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Former CIA Pilot Tells of Guns and Drugs Shipments

* Robert O’Dowd and Tim King *

Robert “Tosh” Plumlee, former CIA pilot, reported the illegal shipments of guns and drugs to Congress. Plumlee said he flew into former MCAS El Toro, CA, a number of times, in unmarked C-130s in the early hours of the morning.

(IRVINE, Calif.) – The internet is full of stories of various government conspiracy theories, the 1001 Club, Bilderberg Group, The Illuminati, and Skull & Bones to name just a few.

Colonel James Sabow, USMC

However, the death of Marine Colonel James Sabow is not some crackpot conspiracy tossed around by those with nothing else to do.

Last week’s tragic shooting of two guards at the Pentagon was definitely the result of a mentally unbalanced individual who apparently was consumed with the death of Marine Colonel James Sabow at MCAS El Toro in January 1991.

Robert “Tosh” Plumlee, Santa Elena, Costa Rica, mid-1980s

The truth is that experts outside of the Defense Department believe that the forensic evidence supports that Colonel Sabow was murdered. According to Dr. David Sabow MD, his brother, the motive was to prevent him from telling about the shipments of cocaine into the U.S. to fund the Contra war in the 80s.

The Orange County coroner, the Naval Investigative Service, the Marine Corps and subsequent Defense Department investigations ruled Colonel Sabow’s death a suicide.

Independent investigations by others and the overwhelming forensic evidence strongly suggests murder. There was no reason in the world after Vietnam, 27 years in the Marine Corps with an outstanding record, the rank of colonel and a wife and children, that Col. Sabow would commit this act.

Michael A. Jacobs, attorney and retired supervisor of the Orange County District Attorney’s Homicide Trials Division, believes that homicide is supported by:

(1) compressed fracture to the right rear occipital skull and the resulting hemorrhaging beneath the skull and

(2) the large amount of aspirated blood found in the alveoli of Colonel Sabow’s lungs.

Jacobs told Congressman Duncan Hunter that “Colonel Sabow’s death could not have been a suicide but had to have been a homicide inflicted by the hands of another.”

Former Lt. Col. Anthony Verducci, a Marine Corps JAG [attorney] who was stationed at MCAS El Toro in 1991, wrote Dr. Sabow, “I have reviewed x-rays, crime scene photos, and letters submitted by forensic pathologists and other experts about Col. Sabow’s death… these materials lead me to believe that Colonel Sabow did not die of a self-inflicted gunshot wound [my emphasis]. As a Marine, former prosecutor, and citizen, I believe that an impartial law enforcement agency must review this case.”

Deadly Setup for a Whistleblower

Colonel Sabow, Assistant Chief, MCAS El Toro, had been removed from his position a few days before his death, pending the outcome of an investigation for a minor infraction relating to the carrying of personal items on an official military flight.

Friends close to Jim Sabow say the charges were concocted strictly in an effort to keep him from blowing the lid off clandestine federal drug running that he became aware of, with the planes actually landing at El Toro.

Dr. David Sabow, a retired neurologist and the younger brother of Colonel Sabow, said his brother was pressured to retire but told others that he would accept a court martial, since he had nothing to do with the shipment of cocaine in civilian aircraft to the U.S. In doing so, Dr. Sabow said his brother unknowingly signed his own death warrant.

Described by superiors as a “straight arrow Marine,” Dr. Sabow said that Colonel Sabow in his position as Assistant Chief of Staff at MCAS El Toro, would have known about the authorized shipments of weapons to Central American to support the Contra war in Nicaragua, but knew nothing about the illegal shipments of cocaine into the U.S. to fund the Contra war.

A former CIA pilot, Robert “Tosh” Plumlee, is very familiar with the events surrounding Col. Sabow’s untimely death. He says that the word being spread from military personnel at El Toro through his group, was that Col. Sabow had discovered illegal flights coming into El Toro Marine Air Base at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., obviously carrying illegal contraband, and that he intended to blow the whistle. He had also heard that Col. Sabow was going to be relieved of his duties because of his intention to report the drug shipments.

Plumlee is convinced that Col. Sabow was murdered to silence him.

“These trips were approved by military intelligence personnel attached to the Pentagon, with CIA logistical support. They were made in total secrecy to the extent that other government agencies were not aware of the existence of these flights, or of the operation. The pilots were given a specific coded transponder number to squawk so their aircraft would not be challenged by U.S. Customs aircraft when patrolling the U.S. border.” – Former CIA pilot Tosh Plumlee

“It is highly probable that Col. Sabow became aware of the night flights into El Toro, as his base housing was on the landing flight path. A serious hitch in the operation came when a new loadmaster assigned to El Toro complained about the unregistered planes landing at night and demanded that they be registered, but a senior officer ordered him to shut up and to stop insisting on registration. The loadmaster complained to the inspector general, which prompted the IG to come to El Toro for an investigation.”

Dr. Sabow believes the inspector general was making an effort to force the officers under suspicion to resign for the good of the Corps. But because Col. Sabow knew he was clean so far as drug shipments were concerned, instead of quietly accepting the accusations, he planned to insist that a court martial be convened in order to clear his name.

Plumlee said, “He was willing to expose the operation that sent American weapons into Latin America on American cargo aircraft, and he would prove that he had no hand in bringing illegal drugs into the country on return trips.”

Col. Sabow’s wife Sally Sabow, told her brother-in-law that the day before her husband was killed, a senior officer entered Col. Sabow’s home, and was observed shaking his finger in Col. Sabow’s face, shouting, “You will never go to a court martial…”

Drugs, Weapons and El Toro

As one of the civilian pilots who ran guns for the U.S. government in the 1980s, Tosh Plumlee explains that he made numerous operationally approved trips to Latin America; trips that were described as “sanctioned drug interdiction operations.”

“These trips were approved by military intelligence personnel attached to the Pentagon, with CIA logistical support. They were made in total secrecy to the extent that other government agencies were not aware of the existence of these flights, or of the operation. The pilots were given a specific coded transponder number to squawk so their aircraft would not be challenged by U.S. Customs aircraft when patrolling the U.S. border.”

He says it began in the 1980s, when the U.S. Army’s 82nd and 101st Airborne were sent to Costa Rica for maneuvers. A large number of weapons were sent with them.

“However, some of the weapons did not return to the United States and were later taken off the books by the military, marked as either lost or destroyed and reported to the Government Accounting Office as such”.

Plumlee and other pilots have testified to Congress that they were working for a secret U.S. military intelligence operation that clandestinely sent them from the United States to bring back the so-called damaged and disappeared weapons for retrofitting and repair.

“When the weapons were repaired and tested at China Lake and Twentynine Palms, in California, they were staged and once again flown back from El Toro Marine Air Base to Latin America, via Mexico, to be supplied to the Contras, the American-financed rebel group seeking to overthrow the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua”.

Plumlee says the aircraft used by this group were designated as “cutouts” and certified as belonging to the U.S. Forest Service’s aircraft fleet. They were, however, controlled by U.S. military intelligence, and contracted by civilian operators for whom Plumlee and other pilots worked. These pilots used secret air bases in Costa Rica, as well as on the notorious John Hall Ranch, Plumlee says, as unloading and staging areas for the illegal weapons. They also used hidden runways in Costa Rica and El Salvador, controlled by the drug cartel, which then allowed them to bring drugs into the United States on the return trips.

“These flyways and airstrips were secretly recorded by undercover flight crews and reported to various government interdiction agencies in the United States. In 1986, an early operation known by the code name, ‘Penetrate,’ was shut down because of the politically explosive Iran-Contra matter.”

Plumlee goes on to say that in 1990, there was still a covert weapons operation continuing to fly weapons to Latin America, mostly to Bogota, Columbia, which allowed the group to bring back illegal drugs into the United States via Mexico.

“These flyways and staging areas in Mexico were duly noted by undercover pilots and passed on to CIA and DEA personnel.”

According to Plumlee, an American DEA agent from Guadalajara, Mexico, by the name of Kiki Camarena, was killed because of his knowledge concerning the “CIA-Mexico” thing, as it was widely known among the covert civilian pilots.

Tosh Plumlee emailed a copy of a February 1991 letter from former Senator Gary Hart to Senator John Kerry, Chairman, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Communications and a redacted summary transcript of his testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations from August 1991. The Senate report shows that Plumlee was a “former deep-cover military and CIA asset from 1956 to 1987 with a long history of CIA activities in Central America, Cuba, and Mexico.”

A little less than a month before Gary Hart’s letter to Senator Kerry, Marine Colonel James Sabow was found dead by his wife in his backyard at MCAS El Toro. Although there’s no connection to his death, the letter does describe in some detail the illegal arms and narcotic shipments made to fund the Contra war.

Gary Hart served as a Democratic Senator representing Colorado (1975–1987), and ran in the U.S. presidential elections in 1984 and again in 1988. An extramarital affair reported by the media ended his bid for the Democratic nomination for President in 1988.

In his letter to Senator John Kerry, Hart noted that Robert “Tosh” Plumlee met with his Denver Senate staff during the period 1983 through 1985.

Plumlee provided Hart’s staff with maps and names of covert landing strips in Mexico, Costa Rica, Louisiana, Arizona, Florida, and California.

Plumlee said he was involved in covert military activities in Central and South American starting in February 1978. He “had personally flown U.S. sponsored covert missions into Nicaragua… that Nicaragua was receiving assistance from Cuba with nearly 6,000 Cuban military advisors and large quantities of military supplies were being stockpiled at various staging areas inside Nicaragua and the Costa Rica border.”

In contacting Senator Hart in 1983, Plumlee’s purpose was to initiate a congressional investigation on illegal arms and narcotic shipments “which were not being acted upon by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies.”

According to Plumlee, these operations were not under the control of the CIA but were directed by the White House, Pentagon, and NSC.

Gary Hart in 1991 noted that Plumlee’s allegations were brought “to the attention of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time [1983], but no action was initiated by either committee.”


The death of Marine Colonel James Sabow and the years of subsequent loss and hardship for his family and friends is a travesty. It was a loss for all Americans; we need military leaders who are honest and forthright. We learn in this story and the preceding installments about Col. Sabow, that nothing is as it seems with the people who run this country. People in office reading this right now are cognizant of their roles in the death of Jim Sabow.

And what about the Contras? In essence, they represented the interests of the people and businesses with deep pockets. The Sandinista movement was for the poor people. Today the man who runs that country was the leader of the Sandinistas. It looks like the choices by public officials to fund that war, like so many others, were not only in vain, but they led to the loss of many human lives and also a great deal of suffering.

Today the base at El Toro is mostly torn down and the flightline is used to store motor homes. It is now a ghost town, and the base is horribly contaminated with chemical degreasers that were poured into the ground, and consequently the groundwater, after use. The two worst are TCE (trichloroethylene) and PCE (perchloroethylene).

Marines and former Marines write to us almost every day because of our stories on El Toro, numbering several dozen now, authored by several writers, all former El Toro Marines. El Toro is a deathtrap; it was for Colonel Jim Sabow, and it is for so many today who suffer from numerous types of cancer all almost certainly contracted at the base.

As we have written in the past, it seems oddly appropriate as a setting for this story.

It appears that the U.S. government is at odds with justice when it comes to this case. Nefarious behavior behind the nation’s spook agencies is certainly nothing new, but the flag wavers behind this hit are dirty.

View the original article at Veterans Today

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