Guest Author - Vance Rowe
The CIA wanted Fidel Castro dead because they felt that he was a threat to our country’s national security. Certain elements in the Mafia wanted Castro dead because he ended their gambling and liquor interests in Cuba. In 1960, the two factions secretly conspired with each other in an attempt to kill the Communist leader and subsequently failed. When a member of the Mafia, Johnny Roselli, was approached by a CIA liaison, Robert Maheu, Maheu told him, Roselli, that an international business was suffering huge financial losses because of Castro’s regime and the “business” was offering a bounty of 150,000 American dollars to kill Castro.
This, and other operations that the CIA performed that “violated the provisions of the National Security Act of 1947", were released in a 700 plus page document. The document entitled “Family Jewels” was released in 2007 in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act. The documents depict how Richard Bissell, an officer in the CIA, went to the CIA’s Office of Security to ask if the agency “assets that may assist in a sensitive mission requiring gangster-type action. The mission target was Fidel Castro".
The documents also said that "because of its extreme sensitivity, only a small group was made privy to the project and that the Director of Central Intelligence, Allen Dulles, approved of the operation."
Robert Maheu approached Johnny Roselli in Las Vegas because Roselli was depicted as a high ranking official in the national crime syndicate and as someone who controlled all of the ice machines on the Vegas Strip and who unquestionably had connections to people that lost gambling interests in Cuba. Maheu not only told Roselli that he was approached by an international business but also that the US government did not and must not have any knowledge of this venture. Roselli apparently met with his people and set up a meeting with Maheu and two men. One man was named Sam Gold and the other friend was known simply as Joe. The ironic thing about Maheu meeting with these two men is that he had recently seen a picture of these two men together in a magazine called Parade. Sam Gold was in fact, Momo Salvatore Giancana, a man described as "the chieftain of the mafia and the successor to Al Capone" and “Joe” was Santos Trafficante, a mob boss from Tampa, Florida and the man in charge of the Mafia’s gambling interests in Cuba.
During their meeting in Miami, Giancana suggested that a “potent pill” be placed in Castro’s food as opposed to a group of men going into Cuba with guns blazing and that the pill would be more effectual. They already had an inside man of sorts that could get close enough to Castro to do the job. He was named in the documents as Juan Orta and as someone who was indebted to the crime syndicate. The CIA acquired a number of lethal pills and gave them to Orta but after several failed attempts, Orta got nervous and wanted out of the operation. The endeavor was soon cancelled after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the pills were retrieved by the CIA. In 1976, Johnny Roselli’s body was found in an oil drum floating off of the coast of Florida.
The current CIA Director, Michael Hayden ordered these documents released because he wanted “to provide a glimpse of a very different time and a very different agency.”
You can see these documents at: http://www.foia.cia.gov/