A white substance found wrapped in banana leaves in a house in Panama frequented by Manuel A. Noriega was not cocaine as the Army believed, but a material used in voodoo, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
"It's bonding material," said a Defense Department spokeswoman, Army Maj. Kathy Wood. "It's a substance they use in voodoo rituals."
However, the Army's Criminal Investigation Division--which conducted tests on the material--would not immediately identify the substance other than to describe it as "bonding material." There was speculation that it was flour or cornmeal used in making tamales.
On Dec. 22, Army Col. Mike Snell, the commander of a U.S. infantry task force, told reporters that his troops had found 50 pounds of cocaine in a house frequented by Noriega at Ft. Amador, a military base used jointly by U.S. and Panamanian forces before the Dec. 20 U.S. invasion.
The two-story building was inhabited by a Brazilian woman believed to be Noriega's "sorceress."