International mercenary cell uncovered in Bolivia

By Joseph Fitsanakis* | intelNews | 04.20.2009
Bolivia Assassination
LAST MONTH, THE BOLIVIAN GOVERNMENT expelled a senior “diplomat” from the US embassy in La Paz, whom it accused of covertly supporting efforts to depose the country’s leftist president, Evo Morales. This past week, Bolivian authorities announced they had foiled operations by a major international anti-government mercenary group operating out of the city of Santa Cruz, a hotbed of anti-government activity in the country’s wealthy eastern provinces. Three of the unit’s members, a Bolivian of Croatian descent, an Irishman and a Romanian, were killed by Bolivian security forces; two others, a Hungarian and another Bolivian of Croatian descent, were captured and are now in custody.

THE DISCOVERY

Last Thursday, Bolivian security officials investigating the recent bombing attack on the house of Catholic cardinal Julio Terrazas, were led to Santa Cruz’s luxury Hotel Las Americas, where the five alleged mercenaries were reportedly staying. Elite Bolivian security forces conducted a pre-dawn raid at the hotel and killed three of the five suspects in the ensuing 30′ shootout. Bolivian security agents, who searched the hotel room following the raid, said they found “a cache of weapons and ammunition, including several cylinders of C-4″ high-power explosive. Their findings also led them to a separate storage unit in the city’s fairgrounds, where they uncovered several pounds of explosives and numerous assault rifles. The chief of Bolivia’s police, General Victor Hugo Escobar, said late on Thursday that all of the uncovered weapons and explosives appeared to originate from outside the country.

ASSASSINATION PLANS

General Escobar also claimed that the group had in its possession several reporters’ vests and “PRESS” identity cards, of the kind typically displayed by accredited journalists. Security officials are examining the possibility that the group may have been planning to use journalistic disguise to gain proximity to senior government officials for purposes of assassination. Furthermore, the country’s vice president, Alvaro Garcia Linera, claimed last week that a laptop recovered at the suspects’ hotel room shows they were planning to assassinate president Morales and other cabinet members. One cabinet member, minister of interior Marcos Farfán, alleged that Bolivian security forces had already managed to foil an attempt by the covert group to attack a vessel on Lake Titicaca, located on the Peruvian border, where the Bolivian government cabinet was meeting.

THE PLOT THICKENS

All five known members of the mysterious group have intriguing international backgrounds. The two arrestees, who are currently being interrogated at the Bolivian attorney general’s offices in La Paz, are Mario Tadik (or Tadić) Astorga, a right-wing Bolivian army veteran of Croatian descent, and Előd (or Elődöt) Tóásó, a known Hungarian nationalist and computer expert. Interestingly, both Tadić and Tóásó fought as mercenaries for the Croatian forces in the in the Croatian War of Independence from Yugoslavia, in 1991-1995.

The three killed include Irishman Michael Martin Dwyer, and Árpád (or Arpak, or Ariad) Magyarosi, reportedly an expert sniper who was a nationalist member of Romania’s Hungarian minority. Comparatively little is known about Dwyer, 24, who was a student at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. British media report that Dwyer’s personal Facebook page contains several photographs of “himself in military gear and holding fake weapons”.

THE THIRD MAN

The third person killed has been named as Eduardo Rózsa Flores, also known as Jorge Hurtado Flores, 48, a Bolivian-Croatian national, who was reportedly the leader of the Bolivian operation. Flores’ journey is an interesting one, to say the least. He was born to a Hungarian father and Spanish mother, who in 1972 left Bolivia for Chile, in support of Chilean president Salvador Allende’s socialist experiment. The Flores family later moved to Europe, where Eduardo’s political views shifted gradually to the right. In 1992, he moved to Croatia, where he fought as a mercenary for the anti-Yugoslav nationalist forces and eventually led the Croatian forces’ First International Platoon (Prvi Internacionalni Vod, known as PIV), an amalgamation of foreign nationalist mercenaries from several nations operating under Croatian command. At the end of the Yugoslav Wars, Flores was awarded Croatian citizenship and moved to Hungary, where he became increasingly vocal in far-right circles. According to one of his Hungarian contacts, Flores relocated to Bolivia in May 2008 “to fight against its communist government”.

LINKS TO OPPOSITION FINANCIERS

Several Bolivian officials have said that Eduardo Rózsa Flores was invited to join the militant anti-Morales opposition by Branko Gora Marinković Jovicević, 42, one of Bolivia’s richest individuals and a well-known financier of the anti-government opposition. Marinković, who holds dual Bolivian-Croatian citizenship, was born to a Croat father and a Montenegrin mother, who immigrated to Bolivia from Yugoslavia in the 1950s, allegedly under fear of retribution after having collaborated with Nazi-affiliated Croat forces during World War II. A resident of prosperous Santa Cruz, Marinković was until recently a leader in the separatist campaign by Bolivia’s energy-rich white-controlled provinces. In late 2008, however, he stepped out of the political limelight, reportedly to shield the movement from revelations about his family’s “Nazi past”.

BEHIND THE OPERATION

It has already been confirmed by several sources in Bolivia, Croatia, Hungary and elsewhere, that at least three of the five members of the covert cell fought (possibly together) in the Croatian War of Independence during the 1990s. What is more, Bolivian investigators have traced the mercenaries’ travel routes from Croatia and Ireland to Bolivia.

The fact that the five were staying in one of the country’s most luxurious hotels is undoubtedly seen by investigators as evidence of substantial funding in support of the operation. The Croatian link connecting most of the five mercenaries, including alleged leader Eduardo Flores, is also important. Traditionally, the militant far right in Bolivia, Venezuela and Guatemala has relied on mercenaries from nearby Colombia, Nicaragua, Argentina or the United States. Inviting European mercenaries is certainly not unheard of, but it is notably rare, and points to possible connections with Branko Marinković. Additionally, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the five to operate out of Santa Cruz without the tacit consent of Marinković and his clique, who virtually own the city.

US INVOLVEMENT SUSPECTED

The question, of course, is whether Langley was aware of the covert operation. US media outlets have remained strangely silent on the entire affair (if a single major article has appeared so far on this subject in a mainstream US news outlet I would very much like to know it). But European media, where the news from Bolivia has been making headlines, report that an enraged Evo Morales asked US President Barack Obama “to repudiate the plot” during a closed-door session, noting that “[i]f the US president did not repudiate the alleged conspiracy I might think it was organized through the [US] embassy”. President Obama reportedly told his Bolivian counterpart that “he was unfamiliar with the incident” and denied that “his administration was [...] involved”.

Meanwhile, the investigation in La Paz continues. Sources tell me that Interpol has confirmed the mercenaries’ travel routes and Croatian connection, and it is actively assisting Bolivian investigators. It is admittedly rare that two members of an alleged international assassination squad are captured alive, or that laptops and documents containing information on planned operations are seized by government authorities. It could well be the case that Bolivian officials are already in possession of information that may soon embarrass several intelligence services in the Americas and beyond.

* Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis has been writing and teaching on the politics of intelligence for over ten years. His areas of academic expertise include the institutional analysis of the intelligence community; the interception of communications; and the history of intelligence with particular reference to international espionage during the Cold War. He is co-founder and Senior Editor of intelNews.org. His latest writings for intelNews.org are available here.

About these ads

29 Responses to International mercenary cell uncovered in Bolivia

  1. anon says:

    Interestingly, both Tadić and Tóásó fought as mercenaries for the Croatian forces in the in the Croatian War of Independence from Yugoslavia, in 1991-1995. ????

    What?????? Elod Toaso is 29. Don’t tell me he was fighting in the war at the age of 11. Do your research. These guys were in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was all a setup. 5 guys in different rooms. How hard is it to arrest one guy in a hotel room when you are 25 men strong? But I guess just killing them in their sleep is easier.

  2. anon says:

    The three killed include Irishman Michael Martin Dwyer, and Árpád (or Arpak, or Ariad) Magyarosi, reportedly an expert sniper who was a nationalist member of Romania’s Hungarian minority. Comparatively little is known about Dwyer, 24, who was a student at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. British media report that Dwyer’s personal Facebook page contains several photographs of “himself in military gear and holding fake weapons”.

    LET THIS BE A LESSON TO YOU ALL….TAKE NO HALLOWEEN PICTURES B/C NEXT THING YOU KNOW YOU WILL BE LABELED A TERRORIST, SNIPER, MERCENARY. NO MORE ARMY FATIGUES FOR YOU!

  3. intelNews says:

    Take it easy on the question marks. This story is still developing and some information has changed since last night, when I wrote the story. There are conflicting accounts on Tóásó’s age. B92 in Belgrade is reporting that he is over 40 years old. The Wall Street Journal says he is 28. Two of my sources have cautioned me that Előd Tóásó is not even his real name. Furthermore, I received word earlier today from someone familiar with developments in La Paz saying that Árpád Magyarosi may actually be Hungarian, not Romanian. In short, the facts are still unclear and you can be certain that the above story will be updated as more information surfaces. [JF]

  4. anonymous says:

    Elod Toaso IS his real name and he IS 28. He went to school with my husband…As did Arpad Magyarosi, who is from Transylvania (Hungarian) and as we know, that part of Hungary was taken by Romania after the first world war. He is Hungarian by blood and a Romanian citizen.

    The story IS still developing…but my take on it is… they were there perhaps to film a documentary and/or help with a civil movement against the government. NOT to assassinate the president.

    I know Arpad, he is not capable of hurting a fly. His intentions were good… wrong place-wrong time. Unfortunately … I just can’t believe how they displayed the dead bodies for the press. So sad…..

  5. JPBolivian says:

    Agreed, this story reeks of BS to all high hell. Why is it that the international community blindly believe all the LIES that come from this so called democratic goverment.
    Get the picture people.

  6. shekissesfrogs says:

    Mr. Fitsinakis, thank you for this fine report.
    There is a discussion at the democraticunderground.com on the Croats in Bolivia. After reading through this report, and those links, it’s ridiculous to try to sell the presence of these mercenary fighters in Bolivia as benign. They are all neo-fascist extremists, including the irishman.

    This story has many of the same elements as the Gladio operation, the Madrid train station bombing, Nazi/ Vatican/CIA rat line.
    It doesn’t surprise me that Obama doesn’t know.. The NSA redacts his mail.
    Who is this cabal, and how can we rid the world of them? As for the nay-sayer apologists

  7. shekissesfrogs says:

    disinfo- army fatigues as a Halloween costume? Perhaps they were his pajamas?

  8. anon says:

    I just watched the last secret interview/will of Eduardo Rozsa Flores on Hungarian TV. He said he was called upon by the people of Santa Cruz to help with the fight for autonomy and organize a defense for the civilians if things get ugly.

    http://www.hirado.hu/Hirek/2009/04/21/21/Exkluziv_felvetel_Nezze.aspx

    Funny thing is….Morales says that Croatia, Ireland and Hungary have no right to do an investigation as to what happened. Hmmm….

  9. anon says:

    Hotel Manager contradicts police

    From La Razón newspaper (Bolivia)

    1. Hernán Rosel, the hotel’s Manager, says that all five members of the group were in their rooms before, during and after the attack on the Cardinal’s residence.

    2. He says that an inspection of the rooms by the hotel’s own security staff found no indication whatsoever that any member of the group fired at the police. The only bullet holes were near the bodies.

    3. He is adamant that their car, which police claim was used in the attack on the Cardinal’s residence, never left the hotel.

    Rosel stated that the five signed the hotel registry on Tuesday night. “Three of them arrived at 8.30p.m., and two more at 10.40 p.m. They said they were visiting Santa Cruz and decided to change hotel. The Receptionist told me that they were very polite.”

    The Special Forces group entered the hotel just after 4.00 a.m. They blew open the door of Room 458, where Eduardo Rozsa was staying. According to the hotel security’s report, there were 10 bullet holes close to where his body lay. There wasn’t a single bullet hole in the door or the corridor.

    Room 457 had 3 bullet holes in the wall, near the bed, where Magyarosi Arpad died. In Room 456, where Michael Martin Dwyer died, there was a single bullet hole….

  10. Stefan says:

    I want to reply to a post where someone said that Transilvania was part of the Hungary and was taken by Romania after the first world war. This is totally wrong, someone missed the history class…is was just the opposite…Transilvania is a Romanian region and it was so from ancient times. Hungarian population in Transilvania is just a minority.

  11. anonymous says:

    You gotta be kidding me…get your facts straight buddy.

    http://www.hungarian-history.hu/lib/faf/toc02.htm

    http://www.zum.de/whkmla/region/eceurope/xtransylvania.html

    I guess you’d better brush up on YOUR history.

  12. anonymous says:

    shekissesfrogs: they were there to organize a defense for the movement towards autonomy….NOT to assassinate anybody.

    “They are all neo-fascist extremists, including the irishman”

    Well….as you know…you can’t go by everything you read.

  13. Mike M. says:

    Better read what you post before you post it, pal!

    “Morales said he had no objection to an international commission coming to Bolivia to investigate the matter, as his political opponents have requested ”

    Also, the Kansas City article confirms: “In a previously recorded interview broadcast Tuesday in Hungary, one of the three men who was killed said his purpose for being in Bolivia was to help form a militia to defend the province of Santa Cruz against the national government”

    So much for a documentary film maker!

  14. intelNews says:

    Would the anonymous poster who says she knew Tóásó please get in touch with me so we can get some facts straight on this story? Thanks. [JF]

  15. anonymous says:

    Right Mike… he helped with many humanitarian missions. The people of Santa Cruz asked him to help defend themselves as they move towards autonomy. He did this without pay and out of his goodwill for his country and people. Nowhere in there does it say that he wants to assassinate the president. He was a protester always fighting for civil rights….then shot innocently….without being tried or proven guilty. Is that justice?

  16. Dan, Romania says:

    This [edited], Evo Morales declared war to all europeans and white people… my opinion is that, the three were killed as a diversion staged by the [edited] dictator… I hope my authorities together with the irish and croat will make this [edited] Morales to pay for this crime… Personally I will try to avoid that country, even a luxury hotel is not safe in La Paz, you can become a part of a hunt organized by bolivian security forces….

    [EDITOR'S NOTE: You can write just about anything in here, so long as you (a) stick to the same identity; (b) don't resort to all-out racism and bigotry; (c) don't spam us with crap. This especially applies to you if you get high using racial epithets shielded behind the anonymity of your private keyboard. You will find absolutely no tolerance for this sort of behavior in here. We clear?]

  17. David Sarkozy says:

    Whatever happened, you’ve got to admit it’s a great story………..

  18. Saoirsí says:

    My own feeling from reading up on this is that the young Irishman, Michael Dwyer, was more the young adventurer type looking for action through association with mercenaries and international private security (not defending or sympathising with that, BTW). I get the impression he thought he was off on a grand adventure where he would be a well paid security-goon, not understanding at all the creek he was paddling up.

    It was actually a bit pathetic – he was boasting to his family and friends on his Bebo page that he had just gotten a new BMW – he even had in his profile section what kind of novel/fictional assassin he was most like (Day of the Jackal, I think). He may have been stupid, or a private security “hot-dog”, to use US police parlance, but I’m not sure he was necessarily a fascist.

    He was apparently also associated with an Irish security firm run by an ex-Irish Army Ranger, that had dealings with Shell against a local protest group in Mayo. (Page 3 of latest issue of “Phoenix Magazine”, Ireland, Vol. 27, No.8):

    http://www.thephoenix.ie

    On the Hungarian site, now taken down, “photosniper.freedom.hu” I think, there were Army-fraternity-type patches on sale commemorating 2 “operations” in Mayo: one for Shell (with a Grateful-Dead-like yellow skull based on Shells’ logo) and one for the ship ‘Solitaire’ laying pipeline (Skull and crossbones, of course):

    http://209.85.229.132/search?q=cache-X6kfNm1UySAJ-photosniper.freedom.hu/aruhaz/index.php%3Fmain_page%3Dproducts_all%26currency%3DUSD%26disp_order%3D3%26page%3D2+operation+glengad+beach+photosniper&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ie

    This website was in a previous incarnation titled, and linked to, the security firm ‘Renegades Private Agency’ (checked through archive.org:
    ). Key words on the meta tags for that old page source include “soldier” and “war”. In fact, even a later page on the site’s links section

    http://photosniper.freedom.hu/revesztk/index.php?q=node/4

    had a banner linked to rpa-hq.tk (now offline, I think).

    There is also an Irish connection, of sorts, at:
    http-/209.85.229.132/search?q=cache-yef-Oez6gpoJ-magyaroldal.multiply.com/+%22Renegades+Private+Agency%22&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ie&client=firefox-a
    – There is a cert from the ‘International and Protective Security Agency, London’ detailing a training course:
    ‘based on the Anti terrorism Assistance… program’
    – with a contact in Ireland (phone & email) called Tibor Révész. The website name, Cahil, is Irish, but with a ‘.tk’ TLD. If you check

    http://photosniper.freedom.hu/cahil.swf

    (H/T to politics.ie) a Flash presentation on ‘Foireann Cahil’ (Gaelic) which seems to be a slide show of armed private security anti-terrorism scenarios;
    Under ‘Aircraft Tactical Combat’ there is one photo of what seems to be Dwyer.

    Further down the page of

    http://209.85.229.132/search?q=cache-yef-Oez6gpoJ-magyaroldal.multiply.com/+%22Renegades+Private+Agency%22&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ie&client=firefox-a

    ‘Renegades Private Agency’ is mentioned in the work bio of Revesz. Rósza is listed at top, but not sure what connection is.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I was a member of the internationals and i certainly dont remember a bolivian in charge of my platoon.seargent was a british paratrooper and commander was italian.

  20. Mark Loeb says:

    That’s actually even worse than having a local person in charge. What were Brits and Italians doing in Bolivia? This is textbook definition of a foreign-instigated coup.

  21. KMansfield says:

    Another link in the chain – Looks like Obama is rolling out his orwellian neoliberal empire agenda, while paying fallacious lip service to democratic principles.
    “Armando Valladares’ CIA organization linked to plot against Evo Morales”

    Apparently an the head of an American NGO funded by USAID, U.S. Human Rights foundation (HRF), purportedly a commonly used CIA front “met with the with the killers’ leader, Hungarian-Bolivian Eduardo Rózsa-Flores, on “four or five” occasions” before their mission was intercepted and they were killed.

    http://www.granma.cu/ingles/2009/mayo/vier15/Valladares.html

  22. J says:

    I moved to Bolivia from England last year and I remember this story being broadcast on the local news channel.
    So many details have been kept quiet and the whole incident was swept under the rug in less than a week.

    The most interesting thing that I saw from the TV, was that as the Police carried the bodies out of the hotel, the bodies were wearing plasticuffs.
    Surely even mercs are no threat when they are dead?

  23. Anonymus says:

    Toaso attended a well known military academy in Hungary. Nobody is going to convince me he went to Bolivia to film a documentary. He does not look to be in his 40’s however. I agree there are many unknowns about this story, however the silence of the US media is puzzling and adds to the suspicion.

  24. j says:

    damn good article on this stuff here:

    http://www.indymedia.ie/article/92865

    To my mind, key to this was morales’ nationalisation of a lucrative gas pipeline (owned partly by shell and ashmore); then these guys turn up, having worked security for another shell project in ireland (ashmore has an irish link too..) ..

  25. Anonymous says:

    We can speculate all day about this one but I think it boils down to oil/gas. Shell has very close ties with Integrated Risk Management Services, an irish PSC run by an ex Army Ranger. They have played a dirty game in Sudan, smuggling weapons and mercs via Kenya in an attemt to spread chaos and allow Shell to take over the Chinese run oil/gas reserves. Dwyer had links to IRMS. CIA obviously involved. Sounds very similiar to this event. We’ll never know the truth but it sounds to me like Shell hiring mercs, albeit not good ones in this case, to cause an uproar and it can step in and make a fortune.

IntelNews welcomes corrections. Send us yours by filling in the form below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 683 other followers