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October 17, 2001

Narco News 2001

Montesinos Ran 120

Spies for US v. FARC

Audiotape: "U.S. Is Happy To

Maintain This Relationship"

By Agence France Press

Narco News Commentary: Another tape recording among the 30,000 secretly made by former Peruvian strongman Vladimiro Montesinos was made public today by the Peruvian Congress. There was already much evidence that Montesinos was a CIA "intelligence asset" during the decade he and Alberto Fujimori ruled Peru. But this is the first recording that states why the U.S. protected the war criminal Montesinos in his human-rights abuses, torture chambers, and other atrocities - from protecting Bin Laden's gang in Peru (see Monday's Narco News story on that chapter) to being protected in his own narco-trafficking: Montesinos, now revealed by his own words on audiotape, ran a large spy organization across national borders in Colombia - specifically to spy on the Colombian rebels.

Translated by The Narco News Bulletin

Lima, Peru; October 17, 2001; 14:35 hours:

The ex-chief of the secret service, Vladimiro Montesinos, confirmed that he had a network of 120 undercover agents in Colombia and in the zone where guerrilla leader Manuel Marulanda - "Tirofijo," or "Sure Shot" - operated that Montesinos used to pass information to the United States, according to an audiotape released by the Peruvian Congress.

"The best intelligence network that we have in Latin America is in Colombia. In Tirofijo's zone of exclusion, I have five undercover agents," Montesinos was heard saying in a conversation that he had years ago, on an unspecified date, with Francisco Tudela, who was the deposed president Alberto Fujimori's foreign minister.

According to the audiotape, whose transcription was delivered to the press this Wednesday, the ex-advisor to Fujimori said that "the best information that Washington has about Tirofijo is that which I sent them from here, on the altar of bilateral cooperation."

"I have, on average, almost 120 men there in Colombia, throughout the entire territory," the ex-de facto chief of the disappeared National Intelligence Service (SIN, in its Spanish acronym) stressed.

"And (the U.S. officials) are very happy to maintain this relationship of cooperation," Montesinos said in the recording, pointing out that in the first days of June - he didn't state which year - he would travel to Washington to spend seven days in a Security Council meeting. "It might be to have a conversation about the issue of Colombia, because they are very interested in knowing how it is that I am managing the entire clandestine network," he added.

Montesinos stressed that the satellite intelligence of the United States can not enter the zone where the guerrilla of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) operates - led by Tirofijo - and that the United States cannot send any Colombian there because they feared the corruption and the matter of drug-trafficking.

"Thus, I have prepared five men, and I have succeeded in penetrating the exclusion zone. I have had them living there for two years, and I have an intelligence office that works for me in Bogota with mobile posts in the critical areas where the FARC and the ELN (Popular Liberation Army) operate."

On the tape, Montesinos says to the former foreign minister Tudela that he knows that the FARC has placed troops toward the Caribbean zone of Panama and for that reason has he has sent a team of agents to the Darien region to collect "intelligence" data.

Months later a video was released in Lima in which Montesinos spoke about the FARC, but this is the first time that he referred to having a network of spies in Colombia. Many members of the media have repeatedly said that, in his conversations, Montesinos tried to impress those he was talking to and that he was accustomed to bragging about his knowledge of intelligence matters.

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