GENE "CHIP" TATUM -- CA. JULY 1996
Abbreviated transcript of Gene Tatum's appearance on the Rob Lori
radio show out of Tampa, Florida.
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Good afternoon. This is "Radio Activity." I'm Robert Lori.
In the Hillsboro(sp?) County jail right now is a man who says
he's been involved in covert operations since the mid-1970s; that
he has knowledge of drug smuggling by employees of the U.S.
government; and that he was once assigned the task of
assassinating political figures, *including*, he says, orders to
assassinate Ross Perot in 1992.
We're joined now by Gene Tatum, who's speaking to us from the
Morgan Street jail in Hillsboro County. Gene Tatum, welcome to
Good afternoon. Was I accurate in that introduction?
Yeah, I would say so. I would like to qualify the Ross Perot
portion of it.
The unit that I was working with is code named "Pegasus." By the
time a mission comes to us, we're ordered to "neutralize." Now
we can neutralize in any of three methods: through intimidation,
blackmail, or "termination."
Was it clear what method they were advocating?
They pretty well leave it up to us.
Let's start with the first thing: you're in Hillsboro County
jail. You're awaiting sentencing on federal charges. What were
In 1991, I was approached by a person, who I'd had previous
dealings with, to manage a golf course for the federal
government. I guess it had gone into receivership and the bank
had gone under, and the FDIC had taken that property over, in
I managed the property. I guess I stayed at the property for
about nine months. But through the management portion... I
think early in the program (if anyone heard "Democracy Now"), I
had to chuckle a little bit because the CEO of Bell Industries
talked about government contracts and the difficulty in dealing
with the government. One of the prime difficulties is getting
the government to pay their bills on time. I was there four
months and they hadn't paid a bill yet. So I began taking the
monies out of the cash register -- paying the bills on behalf of
the government, that the government had accrued to small
contractors. I mean, these people are hand-to-mouth contractors,
small equipment rental places and so forth, that can't afford to
go unpaid for four months.
So what I did is, I began paying them. That was contrary to the
contract, so by doing that I "defrauded the government of the use
of those funds" -- is the way the statement was written.
I see. So instead of sending the money back to Uncle Sam, you
were paying the local suppliers, local businesses, that your golf
course relied on.
And what about pocketing any money: were you convicted of taking
any money for your personal use?
No. We [Tatum and his wife] weren't convicted of embezzling at
all. We were convicted of what's called "conspiring to
How much money are we talking about?
Of "conspiring to embezzle?" Actually I ended up paying $20,000
of my own money.
I mean, how much money did you divert from the cash register to
local businesses? What was the amount that you were convicted on?
I think around $40,000.
When does your sentencing come up?
August 28th .
And how much time *could* you spend in prison if your sentence is
My maximum sentence is 30 years.
Do you feel like this [charge] was in retaliation for anything
that you've done in the past?
Absolutely. In 1994 I received a phone call from Oliver North,
Felix Rodriguez, and William Colby, telling me to turn over
certain documents that I had recorded years ago -- "or else," is
the way it was put. I refused to do that, knowing that turning
those documents over would probably result in the "termination"
"Termination" in the most extreme way?
In the absolute way.
What were these documents that they wanted?
We have (I say "we," because it's documents held by the flight
crews who were involved in this) documents showing the movement
of cocaine, the manufacturing of cocaine, by Oliver North and a
company called "The Enterprise" that he headed up. We moved,
probably, about 2 tons of cocaine out of Nicaragua and Honduras,
to Panama, on board military aircraft -- being told the whole
time that these were "fruits of war" that were confiscated from
(It's interesting that just recently Costa Rica has issued a
"persona non grata" against Oliver North for the trafficking of
cocaine. If he shows up in that country, he'll be arrested.)
How do you know cocaine was on board? Did you actually *see* the
I was tasked on February 26th, 1985, to fly... I was a Special
Operations pilot out of the 160th Aviation Group, Fort Campbell,
Kentucky. I was sent to Fort Stuart, Georgia, to infiltrate the
MEDEVAC unit and work directly for my handlers, the CIA handlers,
which were Amiram Nir and Felix Rodriguez and Oliver North.
On February 26th I picked up two passengers, "Buzz" Sawyer and
Bill Cooper, and I flew them to a Contra camp, under the MEDEVAC
disguise. We had to use MEDEVAC because the Boland Amendment
came out in the mid-'80s that didn't allow the United States to
participate in any way, other than humanitarian, to support the
Under the MEDEVAC flag, we would fly many, many -- hundreds of
hours of -- missions: intelligence gathering, delivering arms,
and so forth. On this particular day I flew "Buzz" Sawyer and
Bill Cooper. And these are the two gentlemen who crashed in 1986
-- in October of 1986 -- that started the Iran-Contra scandal.
I flew them. They were arranging for air drops of arms into
Nicaragua. When we *left* the camp, we picked up two coolers,
two large, white coolers. (These coolers are the same kind of
coolers that, by the way, I delivered to several sites in
Arkansas in 1983. I delivered, on about 8 missions, coolers, to
Little Rock and Mena, Arkansas. Large, white coolers, the same
as these, weighing about 200 pounds.)
When we landed, after we picked up these particular coolers from
a Contra camp and landed in La Mesa, Honduras, to drop off our
passengers and to give these coolers to a C-130 bound for Panama,
we picked the coolers up out of the aircraft and we dropped one
and the seal came loose. The coolers were marked "vaccine."
However inside there were over 100 keys of cocaine.
What happened to the coolers once you dropped them on the ground?
Where did they go?
They got re-sealed real quick after we saw what they were. We
gave them to the C-130 pilot. I asked him what his destination
was and who he intended on passing these off to. He told me that
his manifest showed that the coolers went to a "Dr. Harari" in
Now "Dr. Harari" is Mike Harari. He's a Mossad agent who was
assigned to General Manuel Noriega as one of his counselors.
But the drugs were headed northward, weren't they? From
Nicaragua to the U.S.?
No, they were headed initially to Panama. From Panama they were
distributed throughout the United States and to other
So you had documentation. Does that documentation still exist
It does. We also have video tapes of Mr. North and others
standing in the middle of a "cocaine kitchen" while the cocaine
is being packaged.
And why was Mr. North there?
During the Iran-Contra era there were many camps known as "the
North camps." People think that that means they were in the
northern part of Nicaragua and Honduras. That's not true. Those
were the camps built by Oliver North. They were built primarily
to manufacture drugs.
[...to be continued...]
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