[News] US Finally Exacts Revenge on Iran/Contra Whistleblower

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Nov 4 15:05:39 EST 2008

US Finally Exacts Revenge on Iran/Contra Whistleblower Cele Castillo

Posted by 
Conroy - November 1, 2008 at 9:20 pm

Celerino “Cele” Castillo III, a former DEA agent 
who played a key role in exposing the U.S. 
government’s role in narco-trafficking as part of 
the Iran/Contra scandal, is now a discredited man.

At least that is what the office of U.S. Attorney 
Johnny “House of Death” Sutton in San Antonio, 
Texas, who is a 
friend” of President George W. Bush, would like 
us to believe. The black mark now affixed to 
Castillo’s reputation courtesy of Sutton’s 
office, however, is a thin conceit on the eve of 
a presidential election that is expected to usher 
in a sea change in American politics that might 
well lead to a re-examination of Castillo’s 
revelations ­ which also were supported and 
advanced by legendary investigative journalist 
<http://www.narconews.com/darkalliance/>Gary Webb 
and a host of congressional inquiries in subsequent years.

“United States Attorney Johnny Sutton announced 
that in San Antonio yesterday [Oct. 22], 
58-year-old former Drug Enforcement 
Administration agent Celerino “Cele” Castillo, 
III, of McAllen, Texas, was sentenced to 37 
months in federal prison for his role in dealing 
firearms without a license,” states a 
release issued recently by Sutton’s office.

In other words, Castillo, a Vietnam veteran (an 
expert marksman who was awarded the Bronze Star 
for bravery) will spend the next three years of 
his life in prison, even though he has no prior 
criminal record, for the act of selling some 
firearms (mainly hunting rifles and shotguns at 
gun shows in South Texas) absent the proper 
paperwork. The federal judge in San Antonio 
ordered that Castillo be committed to a medical 
facility due to his multiple medical problems, 
including diabetes and heart problems.

“I thought the judge was doing me a favor by 
sentencing me to a medical facility,” Castillo 
says. “But I recently talked to someone who just 
got out of one of these medical facilities and he 
said there isn’t a day that goes by where someone 
inside doesn’t die because of a dose of the wrong 
medication or maybe an overdose of chemo. So 
maybe it is a death sentence. I can’t tell you.”

For those who have an aversion to guns and the 
NRA, it’s important to remember that the Second 
Amendment does protect an individual’s right to 
possess firearms ­ as much as the First Amendment 
protects an individual’s right to protest the 
Second Amendment. The government’s role, as the 
law is now constructed, is to regulate that right 
to “keep and bear arms” ­ but the regulations it 
has created are byzantine in nature and subject 
to many degrees of nuance in interpretation.

For example, the Gun Control Act distinguishes 
between individuals who sell firearms as a hobby 
and those who engage in the practice as a 
business ­ the latter requiring a license issued by the government.

Here is the wording from that 

The term “engaged in the business” means 
person who devotes time, attention, and labor to 
dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade 
or business with the principal objective of 
livelihood and profit through the repetitive 
purchase and resale of firearms, but such term 
shall not include a person who makes occasional 
sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for 
the enhancement of a personal collection or for a 
hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal 
collection of firearms. [Emphasis added.]

The definition above is further rarified by a 
host of complex case law developed at the expense 
of accused violators over the years. So anyone 
who is charged with a firearms violation is well 
advised to find good legal counsel, since the law 
can easily be twisted to the wrong ends by 
over-zealous federal agents and prosecutors.

Castillo is honest about his activity in this 
case, but whether the government actually had the 
evidence that he crossed the line into committing 
a crime is a bigger question. And even if 
Castillo did broach that line, the question of 
the punishment fitting the crime is now a matter 
of an appeal filed in the case ­ though Castillo 
says he is still trying to find the money and an 
attorney to handle that appeal.

Here is what Castillo says about the case against 
him on his <http://www.powderburns.org/donation.html>Web Site:

Approximately three years ago, I started to 
attend the Saxet Gun Show by selling my book, 
"Powderburns.” I found the experience 
overwhelming because it turned out to be great 
therapy for my PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress 
Disorder). To ease my "cutting edge" a bit, I was 
back to wearing my Vietnam attire for the gun shows.

 As time went on I started to collect Vietnam 
vintage surplus to sell. But before long, I began 
to do what most of the vendors were doing at the 
gun show, selling and buying both used and new 
guns without a license. Over half of the gun show 
vendors are still doing what I got charged with. 
However, I strongly believe that because of my 
involvement as an "expert witness" and an 
activist against certain actions of our 
government, I obviously had become a target.

After all, I had been forewarned by a defense 
attorney, that an AUSA Federal prosecutor had 
advised him to instruct me that in some way, 
shape or form, they were going to target me until 
they got me. And that they did.


Castillo, while a DEA agent in Central America in 
the 1980s, during the Reagan/Bush administration, 
uncovered evidence that the CIA and the White 
House National Security Council, through San 
Antonio, Texas, native and national 
counter-terrorism coordinator Lt. Col. Oliver 
North and other CIA assets, were carrying out 
illegal operations at two hangers at Ilopango 
Airport in El Salvador. Those airport hangars, 
Castillo contends, served as weapons and 
narcotics transshipment centers for funding and 
arming the U.S.-backed Contra counter-insurgency 
against the government of Nicaragua.

 From that moment forward, Castillo became a 
target of those pulling the strings in that dirty war.

“Cele became a household word inside DEA,” says 
Sandalio Gonzalez, a retired DEA commander who 
worked in Latin America at the same time Castillo 
was stationed in the region. “They ruined his 
reputation over the stuff that happened in El 
Salvador [Iran/Contra] and he became a target. He 
took on the Establishment, and it didn’t come out so good for him.”

investigation into the Ilopango operation was 
eventually torpedoed via CIA interference and he 
was subjected to a steady stream of retaliatory DEA internal investigations.

Castillo subsequently, after a 12-year career, 
retired from the DEA, but to this day he has 
remained an outspoken critic of the hypocrisy of 
the war on drugs, penning a book about his 
experiences in DEA, called Powderburns, and 
appearing on numerous radio and TV shows ­most 
recently in a Showtime series called 
Drug War<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kp8bLVh_Bg>.

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