|Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen|
By Wayne Madsen / WayneMadsenReport.com
A one-time Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) source revealed to WMR that a Bush family-connected firm, the St. Joe Company, was heavily involved in an irrigation project that provided water to opium-producing fields in southern Afghanistan in the 1970s.
The project, the Helmand-Arghandab Valley Authority (HAVA) irrigation system and the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-constructed Kajaki Dam, saw Afghanistan’s opium production reach all-time yields in the 1970s, before the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.
St. Joe Company, based in Jacksonville, is one of the largest private property owners in Florida, having increased its ownership of land when former Florida Governor Jeb Bush arranged for the “sweetheart” sale of public state-owned land to the firm during his governorship.
St. Joe has long been connected to US government operations around the world. It was founded in 1936 by the Alfred I. du Pont Testamentary Trust. St. Joe also owned the Talisman Sugar Company, which was heavily involved in Florida sugar cane production and partly responsible for the imposition of disastrous restrictions on the import of sugar from countries in the Caribbean, a policy that ensured economic instability in the nations of the West Indies.
St. Joe was also a part owner of Jeb Bush’s firm, the Codina Group, run by Bush’s close friend Armando Codina, a Cuban exile who fled the island as a teen.
On August 2, 2006, WMR reported: “President George W. and Florida Governor Jeb Bush, two brothers who owe their offices to the power of the right-wing Cuban-American community in south Florida, engaged in a macabre and sinister death watch for Cuban President Fidel Castro while being hosted by wealthy Cuban-American supporters. As Castro was rushed to the hospital suffering from internal bleeding, the Bush brothers began planning action against the Cuban government and the two Castro brothers — Fidel and Raul.
… The Bush brothers huddled at a Republican National Committee fundraiser with Jeb Bush’s business mentor and partner, wealthy Cuban-American real estate developer Armando Codina, head of the Codina Group and close friend of George H. W. Bush. Codina sponsored the fundraiser at his Coral Gables home. Until 1994, the firm was known as the Codina-Bush Group. Codina and Jeb Bush made a fortune in developing southern Florida real estate properties. Codina invested $1000 in 1984 in a Miami office tower project and cashed out his shares in 1990 for a hefty $346,000. Before he left Codina in 1993, Jeb earned huge commissions for the sale of real estate to Japanese investors. Jeb also sold water pumps [for irrigation projects as in Afghanistan] to Nigeria in a questionable deal involving Nigeria’s military junta, M&W Pump, and another Bush company, Bush-El. These deals occurred at the same time that Jeb Bush was enmeshed in the savings and loan scandal involving Florida-based financial institutions. As reported by WMR last November, the politically-powerful St. Joe Company has a significant investment in the Codina Group. After Jeb Bush became governor, he took care of his real estate business friends, selling them state-owned land at cut rate prices.
Joining the Bush brothers in Coral Gables were the Florida Cuban-American GOP congressional team of Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who best represents the fact that America’s foreign policies on the Middle East and Latin America have been outsourced to two vocal and politically powerful special interests — the Israeli and Cuban exile lobbies. Ros Lehtinen’s mother was a Jewish-Cuban refugee from Cuba. Joining the Bush brothers in the Florida death watch huddle was another GOP brother team, Representatives Lincoln and Mario-Diaz Balart. The brothers Bush and Balart and Ros-Lehtinen and Codina have their eyes set on lucrative real estate development schemes for post-Castro Cuba. The fact that oil has been discovered in Cuban waters has also earned the interest of the Bush-Cheney petroleum cartel.”
On September 4, 2009, WMR reported on a more-than-coincidental link between St. Joe and the collapsed financial empire of now-jailed Sir Allen Stanford. WMR reported on Stanford’s attorney: “[Carlos] Loumiet is listed as the registered agent for the Stanford home [in Coral Gables] in a contrivance called Casuarina 20 LLC. Located nearby at 50 Casuarina is the home of Cuban-American businessman Armando Codina, Jeb Bush’s longtime friend and business partner who has sat on the boards of American Airlines and Merrill Lynch. In the weeks prior to Jeb Bush taking over as Governor of Florida, Stanford Trust, in December 1998, inked the sweetheart deal with Arthur M. Simon, the director of the Florida Division of Baking within the Department of Banking and Finance to allow the Antigua-based entity to begin issuing CDs in Florida. The deal was signed by Stanford Trust on December 10 and by Simon on December 14. In the interim, Florida’s outgoing Democratic Governor Lawton Chiles died of a heart attack on December 12 in the Governor’s Mansion.”
Stanford was under investigation for laundering drug money for the CIA through his banks in Antigua, Panama, Colombia, and other countries.
With opium production again at an all-time high in US-occupied Afghanistan, it would appear that the Bush family is, once again, reaping the benefits of the opium trade it once enjoyed in Afghanistan in the 1970s under King Mohammad Zahir Shah and Prince Mohammad Daoud until the pro-Soviet coup in April 1978.
In November 1974, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger visited Kabul and agreed to increase funding for USAID projects in Afghanistan, including the irrigation programs benefiting Afghanistan’s opium output.
After a few years, Daoud, who succeeded the King and proclaimed a republic, grew tired of his Soviet military advisers and Communist Cabinet ministers and began to dismiss them. A CIA report states that on April 13, 1977, “Soviet party leader Leonid Brezhnev launched into a tirade about the large number of ‘experts’ from ‘NATO countries’ involved in various projects in Afghanistan. He asserted that they were ‘spies’ and demanded they be sent out of the country.” Brezhnev and his KGB were undoubtedly aware that the CIA, who was under the directorship of George H. W. “Poppy” Bush in 1976, and his connected firms like St. Joe were cashing in on the increase in Afghanistan opium yields.
Mocow Radio’s home service reported on November 24, 1985, “As far back as 1979, a secret deal was concluded between the CIA and the ringleaders of the Dushman groups of smugglers. The deal made provision, in particular, for the supply from the USA, in the guise of medical instruments, of equipment for converting raw opium into heroin and morphine. At present in the Peshawar region, about 20 such clandestine laboratories are operating. Moreover, the CIA stipulated only one condition: part of the cash gained from the sale of drugs must be donated to purchase weapons for the Dushman bands.” The Soviets referred to the Afghan Mujaheddin groups in Pakistan aided by the CIA as the “Dushman” groups — Dushman being an Afghan word for “enemies of the revolution.”
On March 19, 1989, The Sunday Times of London reported, “Four years ago the United States Drug Enforcement Agency recognized that 50% of the heroin getting to America came from the country receiving the most aid from the CIA [Afghanistan]. Even so, nothing was done.”
After coming to power in the 1990s, the Taliban drastically curtailed opium production, totally banning its production in July 2000. Under President Hamid Karzai, Karzai’s family, most notably his younger half brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, who is paid by the CIA, is financially benefiting from the current windfall profits from opium exports. Opium production is at an all-time high, with an estimated street value now pegged at $3 billion per year.
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist. He is a frequent political and national security commentator on Television News and is a regular contributor to Russia Today. Madsen is the author of Jaded Tasks: Big Oil, Black Ops & Brass Plates and Overthrow a Fascist Regime on $15 a Day.