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Nov-07-2011 05:00printcommentsVideo

Cele Castillo- American DEA Hero- Scapegoat for 'Fast and Furious'?

America's habit of making enemies out of former allies turns inward with the conviction of a decorated DEA Agent in a crime the U.S. ATF itself committed.

Cele Castillo, photographed with former U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and James Carter; during Operation Condor in Peru and Volcano in Guatemala.
Cele Castillo, photographed with former U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and James Carter; during Operation Condor in Peru and Volcano in Guatemala. See more: powderburns.org

(SALEM) - The conduct the U.S. is willing to commit to quiet its opponents is shocking. Questions surround the conviction of retired DEA Agent Celerino "Cele" Castillo III- a front line agent for 12 years in the Drug Enforcement Administration. Today he's serving a 37-month prison sentence, and the feds wouldn't have their feelings hurt if Americans believed Castillo was convicted in connection with the recently exposed Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF&E) gun walking operation to Mexican drug cartels.

U.S. Attorney Johnny “House of Death” Sutton in San Antonio, Texas sent out a news release in 2008 stating:

U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton

'FORMER FEDERAL AGENT SENTENCED FOR FIREARMS STRAW PURCHASING SCHEME'

The headline in retrospect, seems to implicate Castillo as having involvement in the ATF&E's 'Fast and Furious' gun walking program, as it specifically involved straw purchasers, however this is a program that was ordered into effect on Eric Holder's watch and it truly

Congressman Darrell Issa

seems hard to believe that this former agent who accomplished so much, would lower himself to the level the charges imply.

Castillo's questionable conviction is gaining attention as Darrell E. Issa (R - CA) tries vigorously to gather facts surrounding the case. Obama, Holder and federal officials seem to be doing everything they can to deter his progress.

United States Attorney Johnny Sutton announced in San Antonio on 22 October 2008, that the 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." (press release)

DEA Agent Cele Castillo in Guatemala

Bill Conroy of the narcosphere has published many reports on the gunrunning operation and his 2008 article, U.S. government finally exacts revenge on Iran/Contra whistleblower Cele Castillo , published well before the exposure of 'Fast and Furious', spells out the fact that there are big questions surrounding the case against Castillo spearheaded by U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton.

"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 Gary Webb and a host of congressional inquiries in subsequent years."

A statement advocating for Castillo on the Powderburns Website states:

"Cele Castillo (a former War hero, and DEA/Iran Contra whistle-blower) is being held by the Federal Government for selling a gun (LEGAL IN TEXAS) to a BATF snitch! The information on this site should be used to obtain his immediate release! But, we need your help. Donate, Call Gov. Perry and Eric Holder and lay this information at their doorsteps, and demand Cele's freedom. It's not US that sends guns to Mexican drug lords...It's the BATF."
- U.S. Government Finally Exacts Revenge

Cele Castillo discusses the case

In the later part 2010, after I was denied my appeal, I submitted what is known as my U.S.C.2255. The U.S. Magistrate in San Antonio, Texas accepted it. He gave the government 60 days to respond and they did. I was given several days to respond to the government's response, which I did in the proper time that I was given. Early part of this year, the US Magistrate John Primomo made his memorandum and recommendation to the hearing judge denying me my allegations against the government; however; he requested that I respond to his recommendation. To make a long story short, the following is what is happening in my case so far.

On my U.S.C. 2255, I proved with overwhelming evidence the allegations on Prosecutorial Misconduct, Perjury and outrageous government conduct. With transcripts submitted as evidence it was proven without a reasonable doubt that the government committed heinous crimes against me, yet Primomo failed to address this in his response numerous allegations that I made against the government. With the approval of the individual that I sold the majority of weapons, I gave the government the information of whom I sold the guns to. The individual was not a prohibited person, which meant that he was not an illegal alien or a convicted felon. This is confirmed by my former attorney in this case, Roberto "Eddie" de la Garza, who should and may still be disbarred for holding evidence that could have cleared me. All this information is available in my court records for the public to see. Roomberg falls into his own trap by admitting that he lied to the court and the evidence is overwhelming.

You have probably seen in the news lately, there are allegations against the ATF & ICE on their sting operation, "Fast & Furious". I am here to tell you that this operation, initiated in South Texas, by the same ATF and ICE Agents involved in my case. The evidence will show that according to their snitch, Jay Lemire, in my case, stated that the weapons that he was selling to me were going to drug cartels in Mexico. In February of 2008, both ATF and ICE agents followed me to Pharr Texas after their snitch sold me several handguns and shotguns. Their surveillance witnessed me turning over these weapons to the same individual who bought my guns. The weapons "walked" in this case the individual was not stopped or searched. There are several reports that I have that will confirm my allegations. This information can also be found in my case files.

Once again, why am I not testifying before Congress on this miscarriage of Justice?

I was also denied to tell the truth before the Iran Contra committee.

Sincere Thanks to Jack Blood, Danny Romero and and the hundreds of real freedom fighters who have kept my story alive. Please help us to expose this hypocrisy.

Respectfully Yours,

Celerino Castillo, III; 11807280 Federal Prison Camp, La Tuna P.O. Box 8000 Anthony, New Mexico 88021

Growing World Interest

Anyone who thinks America remains isolated in its own fishbowl has another thing coming. People everywhere are paying attention to this embarrassing botched gunrunning operation that placed weapons in the hands of the deadliest people on earth, right on the doorstep of the United States. In the June 2011 article, Exposed: The Secret Guns Sting That Backfired On The U.S. BATF Guy Adams with the Independent UK says America's firearms watchdog allowed weapons to flow in, but failed to catch ringleaders, then tried a cover-up.

Adams writes, "The lethal fallout from a botched operation by the US Department of Justice which allowed almost 2,000 illegally purchased firearms to be transported from the streets of Arizona to drug gangs in Mexico has been laid bare in a scathing Congressional report, which concludes that it resulted in countless deaths."

The writer suggests it is a mixture of arrogance, over-confidence, and staggering ineptitude by the Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [ATF] that ultimately was outlined in a 51-page investigation by two Republican members of a House panel charged with getting to the bottom of what went wrong during a two-year operation called "Fast and Furious". The lethal fallout of the failed and now exposed weapons deal led to a scathing Congressional report, which concludes that it resulted in countless deaths.

The Congressional report explains how between 2009 and this year, the ATF instructed agents to look the other way with respect to the sale and transportation of hundreds of AK-47 assault rifles, sniper rifles, and revolvers that were purchased from gunshops in Phoenix and taken to Mexico. It was revealed that the ATF believed they would eventually recover the weapons from crime scenes, from which they could build a complex conspiracy case in hopes of taking down major drug cartel leaders.

As it turns out, Adams explains, "the operation resulted in the arrest of a handful of small-time crooks. But it exacerbated an already-huge spike in violence on both sides of the border. Two of the guns allowed to "walk" into the hands of criminals were used in a shoot-out that killed a US border patrol agent, Brian Terry."

The agent's death was deemed "a preventable tragedy", and it reveals how many agents in the ATF who knew about Fast and Furious, spoke out over what they viewed as the "reckless" nature of the operation. They said from the start that it conflicted with all known protocol, they didn't believe it was legal. Those who spoke out faced "punishment and retaliation" from their superiors. This will be Obama and Holder's legacy, they are dirty and more dirt keeps getting piled on to hide the part at the bottom, that is starting to rot uncontrollably.

The Congressional report as Adams relates, "also highlights the symbiotic nature of the deadly drug trade between the US and Mexico, which has resulted in approximately 38,000 deaths since 2007. Cartels make their money smuggling cocaine and cannabis north from Mexico, and simultaneously equip their private armies with assault weapons purchased thanks to America's notoriously relaxed gun laws."

The report states that, "Both line agents and gun dealers who co-operated with the ATF repeatedly expressed concerns". It went on to say, "But ATF supervisors did not heed those warnings. Instead, they told agents to follow orders because this was sanctioned from above."

John Dodson is the special agent from Phoenix who eventually blew the whistle on 'Fast and Furious'. He said that when he questioned the potential loss of life, an ATF boss told him: "if you are going to make an omelette, you need to scramble some eggs."

Adams concluded his report with stinging words:

"Rather than admit to any mistake, the ATF embarked on a cover-up. William Newell, the special agent in charge of the operation, ordered the arrest of 20 of the people agents had been watching buy weapons for months. Then, although not one senior cartel member was arrested, he held a press conference declaring the operation a success.

"Newell was then asked if any weapons had been deliberately allowed to end up in the hands of criminals. He replied, "Hell no!" The report describes that statement as untrue and 'shocking.' It alleges that the Department of Justice continued to attempt a cover-up for several months.

"The fallout from the report's publication remains to be seen. It was written by two Republican congressmen, Darryl Issa and Charles Grassley. Some right-wing commentators have suggested that Fast and Furious was sanctioned by the Obama administration in an effort to justify tightening US gun laws. But the White House has said it had no direct knowledge of the operation."

CIA Operational History


CONTRA COCAINE by Top-Notch112

Like our Photojournalist, Robert 'Tosh' Plumlee, Cele's one of the federal operatives who refused to be involved with an agency that smuggled drugs in return for weapons shipments, in a program that is ultimately remembered as the Iran-Contra scandal.

We've known for a long time from operations of this nature, that the U.S. government had a tendency to throw its best people under the train. All that is required is sufficient corruption and a burning need to bury real facts.

The Website FreeCeleCastillo.com explains how during his career, Castillo became known for busting organized drug rings on the east coast, raiding jungle cocaine labs in the Amazon, conducting aerial eradication operations in Guatemala, and assembling trained anti-narcotics units in several countries.

It also lays out the bizarre and unexpected scenario that confronted Castillo in El Salvador, he was told to investigate possible drug smuggling by Nicaraguan Contras operating from the Ilopango Air Force Base.. It didn't take long for Cele to realize that pilots with the right-wing U.S. supported Contra militants, were engaged in a narcotics smuggling operation that delivered the highly addictive street drugs into the United States.

He says they used the same pilots, aircraft and air facilities that the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council used, under the direction of Lt. Col. Oliver North, the disgraced former Marine officer who oversaw covert supply operation to the Contras.

End Israel's Unwarranted Murder of Kids

Salem-News.com's Robert Plumlee, was one of the pilots who flew the C-130's loaded with contraband back and forth to South and Central America. When Plumlee realized the extent of what was taking place, he too turned against the operation and blew the whistle, two years before a particular plane crash exposed the Reagan-era operation to the entire world.

In a sudden turnabout over the last year, the U.S. State Dept. told Border Patrol agents to arrest Plumlee if he crossed the border into Mexico without using a standard port of entry. This, after Plumlee had already been working closely for years with Task Force Seven AMSOG (American Mexico Specialized Operations Group) during drug fighting operations in Mexico.

Calling that suspicious barely scratches the surface, especially when considering that Plumlee tried to expose the federal gunrunning operation long before it went public,- as he exposed the existence of the U.S.-Mexico inter-military operation. The necessity for that came about because a separate entity in the U.S. government was compromising Task Force 7's operations. It is very sinister. Now people in the federal government are doing all they can to silence and discredit men who put their lives on the line for years in service to the U.S. government. It should come as no surprise that Plumlee and Castillo have known each other for a long time.

Robert 'Tosh' Plumlee today: US/Mexican border

Robert Plumlee says those who are really interested in injustice, should become familiar with this case.

"I worked with Celle in Central America and in the Iran-contra. There is no doubt in my mind and that of others that Celle was set up to cover the sins of two administrations and the CIA Mexico drug for guns affair... of which very few Americans really know the truth of those secret operations." Strong words for someone whose involvement in U.S. foreign affairs dates back to the late 1950's, Plumlee was part of a crew that had to abandon a CIA airplane in Cuba in '58. He ultimately spent time with Fidel Castro though the Revolutionary leader had no idea that Plumlee was associated with the C.I.A.

Hoping his words might spark a process of public involvement of anyone that is interested in aiding Celle in his personal fight to obtain Justice from what he views as a very corrupt system.., and his freedom, Tosh Plumlee said:

"I'll put my life on the line for my friends and colleagues.., that's all us Ops boys have left in the political corruption of these days."

More in Cele's Words

"They say that revenge is a dish best served cold. But I prefer, 'The pen is mightier than the Sword'. The latter is actually why I am writing this letter to the American people.

"As most of you might know, I am at the tail end of my 37-month sentence that was imposed by the Honorable Federal Judge, Royal Ferguson. I am known here, at La Tuna Prison Camp, as the only U.S. political prisoner.

Further more, no thanks to a corrupt corrections officer here at the camp, the majority of the population is aware that I was once employed by the Department of Justice.

"My time at La Tuna Prison has been an experience of a lifetime, another chapter to my interesting life. I am now actually on the other side of the fence. I have now rubbed elbows with members of notorious gang organizations from around the world, from the Russian mob to the M-13s from Central America. However, I have to admit that I have also met several organized crime families' elements, which includes doctors, lawyers, bankers, etc. They say that Federal Prison camps are for non-violent offenders, but what the Bureau of Prison have not realized, is that the violent prisoners in the camps are the ones that never convicted or caught for their murders and assassinations. This is where for some reason or another, I am still a magnet for intelligence. Most of them came to me for advice because of what I used to do for the government. You can read about in my new stories title, 'Corruption at the Highest Level for the Western District of Texas'. It will start with non-other then a corrupt Assistant United States Attorney, Mark Roomberg with his cronies' bosses and federal agents assigned to my case."

A Soiled Reputation

It's sure been a bumpy road for the Obama administration as more and more Americans associate the president and his attorney general Eric Holder, with the illegal gun running program that delivered deadly tools of the trade to Mexican drug cartels, which were in turn used to kill U.S. federal agents.

The federal government scored a dirty victory with the conviction of Castillo, that is true, but what they really did is imprison a veteran drug agent regarded by many as a national hero.

It is widely believed that Cele Castillo proved who he is during his career and that he is nothing more than a scapegoat, serving a three year plus prison sentence for gun sales that Castillo says had absolutely nothing to do with the now infamous 'Fast and Furious' gunrunning operation, but were in fact simple, legal gun sales on south Texas.

Castillo had never been arrested before in his life, however he did serve his nation honorably in the Vietnam War as a combat soldier, before joining the federal law enforcement community.

Cele served in 'Nam and the DEA

One might think that type of national service would be taken into consideration. For many, the situation is enough to make a person truly question which side the U.S. government is actually on.

It seems we are the opposite of what we see ourselves to be as Americans, that is if our government truly represents us at all.

The United States has a distinct history of befriending the leaders of other nations, and then after years, sometimes decades of approval and support, turning our back on them.

Suddenly people who cooperated with U.S. presidents and interests, like Ho Chi Minh, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Manuel Noriega; find themselves in the gun sights of American ambition. It appears the old habit affects those within the United States also, and in Cele's case they attacked a man with an otherwise impeccable record.

John Pilger gives the very best description of the United States' behavior over the last half century in Central and South America. It is humbling for an American to watch The War on Democracy for the first time and few programs available today are more important for students of accurate U.S. history.

Visit: The War On Democracy JohnPilger.com

Award winning journalist John Pilger examines the role of Washington in America's manipulation of Latin American politics during the last 50 years leading up to the struggle by ordinary people to free themselves from poverty and racism. Since the mid 19th Century Latin America has been the 'backyard' of the US, a collection of mostly vassal states whose compliant and often brutal regimes have reinforced the 'invisibility' of their majority peoples. The film reveals similar CIA policies to be continuing in Iraq, Iran and Lebanon. The rise of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez despite ongoing Washington backed efforts to unseat him in spite of his overwhelming mass popularity, is democratic in a way that we have forgotten or abandoned in the west. True Democracy being a solid 80% voter turnout in support of Chavez in over 6 elections.

Using archive footage sourced by Michael Moore's archivist Carl Deal, the film shows how serial US intervention, overt and covert, has toppled a series of legitimate governments in the region since the 1950s. The democratically elected Chilean government of Salvador Allende, for example, was ousted by a US backed coup in 1973 and replaced by the military dictatorship of General Pinochet. Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador have all been invaded by the United States.

John Pilger interviews several ex-CIA agents who took part in secret campaigns against democratic countries in the region. He investigates the School of the Americas in the US state of Georgia, where Pinochet's torture squads were trained along with tyrants and death squad leaders in Haiti, El Salvador, Brazil and Argentina.

The film unearths the real story behind the attempted overthrow of Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez in 2002 and how the people of the barrios of Caracas rose up to force his return to power.

It also looks at the wider rise of populist governments across South America lead by indigenous leaders intent on loosening the shackles of Washington and a fairer redistribution of the continent's natural wealth.

One interesting piece of information that is slowly emerging, places Texas Gov. Rick Perry in a suspicious proximity to some of Mexico's known cartel leaders.

This is not a proven allegation, but it is a hard fact that billions of dollars worth of top end U.S. military equipment is now in the hands of Mexico's drug cartels, someone with large ties and political connections has been funneling the weapons and accepting payments from cartels, perhaps Perry's name will keep coming up.

As if there isn't a plethora of deadly weapons inside Mexico, Mr. Plumlee says all of the U.S. weapons initially taken to Nicaragua that were supposedly 'lost' and 'written off' were never in fact lost. They are now securely in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. The most dangerous and largest cartel, Los Zetas, emerged as a rogue band of highly trained Mexican special forces officers. The weapons we are talking about Plumlee says, include anti-personnel weapons like RPG's, and anti-aircraft guns, and are in the hands of trained professionals who want to control all of Mexico, and you know what comes after that...

Men like Plumlee and Castillo are among the most valuable Americans who have ever lived.

_________________________________________________________

Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer

Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim is a former U.S. Marine.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Silver Spoke Award by the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (2011), Excellence in Journalism Award by the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs (2010), Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), First-place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Tim was a member of the National Press Photographer's Association for several years and is a current member of the Orange County Press Club.

Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 91 Salem-News.com writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can write to Tim at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




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Insider November 8, 2011 4:21 am (Pacific time)

You're spending your time well covering this story.

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