ]

Late September: John Martino traveled to New Orleans on September 27.

Late September: Two men, one an American and the other using the name "Hernandez", approached Robert McKeown at his home near Houston. They first attempted to buy a variety of weapons; when that offer was rejected they turned to a deal for four Savage rifles with scoped sights. Finally the outrageous sum of $10,000 was offered for a single rifle. They appear not to have known that McKeown had recognized Hernandez from his earlier weapon sales into Cuba, carried out during the revolution against Batista.

Those weapons deals had resulted in McKeown's conviction; he had served time, and suspected that he was still under observation by the FBI. McKeown was extremely suspicious of his visitors and refused to respond to the two men. Following the assassination, McKeown identified the American visitor as Lee Oswald. As partial corroboration that Oswald might indeed have visited McKeown outside Houston, there are other reports of his being in the Houston area at that time - including Oswald making an employment agency inquiry. Oswald's wife and her friend Ruth Paine were both told that Oswald would be going to Houston looking for work. [ 145 ]

Late September: Sylvia Odio, a Dallas resident and JURE supporter who had been involved in looking for weapons sources in Dallas in prior months wrote her father (jailed in a Cuban prison for supporting an earlier attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro) about a visit from men who used his revolutionary code name to approach her for assistance. Her father wrote back to advise her that she should be extremely suspicious since no one knowing his code name would be contacting her in that fashion. The men had told her that they had just traveled from New Orleans to Dallas. Odio also mentioned the visit to her doctor, concerned that the unknown visitors might pose some sort of risk to her and her sisters. [ 146 ] Following the assassination, Odio spoke to her doctor and her sisters, identifying Lee Oswald as one of the three men. She also described a telephone call the day after the visit in which the caller had mentioned the American during the conversation.

John Martino would later write an article which discussed Lee Oswald's efforts to infiltrate the JURE exile group. Martino had no known connections to JURE as possible sources of that information, but he was very much aware of the Odio sisters being in Dallas and had mentioned them in remarks made in a Dallas speech during his book tour presentations. Sylvia Odio was personally close to JURE leader Manolo Ray and had visited him and his family in Puerto Rico only months earlier. Sylvia Odio's younger sister Sarita attended a local college along with several active DRE members. Martino had actually mentioned the Odio sisters being in Dallas during a public appearance there. Other than Martino's remark, there is no other record of Oswald being in contact with JURE in any fashion.

The Odio incident has received considerable attention from the Warren Commission, the HSCA and from JFK researchers. While the visit itself very likely occurred, there is considerable uncertainty about everything from the timing to possible motives. Additional context and speculation is provided in the following end note. [ 147 ]

Late September: According to the Warren Commission, in late September Lee Oswald traveled to Mexico City and visited both the Soviet and Cuban consulates in pursuit of a visa to travel through Cuba to Russia. Much has been written about Oswald in Mexico City (including by this author) however, further research by individuals such as David Josephs continues to raise issues and questions concerning the official chronology and record of Oswald's purported time in Mexico.

Commentary: What is clear is that someone impersonated Lee Oswald in Mexico City, on telephone calls and very possibly in person. That much was known and discussed in a telephone call between President Johnson and FBI Director Hoover the morning after the assassination – in Johnson's first phone call. We know that Hoover confirmed that something suspicious had happened in Mexico and, thanks to the work of Rex Bradford (and an admission by the Johnson Presidential Library) we can now confirm the suspicion that the conversation involved more than is in the official record. The actual tape of the Hoover/Johnson conversation was totally erased so we are left only with the surviving transcript - and no absolute confirmation that it is complete or accurate. While the events of Mexico City are certainly relevant to discussions and decisions made in the 48 hours following the assassination, at this point in time so much remains in doubt about Oswald and Mexico City that it remains to be seen whether events there were directly germane to the conspiracy to kill JFK, or to the actual attack in Dallas.

October 1-3: John Martino visited and spoke at multiple cities in Texas, including Dallas, promoting his new book. While in Dallas he spoke at exile group meetings and in one instance talked of knowing Amador Odio while in prison in Cuba, and knowing that the Odio sisters were in Dallas. However research shows that Martino had never had any contact with Armador Odio, while working in Cuba or in Cuban jails. Odio was held on the Isle of Pines in a high security prison and the two men were never housed in the same jails or prisons. The question arises of whether Martino may have learned of the Odio sisters being in Dallas while he was in New Orleans in late September.

October 3: Jack Ruby began making phone calls trying to locate R.D. Matthews – a former Havana co-worker of both Louis McWillie and John Martino who Ruby had not been in touch with in many years, since Matthews left Dallas.

October 5: Dallas newspapers announced JFK's upcoming visit to that city.

October 9 – 15: Manual Salvat of the DRE made a six-day trip to Dallas (a trip which was carried out without informing his CIA case officer). [ 148 ] The trip involved both fundraising and launching an effort to buy weapons for a new series of missions which were going to be proposed to the CIA.

Commentary: The source of the money for the extensive weapons and explosives DRE shopping lists circulated in both Dallas and Chicago in October 1963 is unclear, given that the CIA remained adamant it was not funding DRE military activities. However, there is evidence that Paulino Sierra's JCGE (Junta) was offering funding to a variety of activist groups including DRE. Sierra was demonstrably involved with the DRE in financing for its Chicago contacts with weapons dealers that same month, and it seems reasonable that his promised money would have been in play in Dallas as well.

At that point in time Sierra had virtually no actual followers and had turned to using other groups and actually paying individuals to move his equipment purchases. The FBI's investigation revealed that much of the earliest money provided to Sierra and the JCGE had come from backers who had previously had substantial investments in Cuba – in "hotels and other operations connected to them". The individuals first approaching Sierra with money (describing themselves as being employed in a Las Vegas casino) represented themselves as being from a "Nevada Group". When asked about their backers they referred to Jake Lansky, the brother of Meyer Lansky. Meyer Lansky was known as the chief figure in the so called "Jewish Mafia"; he had been a major figure in Havana casinos. Further investigation obtained statements that John Roselli (earlier a representative of Meyer Lansky in Havana) was directly involved in organizing the approach to the Junta. [ 149 ]

CIA Memorandum, Director to Mexico City
CIA Memorandum, Director to Mexico City /
Information for JMWAVE, Dr. Rene Vallejo,
Personal Physician Fidel Castro,
October 12, 1963

October 9 - 12: CIA headquarters began an effort to put assets in place to perform intelligence monitoring of Castro's personal physician, Rene Vallejo. Vallejo had never previously been a active subject of intelligence interest, even during the prisoner negotiations of the previous winter. However only weeks earlier JFK had agreed to initiate serious back channel contact with Fidel Castro, and in that new back channel Vallejo became a key liaison figure. Although the new contacts were being held highly secret and compartmentalized with only the State Department and Lisa Howard involved, it appears that the CIA had become aware of Vallejo's new role – not only at the headquarters level (Director Western Hemisphere) [ 150 ] but at JMWAVE, and even at the JMWAVE subsidiary station in Mexico City. CIA memos discussed using the AMOTS - including AMOTS in Mexico City - to collect intelligence and conduct surveillance on Vallejo. [ 151 ]

Mid October: Jack Ruby made a trip to New Orleans. Several days of his trip are unaccounted for, and anecdotal reports also place him in Miami, meeting with John Roselli during that period of time.

Commentary: Although there is no documented confirmation of Roselli and Ruby meeting in Florida, this period of time is one of only two during 1963 when Roselli (who was under constant FBI surveillance in Los Angeles and Las Vegas as well as in his travels) is unaccounted for in FBI surveillance files. The other is during the period of his travel to Florida and meeting with William Harvey in April.

October 16: Lee Oswald began work at the Texas School Book Depository.

Mid October: DRE members from Miami arrived in Dallas. On several occasions unnamed individuals addressed DRE group and public meetings. Privately they contacted local DRE members and directed them to begin searching for weapons sources. The official DRE visitors included Manuel Salvat, and Joaquin Martinez de Pinillos, and Salvat assigned a local DRE member (and Brigade 2506 survivor) recently arrived in Dallas from New York City to shop for weapons in Texas. That individual, Ferman de Goicocha (aka George Perrel) was introduced to a local gun dealer, John Thomas Masen, by Martinez, who knew Masen from previous dealings -Mason was provided with an extensive list of the DRE desired weapons.

Commentary: There is no record of all the DRE visitors to Dallas during this period other than Salvat and Martinez. There do appear to have been other unidentified individuals engaged in speaking and fundraising activities, focused on small groups of Cubans and anti-Castro activists. In one event the unidentified speakers made extremely hostile remarks about President Kennedy while their presentation was being taped. One of the speakers aggressively insisted on confiscating the tape, threatening that he would take it by force and warning that he held a black belt in martial arts. It is impossible to identify that speaker, but for reference, DRE member Carlos Hernandez is noted in CIA documents as being both skilled in martial arts and a sharpshooter.

October 24: Dallas area weapons and explosives dealer John Thomas Masen (under observation by the FBI and ATF for prior dealings with ultra-right groups such as the Minutemen) found the DRE shopping list to be extensive, including machine guns and heavy weapons. In response Masen reached out to an Army contact (George Nonte) with whom Masen had been privately doing business with in a specialty area of historic, black powder weapons. Nonte immediately reported Masen and the offer to Army intelligence, and became the primary source for a sting to be run against Masen by Army intelligence and the FBI. [ 152 ] Separately, not included in that sting, the ATF was also investigating Masen for his dealings with the Minutemen. Masen proceeded to meet with DRE representatives who told him the weapons were to be used for attacks into Cuba. The FBI and ATF immediately began to monitor Masen and the DRE.

Commentary: Unable to source weapons from Nonte, Masen turned to other avenues, and became involved with a weapons theft from the Army National Guard in Terrell Texas. The weapons from that robbery were very possibly brokered with the help of Jack Ruby. Given the involvement of three separate agencies investigating Masen as well as that of the Army 112th Regional Intelligence group, this is an extremely complex story. Readers are referred to Someone Would Have Talked, which explores the matter in great detail, citing both Army, FBI, and ATF records on the affair. [ 153 ]

October 24: The DRE presented the CIA with a plan for a new and ambitious series of attacks on Cuba. Some 200 men, in 14 teams, would be inserted onto the island in order to trigger an insurgency which would be broad enough to engage the Castro military. JMWAVE chief Shackley rejected the proposal in harsh terms and recommended that all funds for sustaining the DRE military cadre be cut; that included cutting the money being used to maintain its boats and supply it with ammunition. The word about the total CIA withdrawal from even minimal DRE military support was passed to the group on November 19. [ 154 ]

October 27: Martino flew back to Dallas with no known book promotion or speaking engagement. The exact nature of his trip remains unknown.

Commentary: While Martino's known close connections within the Miami anti-Castro community included Felipe Vidal, Roy Hargraves, and Frank Sturgis, it should be noted that he had worked in the same Havana casinos as Louis McWillie, Jack Ruby's longtime friend. It is certainly possible that Martino could have been used as a personal contact for passing information to and from Ruby.

October: Juan Blanco and "Hernandez" of the DRE traveled to Chicago on a weapons buying trip.

October 30/November 1: JFK's trip to attend a Chicago-area Army-Navy game was cancelled at the last minute. Officially the cancellation was explained in terms of the coup against Diem in Vietnam, however an incident in Chicago described by former agent Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden may have been the actual reason. Bolden described a warning from the FBI that individuals known to be traveling to Chicago might present some type of threat (unspecified) during the president's scheduled visit to Chicago. According to Bolden, sufficient information was provided so that the individuals could be located and two men were picked up, questioned and ultimately released. A report on the incident was submitted to Secret Service headquarters.

Commentary: There does appear to be corroboration of a threat in Chicago, but only in terms of identifiable but missing information. HSCA investigators who contacted Chicago Secret Service office personnel and agents in Chicago were clearly stonewalled about the event and related reports (even by secretaries who had typed the reports). Years later, during the ARRB inquiries, several files relating to the president's fall travel were destroyed, in spite of explicit instructions to the contrary. We also know that a number of DRE members were being monitored at that point in time, for efforts to buy weapons in Miami and Dallas, and there are reports of harsh remarks about President Kennedy being made by DRE members.

Beyond that there are FBI reports stating that DRE military leader Juan Blanco had traveled to the Chicago area at approximately this time, in pursuit of purchases for DRE. A Treasury Department memo references an investigation into two Miami individuals who had been in Chicago; that memo is in response to a later Chicago incident involving DRE member Homer Echeverria. Other FBI documents report that Blanco was accompanied by someone named "Hernandez", full name unknown. While speculative, it seems possible that could have been either Victor Hernandez, who traveled to Chicago and obtained explosives in July or Carlos Hernandez, who at that point in time had joined the AMWORLD project but was simply waiting for the project to complete the arrangements for moving him out of the country. Both men had been involved in the abortive July DRE aerial bombing effort, including the attempt to assemble bombs near New Orleans.

October 30 – November 11: Martino's close friend and anti-Castro associate Felipe Vidal traveled from Miami to Dallas and remained for approximately a week; Vidal had never been in Dallas previously and was under INS orders not to leave the Miami area. No details on his activities in Dallas are available although it was later suggested that he was in Dallas attempting to raise funds for missions against Cuba.

Commentary: Vidal's visit to Dallas occurred in the same time frame that a witness (Dallas Deputy Sheriff Buddy Walther's mother-in-law) reported that an individual resembling Lee Oswald was visiting a house on Harlandale Street in Dallas. The house was reportedly frequented by a series of Latino men coming and going at all hours of the day and night – both Alpha 66 and DRE members were known to be involved with that location. At least one of the individuals associated with the house was involved in attempts to purchase weapons from John Thomas Masen (photographic research has shown that there is no resemblance between Masen and Oswald; Masen had a quite distinctive appearance). [ 155 ] There are also indications that the FBI may have been maintaining surveillance on the house from another building on the same street.

November 8 (approximate): Lee Oswald was observed meeting in Dallas with two "subversives" by the FBI; that information was related by FBI agent James Hosty to Secret Service agent Patterson on November 23. Hosty stated that his superiors would surely share the details of that with the Secret Service – something which never happened. [ 156 ] In separate remarks Hosty advised a Dallas police detective that the FBI had shared no information about Oswald with the DPD prior to the assassination because Oswald was being treated as an object of security interest by the Bureau.

November 11: Castro's friend Vallejo called Lisa Howard and stressed the need for absolute security about the private communications in the back-channel contacts between JFK and Castro. As reported by William Attwood, he also said that "Castro would go along with any arrangements we might want to make...He emphasized that only Castro and himself would be present at the talks and that no one else – he specifically mentioned Guevara – would be involved." Vallejo also reiterated Castro's desire for this talk and hoped to hear our answer soon.

November 11: Jack Ruby obtained his first prescription for "nerve pills"; he refilled it almost immediately.

November 12: A contingency planning memorandum discussed protocols for responding to the deaths of American diplomats or high level American political figures, either in accidents or criminal acts. The planning was a result of concerns that protocols were needed for containment of any such situation, to prevent the sort of overreaction and "knee jerk" military response that had almost occurred during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The protocols were to specifically address media control and other moves necessary to prevent overreaction. [ 157 ]

November 13: Attwood visited Howard's apartment, but when they called Vallejo at home in Cuba, there was no answer so they sent a telegram. The following day Vallejo called Howard, and set up a phone call for November 18 when, as Attwood reported. "Miss Howard reached Vallejo at home and passed the phone to me. I told him....of our interests in hearing what Castro had in mind....Vallejo...reiterated the invitation to come to Cuba, stressing the fact that security could be guaranteed. I replied that a preliminary meeting was essential to make sure there was something useful to talk about, and asked if he was able to come to New York..." Attwood and Vallejo then talked about setting "an agenda" for a later meeting with Castro.

November 14: Ralph Gruber of Los Angeles visited Jack Ruby in Dallas. It was his first contact with Ruby in ten years. He offered no explanation for the trip to Dallas other than that his business had taken him to Arkansas, which was "right next door to Jack" - so he dropped by to visit. It should also to be noted that Gruber was known to be active in the same Los Angeles gambling circles as John Roselli.

November 14-15: Antonio Varona was reportedly in New Orleans staying with his friend Augustin Guitart, Sylvia Odio's uncle.

November 15: Sometime between this date and November 21 the house on Harlandale was vacated by numbers of Cuban exiles who have been frequenting it.

November 16-18: President Kennedy made a trip to Florida, visiting both Miami and Tampa. Threats were reported in both cities; six pages of threat subjects were listed for the Miami trip alone. The Secret Service called for CIA assistance in identifying the Cuban activists felt to represent the greatest threat in regard to protests, demonstrations or some sort of violent action. The JMWAVE Cuban Intelligence Service was used in that effort, and the Tampa newspaper highlighted "Threats on Kennedy Made Here". [ 158 ]

Jilda Unruh, CBS Miami
Jilda Unruh, Exclusive:
"JFK Death Threat Note from Nov. 1963
In Miami Revealed For 1st Time",
CBS Miami, November 21, 2013

The threat was significant enough that the Miami city government was asked to assist and special arrangements were made to minimize the president's exposure. [ 159 ] Some 250 Dade county and Miami police were deployed to deal with a bomb threat, although Kennedy himself was not advised of it. There is also reason to believe that the Kennedys were aware of a threat from within the exile community – that is reflected in one of the first calls made by Robert Kennedy after hearing of his brother's assassination. [ 160 ]

November 17: Ruby called his recent visitor, Al Gruber – and possibly traveled to Las Vegas the following day. Multiple sources placed Ruby in Las Vegas at that time, asking for Louis McWillie, however the Warren Commission determined not to accept the Las Vegas investigation or the witnesses cited.

Commentary: It was at this point in time when John Roselli disappeared from FBI surveillance in Los Angeles. Normally that surveillance involved telephone taps, informants in his apartment building, the use of at least one of his women friends sources, and the monitoring of his vehicle and movements. In this instance Roselli made his own travel arrangements, with a friend and two prostitutes (something highly unusual for Roselli), to travel to a resort in Arizona. Roselli even made sure to relate the trip to a woman friend – who was an FBI source. While the group did go to Arizona, Roselli himself appears to have departed early, and surveillance did not locate him again until after the assassination.

November 17: A purported FBI teletype noted a pending threat to President Kennedy in Dallas – from a militant revolutionary group.

Commentary: Although later denied and suppressed, the FBI advisory almost certainly did exist. [ 161 ] While its exact source is unknown, there is documentation of a threat report out of Fort Worth on November 15. That report did mention an attack on JFK during his Texas trip and came from a National States Rights Party member. The NRSP was known for its violent stance against desegregation, against the Kennedy administration's civil rights actions and against JFK personally. A similar threat warning had come out of Miami, with another NSRP member (Joseph Milteer) speaking about shooting Kennedy from a tall building. The NSRP would certainly fit the description given in an FBI threat advisory.

November 17: In Abilene, Texas Pedro Gonzalez's neighbor reported seeing a note which read "Call Me Immediately – Urgent". The note had two telephone numbers and the name Lee Oswald on it.

Commentary: Gonzalez was an exile activist associated with Anthony "Tony" Varona of the Cuban Revolutionary Council. Varona had been the initial contact used in the Roselli poison attempts targeting Castro during both the Cuba Project and Mongoose. Varona was also a friend of Augustine Guitart (Odio's uncle) and had visited him during the fall of 1963 in New Orleans.

Immediately after the assassination Pedro Gonzalez hurriedly went to all his neighbors and friends, collecting photos and any other materials relating to him - and then immediately left Abilene with no notice. It appears he left the country and was known to have traveled to Venezuela. Gonzalez's neighbor described unknown visitors to Gonzalez who had come in cars with both Louisiana and Florida license plates. His description of the older visitor to Gonzalez closely resembles that of John Martino.

November 18: JFK made a significant speech on Cuba. One interpretation of that speech is that it served as a warning against further Cuban adventurism in Central America. Given the knowledge of the Castro back channel communications, another interpretation is that it represented a public message to Castro that Kennedy was open to a political and trade compromise and implied the possible recognition of the Castro regime - provided that Castro abandoned his military relationship with the Soviet Union and ceased exporting revolution across Latin America.

November 19: Ruby told his attorney (Graham Koch) that he now had plenty of money. His attorney had been fighting IRS judgments on Ruby for some time, with Ruby pleading lack of funds and pursuing a settlement. For the first time, Ruby also assigned a personal power of attorney to Koch.

Commentary: There are additional sources to confirm that Ruby had suddenly come into considerable money. Multiple individuals described him talking to a realtor about a new club, discussing plans for a new apartment in an expensive neighborhood on Turtle Creek, and planning for a Caribbean cruise. Ruby's club assistant Andy Armstrong also confirmed to researcher Ian Griggs that after Ruby's arrest, he retrieved a large sum of money hidden in the club's air conditioning system, and per Ruby's instructions handed the cash over to Ruby's partner Ralph Paul. He estimated the amount of cash as a substantial, four-digit sum. [ 162 ]

Homer Echeveria / Chicago DRE Investigation
Homer Echeveria /
Chicago DRE Investigation

November 21: A Chicago area FBI informant submitted a report that a Cuban exile, whom he was dealing with in regard to weapons purchases, had made a remark that the exiles were now well funded and prepared to move against Castro – as soon as "we" (or possibly "they") take care of Kennedy.

Commentary: This incident has been repeatedly covered in JFK literature, most often with the conclusion that it was handed off to the Secret Service and that no extended investigation was made. With the release of additional documents we now know that to be untrue, and the FBI's follow-on, extensive investigation revealed important information about the weapons buys in Chicago, which involved both DRE members and financing offered by Paulino Sierra. Details are cited in the referenced end note. What is most significant is that the remarks allow us further insight into the sources and degree of radical talk against President Kennedy within the DRE. [ 163 ]

November 21: Felipe Vidal returned to Dallas, Texas for an undetermined period.

November 22: Early in the morning, Jack Ruby contacted a good friend and asked him if he would like to come downtown to view the president's motorcade and "watch the fireworks". The individual and Ruby watched the motorcade from the corner of Main and Houston - Ruby immediately left after the president's passage.

Commentary: The "friend" happened to be a confidential IRS informant, who made an official report to the IRS, who in turn forwarded it through its own intelligence office to the FBI office in Dallas. The intelligence office volunteered both its Group Manager and the informant for FBI interviews, however there is no indication that the FBI gave any response at all to the IRS approach. [ 164 ]

November 22: Ruby's bank manager observed him with several thousand dollars in cash.

Commentary: Ruby's sudden possession of a substantial amount of cash is corroborated by some $3,000 in cash taken in custody following his arrest after shooting Lee Oswald.

November 22: Following the assassination of President Kennedy, Jack Ruby called Gruber in Los Angeles with news of Oswald's capture. Other than a call to his sister, that is the only call Ruby made that afternoon. However his bar manager reported an ongoing series of urgent calls coming into Ruby's club, which was closed. Following his conversation with Gruber, Ruby became physically ill and his entire demeanor changed.


Larry Hancock is the author of Someone Would Have Talked and several other books, including The Awful Grace of God: Religious Terrorism, White Supremacy, and the Unsolved Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. (with Stuart Wexler), NEXUS, and his most recent work In Denial: Secret Wars with Air Strikes and Tanks? Larry has for several years co-directed the annual November in Dallas research conferences, and written and spoken extensively on the political assassinations of the 1960s, the efforts to oust Fidel Castro, and national security.


See all chaptersNext => Part 4: Context for Conspiracy


ENDNOTES


[ 142 ] CIA Memorandum, Director to JMWAVE, Status of AMHINT-2 [Salvat], November 29, 1963

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=67663&relPageId=2

[ 143 ] The White House confirmed in a press release that U.S. President Kennedy would be making a trip to Dallas, Texas later in the year, though the specific itinerary was not complete, though the Dallas Times-Herald reported that Kennedy would have "a breakfast in Dallas, luncheon in Fort Worth, coffee in San Antonio and dinner in Houston." JFK Plans Whirlwind Texas Trip", AP report in Victoria (TX) Advocate, September 14, 1963, p3

[ 144 ] Larry Hancock, NEXUS, 106-107

[ 145 ] Warren Commission Report, Chapter 7: Lee Harvey Oswald: Background and Possible Motives, 413

https://www.archives.gov/research/jfk/warren-commission-report/chapter-7.html

[ 146 ] Odio was under considerable stress for several months in 1963; she had recently completed a divorce and was also pregnant and unmarried at the time of the reported visit. She was receiving treatment for an elevated nervous condition, but her doctor reported no other physical or psychological issues.

[ 147 ] Manolo Ray himself had been a perpetual problem for the CIA, refusing to even join the Cuban Revolutionary Council or the Cuba Project until the very last weeks before the landings in Cuba. During the following years he expressed grave mistrust of the CIA – which because of his populist and socialist political leanings was reciprocated by CIA political officers from Howard Hunt to Henry Hecksher.

By the summer of 1963, JMWAVE operations had become increasingly concerned about the activities of JURE group and Manolo Ray. The overall American relationship with Ray had been and continued to be described in CIA documents as "chaotic". Ray mistrusted the CIA; he made that clear with virtually everyone from Robert Kennedy to Desmond Fitzgerald. At the same time JURE was collecting intelligence on JMWAVE activities, while Miami station had its own sources within JURE.

Emilio Rodriquez acted as case officer for the JURE group headed by Manola Ray and the CIA had a number of sources inside JURE itself. The JURE/CIA relationship remained tentative at best in 1963, with an effort by RFK to get Ray and JURE to join the autonomous group effort along with Artime, but with Ray constantly mistrustful of the CIA as a whole and with its own small offshore military group already carrying out its own efforts. The political jousting between Ray and Artime was ongoing and JMWAVE determined that JURE had actually begun to obtain its own (highly negative) information about CIA attitudes within the Miami Station. By the summer of 1963 Ray was even expressing his personal opinion that CIA agents might try to assassinate him and that certain of them were his personal enemies.

Miami station mistrust of JURE became even higher during 1963 as JMWAVE began to question higher level decisions in regard to new Kennedy Administration / SAS projects such as AMTRUNK and AMWORLD. JMWAVE officers in particular were highly skeptical of the personal relationships between Robert Kennedy and exile figures such as Artime and Ray. Beyond questioning the effectiveness of Artime and Ray as leaders, there were specific concerns the two men were using the CIA and the U.S. government for their own agendas – and that their leadership styles would compromise not just the security of the new projects but overall CIA operations against Cuba.

The escalating concerns began with the RFK / SAS AMTRUNK regime fragmentation project. Other than at the highest levels, the longtime CIA officers were totally opposed to that idea. David Morales had attended the first organizing meeting and simply dropped out of any further participation. As early as April Miami Station Chief Shackley recommended the whole AMTRUNK effort be cancelled, warning that it was either compromised or even very possibly being actively used by the opposition. Individuals including George Volsky (AMTRUNK-1) were cited as being particularly suspect as to their motives; Volsky was also known to be closely associated with Ray and JURE.

By August 1963, a CIA operational dispatch detailed JMWAVE concerns that Volsky had a history of using positions with the U.S. government to leverage JURE agendas. Certain of Volsky's associates were suspected of being Cuban intelligence plants. JMWAVE also learned that Ray had directed that a trusted JURE member being infiltrated to learn of CIA plans, and suspected that Volsky was performing that task. Beyond that the report outlined an extended plan by Ray to collect intelligence from a variety of U.S. government agencies as well as the CIA. An AMOT operative had learned that Ray was specifically identifying CIA operatives active in Miami. The report indicates that the movements of both Ray and his second in command Eugenio Rogelio Cisneros were being monitored; the FBI was also following JURE's efforts to try and buy weapons.

One specific trip inside the United States was made in June, by Ray's number two in command, Eugenio Rogelio Cisneros. Cisneros later verified that he had specifically gone to Dallas to contact Sylvia Odio. Odio was to provide an introduction to individuals who might be willing to sell weapons to JURE. At that point in time there was no significant JURE organization in Dallas; a small group did begin to organize that summer but based on a number of FBI informants, the group itself only met in small numbers, infrequently, and its only real activities were general fundraising. As of June Sylvia Odio was the only direct contact with the JURE leadership in Puerto Rico, and the only individual in Dallas personally associated with Manolo Ray and his family.

Sylvia Odio had been active within JURE during her time in Puerto Rico, after leaving Cuba, and was personally acquainted with Ray. After arriving in Dallas she had made contact with an individual who represented himself as having Latin American contacts for arms sales. She had advised Rogelio Cisneros (Ray's second in command, then living in Miami and using the "war name" alias Eugenio) of that by telephone. During a visit to Puerto Rico in the summer of 1963 (related to her divorce) she had met with Ray, and mentioned the possibility of weapons buys in Dallas. Following the assassination – and upon questioning by the FBI and INS - Ray and others would attempt to back away from their association with Odio. Despite that, Odio's contacts with Eugenio and Ray certainly had been taken seriously enough in June for Ray to approve sending Cisneros from Miami to Dallas, specifically to work with Odio on weapons purchases.

Given that JMWAVE was very much engaged in an actual intelligence struggle with JURE by August of 1963, attempting to place its own sources - and attempting to deal with the JURE intelligence effort against it and other agencies in Miami - it is possible that sanctioned counter intelligence activities might have been conducted against individuals known to be associated with Ray. Especially individuals who might be involved in weapons purchases.

We know that the FBI was monitoring JURE efforts to that effect in Puerto Rico. We lack sufficient information on what they might have been doing to uncover similar efforts inside the U.S. What we do know is that they had informants and sources in virtually all groups and were actively engaged in identifying their officers, members and activities.

Given that context, and despite all the confusion and debate over the Odio incident, there may well have been a "pretext" call made on Sylvia Odio. JMWAVE's own JURE sources very likely would have had the "war name" used in the Odio visit; he had been a supporter of the anti-Castro resistance inside Cuba, imprisoned for aiding an assassination attempt against Castro.

In one sense the possibility of a JMWAVE effort to entangle JURE in illegal activities makes perfect sense; we have no precise idea of exactly what they proposed to Odio and it may well not have been as innocent as signing fund-raising flyers. It would have occurred at a time when both JMWAVE and the FBI were highly interested in JURE, a time when JMWAVE considered Ray as much of an adversary as an asset. Depending on Sylvia Odio's response, introductions might have been gained to JURE members in Dallas, discrete inquiries as to their success in obtaining weapons, contacts revealed, etc.

Sylvia Odio might have been considered an easier target than JURE's male leaders, most of whom were outside the country. Given her recent visit with Ray himself, and her history of social connections to his family (she was a good friend of his wife) she might also have been considered a valuable, independent source on how desperate JURE was for weapons, or simply on current attitudes within JURE, both towards independent military operations and towards the CIA.

Given that there was no obvious use of Oswald in the initial Odio contact (the young man was simply introduced and said little if anything), anything further would have depended on Odio's response to the dangle. As it turned out she proved to be quite suspicious and immediately rejected the approach. Guessing at what might have been in play given a different response from Odio is largely fruitless – as are her comments on a follow-up telephone call the following day in which the young man was described as loco and out of control, capable of anything. The call and those remarks failed to elicit any response from her (if anything making her more nervous) and she had no further contact with the men. It is certainly possible that the visit may have simply been exploratory, a wild card dangled to test her response – and possibly collect something which could be used against Jure. After all, Sylvia Odio was a personal friend of Manolo Ray and had been visited in Dallas by one of its chief military leaders – given those contacts surely Odio would not have expected unknown JURE members to show up at her door with no introduction or advance notice?

To some extent the Odio incident is actually more important as an illustration of the extent to which the FBI was willing to suppress leads and actively mislead the Warren Commission. The Warren Commission had specifically requested the FBI resolve her report, especially since her doctor confirmed that she had discussed it with him before the assassination. Clearly it suggested some sort of conspiracy in play, so much so that the FBI was requested to subject it to an in-depth inquiry. That proved to be extremely challenging. Its first attempt to dismiss Odio was to demonstrate that her visitors had actually been local JURE members, whom she had not recognized; that effort – largely based on a very rough similarity in names – quickly collapsed. However by fall 1964, the FBI managed to locate three individuals (Loran Hall, Lawrence Howard and William Seymour), all out of Miami and with past associations to Hemming, Sturgis and INTERPEN, who had traveled to Dallas in 1963. Based on that the FBI officially assured the Warren Commission that the issue was resolved.

Only years later would it become clear via internal FBI memoranda that was most definitely not the case. FBI interviews out of Miami determined that Howard had no knowledge of Odio, certainly not visiting her in Dallas. Miami also determined that Seymour was not in Dallas at the same time as Hall and Howard, and his employer confirmed he had been at work during the relevant time period. Beyond that Sylvia Odio and her sister (who had seen the three men) were shown pictures of Hall, Howard and Seymour and stated that they were definitely not their visitors. None of that was shared with the Warren Commission. In the end, the best the FBI could do was to challenge Odio's story based on a negative assessment of her emotional stability – the same tactic it had used to discount the informant who had reported Roy Hargrave's involvement in the assassination.

In the end, we can only speculate that the Odio incident may have been a sanctioned counter intelligence dangle against JURE, possibly using JMWAVE assets associated with DRE (initially the visitors had asked for Syrita Odio, a college student with DRE friends). Several such individuals, including Carlos Hernandez, were still being used in JMWAVE activities at that point in time – Carlos and others had even been sent overseas to help disrupt a recent international student conference. However if that were true, it would add an interesting twist to the report of Lee Oswald with Mr. Hernandez, attempting to buy rifles from Robert McKeown in approximately the same time frame as that reported for the Odio contact.

[ 148 ] Jefferson Morley, "Revelation 19.63", The New Times, April 12, 2002

[ 149 ] Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked 2010, 191

[ 150 ] CIA Dispatch, Chief Western Hemisphere Division to Chief of Station, Mexico City, Transmittal of Background Information on Dr. Rene Vallejo Ortiz, Ocotober 9, 1963

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=45080

[ 151 ] CIA Memorandum, Director to Mexico City / Information for JMWAVE, Dr. Rene Vallejo, Personal Physician Fidel Castro, October 12, 1963

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=45080

[ 152 ] Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked 2010, 171-173

[ 153 ] Ibid, Chapter 12, "The Anti-Castro People", 171-175

[ 154 ] Jefferson Morley, "Revelation 19.63", The New Times, April 12, 2002

[ 155 ] Larry-Hancock documentation, WEB site supplemental information, photographic comparisons – Oswald vs. Masen

http://www.larry-hancock.com/documents/index.html

[ 156 ] Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked 2010, 198-199 also JFK Lancer Conference, 2003 presentation and panel discussion with James Hosty

http://www.jfklancer.com/dallas03/dallas03media.html

[ 157 ] There is very limited documentation related to this damage control planning, and no confirmation that it was actually established and in play at the time of the president's assassination. However members of the administration including RFK were aware of it and also aware of concerns that the president himself might be at risk. Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked 2010, 194

[ 158 ] There are a number of sources and incidents suggesting that both JFK and RFK were aware of a threat existing within the Cuban exile community. In addition, researcher Vince Palamara interviewed one Secret Service officer, John Norris, who stated that officers assigned to the Protective Service Detail were aware of people that wanted JFK dead and that a threat to his life did exist. It is also significant that on the afternoon of the assassination, RFK himself made two telephone calls, the second of which was to a contact who was working with Artime's group – in the call RFK expressed his concern that Cuban exiles had been involved in the attack on his brother. Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked 2010, 194

[ 159 ] Jilda Unruh, Exclusive: "JFK Death Threat Note from Nov. 1963 In Miami Revealed For 1st Time", CBS Miami, November 21, 2013

https://miami.cbslocal.com/2013/11/21/exclusive-jfk-death-threat-note-in-nov-1963-in-miami-revealed-for-1st-time/

https://flashbackmiami.com/2013/11/26/jfk-in-miami-1963/

[ 160 ] In the hours following the assassination, knowing that there were AMWORLD project meetings going on in Washington D.C. (he had attended at least one personally and knew that several of the senior Cubans he was working with at the time were in town) Robert Kennedy made a call to locate one of his closest personal Cuban friends among the exiles, Enrique Ruiz Williams. A journalist, Haynes Johnson, later related following the brief conversation Williams had told him that Robert Kennedy had stated "one of your guys did it". Williams was shocked, however at a minimum the call does suggest that the Kennedy brothers were aware of a potential threat from among the more radical exiles. Haynes Johnson, Washington Post, April 17, 1981

[ 161 ] Ray and Mary LaFontaine, Oswald Talked, Pelican Publishing Company, 1996, 300-306

[ 162 ] Personal research and communications from Ian Griggs, also Someone Would Have Talked 2010, 119

[ 163 ] Homer Echeveria / Chicago DRE Investigation:

The Echeveria incident surfaced in a report to the FBI by one of its ongoing sources (Thomas Mosley) as to weapons deals in the Chicago area, many involving Richard Lauchli who was a long-time supplier of explosives and weapons to the Minutemen, the DRE and other Cuban exile groups. who passed on to the Secret Service.

The report involved remarks made by a Cuban with whom Mosley had been in contact (Homero Sameul Valdavia Echeverria) regarding the sale of weapons and explosives. According to Mosley, while discussing a weapons buy, Echeveria had remarked that "we have plenty of money, our new backers are Jews, as soon as they [or we] take care of Kennedy...", unfortunately at that point the conversation had been interrupted and there were no further comments about JFK.

It was certainly a suggestive remark and well worth investigation, and despite a good deal of what was later written, there was indeed an extensive follow on investigation, involving multiple sources, ongoing contacts with Echeverria by Mosley and FBI surveillance on Echeverria himself. In fact the investigation extended to other individuals who were in contact with Mosley.

The reality is that neither the Secret Service nor the FBI dropped its investigation of the incident. They continued an effort to determine what exile group(s) Echeverria had been associated with, to develop the context of the remarks through additional meetings with Echeverria (and reports from Mosley) as well as pursuing whether or not an actual threat was in play and might extend to President Johnson. A detailed (albeit convoluted) synopsis of their report may be found at the Mary Ferrell Foundation.

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=954

In the end the determination was made that no ongoing threat existed and that no illegal acts had actually been committed in regards to weapons or explosives sales. It was only at that point that the investigation ceased, simply because there were no grounds to refer the information for actual charges. While that is certainly unsatisfactory, it is consistent with a number of other investigations of exile weapons purchasing contacts (and even sales) in which the FBI appears to have determined that protecting ongoing sources and surveillance was more valuable than recommending charges – especially in incidents where sales might not have actually been illegal.

The chronology of the full FBI inquiry is as follows:

During September Thomas Mosley approached Echeveria offering machine guns (Sten guns) and received no immediate interest or response.

On November 21 Mosley again approached Echeverria. It was at that point when the remarks about new backers, Jewish, with money and proceeding once JFK was out of the way were made. During that conversation Echeverria cautioned Mosley that his superiors would have to meet with and evaluate Mosley to ensure the weapons offer was not a sting.

On November 26 Mosley again tried to reach Echeverria, by telephone, but was unable to complete a call.

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=954

At that point in time active Secret Service and FBI investigation of Echeverria was underway and attempts to place Echeverria under surveillance were initially made but discontinued on November 28th when it was deemed too risky, since the only approaches available were likely to be detected (and Echeverria had already expressed concern over Mosely's approach being a sting). However Echeverria himself did respond to Mosley at his own initiative and a meeting was scheduled for Nov 28.

On November 28 Homer Echeverria was brought into a conversation about JFK and characterized him as an intellectual who had not committed himself to the anti-Castro effort in the way that Johnson, described as a common man, would. It was felt that unlike Kennedy, Johnson would not would not stand in the way of direct Cuban exile military action against Cuba. Exile confidence in Johnson had grown following remarks attributed to the Vice President that JFK had not been tough enough during the missile crisis. Christmas cards had been sent from exiles in Dallas to friends in Miami; enclosed with them were flyers touting LBJ as the savior of the Cuban exiles, essentially calling for something to happen to JFK so as to allow Johnson to come to their rescue.

Echeverria and Mosley, after a telephone call from Echeverria, left Homer's home in Mosley's car. After driving near Logan Square, Homer told Mosley to stop, and a man got into the car.

Mosley pitched his Sten guns to the man and in turn was given a shopping list for a much larger range of weapons and explosives...the Cuban began to vet Mosley – asking him how he felt about the death of JFK and then asking for references. Mosley brought up an association with Michael Ponce in earlier days and the man said he had known Ponce in Cuba. Ponce was an officer in the Cuban Navy under Batista and had been associated with Mosley in gun smuggling in the 1950s. Mosley suggested his Chicago arrests and CPD file would verify his experience. It should be noted that the "shopping list" related to Mosley was almost identical to the DRE shopping list which had earlier been submitted by the DRE to John Thomas Masen in Dallas.

Mosley talked sales details, partial payment and other logistics. The Cuban found it acceptable and remarked that Mosley would be further checked out by an attorney working with the Cubans. Future contact practices were outlined, using a classified ad and associated telephone number. It was a rather sophisticated contact and cut out communications process, and Mosley was told he would be contacted by the Cubans if they wanted to pursue the deal after checking him out.

An FBI informant identified the unknown Cuban as a DRE member and Echeverria was also identified as a DRE member. The description of the unknown Cuban appeared to match that of Juan Francisco Blanco-Fernandez who had been observed by an FBI source at the same grocery store as Homer Echeveria only days earlier. Blanco had been in Chicago shopping for weapons and explosives on previous occasions. The FBI referred the Blanco inquiry to Miami and the local FBI office used one of their sources to personally contact Juan Blanco Fernandez and establish that he was in Chicago during the period in which the Echevarria/Mosley meeting had occurred.

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=954

As of November 30 another meeting was being planned between Echeverria and Mosley. Mosley was also reported to be in contact with the potential buyers both via Echeverria and another individual referred to as Mannie. Mannie claimed to represent all the exile groups in the Chicago area. Mannie communicated the desire for a shopping list of items for an upcoming attack on Cuba – they were needed in a short time frame as attacks were planned to begin within 90 days – by March 1964. The urgency expressed in Chicago appears to be consistent with the DRE representatives' discussions of imminent, upcoming attacks that had been going on in Dallas in late October/early November.

Several points suggests that "Mannie" was either Paulino Sierra himself or an attorney working with Sierra – and that by the fall of 1963 Sierra had established himself as the money man for exile group weapons buys. As noted before, while Sierra claimed funding from corporate backers, his initial and most significant source of funding was from underworld sources, out of Las Vegas (HSCA Report, p. 134).

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=954

A follow-on meeting occurred on December 1, 1963. That meeting, between Echeverria and Mosley, had been set for the Chicago Transit Authority building; the two met in Mosley's car behind the building. The meeting was intended to move the matter along to an actual sale (which could be prosecuted) and Mosley was instructed to offer major financing and support, indicating that Mosley had found backers interested in the exile cause who would assume support of Echeverria's group.

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=954

With funding on the table, on December 4 Echeverria contacted Mosley and proposed a public meeting (with passwords being exchanged by the participants) with Mannie in a public location, a bar. The meeting went down on December 5, at the Logan Square Terminal Tap room. Mannie told Mosley he needed to personally meet the head of the purported backers (fictional), and that his own backers were high level people with plenty of money. They were even buying boats (at the time Sierra had indeed bought both a boat and a small submarine).

Mannie also stated that Johnson's policies were not a concern to the exiles, but that JFK had been trouble for them as he "played both sides". Mannie related that his group had an office in Miami, he had been traveling a lot, but refused to comment on whether he had traveled to New Orleans. He said that before proceeding with the weapons buy he would need to get an updated shopping list from Miami and wanted to meet Mosley's purported financial backer before placing an order for explosives. Mannie was described as a white male Cuban, very fluent in English, 48-52 years old, with short, wavy, receding hair, and sharp dresser. The FBI compared descriptions and confirmed that Mannie was not Juan Blanco. At that point the sting hit a wall because in January "Mannie" ceased all contact.

Given the remarks from "Mannie" about having plenty of money, buying boats, and needing to consult with his military guys in Miami, it seems almost certain that he was directly working for with Sierra – or that "Mannie" was Sierra himself. At that point in time Sierra was desperate to make something happen immediately. His employer (Union Tank Car) had already called him on the carpet for financial mismanagement and during January his other major investors would all withdraw their support. Sierra's Junta essentially disbanded in February - which would certainly explain Mannie's disappearance from the Chicago weapons buying scene. It also appears that the initial Echeverria contact with the FBI informant was associated with DRE and Blanco Fernandez, who involved "Mannie"/Sierra only when money actually became an issue.

[ 164 ] Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked, 2010 edition, 187

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