Mercenary Activities - Part One
During the time of the People's Revolutionary Government of Grenada, the leaders were watchful and alert for signs of what they termed destabilisation and mercenary activity.
Almost immediately, because the deposed Prime Minister Eric Gairy was in the United States when the New Jewel Movement leaders took control of Grenada, Bishop and others were sure Gairy was hiring mercenaries to invade Grenada so Gairy could continue his governance.
At the same time, suspicions about the United States and what actions the US might take took priority as an equally important concern.
Almost two years into the People's Revolutionary Government, and following the Queen's Park bombing of 19 June 1980, Prime Minister Maurice Bishop presented a feature address on 11 July 1981 at the Official Launching of the Media Workers Association of Free Grenada. Bishop spoke about the matters chronicled below:
"Equally the evidence of propaganda intervention and destabilisation is also overwhelming, and at the same time we know that the evidence of mercenary invasion is also a real possibility. We can see it from those who are being trained in Miami, openly being trained; we can see it from the fact that this is being shown on American television and publicly these mercenaries are admitting that they are being trained for Nicaragua and for Grenada. We can see it recently from what was planned for Dominica and for Grenada when the Klu (sic) Klux Klan elements spent a lot of time working out with other forces a whole plan to invade these two sister islands of Dominica and Grenada using the racist Klu (sic) Klux Klan as mercenaries."
In a 5 July 1981 General Meeting of the People's Revolutionary Government, the minutes state that Bishop presented this information to the members:
A run-down was given of a newspaper article the Chairman said he read on the court proceedings of persons (members of the Klu (sic) Klux Klan) involved in the planned invasion of Dominica. According to the confession of those involved, Grenada was to be the first target but after consideration, this assignment was considered too tough, - it would cost too much money and loss of men to invade Grenada - So they decided to invade Dominica instead and use there as a base.
Bishop was so concerned about this that he wrote about mercenaries in his 12-page typed letter to then US President Ronald Reagan on August 11, 1981. Below are the excerpted paragraphs in original order:
Mr. President, I wish to refer to one other matter of the deepest concern to the Government of Grenada which seems to demonstrate your Government's hostility and indifference to the vital interests of Grenada. There are abundant credible reports currently circulating about the activities of mercenaries who are at this moment being trained on United States territory for deployment against certain regional countries including Grenada. It is impossible to believe that the law enforcement agencies in your country are not privy to those reports. Convincing evidence in support of the veracity of these reports recently came to light when a number of mercenaries were intercepted near the Mississippi state line just as they were about to embark on an invasion of the Commonwealth of Dominica, one of the four Windward Islands. Statements made by some of the persons who were apprehended reveal that the primary objective of their operation was the invasion of Grenada and that Dominica was going to be used by them as a base from which to conduct operations.
Mr. President, you are no doubt aware of Resolution No. 35/48 which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 4, 1980 and which established an Ad Hoc Committee on the drafting of an International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries. This Committee comprises thirty-five Member States, including the United States of America.
You are also doubtless aware of United Nations General Assembly Resolution No. 35/35 adopted on November 13, 1980, operative paragraph 7 of which reaffirms that the practice of using mercenaries against national liberation movements and sovereign states constituted a 'criminal act and that mercenaries themselves are criminals'. This Resolution calls upon the Governments of all countries to enact legislation declaring the recruitment, financing and training of mercenaries on their territories to be punishable offences, and prohibiting their nationals from serving as mercenaries, and to report on such legislation to the Secretary General of the United Nations.
The United Nations Resolutions to which I have referred quite clearly show the degree of odium and reprehension with which the international community regards mercenaries, feelings which I am sure the Government of the United States of America shares.
It is the firm belief of the People's Revolutionary Government of Grenada that the passage of legislation in the terms outlined in operative paragraph 7 of United Nations Resolution No. 35/35 of November 14, 1980 would contribute significantly to measure which are necessary to deal with the question of mercenaries. My Government accordingly appeals to you to ensure that the necessary legislation is enacted by your Government and to take firm action to prohibit the recruitment, financing and training of mercenaries in your country.
In retrospect, writing about the right wing in Canada in "Is God a Racist?" (©1987) University of Guelph Professor Stanley R. Barrett states this about Grenada:
"If the Dominica escapade had been the plot of a novel, it might well have been rejected by publishers as totally implausible . . . The original target was Grenada, where the Marxist government led by Maurice Bishop had overthrown Sir Eric Gairy. The plan was to re-establish Gairy as head of state, in return for financial and other gains, but it fell through when he refused to accompany the invading landing party of white supremacists."
Mercenary Activities - Part One - is only a start of reports about real and perceived threats to the Revolutionary Government on this website.
For Grenada—The Invasion That Almost Was
27 April 1981, Dominica.
The detailed and excellently written material below is quoted from Matthew A. Lauder's report "The Far Right wing Movement in Southwest Ontario: An Exploration of Issues, Themes, and Variations" unless specifically noted.
Droege and Dominica: The US-Canadian Extremist Connection
It is a tale so bizarre that newspapers called it a comic book escapade and local police named it the Bayou of Pigs. What makes the story so incredible is that, although it read like a Hollywood plot, the invasion, according to FBI anti-terrorism specialists, had a high rate of success. Commenting at the time, Eugenia Charles, the Prime Minister of Dominica, stated that the island's police force was unprepared for the planned invasion and that a lot of people would have died.
On 27 April 1981, two Canadians, Wolfgang Walter Droege and Larry Lloyd Jacklin, along with eight Americans, were arrested in New Orleans by US government agents in an early morning raid. Later, four more Canadians would be arrested, including Marion McGuire, James McQuirter, Charles Yanover, and Harold Woods.
All of the Canadians and Americans arrested were members of the far right with the exception of Yanover and Woods. Yanover is a well-known Mafia crime figure from Toronto while Woods was a psychiatric patient apparently in love with McGuire who was arrested in Dominica when he tried to break McQuirter out of prison.
In Dominica, Patrick 'PJ' John, the former Prime Minister, Major Fred Newton, the commander of the army, three additional army officers, and two civilians (including Dennis Joseph, the former manager of the Dominican broadcasting service) were arrested. In total, more than 20 people were convicted of conspiracy charges in Canada, the US, and Dominica.
Operation Red Dog
The invasion, named Operation Red Dog by the mercenaries, was simple. The group of white supremacists and neo-Nazis planned to travel from New Orleans to Dominica on a chartered boat, land on the island at night using rubber boats, meet up with former Prime Minister John and his guerrilla force of disgruntled army veterans and Rastafarian rebels, and then lay waste to the police force and political leaders and install a junta government.
. . . the primary purpose of the invasion was not to establish a base of operations for white supremacists (although this was a secondary concern), but rather to set-up a series of lucrative businesses, including cocaine manufacturing plants, casinos, hotels, brothels, and a gunrunning operation, and to exploit the country's labour and natural resources for the benefit of the mercenaries and the financial backers. Considering the size of Dominica, which is only 300 square miles, and its limited military and police force, the coup was achievable.
One of the central figures of the failed invasion was Wolfgang Droege. Born on 25 September 1949 in Forcheim, Germany, Droege moved to Canada in 1963. In 1967, Droege moved back to Germany to join the military; unsuccessful, he returned to Canada a short time later, eventually receiving Canadian citizenship in the early 1970s. But it was in Germany that Droege's interest in the far right blossomed after attending meetings of Adolf van Thadden's National Party. In 1974, Droege met Don Andrews in Toronto and, within a matter of weeks, joined the Western Guard and within two years he was a significant force in the North American racialist movement.
In September 1976, Droege attended the International Patriotic Congress in Metairie, Louisiana. The event was sponsored by David Duke, leader of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and was attended by leading racists from around the world. At the conference, Droege met with prominent Canadian racists James Alexander McQuirter and John Ross Taylor and started to network with a number of American racist leaders including David Duke, (Stephen) Don Black, and Louis Beam.
Droege Joins David Duke's Klan
It was at the congress that Droege decided to join the Duke's Klan and it was also Droege who officially imported and started the Ku Klux Klan in Toronto in the late 1970s. McQuirter then joined a few months later.
McQuirter, Grand Wizard
Although McQuirter became the Grand Wizard of the Canadian Ku Klux Klan, the actual leader of the group, according to several sources, was actually Droege. A source reported that McQuirter was given the role of leader simply due to his boyish good looks and his charming personality and that Droege controlled the organisation from behind the scenes. He looked good in the robes and he had media savvy, said the source. But Wolfgang was McQuirter's intellectual superior, and it was Droege who came up with all of the plans.
In the spring of 1977, Droege and Ann Ladas, another member of the Western Guard, drove to Buffalo, New York, to attend a Klan rally at which Duke and Black were speaking. After the rally, Droege convinced the two Klan leaders to visit Toronto to stir-up some media attention for the racialist movement. Both men, who were legally in Canada, stayed as Andrews' house guests and, within a day of their arrival, organized a visit to Queen's Park to present a letter of protest against new hate crime legislation to the Attorney General.
Duke also made the most of his visit by appearing on CITY-TV, a regional television station in Toronto. For the Nationalist Party of Canada and the Ku Klux Klan, the visit was an absolute success as the media attention provided national exposure, encouraging several people to join the racialist movement.
Canadian Klan Moves West
With the Klan firmly established in Toronto, Droege and McQuirter decided to open a new chapter in Vancouver (Droege was also acting as a representative of the Nationalist Party of Canada). At Droege's request, Duke returned to Canada in April of 1978 to officially open the Klan's west coast chapter. During his visit, Duke spoke to new members and did several interviews, once again providing the Klan with national media exposure. The Canadian Ku Klux Klan was on a roll, and police and media reports indicated that it was getting larger on the west coast.
Canadian Klan Opens Public Office in Toronto
With the success of the Klan, it was not long before Droege and McQuirter decided to break free of Andrews' stagnating NPC. By the spring of 1979, the Klan opened a public office in the Riverdale neighbourhood of Toronto. Although McQuirter declared the Klan to have more than 2,000 members across Canada, police sources report that the Toronto membership peaked at 70 and newsletter subscribers numbered about 200.
The author Matthew A. Lauder with Don Black and David Duke
David Duke Changes Strategy, Tries to Market the National Association for the Advancement of White People
In the summer of 1979, Duke handed control of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan over to Black, deciding to take a less radical approach to the white nationalist movement. Droege returned to Louisiana in September 1979 to assist Duke in his bid for state senator. Although Droege remained a Klan organiser in Canada, he was also committed to Duke's new approach and offered assistance in developing a more conservative political image under the banner of the National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP), which Duke tried to market as a civil liberties organization for Caucasian-Americans. Sources indicate that Droege was integral in the planning and development of Duke's new group.
Duke Introduces Droege to Mike Perdue
It was during this period that Duke introduced Droege to Mike Perdue, a long-time Klan member. Perdue, a self-proclaimed mercenary, outlined his plan to overthrow the government of Grenada and to set-up several lucrative businesses on the island. By the end of the meeting, Droege was committed to the operation and offered his assistance and arranged a meeting.
Perdue Changes Target from Grenada to Dominica
According to a source, while discussing the feasibility of the operation with Droege and Andrews in Toronto, Perdue decided to change the target from Grenada to Dominica. As a result, Andrews withdrew from direct involvement in the coup. However, Andrews did arrange a meeting between Perdue and Martin Weiche, a long-time right wing leader from London, Ontario. Sources indicate that Weiche invested approximately $10,000 in the invasion, but this has never been substantiated. Although Weiche publicly denies involvement in the invasion, a source revealed that, soon after meeting Perdue, he took an extended vacation on the island, likely to check the feasibility of the operation and to perform preliminary reconnaissance.
Following the meeting with Weiche, Andrews contacted Arnie Polli, a member of the Western Guard and the NPC and, unknown to the invasion organizers, an OPP informant. Polli was given $3,000 US to perform reconnaissance with Roger Dermee, also a member of the Western Guard, on the island. Andrews also put Perdue in contact with Charles Yanover, a well-known organized crime figure in Toronto. Yanover who was ecstatic with the idea of setting up an island government, provided Perdue with a $10,000 advance.
In return for the investment, Yanover was given the right to set-up a gunrunning operation to smuggle weapons into South Africa and Central America. Although Andrews denies any direct involvement in the mission, it has been reported that he, too, visited Dominica on several occasions and met with various business partners, eventually buying into a coffee manufacturing business on the island.
Droege Checks Out Dominica, Meets Investors
In the summer of 1980, Droege travelled to Dominica and spent nearly two weeks on the island meeting with several investors from Las Vegas. The investors, who were connected to the Mafia, invited Droege to Las Vegas to further discuss the invasion. After visiting the investors in late 1980, Droege and Perdue returned to Las Vegas in January 1981 to finalize the plan.
Contract Signed with Patrick John
At the meeting it was decided that Droege would remain in Las Vegas while Perdue travelled to Dominica to get John to sign a contract that secured military participation in the coup as well as assurances that all natural resources and development projects on the island would be handed over to the mercenaries and the investors. In return, Perdue promised John that he would be reinstated as Prime Minister.
Under the agreement with the business group from Las Vegas, the mercenaries would receive more than $8 million. By winter 1981, Droege and Perdue secured more than $100,000 in capital for the invasion.
Things Turn Bad
But things turned bad for white-supremacist mercenaries. Just two months before the invasion, the boat captain that Duke arranged to ferry the mercenaries to Dominica suddenly backed-out. Perdue, dismayed at the loss, walked into a nearby marina and approached Mike Howell, a local boat captain and Vietnam veteran, and spun a story of the CIA needing his boat for a covert operation. Unconvinced, Howell informed the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) of the supposed secret government operation.
To make matters worse, McQuirter contacted a reporter from CFTR Radio (in Toronto) in March 1981 and informed him of the coup. Sources indicate that McQuirter intended to capitalize on the ensuing media coverage to build his public image. Suffering an ethical dilemma between an exclusive-story or allowing many people to die, the reporter, apparently against the direction of his superior at the radio station, contacted the police.
Leaving Matt Lauder's report and turning to Searle in 'Grenada: The Struggle Against Destabilization':
"On 21 May 1981 'The Toronto Globe and Mail' newspaper published an interview with James McQuirter, the Grand Wizard of the Canadian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and Donald Andrews, former head of the racist Western Guard. They admitted that Perdue had often discussed with them his dream of controlling a Caribbean island for a base of operations. After the 1979 Revolution, Grenada had become a favorite candidate, as Perdue harboured a further fantasy of 'toppling a revolutionary government.' He had contacted Gairy after the latter's flight to the US in 1979, but the two differed over what was to be the best strategy for a mercenary attack. Perdue preferred sending armed mercenaries directly by boat, but the Gairy plan was for them to enter the country posing as tourists and then to seize weapons from the police and the People's Revolutionary Army."
Countdown To Invasion of Dominica
The Matt Lauder report continues:
In April 1981, Yanover and an associate returned from a reconnaissance trip of the island to finalise the operational plan in Toronto. At the meeting it was decided that McGuire and Yanover would return to Dominica, just days prior to the coup, to meet with the invasion team after they landed on the beach. McQuirter would also travel to Dominica a few days in advance to organize local resistance with the assistance of John and his military leaders. The invasion force, which included Droege, Perdue, Black and seven other Americans, would leave from New Orleans on Howell's boat with all of the weapons and explosives onboard.
'The Mañana' - planned invasion vessel
Dominica Police Arrest Patrick John
Just prior to the planned invasion John was arrested by the Dominica police after his involvement in the coup was discovered, which became international news. On behalf of the mercenaries, the reporter from CFTR called Prime Minister Charles in Dominica and confirmed John's arrest.
Too Late To Turn Back
But Perdue was unfazed by the news and simply told his associates that it was too late to turn back, and that too much time and money has been invested in this mission to call it off now.
Showdown in New Orleans - Undercover Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire Arms Agents
On 26 April 1981, Droege and Perdue met with three suppliers in New Orleans. Unknown to the mercenaries, the three men were undercover ATF agents. Perdue told the undercover agents that the invasion would go ahead the next night and for them to meet the mercenaries at a predetermined location.
On the night of 27 April 1981, the 10 mercenaries, accompanied by three undercover government agents, met at a nearby park, put the weapons and ammunition in a van, and departed for the marina. When they arrived, an emergency task force team from the FBI was waiting. With spotlights in their faces and surrounded by government agents with automatic weapons, the mercenaries were in absolute shock. Perdue and Droege never thought that they would get caught.
The agents confiscated a number of automatic weapons, shotguns, rifles, handguns, dynamite, over 5000 rounds of ammunition, and a Nazi flag.
Items confiscated by US authorities on 27 April 1981
Justice was not kind to the mercenaries. Droege, Perdue, and McQuirter each received a three-year prison term while Yanover was sentenced to 6 months. The other mercenaries received sentences from a year to three years.
McQuirter, however, was not charged until a year after the failed coup. Apparently, McQuirter, thinking he was not culpable of a criminal offence, openly bragged about his involvement in the coup to the media. McQuirter was eventually charged with, and convicted of, conspiracy to overthrow a foreign government, fraud, and conspiracy to commit murder (a charge related to McQuirter planning to kill his girlfriend's former common-law husband) and received two years for his involvement in the coup and five more for murder conspiracy and counterfeiting (McQuirter remained in prison until 1989).
[Patrick] John was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Polli, the police informant, and the CFTR reporter both escaped criminal prosecution.
David Duke in the 1970s. Sources indicate he played a vital organising role in the failed invasion.
Appreciation to Matthew A. Lauder and the Guelph & District Multicultural Centre for permission to reproduce the above portion of the report and most of the photos.
A book was published on the whole affair: Bell, Stewart, Bayou of Pigs: The true story of an audacious plot to turn a tropical island into a criminal paradise, John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd. ©2008.
NOTE: Wolfgang Droege was reportedly shot dead in a suburban Toronto apartment in Scarborough on 14 April 2005. Patrick John was pardoned by Prime Minister Dame Eugenia Charles of Dominica in 1990.
A later compilation of information of this mysterious story was researched and detailed in a 284 pagebook called “Bayou of Pigs,” by Stewart Bell.
Journalist Bell wrote of Mike Perdue’s interest in Grenada when Perdue learned about the revolution there. Purdue flew to San Diego to talk with deposed Grenadian Prime Minister Eric Matthew Gairy. He found out Gairy’s telephone number from another journalist and phoned Gairy to set up a hotel meeting.
According the Stewart Bell, Perdue told Gairy about himself and said all he needed was a contract. Bell wrote:
Gairy did not enter into a formal agreement with Perdue or give him money. He was noncommittal, and neither accepted nor declined the proposition, but Perdue sensed that Gairy was interested, and that was good enough.
He [Perdue] decided to begin planning the invasion of Grenada. He would overthrow Maurice Bishop and return Gairy to power.
All twists and turns, the story can leave the reader asking, according to Bell, (1) Was the CIA behind this, (2) Was Operation Red Dog a way to grab right-winger adventurers, (3) was the coup staged in Dominica by Eugenia Charles to get rid of Patrick John, or (4) the authors supposition that Operation Red Dog was “Mike Perdue’s ultimate get-rich scam” and establish a “crooks paradise.”