By Gene "Chip" Tatum
They traveled fast  and  furious  on  horseback  through the high
plains wilderness, trying to lose those who were  tracking  them.
From  the  top  of  the bluff, hiding behind a group of boulders,
they stared in amazement as the dust from  the  hooves  of  their
pursuers'  horses  told  the  story.   They were hot on Butch and
Sundance's trail.
"Who  are  those  guys?!"  one  of  them  exclaimed,  more   than
But  it  really  didn't  matter  who  these  pursuers  were.  The
undeniable fact was simple:  they  were.   You may call them what
you want.  You may name them what you will.   It  doesn't  really
matter because it's only a name.
As  a spy, a covert operative, a talent, an asset or a deep cover
operative, your name is your cover.  This alias is the thin layer
of Kevlar that protects you from  the enemy.  In my career I have
used over twenty aliases in order to conceal  my  true  identity.
This applies, not only in the world of espionage, but also in the
dark world of crime.
One  of  the  most  renowned  drug pilots of the 1980's was a man
named Barry Seal.  Even Barry  used  an  alias when he dealt with
his friends in South America.  But, unfortunately for Seal, a/k/a
Ellis McKenzie, the thin Kevlar cover of an alias was not  enough
to  prevent  his  assassination in 1986.  Barry Seal, a/k/a Ellis
McKenzie, was shot to death  outside  of a federal half-way house
in Baton Rouge.  It was not until 1988 that I would hear his name
The tasking came in to go to La Ceiba, Honduras,  and  debrief  a
drug  informant.   As  I  looked at the tasking, my heart jumped.
The name of the informant  I  was  to debrief was Ellis McKenzie.
Could it be that Barry Seal was still alive?
Looking at the remainder of the mission dossier, I realized  that
this  man,  Ellis  McKenzie,  was  not Barry Seal.  McKenzie was,
however, a member of  the  Seal smuggling organization.  Seal had
commissioned McKenzie to assemble a small fleet of boats, capable
of smuggling drugs to various destinations.  It was this man that
provided  Barry  Seal  with  an  alias.   The  dossier  explained
McKenzie's  relationship   with   U.S.   Customs,   among   other
governmental  agencies.   To  avoid  prosecution  after  Seal was
compromised by the DEA, several  members of the Seal organization
aligned themselves with various law enforcement agencies.
McKenzie was recruited  into  the  informant  side  of  the  drug
smuggling operation by Seal's ex-brother-in-law, William Bottoms.
This   Bottoms/McKenzie  alliance  provided  a  useful  tool  for
continued drug  smuggling.   Bottoms  and  McKenzie assured their
contacts in Colombia that  shipments  would  remain  safe,  while
assuring  their  various  U.S. law enforcement contacts that they
(Bottoms/McKenzie) had and  would  provide information that would
devastate  the  drug  smuggling  trade.   McKenzie  and   Bottoms
continued  smuggling  cocaine  and  heroin into the United States
under the protection  of  U.S.  Customs  agents.   In return, the
traffickers  would  sacrifice  shipments   and   competing   drug
smugglers  in order to appease their government contacts.  It was
with this data, fresh on hand, that  I, as Gene Duncan, a US Army
Intel Officer attached to the Defense  Intelligence  Agency,  met
with Ellis McKenzie to receive his information.
McKenzie   explained   that  the  information  he  had  concerned
shipments from Colombia to Mexico.   That  is why he was referred
to U.S. Intelligence instead  of  his  normal  contacts  in  U.S.
Customs  or  the  DEA.   McKenzie  got  right  to  the point.  He
explained that members of  the  Honduran  Air Force were "in bed"
with cartel  leaders.   Drug  shipments  were  being  flown  from
Colombia,  over-flying  Panama,  Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras,
Guatemala, or  El  Salvador  and  into  Mexico.   He  stated that
Colonel Castro Cabus, the Commander of the Honduran Air Forces in
La Ceiba, and Captain Santiago Perdomo,  the  Director  of  Civil
Aeronautics   in  Tegucigalpa,  were  on  the  cartel's  payroll.
McKenzie claimed that Cabus and  Perdomo controlled the air space
over Honduras and allowed drug over-flights rather  than  putting
fighters  in  the  air  when  these over-flights were reported by
radar operators.
I thanked  Mr.  McKenzie  for  his  information  and departed.  I
immediately had reason to suspect  the  information  provided  by
McKenzie.   Honduras air space had been controlled by a series of
radar sites and electronic  monitoring facilities since 1983.  On
the Caribbean coast of Honduras is a site which was  called  "Red
Hawk."   This  site  sits  on  top of a 4,052 foot mountain.  Two
additional sites  are  strategically  placed  in  La  Mesa and an
inland site, named "Carrot Top," on top of  a  6,522  foot  peak.
Additional communications facilities are located on Tiger Island,
on the Pacific side of Honduras, and Swan Island on the Caribbean
side.   Most  of  these sites are controlled and operated by U.S.
military personnel.  One site is controlled by the CIA.  Although
I did not know Captain Perdomo,  I did know Colonel Cabus and did
not  doubt  his  integrity.   There  was  definitely  a  need  to
investigate and try to determine what this drug smuggler,  turned
informant, was up to.
I  called Washington and advised them that I would need some time
to look into  this  accusation.   The Defense Intelligence Agency
(DIA) authorized my time and the investigation began.  It  should
be  noted  that  in the early '80's the US government removed all
DEA agents from Honduras.  They  were not placed back in Honduras
until the end of the decade.  Most intelligence gathered  in  the
country  was  provided  by  drug  traffickers turned confidential
informants, who were first and foremost -- drug traffickers.  Or,
in the alternative, by  CIA  operatives  who  were in Honduras in
support of the Nicaraguan Revolutionary Forces (Contras).
I was only five days into the investigation when all  the  pieces
of the puzzle were in place and I had a clear picture.  Our (DIA)
primary concern was the accusation that Colonel Castro Cabus, the
air  field  commander  in  La  Ceiba, was involved in any illegal
activity.  Our concern  lay  in  the  fact  that Cabus would most
likely become the next Commanding General  of  the  Honduras  Air
I  quickly  found  that  the  cartels  had no problem over-flying
Panama, Costa Rica, and  Nicaragua,  but over-flights of Honduras
provided a problem.  The cartel's efforts to  buy  Colonel  Cabus
had  failed.   Bottoms  and  McKenzie  saw  an  opening which, if
successful, would provide an  invaluable  service to the cartels.
They would, through their association with U.S.  law  enforcement
agencies,  concoct a story which discredited the good Colonel and
Captain,  in  effect   neutralize   them,   thinking  that  their
replacements may be more amiable toward a relationship  with  the
cartels,  especially  in  light of the recent misfortune of their
predecessors.  McKenzie  also  implicated  a  number  of Honduran
businessmen involved  in  drug  activities.   Those  names  were:
Arturo Alverado Wood, Abraham Dip, Alan Hyde, and Albert Jackson.
But  I  will  save  the allegations against these men for another
I reported my findings to Washington and returned to Canada where
I had been  working  on  another  intelligence gathering mission.
The information, in turn, was passed on to U.S Customs.
Gene Duncan, Major
Defense Intelligence Agency
Chip Tatum
cc:     Honduras Air Force
        General Castro Cabus
        Department of Defense
        Tegucigalpa, Honduras
        Santiago Perdomo
        c/o Department of Defense
        Tegucigalpa, Honduras
        Abraham Dip, La Ceiba, Honduras
        Arturo Wood, Islena Airlines, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
        Alan Hyde, c/o Hyde Shipping, Roatan, Honduras
        Albert Jackson, Fantasy Island, Roatan, Honduras