|This update is for the folks who have been following our Wheaton Names research over the past several months. I’ve blogged a few times and we did put up a link to an early research paper on the work, but since then we’ve gone much further in some respects…and hit a bit of a wall in the process.
With the assumption that Wheaton did hear remarks about the attack on JFK, among the “war stories” that Carl Jenkins and Rafael Quintero were exchanging with their friends, the obvious question is who were those friends and what would Jenkins and Quintero have in common with them.
That obvious answer – given that Wheaton and Jenkins were trying to get into the air transport/supply business for the Contra military effort against the Sandinista’s, is that they were meeting with the two field agents in charge of handling those shipments. That would be Rafael Quintero and Felix Rodriquez.
Further research shows that both Quintero and Rodriquez had an extended history in anti-Castro paramilitary operations Carl Jenkins, making Jenkins a perfect selection for Wheaton as his sales manager. That history, combined with the documented personal relationship between Wheaton and Quintero, explains why Wheaton might well have been in a position to hear the sorts of war stories and remarks about JFK which he ultimately attempted to report to the ARRB.
Research into Quintero and Rodriquez has also provided a good deal of detail on their association with Jenkins. It began with the earliest volunteers for the CIA’s Cuba project, and their training at a base in Panama – training overseen by Carl Jenkins. During 1960 a group of those earliest volunteers was pulled for additional training at the secret CIA training installation in Belle Chase, outside of New Orleans.
Ultimately those individuals, along with personnel trained in intelligence collection and practices by David Morales, were covertly inserted into Cuba to make contact with resistance groups and report on conditions inside Cuba. Several of them were also deployed on maritime insertion missions in the months immediately before the landings at the Bay of Pigs, on supply missions – and as we learned – on highly secret attempts to kill Fidel Castro in a series of planned ambushes and sniper attacks.
They were part of a last ditch effort to decapitate Cuban leadership before the landings, an effort which included the notorious poisoning project but which was more extensive than the CIA ever admitted in its reports on the Cuba Project, or later to the Church committee.
Due to the nature of those missions, the majority of those individuals, including both Quintero and Rodriquez, did not end up in Cuba prisons; they and several of the other individuals being used in the pre-landing maritime missions (operated out of the Florida Keys, with some, including assassination missions overseen by Carl Jenkins) continued working in covert CIA operations including maritime missions into Cuba – overseen by CIA paramilitary specialist Rip Robertson.
Those missions decreased over time, particularly after the agreements with the Russians which helped resolve the Cuban missile crisis of fall 1962. By mid-1963 several of those individuals has essentially been taken off missions, some held on retainer but most simply looking for ways to continue efforts against Castro. In the summer of 1963, several of them (who were DRE members) participated in two abortive efforts to carry out bombing missions against Cuba.
At the same time that was going on, the Kennedy Administration had decided to support a new, highly autonomous off shore effort against Castro (AMWORLD), headed by Manuel Artime and with Quintero as second in command. Carl Jenkins was assigned to perform CIA oversight over Quintero and the initial military operations against Cuba.
What we have learned is that a particular clique of the most committed anti-Castro fighters, the earliest volunteers for the Cuba Project, the individuals given advanced training and sent into Cuba in high risk maritime missions – including assassination attempts were some of the earliest recruits into the new AMWORLD project. The joined the project in the August and September time frame – but the project itself did not begin covertly exfilitrating personnel out of the U.S. until January/February 1964.
For all intents and purposes those key individuals, very possibly including some of the names mentioned by Quintero, Rodriquez and Jenkins in the conversations Wheaton overhead, simply go out of sight. They continued to live in the US, they continued to travel and take some amount of training, apparently most continued to reside in the Miami area.
However while they were in the process of being given covers, they simply went dark. AMWORLD did have money for domestic activities, including travel and purchases. And it was all done outside of CIA control. It was autonomous and so were its members to a large extent. There is some indication that certain of the individuals we begin following in Carl Jenkins training camp in Panama in 1960 were traveling to Texas in the fall of 1963.
Several of them were active DRE members and could have used that affiliation as a dover in their travels to New Orleans and Dallas; some were definitely in New Orleans in the summer when Lee Oswald was there. But pinning down their movements in the fall is a real challenge and largely speculative at the moment.
In one instance it appears that the links may extend to Red Bird airport and the remarks made to Ray January by a Cuba pilot immediately before the attack on JFK. But fully confirming that is a challenge in itself.
So…do we have names that fit the Wheaton story; absolutely. Can we show them to be associated with each other and to be among the most committed and aggressive Cuban exiles; yes. Some among them were expert marksmen and had volunteered for use in sniper attacks on Castro. They were among the most skillful of the trainees at both infiltration and exfiltration, going in and out of Cuba multiple times even when Cuban security was at its highest. Manuel Artime had requested several of them by name as his own special security team. They were also among the first volunteers for his AMWROLD project in 1963.
Can we put them in Dallas for the attack, no we can’t. We have suspects, at the moment because of the autonomous nature of the AMWORLD project and its limited reporting, moving the ball further down the field is proving to be quite challenging.
could the “Black Nine” being sent to Costa Rica on the Joanne in Dec of ’63 be Rafael Chi Chi Quintero, Felix Rodriguez, Nestor ‘Tony’ Izquierdo, Carlos Hernandez, Antonio Soto, Jorge Navarro, Victor Hernandez, Frank Barnardino, John Koch Gene? Trained by Jenkins, led by Rip, oversaw by Morales and Hecksher.
At this point we cannot confirm the actual names of the guys on the Joanne but it probably was not the men on your list. We suspect Black 9 was led by Segundo Borges who had participated in pre-BOP infiltration missions with Felix Rodriguez. Segundo along with Felix were on one Castro assassination mission in early 1961 which was under Jenkin’s oversight.
Our other suspects for Black 9 are:
*Felipe Silva Cadenas, **Julio Yanez (Yanes) Pelegrin, **Aramis Pinon
Estrada, **Miguel Penton* *Alfonso* who was with Felix
Rodriguez in Cuba before and during Bay of Pigs.
Black 9 definitely did not include Quintero who was the military coordinator of the whole AMWORLD project at that point and taking training along with Artime from JMWAVE
Some of the names you mention are actually our prime suspects for Dallas – but we don’t think they were on an early exfiltration on the Joanne as Black 9 because we have a solid record of that ship’s movements (which included a delay before departure and another in transit at sea) which have taken them out of the picture for Dallas.
In contrast the men on the list you noted were quite literally off the grid, on their own and not accounted for until Jan/Feb the following year. We do know a couple of them were still very much involved with the DRE The fact that they were essentially operating on their own with no oversight is what makes them so ideal for selection to participate in the Dallas attack.
We can pick up what and where some of these folks were as early as January, what they were doing in November is a mystery.
thanks Larry, would I be way off to include Frank Sturgis, Herminio Diaz Garcia, Steve Wilson, Roy Hargraves, Felipe Vidal Santiago, Luis Posada and Dick Whatley?
l imagine that the pathfinder mechanics could be supported by any number of other compartmentalized teams, possibly unaware of each other.
The problem is that virtually none of the fellows on that list fits operationally with the suspects we are looking at from the Wheaton leads. And in truth none of them come anywhere close to having the military ops skills that these Cubans started developing in Panama under Jenkins; they are literally the A team in terms of infiltration and covert ops. Hargraves, Vidal certainly did boat missions but nothing comparable. Have you checked out the link to our draft white paper on Wheaton? We/I do think Hargraves and Vidal were brought into the Dallas plot but on a separate track from Robertson (who would be the key CIA ops guy) from Martino to Hargraves/Vidal. And they would have been in largely a support role – which is of course what Hargraves admitted to Twyman. The possible role of someone like Felix R and Segundo can’t be ignored either, after all they were trusted by Jenkins to go into Cuba and kill Castro in an orchestrated sniper attack.
Larry, is this accurate? Felix ‘El Gato’ Rodriguez Mendigutia (AMHAZE-2718/AMJOKE-1), Nestor ‘Tony’ Izquierdo (AMHAZE-2586), Carlos ‘Batea’ Hernandez Sanchez (AMHAZE-2523), Antonio Soto, Jorge Navarro (AMHAZE-2536), Victor Espinoza Hernandez (AMHAZE-2766/AMHINT-24), Frank Barnardino (AMHAZE-2512), John Koch Gene (AMHINT-26), Gonzolo Herrara, and Luis Posada Carriles (AMCLEVE-15)
should I include Luis Posada Carriles? What about Herminio Diaz Garcia? Thanks again.
I’ve asked David Boylan to verify your list; he is far more deeply involved in the pseudos for our names than I am at present so I want the reply to be accurate.
As best as I can tell neither Posoda nor Diaz Garcia are a fit for our names of interest nor did they have an asset type relationship with the CIA as do our list of Cuban CIA paramilitary assets. Posoda and Diaz Garcia show up in reports and documents but that’s something entirely different than the list of names we are connecting to Jenkins and Robertson…and Quintero and Artime for that matter..
At this point we are really interested in separating names that have been tossed around in JFK literature over the decades from those that we really can operationally tie to CIA paramilitary officers from 60-64.
that’s great Larry, thanks for looking out. The narrowing down is spot on… the Wheaton names doc/list has led me to a number of interesting sites.
I doubt it’s news to you, but https://www.bopva.org/ has a number of pictures I have never seen before, and the pics for the infiltrators has some of the ‘Wheaton list’ together, by name. Pretty incredible.
David had been especially good at finding photos, stories and other references to several of these individuals, all of whom volunteered and were verifiable active in various CIA associated project for years.
One of the things that has made chasing down the Wheaton names so fascinating is that they end up connecting to social and operational CIA paramilitary networks of very real individuals…and individuals that previously barely registered in JFK related literature.
The further we dig the more real they become; we are now at the point where we can trace many of them from their very first volunteer days, to Panama with Jenkins, on to Guatemala and then later separated and taken to Belle Chase and Key West for infiltration (anmd Castro assassination) operations. We can time line that month by month….and do so up to the early fall of 1963. Then they join AMWORLD and we lose them until February, until the appear in Guatemala or even in the Congo.
That’s not proof of anything but its a real change to be working with names of people that are not just blips on the radar or mysterious figures mentioned in JFK books. They become substantial, you can get the feel of how competent they were, how much they trusted each other and were trusted by people like Jenkins and Robertson – and that does not apply to all that many people.
All of which proves nothing per se but its certainly been a change – one can visualize how a select few could have been committed enough, extreme enough and trusted enough to end up in the Plaza. Convinced that what they were doing was absolutely critical.
Larry, is there any reason to believe Miguel Alavarez Jimenez and Sam Benton could be added to the list? I’m looking for information on Antonio Soto Vasquez, and I see them together in La Combe for the 7-31-63 arrest and in Florida 9-3-63.
My view at the moment is that there were some DRE people and folks like Benton who were involved in enabling some anti-Castro activities that you find around certain of the Wheaton names but that they really don’t fit the Wheaton name connection which goes down through Jenkins and Quintero and Felix Rodriquez. To make the Wheaton list the guy has to have been an early volunteer and engaged in anti-Castro paramilitary insertions both before and after the Bay of Pigs. That gets them trusted. The fact that others were working with them on projects in Miami and New Orleans is peripheral.
Now there can be other tracks to Dallas, one would be through Robertson/Martino/Hargraves and Vidal but that’s a separate matter.
My view is being trusted by Robertson gets you in for Dallas and that means you have to have worked with him in actual missions…having been trained by Jenkins and sent into Cuba on pre-Bay of Pigs missions gets you on the list of possible recruits. This is speaking to the actual shooter team, not any ancillary personnel.