Former Drug Dealer Says He Earned $108,000 as Informant
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ A government witness who testified about earning millions of dollars selling cocaine for Carlos Lehder Rivas revealed Wednesday that he also has been paid more than $100,000 as an undercover drug agent.
Thomas Harney testified Tuesday that he and an associate earned $30 million for Lehder by selling 1,500 kilograms of cocaine in an 18-month period.
Lehder, 38, and co-defendant Jack Carlton Reed, are accused of smuggling 3.3 tons of cocaine into the United States from Colombia via Norman’s Cay in the Bahamas from 1978 to 1980.
Harney also testified Tuesday that he had been told by an unindicted co- conspirator, Barry Godfrey, that Lehder was paying Bahamian Prime Minister Lynden Pindling $88,000 a month for protection through Nassau attorney Nigel Bowe.
A spokesman for Pindling has said the prime minister was cleared of bribery accusations by an inquiry board that conducted months of hearings and that there would be no further comment on such allegations.
Under cross-examination Wednesday, Harney told Jose Quinon, a Lehder defense attorney, that he began working for the Drug Enforcement Administration in 1984 after being caught trying to smuggle 4,000 pounds of marijuana on his boat.
Harney, 35, originally received a seven-year prison term on that conviction, but the term has been reduced to five years’ probation.
He said the payments from the DEA totaled $108,000, but U.S. Attorney Robert Merkle, the chief prosecutor, said the figure was actually $112,000.
Harney said that until he met Lehder in 1978, he had dealt with only small amounts of cocaine, ranging from a quarter ounce to one kilogram. When he met Lehder, he and a business associate began selling 40-50 kilos every two weeks, he testified.
″In one day for Mr. Lehder, I made $147,000,″ he said, adding that he hadn’t made that much in all of his previous drug sales, which stretched back to 1971 when he was 18.
Lehder is charged with conspiracy to smuggle cocaine, importation of cocaine and operating a continuing criminal enterprise. Prosecutors allege he is a leader of Colombia’s Medellin cartel, said to be responsible for 80 percent of the cocaine smuggled into the United States. He also has been indicted in Miami and Los Angeles.
If convicted, Lehder faces life in prison plus 165 years and forfeiture of his assets in the Bahamas.
Reed, of San Pedro, Calif., is charged only with conspiracy.