Chile's drug-dealing General Pinochet indicted

In tradition-shattering international drug war news Hugh O'Shaughnessy of the United Kingdom's The Observer newspaper reported December 10, 2000 that the Chilean army and secret police have spent almost two decades secretly flooding Europe and the US with massive shipments of cocaine. The trafficking began during the 17-year dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet (1973-90) and continues to this day, a yearlong investigation for The Observer related.

According to this startling piece of investigative journalism, twelve tons of drugs, with a street value of several billion pounds, left Chile in 1986 and 1987 alone. Destined for Europe, drugs were flown to Spanish territory by aircraft carrying Chilean-made arms to Iraq and Iran. Distribution to Britain and other European countries has been controlled by secret police stationed in Chilean embassies in Stockholm and Madrid.

There can be no doubt that Pinochet, whose power was absolute between the1973 coup and his surrender in 1990, was a party to trafficking. The investigation includes reference to a declaration by Pinochet in October 1981: 'Not a leaf moves in Chile if I don't move it - let that be clear.'

Chilean secret police - originally known as the Dina and from 1977 as the SNI - was staffed by service personnel and helped Pinochet to torture and kill opponents. Dina's former director, General Manuel Contreras, declared to Chile's Supreme Court in 1998 that he undertook nothing without Pinochet's express permission. The huge profits from the drug deals enriched senior figures in Chile, and some of that money helped finance the Dina/SNI operations, investigators discovered.

Pinochet was returned to Chile from England for medical reasons last March, and his arrest and detention in London significantly advanced human rights' principles both internationally and within Chile. Tens of thousands of people rallied repeatedly around the world to hail Pinochet's brief detention in England. Then, astoundingly, Chilean Judge Juan Guzman indicted Pinochet on December 1, 2000, ordering that he be placed under house arrest. Charges subsequently were dropped against Pinochet by order of the Santiago Appeals Court on December 11th. Legal wrangling and appeals continued in Chile.

As we take this issue to press, a wire service report dated January 29, 2001 announces that the indictment against Pinochet "The Butcher" has been reinstated in the Chilean trial court. Defendant Pinochet now faces arrest, fingerprinting and other police procedures in the beginning stages of a legal process leading to a trial certain to excite world attention and possibly reveal long-hidden US military, financial and diplomatic support for the murderous, drug-trafficking Pinochet regime.