Bombshell leaked communications indicate scores of US military and intelligence veterans have been secretly recruited for wide-ranging covert action of an indeterminate nature in Bolivia.
The private correspondence, which has already been reported on by Morning Star, and which hasn’t yet been fully verified, doesn’t offer specific details of what’s to take place and when. However, it does make clear something significant, and highly sinister, is in the works in the country. And apparently has been for some time, with around 1,500 mercenaries signed on to contracts of up to seven months for the operation.
The deployment of these mercenaries was delayed by the elections being moved from 6 September to mid-October. This suggests that whatever’s to take place is intimately tied to the crunch vote. The vote itself has been precipitated by a US-backed coup in November 2019.
Upon declaring herself Morales’ replacement, senate vice president Jeanine Añez – who believes indigenous Bolivians to be “satanic” desert people, and “whose party received 4% of the vote share” in the October 2019 election – “expelled hundreds of Cuban doctors”, broke off “ties to Venezuela and pulled Bolivia out of multiple international and intercontinental organizations and treaties”. In September 2020, the Guardian reported that Human Rights Watch said Añez’s interim government was “abusing the justice system to wage a politically motivated witch-hunt” against Morales and his allies.
Añez withdrew from the election that same month claiming the Bolivian opposition needed to unite in order to prevent front-runner Movement for Socialism’s (MAS) Luis Arce from winning. This was after having consistently polled far behind Arce and Revolutionary Left Front candidate Carlos Mesa. The effort was unsuccessful – Arce has won an outright majority, with 55.09% of the vote. The “Bolivia project”, however, shows that some want his victory to be short-lived.
It appears a key recruiter for the operation is an individual named Joe Milligan. This is someone who speaks of having 250 law enforcement professionals signed up to “go south”, in a deployment delayed by the elections from 6th September to mid-October. Despite the rejigged timetable, however, Milligan reassures contractors that things are “still on track” to get them into the country “early enough” to equip and train them. That’s if “everything goes right with the team working… in Bolivia”. The faster they can provide Milligan with necessary documentation, “the faster we can get you there”.
Contractors are warned the operation is “very sensitive”, with a “lot of moving parts”, and that it should be kept “secure as possible”. “We don’t want to jam up the other guys that are working on the ground to make this happen”, the email reads.
The other individual named in the communications is David Shearman, who boasts “things are moving forward”. He says the project is still in the market for “interested professionals with tenured law enforcement experience who are interested in this type of unique mission”.
Shearman says the project is also in search of throw-bots (spy robots which the Morning Star says “transmit audio and video to a remote-control unit”) drone pilots and technical surveillance software personnel. In respect to dress code for the operation, applicants are urged to “think low-profile, blending in, and being able to fit into the populace”. Jeans, casual pants, long and short sleeve shirts “capable of concealed carry”, and cargo pants “in muted colors like tan, brown, grey” are the order of the day, as “we’re not seeking a typical contractor – former military type look”.
Operatives were further instructed to “school up” on “Guerilla Group” MAS, “the main foe down there”, while keeping the “opportunity” off social media. Shearman begs for patience, noting “things change every day due to issues outside of our control”. He also reminds them “our program is adding to an existing program and our program is still being stood up and this takes time”.
Applicants were asked to complete an attached non-disclosure agreement and send it to one Joe Pereira. The non-disclosure agreement is titled “CNG-NDA”, and Joe Pereira’s email prefix also contains this acronym. On his Facebook profile, Pereira’s listed as “President Oil & Gas at China National Group”. China National Group appears to have no website or online footprint to speak of and doesn’t appear on the Bolivian companies register, but it does have a dedicated Facebook page which hasn’t been updated since November 2018. The page lists a residential property in wealthy, anti-Morales Santa Cruz as its address. It also offers a non-functional email address and Bolivian phone number as points of contact.
Moreover, Pereira’s Facebook friend list is overwhelmingly comprised of US national security veterans, some fairly senior indeed. In March, he shared a New York Times article on the US Drug Enforcement Agency’s farcical indictment of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro for drug trafficking. He commented, “I hope he gets what God has for him to receive for all of the crimes he and his regime have committed”. He also added:
He is a real piece [sic], in the world of evil, he is close cousins to Saddam Hussein and a nephew to Osama Bin Laden, his little adopted brother Evo Morales is next on the list, all just evil.
Upon inspection, Pereira’s Facebook pal Joe Milligan’s own profile is even more incendiary. His timeline speaks to an all-consuming fixation on the military, war, and guns. Numerous recent posts feature the logo of notorious private army contractor Blackwater. Several of his connections’ profiles bear insignia demanding the release from prison of the ‘Raven 23’, a quartet of Blackwater employees who opened fire on unarmed civilians in Baghdad in September 2007. They killed 17 and injured 20.
In one Blackwater-related post, in which the company’s logo is overlaid with banner text reading “RIP FALLEN BROTHERS”, Milligan instructs ‘any of you having troubles’ to contact him on a phone number provided. In response, an individual named James Monzel asks, “Don’t you think its time we got the band back together?”.
Interestingly, Milligan’s LinkedIn profile sheds much light on his affinity for the disgraced firm. It reveals that after three decades in law enforcement, he spent many years working for private military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.
His biography states:
I provided the Department of Defense with advanced law enforcement skills sets to enhance US forces. I provided understanding [to] identify and investigate IED support networks, funding, and leadership of criminal networks, and facilitate targeting and penetration of “Criminalized” Insurgent Networks.
I have served in Baghdad, Iraq as a Personal Security Specialist for the Department of State…worked in austere and remote environments with the Military and with OGA [Other Government Agencies] as a police and military trainer…
He also states that he has experience:
tracking and apprehending terrorist suspects and working with counter IED teams. My last assignment was in Afghanistan with MPRI, working with the US Army tracking and app[reh]ending insurgents with… scout recon teams
Bizarrely, Milligan is also a would-be thespian. A talent agency listing reveals that he’s had cameo roles in renowned soap opera Dallas, and 1987 sci-fi action classic RoboCop, among other things.
According to his online profile, Milligan ended up on the frontlines of the War on Terror by way of the US eDepartment of Defense’s Law Enforcement Professional Program (LEPP). The LEPP was barely mentioned in the mainstream media at the time and remains little-known today. But under its extraordinary auspices, US law enforcement veterans, particularly those with experience of tackling gang crime, were parachuted into military divisions in order to apply inner-city policing tactics and strategies to insurgency battles. Today, Milligan works for Texan scrap metal merchant hlh&r. The company references its aerospace clients and has military veterans on its staff.
Shearman also appears to have worked alongside US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan via LEPP. He joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 1989, where he worked as an investigator with notorious ‘high intensity anti-gang unit’ Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums, aka CRASH. The unit was disbanded following the Rampart scandal of the late 1990s, which exposed how many of its officers had been involved in murders, robberies, brutality, evidence planting, the sale of illegal drugs, and corruption.
Furthermore, Shearman also claims to have been “intimately involved” in the 1992 LA riots. The riots erupted after four LAPD officers involved in the brutal beating of African-American Rodney King were acquitted of using excessive force.
Today, Shearman writes a column for a local Kansas newspaper and maintains a blog, Viper One Six – a reference to his military call sign in Afghanistan. It’s largely comprised of lengthy and frequently incoherent rants about the ongoing “attack on law enforcement, law and order, and freedom” by America’s “leftist elite”.
A section of Shearman’s blog titled ‘Future Ops’ indicates he’s been working on an novel. It’s about a retired police officer who owns an “elite security company” attempting to avenge the death of his family, while on the run from a “deadly trans-national mafia-like terrorist group”, and trying to prevent “a horrific attack on American interests” in Pakistan.
Shearman’s literary aspirations and Milligan’s acting career obviously lend them, and the clandestine action for which they’ve been recruiting and planning, an absurd, comic character. However, Operation Gideon, and US private military company Silvercorp’s failed overthrow of the government of Venezuela in May 2020, demonstrate that trigger-happy mercenaries can all too easily attempt to translate hare-brained fantasies into reality. Especially when there are sizeable financial rewards on offer.
The contract with Silvercorp, signed by Guaidó, is rife with highly troubling passages. They indicate that, among other deadly activities, in the event of the operation’s success the company was intended to go on to deploy a private death squad in the country. Its aim would have been to track down enemies of the new regime and to train paramilitary units.
While the terms of the “Bolivia project” contract aren’t available, the two emails make one thing clear: the plan is far more practically developed than the fiasco which unfolded near Venezuela’s shores in May. For one, there appears to already be a constituent headquarters in the country to facilitate the operation. And hundreds of contractors are apparently signed up and awaiting transfer – if they’re not there already, of course.
Moreover, if Milligan’s experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan are anything to go by, then the purposes of the program – which is after all “adding to an existing program” – could be to identify and penetrate the networks of “main foe” MAS and apprehend its members alongside teams of “low profile LEP veterans on-the-ground “blending in” while carrying concealed weapons. Moreover, the 250 LEP operatives represent a mere sixth of the mercenaries contracted to the project. What the remaining soldiers of fortune have been contracted to do is anyone’s guess, but the answer surely isn’t anything pleasant.
The nature of the “existing program” Shearman refers to is likewise unclear, but it may be significant that footage recently surfaced of a serving Bolivian soldier claiming interior minister Arturo Murillo was conspiring with army generals to carry out massacres and launch a coup, should MAS win the election, with paramilitary units and weapons supplied by Washington.
The unnamed individual said:
We have been ordered to shoot to kill indigenous people. We come from families in the countryside, and if we shoot indigenous people, it is the same as shooting our own parents or the parents of our soldiers who are doing military service. We are threatened we will be fired if we do not obey
The Organization of American States was instrumental in precipitating and legitimising the coup which ousted Morales. In response to Arce’s victory, its chief Luis Almagro congratulated him and VP candidate David Choquehuanca, wishing them “success in your future endeavours”. Almagro also expressed his confidence in them, saying they “know how to forge a bright future for their country”. In response, Evo Morales’ daughter Evaliz Morales Alvarado issued a fiery riposte. She said:
Keep your ‘congratulations’ to yourself. The time will come when you’re brought to justice for your interventions in Honduras, Venezuela and Bolivia
Whether another “intervention” is making its noxious way to Bolivia anew, and whether its sponsors and executors will ever be brought to justice, is an open question. Watch this space.
Featured image via Kawsachun News
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