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Noriega Took Drug Funds, His Ex-Aide Testifies

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Federal prosecutors Tuesday offered their first testimony that Manuel A. Noriega accepted profits from illicit drug sales directly from the hands of one of his trusted military aides.

The testimony of Lt. Col. Luis A. del Cid, a former Noriega confidant in the Panamanian Defense Forces, came just before the close of court on the second day of the government’s conspiracy, racketeering and drug-smuggling case against the deposed Panamanian strongman.

Del Cid, a former co-defendant with Noriega who pleaded guilty to one charge of drug-trafficking last December, responded to only a few questions from assistant prosecutor Myles Malman before the trial was recessed for two days in observance of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. Del Cid will take the witness stand again on Thursday.

Asked to tell the jury the charge he had pleaded guilty to, the burly witness replied: “Delivering money to Gen. Noriega from Floyd Carlton-Caceres.”

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Carlton, a former pilot for Colombia’s Medellin drug cartel, entered into a plea bargain with the government two years ago and is expected to testify later about flying profits derived from cocaine sales in the United States from Florida to Noriega’s military headquarters in Panama City.

“What kind of money did you deliver?” Malman asked Del Cid.

“Drug money,” he replied.

He was not immediately asked to specify the amount or circumstances of the delivery.

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Del Cid said he had known Noriega for 25 years since Noriega was a second lieutenant and he was a common soldier. As Del Cid rose through the ranks, he said through an interpreter, he “always followed the orders” of his superior officers.

Earlier Tuesday, a veteran drug informant for the government testified that on a visit to Medellin, Colombia, in 1984 he had seen the drug cartel’s ledger book, which bore Noriega’s name as well as those of other foreign officials. He said the book also contained details of the distribution of the drug profits.


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