Sign Up for Free Mailing List

May 1, 2001

"Nobody Shoots Down Anything Unless the CIA Says So"

- Ex-DEA Agent in Peru Celerino Castillo

Narco News 2001

Former DEA Agent on Peru Cover-Up:

"It's Bullshit!"

By Michael C. Ruppert

Reprinted with permission by From The Wilderness

"It's bullshit! I was in Iquitos and I flew on those shootdown missions. Nobody, I mean nobody, shoots down anything unless the CIA says so." So says retired DEA Agent Celerino Castillo, a Bronze Star winner in Vietnam who served as a DEA Agent in Peru from 1982-4.

Castillo, author of the book Powderburns (available at was emphatic about the US government's control of all military operations in the region. "In those days we flew on helicopters and the Peruvian soldiers would lean out the window with FN rifles and blast holes from above drug smugglers' planes. I was on those flights. Yes, the Peruvians did the shooting but it was always the US who gave the OK."

Asked for a possible explanation for the shootdown Castillo observed, "I think it all has to do with Plan Colombia and the coming war. It's going to crank into high gear very soon. I think that the CIA was sending a clear message to all non-combatants to clear out of the area and to get favorable press. It sounds like a bigger shooting war is going to erupt any minute. Iquitos is at the heart of everything the CIA is doing right now. They don't want any witnesses."

Castillo, who risked his DEA career for exposing direct CIA involvement drug smuggling from the Ilopango airfield in El Salvador during the Contra war, now works as a substitute teacher in McAllen Texas. He can be contacted at

Even as the government line continues to lose credibility, a change in a story by Bill Reddeker of ABC Network news raises additional questions about the possible role of the giant military contracting corporation DynCorp in the shootdown. (Former CIA Director James Woolsey is a stockholder in the privately held corporation.) As repeatedly covered in FTW, DynCorp is the largest US government contractor in the region and has armed civilian personnel flying escort for Colombian military aircraft on coca eradication missions in Southern Colombia. These DynCorp operations are taking place in a region just miles from the location of the Bowers' shootdown. Last February FTW reported on a gun battle between a DynCorp helicopter and FARC guerillas after a Colombian military crew was shot down. But confusion remains as to whether DynCorp personnel had been contracted by the CIA to fly on the US surveillance plane which initiated the Bowers tragedy.

A posting on the ABC news web site ( from April 22, 2001 at 6:30 PM EDT contained the statement, "According to senior administration officials, the Citation 5 surveillance plane used in the operation is owned by the Pentagon. Its crew was hired by the CIA from DynCorp, a private company. And the program is coordinated by the U.S. embassy in Peru. Dyncorp is involved in many aspects of Plan Colombia, a controversial, $1.3 billion American program to cripple drug production in South America."

Yet by April 24 a series of four stories on the shootdown contained an amended statement which now reads, "According to senior administration officials, the Citation-5 surveillance plane, the US aircraft flying with the Peruvian interceptor, is owned by the Pentagon. The CIA hired its crew, and the program is coordinated by the U.S. embassy in Peru."

A search of the ABC News web site reveals that all references to DynCorp in this case have been removed. Contacted for comment, ABC Network News spokesman Jeff Schneider had not provided a response as of press time. DynCorp officials twice emphatically denied any involvement in the incident, either by company employees or any of their subcontractors. Contacted by FTW, the CIA refused to comment.

At press time an April 29 New York Post story and stories by The New York Times identify Alabama-based Aviation Development Corp. (ADC) as the supplier of the contract crew. ADC is privately held and may be a CIA proprietary company. Initial checks into Alabama Secretary of State filings for the corporation suggest that it may be a CIA proprietary operation rather than a contracting company.

A crucial question that remains unanswered is where the CIA contract employees who initiated the tragedy came from. If they came from DynCorp (or one of its subcontractors), which has a demonstrable financial interest in continuing hostilities, another motivating factor needs to be addressed by the Congress.

The Inconvenient Witness