Bad Company

Every Tuesday evening, several hundred profoundly disaffected citizens gather in the ballroom of a hotel near Dallas Love Field.

Tax protesters, survivalists, anarchists, conspiracy nuts, and Biblical literalists, they are drawn together by a shared conviction. Some force beyond the Ramada lights--the government, bankers, Jews, maybe all three--is relentlessly closing in, intent on wresting away their liberties, guns, canned goods, and the weary station wagons they've parked outside.

Murmuring in smoky hallways, pulling sheaves of documents from briefcases and paper bags, the all-white, virtually all-male crowd trades intelligence on the impending imposition of one-world government and the immorality of municipal traffic courts.

From behind folding tables, prophets hawk the wares of paranoia. There are political tracts and videotapes telling the real story of the Branch Davidian siege, portent of a secret federal government plan to imprison the populace in concentration camps. There are hair brushes with attack knives hidden in the handle--for those unplanned encounters with agents of evil.

The conspiracy theories can be self-fulfilling. Convinced that the United States government is part of an international cabal out to enslave them and seize their property, many refuse to file income tax returns. When, as is inevitable, the government seizes their property in lieu of unpaid taxes, the theory proves itself true, and there is another story to start heads nodding at the Tuesday night communion of the fearful.

Bo Abbott attends these meetings with some trepidation. Many of those in attendance strike him as half-educated fools skittering from shadows. "They are ignorant people who talk funny," he says.

But Abbott is 52 years old, three months out of federal prison, dead broke, and collecting food stamps. He's living now with his retired mom in Richardson, almost whipped by his own 12-year running battle with the government. He'll take kindred spirits wherever he can find them.

Besides, Abbott figures he can hold his own when it comes to discussing the inner workings of government conspiracies.

Specifically, he says he's seen how the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the Israeli Mossad control the world's cocaine trade and skim off millions in "black" slush funds to finance covert political operations and the occasional assassination.

Until he was indicted for hauling a load of cocaine out of Bolivia, Abbott was part of the conspiracy, he says, although just a bit player. For five years, as an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration, he hopscotched across Central and South America flying planes laden with drugs, money, and guns to various destinations ordained by his government handlers.

A mailman, of sorts, for the international cabal.
"I was not a decision maker," he says. "I was a grunt at the bottom. If I hadn't been making money, I doubt I would have done it."

To some extent, Abbott's claims can be verified. Court records show he was a federal drug informant during much of the 1970s. The DEA taught him how to fly, with special training for takeoffs and landings on short, hazardous runways.

He did, federal court files show, drift in and out of places like Bolivia, Belize, Panama, and Nicaragua with some frequency and on some business. And he did have more than a small hand in international drug trafficking. In fact, Abbott and a former DEA agent, since sent to prison himself, used to fly planeloads of drugs into the Addison airport.

During his salad days, Abbott claims, he was making between $75,000 and $100,000 a year from his various drug deals and informant pay.

It is a far leap from the available record of Abbott's curious life to his assertions that the CIA masterminds the world's cocaine trade. But if he can just find someone to listen, Abbott wants to rip the lid off the whole stinking mess.

"If I'm full of shit," he says, "what was I doing in Panama? What was I doing in Belize? Ask the government that."

What Abbott was doing, the government says, was running drugs, pure and simple. That's why assistant United States Attorney John Murphy of San Antonio decided over 12 years ago that it was time to put Abbott away.

"He was bringing in loads in private planes, several hundred pounds at a time. That's not some college kid bringing in a little for some spending money," Murphy says. "They weren't the biggest loads at that time, but he wasn't a rookie."

Murphy and several of the numerous attorneys who have represented Abbott over the years characterize him as a resentful, deluded man who can't get over his anger at being caught and jailed.

"He now wants to justify himself with this self-aggrandizing stuff that he was some kind of pawn in this grand intrigue with the CIA," Murphy says. "Well, I don't know what the CIA does, but Bo Abbott was in it for the money."

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David Pasztor