Was Nancy Pelosi involved in one of the biggest heroin busts? No, that's not true: The claim that Speaker Pelosi was involved in a massive operation to smuggle heroin into the United States from southeast Asia has no basis in fact. A published report making the claim offered no documentation and included a conspiracy theory dating back to World War 2 and anti-Semitic accusations in an attempt to connect Pelosi to the drug operation.
The claim has been shared on social platforms in 2019, using stories published in 2008 and 2010, including a post (archived here) shared on October 22, 2019 under the title "Nancy Pelosi was involved in one of the biggest heroin busts??". This post linked to a 2010 story (archived here) published by AmericanFreePress.net titled "PELOSI'S TRAIL OF CORRUPTION." The opening paragraphs read:
When Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the House in 2006, she vowed to "clean the swamp" of congressional corruption. But with the Eric Massa scandal and information that her staff was notified of his questionable behavior five months earlier in October, GOP critics are asking, "What did she know, and when did she know it?"
This brouhaha, however, is simply a distraction in a much darker string of controversies surrounding "the Madame Speaker." To understand Mrs. Pelosi, we need to first examine her family--the D'Alessandros--who've been in control of Baltimore's political machine for years. Her father, Thomas, is known by some as the most corrupt mayor in Baltimore's history.
This is what social media users saw:
The "Eric Massa scandal" is a reference to a New York congressman who retired from the house after being accused of sexual harassment by staffers. There is no known involvement by Pelosi in Rep. Massa's alleged ethics violations other than he was in her party and she was speaker of the house at the time.
The story then references "a much darker string of controversies" that allegedly began with Pelosi's father Thomas D'Alesandro when he was purportedly serving in U.S. military intelligence during World War 2 and that blossomed when he became Baltimore's mayor in 1947:
Prior to securing this position, D'Alessandro served in U.S. military intelligence during WWII, whereupon, according to veteran reporter Wayne Madsen, on Sept. 25, 2006, he "broadcast wartime radio messages to Italy exhorting Italians to rise up against Benito Mussolini."
On the surface, such an endeavor sounds commendable. But another participant in this operation was imprisoned gangster Lucky Luciano, who cut a deal with the feds. In return for convincing Sicilian Mafioso to assist the Navy in their war efforts, they would deport him back to Italy.
The first problem with that conspiracy theory is that D'Alesandro was a U.S. congressman during the war, spending much of his time trying to convince President Roosevelt to be more aggressive in rescuing Jews from Hitler's holocaust. He was in his 40s during the war, and not in uniform or in Italy.
Another problem about the claim that Pelosi's father was in Italy, where he allegedly hooked up with his future drug-smuggling partner Lucky Luciano, is the source is Wayne Madsen, who is described as a "paranoid conspiracy theorist" by TheDailyBeast.com. To prove something that runs counter to everything we can find about Pelosi's father, Madsen is not a good source.
The story then connects Pelosi's father to post-war heroin smuggling:
Once free, Luciano teamed up with Jewish crime kingpin Meyer Lansky; and as Alfred W. McCoy relates in The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, they began trafficking the drug into the United States. One of the primary entry spots used during this time was at Baltimore, which Mrs. Pelosi's father oversaw after becoming mayor of the city in 1947.
Luciano had been smuggling heroin into the United States since the 1930s, according to the McCoy book cited in the story. That book also makes just one reference to Baltimore and that is about pushers in the 1970s. There is no sourcing for the claim that Pelosi's father "oversaw" heroin smuggling into Baltimore during his time as mayor, which was 1947 to 1959. Even if it were true, it still does not connect Nancy Pelosi, who was seven years old in 1947, to heroin smuggling.
The author then exposes an anti-Semitic motivation as he attempts to connect Nancy Pelosi to decades of heroin smuggling:
This Jewish-Italian organized crime syndicate leads to Mrs. Pelosi's long-standing allegiance to the Zionist cause. In a Nov. 14, 2006 article by Dan Pine for the Jewish Weekly, he quotes Sam Lauter, a San Francisco pro-Israeli activist, as saying of Mrs. Pelosi, "As far as the Jewish community is concerned, she feels our issues in her soul."
Huh? Yes, weird and confusing. We will skip much of the nonsense to get to the point. The 2010 article takes readers back to 1991 and San Francisco, where Pelosi moved 22 years earlier:
Circumstances get even shadier when considering Mrs. Pelosi's relationship with Robert DeMonte, federal administrator of HUD's Region 9 in San Francisco. In 1991, the DEA made a billion-dollar heroin bust at a Hayward, Calif. warehouse in the Bay Area. Local newspaper Veritas USA chronicled DeMonte's involvement in the importation of drugs, which forced him to leave office.
They added, "Nancy Pelosi and other prominent names were investors in the Hayward warehouse."
We found the "local newspaper" story it referenced. Published in 2008, the article titled "NANCY PELOSI'S CONTROVERSIAL PRESIDO TRUST: THE UNPUBLICIZED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE NEW OCCUPANTS IN THE U.S. ARMY'S OFFICERS' HOUSING IN SAN FRANCISCO" focused not on a drug smuggling conspiracy, but on Pelosi's support of how the former U.S. Army base Presidio was being used to house a world peace foundation headed by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. At the end, it referenced a report of a 1991 drug bust at a warehouse purportedly owned by investors including Pelosi:
The FBI reportedly told DeMonte: "Resign or face prosecution." A Mr. Chang, another HUD official working for De Monte was also involved in the Billion Dollar Heroin bust.
Nancy Pelosi and other prominent names were also investors in the Hayward California warehouse, where the Heroin was discovered. But Pelosi's cries of ignorance were neither creditable nor convincing.
The sourcing for this claim appeared to be another 2008 article titled "THE BILLION DOLLAR HEROIN BUST"
Time flies they say and with it we forget and knowing some I know who should know at the age they are - the senior moment kicks in every few minutes. So, folks what is it really to know about the Pacific Height Mafia?
Folks do you all remember the billion dollar heroin bust made by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in 1991 at a Hayward California Warehouse? Try forgetting your Senior Moments and think of a name - Robert DeMonte. The year 1991 and Robert DeMonte, Administrator of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) - Region IX if I am not mistaken.
Nancy Pelosi and many other prominent names were linked with this bust - all investors in the Hayward California Warehouse- billion dollar heroin bust. Time flies and people forget and now we have a Speaker of the House - and surely no one is supposed to remember this incident. At least not the heroin!
This story provides no sourcing for the claim that Pelosi is "link with this bust." There is no reporting from 1991 about her connection, or about the claim that a high-ranking HUD official was implicated. It is not believable that the FBI would let DeMonte off the hook for involvement in a major heroin smuggling operation in exchange for him quitting his job.
We did find reporting from Associated Press in 1991 that tells what really happened and there is no mention of Pelosi:
Authorities Seize 1,200 Pounds of Heroin in Biggest Bust in U.S. History Precede HAYWARD, Calif.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Law enforcement ″ripped the heart out″ of a significant Asian smuggling group by seizing 1,200 pounds of high-grade heroin and arresting four people in the biggest heroin bust in U.S. history, an official said today.
″We took off the upper echelon of this organization,″ said Bob Bender, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's San Francisco office.
″If we had allowed this to be distributed ... we could have arrested 300 to 400 people ultimately, but we've cut the head of the dragon off,″ Bender said. ″Law enforcement has ripped the heart out of a very significant organization.″
The ″China White″ heroin was found in a shipment headed for a warehouse in Hayward, a suburb just east of San Francisco Bay. It came from somewhere in the Golden Triangle of Burma, Laos and Thailand and was shipped from Taiwan to Oakland, Bender said.
U.S. Customs Service spokesman Mike Fleming called it the largest-ever heroin seizure in the nation, and Bender estimated its street value at $3 billion.
The complaint identified the four arrested Thursday as Jim Juichang Chen; his wife, Lucy Chen; Kelly Paokui Chen, who is married to Jim Chen's brother; and Lu Chin Sheng. Bender, who gave the names somewhat differently, said the suspects were all in their 20s and 30s.
A fifth suspect, Mike Juiming Chen, Kelly Chen's husband, was still at large, authorities said.
They each face one federal count of possession of heroin with intent to distribute one of conspiracy to distribute heroin. They could face up to life in prison and a $4 million fine on each count.
The four entered no plea at their arraignment this morning. They appeared in court in handcuffs, appearing solemn, and communicated with the judge through an interpreter.
Bender described Lu Chin Sheng as ″the heavyweight, very significant″ in the organization, and said he entered the United States using a fraudulent passport.
Sheng is from Bangkok, while the rest are Taiwanese who are resident aliens in the United States, Bender said.
The heroin was discovered by Customs inspectors at the port in Oakland about the middle of May during a routine check of imports, Bender said. The inspectors had no advance knowledge that the package addressed to the Join Sun Corp. in Hayward contained contraband, he said.
″The DEA and Customs joined together and we removed about 1,180 pounds of heroin and we left about 10 pounds of heroin in the shipment, and we made a controlled delivery to the Join Sun Corp.,″ Bender said.
Then the two agencies, each devoting about 35 agents to the task, plus officers from the Hayward and San Leandro police departments launched a round- the-clock surveillance of the warehouse. As people stopped by, surveillance expanded to include their homes and another business, the Tracy Hotel in Tracy, he said.
Bender would not disclose whether the surveillance included wiretaps.
By Thursday, Bender said, prosecutors decided they had enough information for arrests.
During Thursday's actions, authorities searched the Tracy Hotel, a home adjacent to the hotel and two homes in Blackhawk, taking mainly records and finding no drugs, he said.
The warehouse also contained legitimate imports of Chinese porcelain figures, Bender said.
Bender said officials planned to seize the bank accounts of those allegedly involved in the heroin scheme, and that DEA offices in Southeast Asia were working with local officials to track down other people and bank accounts that may be connected to those arrested.
The previous record heroin bust was made in New York City in 1989 when authorities seized 800 pounds of the drug worth about $1 billion.
Authorities in Los Angeles seized 20 tons of cocaine at a warehouse in 1989 in the world's largest bust involving that drug.
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