SUCRE, Bolivia — A Drug Enforcement Agency informant-turned whistleblower revealed the agency’s plot to undermine the Bolivian government through secret indictments for cocaine trafficking.
The sealed indictments were revealed as part of a lawsuit filed this month by Carlos Toro against the U.S. federal government, demanding back pay for his decades of work as an undercover informant. The Huffington Post broke the story on Sept. 15, explaining that evidence in the trial exposed the existence of Operation Naked King, the DEA’s plan to undermine the Bolivian government for its alleged support of international cocaine trafficking.
According to The Huffington Post, targets of secret indictments include:
“Walter Álvarez, a top Bolivian air force official; the late Raul García, father of Vice President Álvaro García Linera; Faustino Giménez, an Argentine citizen and Bolivian resident who is said to be close to the vice president; and Katy Alcoreza, described as an intelligence agent for Morales.”
In 2009, Hillary Clinton accused Evo Morales and late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of paranoia and “fear-mongering.” Yet, as The Huffington Post pointed out, “The DEA was, in fact, out to get” Morales by using informants like Toro to attempt to connect members of his government to the international drug trade.
Toro spent decades working for the DEA, helping the agency build cases against a lieutenant in the Colombia-based Medellin drug cartel and testifying against Panamanian President Manuel Noriega after the U.S. government turned against its former asset.
The DEA kept Toro, now 65, from retiring from this dangerous work by only allowing him a temporary U.S. visa that would immediately see him deported to his home country, Colombia, if he stopped working for the agency. By sharing his story with The Huffington Post in April and filing the lawsuit this month, Toro escaped the agency’s control.
According to The Huffington Post report on Operation Naked King:
“Toro said in the court document that he played an integral role in securing the indictments as part of the DEA’s undercover investigation into the alleged Bolivian cocaine trafficking ring, which the agency ran out of its office in Asuncion, Paraguay.”
While the DEA and the media have accused the Morales government of participating in cocaine trafficking, and two of his anti-drug officials were arrested on trafficking charges, many see the charges and secret indictments as politically motivated by Morales’ refusal to participate in the American war on drugs.
Instead, Morales, who once served as the head of Bolivia’s coca growers’ union, has undertaken unique efforts to reduce cocaine production while respecting the traditional role of its source, the coca leaf, in Bolivian life. The plant, which many residents consider sacred, is an important subsistence crop, and coca tea is a key part of the Bolivian diet. Coca tea is also used as a cure for altitude sickness, with even Pope Francis partaking during a visit in July.
Last week, the White House accused Bolivia of “[failing] demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements.”
But cocaine production in Bolivia has fallen to record low levels under Morales’ unique counternarcotics measures, while production rose 44 percent last year in neighboring Colombia, a country that supports the American war on drugs.
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