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Mr. Bartels attached to his letter a copy of a cable received on June 6, 1974, at DEA headquarters. This cable reads as follows:
Subject Conrad Bouchard XA-71-0015
1) Following info received from RCMP Hqs on 64–74, S/Sgt. Sauve and Cpl. C. Savoie interviewed subject concerning possible relation between himself, Vesco, La Blanc and Peroff
. Subject categorically denied ever knowing Vesco or LaBlanc stating that he told Peroff that he knew both parties simply to stall Peroff. The evening Peroff had called him Subject had just read in the newspaper an article on Vesco and LaBlanc concerning a transfer of multi-millions of funds from the IOS to Canadian banks. Therefore, Subject used this to impress and also “con” Peroff.
PORTER. Both Mr. Bartels' letter of June 13 and accompanying cables were made part of the hearing record.
Senator Jackson replied to Bartels in a June 25, 1974, letter, also made part of the hearing record. In that letter, Senator Jackson expressed the Subcommittee's interest in having its own investigators interview Bouchard.
In a July 31, 1974, letter to Senator Jackson, Bartels said DEA spokesmen had asked the RCMP if Subcommittee staff could interview Bouchard. Bartels said the Canadian Government was informed that DEA “regarded the arrangement of such an interview as desirable.”
However, Bartels said, the RCMP official objected to the interview until Bouchard had exhausted his pending appeal in his narcotics conviction. Bartels said the appeals would "remain pending for several months."
Bartels added that should the "attitude" of the RCMP change DEA authorities in Canada would "advise me promptly."
The July 31, 1974, Bartels' letter was made part of the hearing record.
Subcommittee investigators never got the opportunity to interview Conrad Bouchard.
XIII. FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS
This staff study presents a chronology of Frank Peroff's role as a Government informant with particular emphasis on the period when he worked on the Bouchard heroin case.
The Bouchard case began in early January of 1973 and ended about August 1, 1973. The targets of the investigation were Canadian racketeers Conrad Bouchard and Giuseppe (Pepe) Cotroni. The investigation concerned the possible smuggling into the United States of 100 to 200 kilograms of heroin.
At direction of the U.S. Customs Service and later the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Peroff became involved with Bouchard as the heroin smuggling plan was formulated. Peroff's role in the drug scheme was to provide a Lear jet to transport the heroin from Europe to North America.
Bouchard also instructed Peroff to fly in the Lear jet to Costa Rica to pick up $300,000 from Robert Vesco, the fugitive financier, or from l'esco's Canadian associate, Norman LeBlanc. The $300,000 was to be used to finance the heroin deal, according to Bouchard.
It was also believed by Federal drug authorities that Bouchard might try to use Peroff's Lear jet to flee Canada should he conclude his narcotics trial would result in a conviction and a long prison term.
Peroff first learned of the heroin scheme from Bouchard in face-toface meetings in Montreal. Peroff also met with Cotroni on at least one occasion. To win the confidence of Bouchard and Cotroni, Peroff provided a Lear jet to fly from Montreal to Windsor, Ontario to carry out a heroin transaction. The Lear jet was rented by the U.S. Customs Service. The meetings with Bouchard and Cotroni and the heroin transaction with the Lear jet were well known to Customs and later
Then, at the direction of the Customs Service, Peroff moved to Puerto Rico. He continued to discuss the 100- to 200-kilogram heroin plan with Bouchard in long distance telephone calls. Peroff recorded several of these conversations.
During his Puerto Rico stay, Peroff recorded two telephone conversations with Bouchard in which Bouchard said Vesco and LeBlanc would finance the heroin venture by putting up $300,000. Bouchard told Peroff he would have to fly the Lear jet to Costa Rica to get the money. Peroff received these instructions in July of 1973. He reported them to DEA agents. Due to a reorganization in the executive branch, the Customs Service was no longer involved in drug investigations and the new DEA had taken over.
It was shortly after Peroff taped the two conversations with Bouchard concerning Vesco and LeBlanc that serious problems developed between Peroff and DEA. These problems led to a temporary severance of Peroff's informant relationship with DEA. Accordingly,
no further information was developed concerning Bouchard's assertion that Vesco and LeBlanc intended to finance the smuggling effort.
Peroff believed the U.S. Government deliberately sabotaged the heroin scheme. He felt the Government sabotaged the case to protect Robert Vesco.
Peroff made his allegations to the Department of Justice and to White House personnel. Subsequently, on October 4, 1973, Peroff came to the staff of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations with his story.
Meanwhile, Federal authorities and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) reenlisted Peroff in informant work. The RCMP, however, in early November, precluded any future use of Peroff as an informant by revealing in public his true role in the Bouchard heroin inquiry. The public disclosure of Peroff's informant role also put Peroff and his family in danger of retaliation by criminals. This danger was evidenced by the fact that DEA agents began guarding the Peroff family at approximately the same time that the RCMP revealed Peroff's informant status.
Peroff admits to being a swindler and a confidence man. Subcommittee investigators listened to his charges but, knowing of Peroff's criminal background, were suspicious of him and what he had to say. However, important aspects of Peroff's story began to check out.
Subcommittee inquiry revealed, for example, that Peroff had been an informant for the Secret Service, the Customs Service, the defunct Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD) and the DEA. Peroff was shown to have been a reliable and effective informant. His undercover work had resulted in seizure of a large quantity of heroin, the capture of about $500,000 in counterfeit American currency and the suppression of a counterfeit money plant.
Peroff turned over to subcommittee staff taped telephone conversations between himself and Bouchard in which Bouchard said Vesco or LeBlanc agreed to finance the heroin scheme. Subcommittee inquiry established that the DEA believed the voice on the tapes to be that of Bouchard.
The subcommittee staff felt that too much of Peroff's story was true for the subcommittee to ignore his unproven charge of Government cover up. Senator Henry M. Jackson, the subcommittee chairman, approved the staff's recommendation for a preliminary investigation.
The staff's investigation centered on (1) Peroff's history as an informant; (2) how Federal drug agents and officials managed Peroff as an informant; (3) how reliable Peroff was believed to be by drug agents and officials who worked with him; (4) how professionally agents pursued and evaluated information given them by Peroff; (5) how drug personnel performed once the names of Vesco and LeBlanc surfaced in the heroin inquiry; and (6) how Government witnesses explained and recalled their own actions in the Peroff matter when they testified under oath before the subcommittee.
The staff cannot support Peroff's primary allegation of Government cover up. Nor is there corroborative information supporting the allegation, made in the Bouchard-Peroff tapes, that Vesco and LeBlanc actually intended to finance the heroin transaction. But the staff does conclude that Peroff was right when he said federal law enforcement drug agents and officials conducted themselves in a man
ner that, in the end, contributed significantly to the failure of the Bouchard heroin inquiry. And, the staff concludes, Peroff was right when he said Federal agents did not properly investigate the VescoLeBlanc lead.
The Subcommittee staff finds that the allegation that Vesco or LeBlanc were prepared to finance the heroin deal should have been pursued in the most professional manner and the investigation should have been carefully documented as it proceeded. The staff finds instead that some Federal officials and agents conducted themselves in a highly unprofessional manner once the names of Vesco and LeBlanc came into the picture.
The most salient example of unprofessional conduct by drug enforcement personnel was that neither agents working the Bouchard inquiry nor officials supervising the case thought the Vesco-LeBlanc lead to be worthy of being committed to writing. The lack of records regarding this aspect of the case is a blatant violation of DEA rules.
DEA's insistence that Peroff fly to Costa Rica in a commercial airplane rather than in a Lear jet is another instance of highly questionable judgment by drug authorities. Peroff without his Lear jet was of no value to Conrad Bouchard.
Ending Peroff's informant relationship with DEA may have been justified. The staff makes no judgment in that regard. But to desert Peroff and his family in the terminal of a major airport and give him no cover story to convey to Bouchard is not a professional way to sever a relationship with an informant. The Government-Customis first, then DEA-got Peroff into the narcotics investigation. Government had some responsibility for extricating him from it.
Having Peroff arrested and jailed shortly after he told the White House of his problems with DEA is another illustration of unprofessional behavior on the part of DEA. Even more questionable is the contradictory and inconsistent way DEA spokesmen testified about why and how it was that Peroff was actually arrested. From the testimony, it is impossible to determine just who made the decision to have Peroff arrested and why.
After Peroff's release from jail, DEA sent him back to Montreal. Again, this was a dubious course of action, Bouchard did not want Peroff in Montreal. Peroff didn't think he should be back in Montreal. The RCMP did not want him around. But DEA made the decision to send Peroff back to Montreal. The result was that Bouchard lost confidence in Peroff and any hope of making the heroin case was lost,
The decision by the RCMP to reveal in public Peroff's informant status was an action certain to provoke controversy. Subcommittee inquiry did not extend to the actions of a sovereign nation. However, the staff finds that, as justified as it may have been in the eves of Canadian authorities, identifying Peroff as an informant did put the lives of Peroff and his family in danger. DEA officials must have thought so, too, because they wasted no time in giving the Peroffs protection.
In addition, Canadian sovereignty precluded the subcommittee from pursuing another aspect of the Peroff controversy. This related to the interview the RCMP conducted with Conrad Bouchard on June 4, 1974. Serving two life terms for his conviction on heroin trafficking, Bouchard reportedly told the Mounties that he had lied to
Peroff about the drug scheme and the involvement of Vesco and Le Blanc in it.
The Mounties informed DEA of Bouchard's admission. And DEA Administrator John R. Bartels, Jr., notified the subcommittee, saying Bouchard's comments supported DEA's long-standing position that Peroff was being used by Canadian criminals and that there never was a big heroin conspiracy. According to this line of thought, Bouchard lied to Peroff to keep him nearby in case he wanted to flee Canada in Peroff's Lear jet.
The subcommittee staff does not agree with Bartels. The staff finds it odd that, under the circumstances. Bartels is so willing to accept as truthful the comments of a man who is serving two life terms. Bouchard might well say anything to Canadian authorities in order that they might shorten his sentence.
Moreover, it is unlikely that Bouchard, already in jail for one heroin deal, would volunteer the fact that he was planning a second drug transaction while his trial was going on. A more likely response by Bouchard would be to tell the RCMP that there was no second heroin plan, which is what Bouchard did.
If DEA personnel had documented the Bouchard case properly, they would not have found themselves in the position of seeking corroboration for their assertions from the likes of Conrad Bouchard. The irony of the DEA predicament is seen in the Bartels position. First. Bartels says Bouchard lied to Peroff because Bouchard said he lied. Next, Bartels says Bouchard told the truth when he said he lied to Peroff. The staff wonders how Bartels is so sure of when Bouchard is telling the truth and when he is not.
The staff finds that the next illustration of unprofessional conduct by drug agents can be found in the joint DEA-Customs inquiry into the Peroff matter. As this staff study amply indicates, the joint inquiry is inconsistent and incomplete. Vital questions are not asked; key issues are not addressed.
A typical example of the failure of the joint inquiry can be seen in the inquiry's conclusion that federal personnel were not deficient in their work with Peroff on the Bouchard heroin case and that if anyone was guilty of not doing what he was expected to do it was Peroff himself for refusing to fly to Costa Rica. To arrive at such a conclusion about so complex an issue as the Costa Rica trip exhibits a lack of understanding of the facts or a determination to exonerate all federal agents of wrongdoing no matter what.
It is the subcommittee staff's major finding, therefore, that because of the unprofessional conduct of DEA personnel, drug enforcement authorities were precluded from going forward with the pursuit of the Vesco-LeBlanc lead. In addition, due to their unprofessional work, federal drug agents and officials were prevented from arriving at a satisfactory resolution of the Bouchard heroin inquiry itself.
Finally, this staff study demonstrates in detail an aspect of Government operations little known to the Congress or the American people. The Government operation is Federal law enforcement and that little known aspect of it under examination here is the manner in which Federal agents use undercover informants to develop criminal cases and, in turn, the way informants use the Government.