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Associated Press, February 25, 1983

Barbie Associates Arrested as Members of Death Squad
by Peter McFarren

The Associated Press; February 25, 1983, Friday, AM cycle; International News; By Peter McFarren; Dateline: La Paz, Bolivia

This is  posted as documentation for our series on US intelligence and the Nazis.  The first article in this series is at
The second is at



I found the AP dispatch below by chance during a fishing expedition using the Lexis-Nexis media search engine.  I was looking for information about US intelligence and Klaus Barbie. Isn't it amazing that no newspaper (at least none listed in the extensive archives at Lexis-Nexis) mentioned what's in this dispatch, though it was timely and important, since it supports the charge that the infamous Ratlines were not merely a method of helping Nazis escape from Europe, but, at least in some cases, a method of transporting them to new assignments...

The dispatch states that the US officially boycotted the Bolivian dictatorship which Barbie's Nazi 'expertise' helped install in 1980.  This does not contradict the hypothesis that Barbie and his friends were working for the CIA.  It wouldn't be the first time (or the hundredth time...) that the US government officially denounced something that was in fact carried out by US covert operations.

-- Jared Israel
Editor, Emperor's Clothes


AP * February 25, 1983, La Paz, Bolivia
By Peter McFarren

The arrest of a 15-member death squad that included a lawyer and bodyguard for Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie indicates the Bolivian government's growing commitment to crack down on rightists who trafficked in cocaine and terror under past military regimes.

The 15 are accused of taking part in the 1980 torture-murders of Socialist leader Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz, Roman Catholic priest Luis Adolfo Espinal and eight leaders of the Leftist Revolutionary Movement.

Interior Minister Mario Roncal Antezana told reporters Thursday the 15 were being turned over to the courts for trial. "It is a test for a democracy that now has an independent judicial system," he said.

He refused to say when they were arrested or under what circumstances.

But Mario Ronca named one of their collaborators as Pier Luigi Pagliai, an Italian terrorist and drug trafficker who was kidnapped Oct. 10 _ the same day the civilian government took over _ and flown to Italy where he died from wounds received during his capture.

The Italian government accused him of participation in the 1980 Bologna train station bombing that killed 85 people.

The paramilitary groups worked for Gen. Luis Garcia Meza, who became president of Bolivia in July 1980 following a bloody coup, and for Col. Luis Arce Gomez, the interior minister under Garcia Meza.

The civilian government headed by President Hernan Siles Zuazo that took over last year has started to take action against the groups. It also expelled Barbie to France on Feb. 5 after he had lived in Bolivia for more than 20 years.

The Bolivian government had previously accused Barbie, known as "the Butcher of Lyon," of organizing the paramilitary groups. One of the 15 arrested was lawyer Adolfo Ustares, who in 1980 became controller general of Bolivia.

Ustares was a close friend of Barbie and defended him in a 1974 extradition trial in which the French government accused Barbie of war crimes committed as head of the Gestapo in occupied Lyon. Barbie will face trial in France for World War II crimes against humanity.

The La Paz daily Hoy identified another of the 15 arrested as Daniel Torrico, also known as "Mister Atlas," a long-time bodyguard for Barbie.

One of the men they were accused of killing, the Rev. Espinal, was a film critic and editor of the left-wing newspaper Aqui. He was tortured and killed in March 1980. He presumably was killed because of his outspoken criticism of military involvement in the cocaine trade and warning that a military coup was imminent.

Another of the victims, Santa Cruz, led Socialist Party 1 and was one of Bolivia's most promising young politicians. He was murdered by heavily armed paramilitary men during the July 17, 1980 coup.

Following the coup, thousands of political and labor leaders were either killed, tortured, exiled or sent to internment camps in the interior.

The U.S. government withdrew its ambassador and severed all economic assistance to the Garcia Meza government. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency accused the regime of direct involvement in the lucrative cocaine trade.

In January 1980, a squad of soldiers and paramilitary men under the command of Arce Gomez, tortured and killed eight leaders of the Leftist Revolutionary Movement, a left-of-center party that now holds the vice presidency in the civilian government that took over last October.

The paramilitary groups, which included several foreign mercenaries, financed their activities by offering protection to drug traffickers or by direct involvement in the production of cocaine base, according to law enforcement officials.

Said to number anywhere from 900 to 3,000, they terrorized the country for nearly two years, raided homes and factories and traveled with official government credentials provided by the Interior Ministry or the drug control agency, according to government documents.

Police sources told The Associated Press that the paramilitary groups maintained close ties and received technical and logistical assistance from ex-Nazis and neo-Nazis, and from the right-wing Argentine terrorist group called AAA. The Argentines have given Garcia Meza and Arce Gomez asylum.

(c) Associated Press 1983 * Posted here for educational purposes only


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