Lucien Sarti

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Lucien Sarti (circa 1931[1] – April 28, 1972 [2]) was a French drug trafficker.[3]

Drug smuggling[edit]

On April 19, 1968, Sarti was arrested along with fellow Corsicans Auguste Joseph Ricord and Francois Chiappe for questioning regarding the robbery of a branch of the National Bank of Argentina.[4] The three were released due to lack of evidence.[4] In April 1972, Sarti was shot to death in Mexico City during a police raid of a drug trafficking ring.[3][4] A detective in Rio de Janeiro was later suspended from the police force after being accused of accepting a bribe to free Sarti and Helena Ferreira, his girlfriend, from jail earlier in 1972.[5]

Allegations of involvement in the assassination of John F. Kennedy[edit]

The Men Who Killed Kennedy[edit]

On October 25, 1988, the British television program The Men Who Killed Kennedy named Sarti as one of three French gangsters involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.[6] According to the program, Sarti, Roger Bocagnani, and Sauveur Pironti were contracted by organized crime in the United States.[6] In the French newspaper Le Provençal published the following day, Pironti denied the allegation stating he believed at the time of the assassination that Sarti was held in Marseille's Baumettes Prison and that Bocagnani was in Bordeaux's Fort du Hâ.[6] He also showed the paper military records showing that he was serving on a minesweeper from October 1962 to April 1964.[6] The French Ministry of Justice stated that Bocagnani was in prison on the day of Kennedy's assassination and officials for the French Navy confirmed Pironti's military service.[6]

E. Howard Hunt[edit]

After the death of career CIA operative, spy novelist, and convicted Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt in 2007, Saint John Hunt and David Hunt stated that their father had recorded several claims about himself and others being involved in a conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy.[7][8] In the April 5, 2007 issue of Rolling Stone, Saint John Hunt detailed a number of individuals purported to be implicated by his father including an assassin he termed "French gunman grassy knoll" who many presume was Sarti, as well as Lyndon B. Johnson, Cord Meyer, David Phillips, Frank Sturgis, David Morales, and William Harvey.[8][9]

The case against Sarti stemmed from the British television series referenced above, in which researcher Christian David told how he'd spent years tracking former Corsican mafiosi, eventually to be given a single name "Lucien". David himself supposed that Lucien was Lucien Sarti. However assassination researchers have also implicated another French heroin smuggler and assassin using the possible pseudonym of Michel Mertz as well as his real name Jean Souetre, and with much stronger evidence.

Souetre appears in CIA [10] and FBI [11] documents released in 1977 under the Freedom of Information Act as having been in the Dallas area around the time of the assassination and actually in Dallas on November 22, 1963. He had previously been a commando in the French foreign legion stationed in Algeria. According to his military record [12] he was arrested for desertion after joining the OAS (Secret Army Organization), a resistance movement opposed to Algerian independence from France, which orchestrated numerous failed assassination plots against President DeGaulle. In 1962 Souetre escaped from a detention camp at Saint Maurice l'Ardoise. Following another failed OAS assassination attempt, he was sentenced to death in absentia. However still according to the record, Souetre was in Algeria and then the African sub-continent fighting as a mercenary from early 1962 until 1968 when he was repatriated to France.

Souetre himself later claimed he was not in Dallas, but that it was still another heroin dealer named Michel Mertz using Souetre's name as a pseudonym. However the CIA document on Souetre referenced above actually lists Michel Mertz as one of Souetre's pseudonyms. While it's possible that both used the other's name on occasion, and that the CIA and FBI had the name wrong, there seems to be no official documentation about Mertz yet found. There are some biographical stories about a purported spy and heroin dealer with the name Michel Mertz, but though colorfull, they are unsourced. So it's also possible that Mertz's biography was fabricated. A fictional life story would have been necessary for a false identity that Souetre himself was forced to assume to hide his status as a stateless fugitive, while continuing to operate under cover and across continents. In 2009 San Francisco attorney Anthony Bothwell requested the CIA release any additional information it has on Jean Souetre. The CIA responded that any records on Souetre would be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act as "intelligence sources and methods information". In 2013 Bothwell filed a federal lawsuit demanding a court order forcing the CIA to produce the records.

The above information about Jean Souetre doesn't exonerate Sarti, but there is no known record of his presence in Dallas as there is of Souetre's. Whoever the "French gunman" was, Hunt's claims of a high level Johnson/CIA conspiracy would have been difficult to prove and the two sons alleged that their father cut the information from his memoirs, "American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate and Beyond", to avoid possible perjury charges.[7] According to Hunt's widow and other children, the two sons took advantage of Hunt's loss of lucidity by coaching and exploiting him for financial gain.[7] The Los Angeles Times said they examined the materials offered by the sons to support the story and found them to be "inconclusive".[7] Another insider's account of Lyndon Johnson's rise to power and the Texas political machine he managed, as well as alleged details of the assassination plot including the French Connection, can be found in the autobiographical book "Billy Sol Estes: A Texas Legend", now apparently out of print but available online.[13]

Further reading[edit]

  • Davis, John H. Mafia Kingfish: Carlos Marcello and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy. New York: Signet, 1989. ISBN 0-451-16418-0
  • Kruger, Henrik. The Great Heroin Coup: Drugs, Intelligence, and International Fascism. Boston: South End Press, 1980. ISBN 0-89608-031-5
  • Marrs, Jim. Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1990. ISBN 0-88184-648-1
  • Mills, James. The Underground Empire: Where Crime and Governments Embrace. Garden City NY: Doubleday, 1986. ISBN 0-385-17535-3
  • Scott, Peter Dale and Marshall, Jonathan. Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991. ISBN 0-520-07312-6
  • Sterling, Claire. Octopus: The Long Reach of the International Sicilian Mafia. New York: Simon & Schuster (Touchstone Edition), 1991. ISBN 0-671-73402-4

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Clark, Evert and Nicholas Horrock (1973). Contrabandista! Praeger, ASIN B0006C4TXQ. The authors state Sarti was 41 at time of death.
  2. ^ Menéndez, Jorge Fernández (November 22, 2013). "Kennedy: Oswald, Sarti, México". Excélsior. Mexico City. Retrieved November 9, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "The dice turn sour for a pair of high rollers". The Gazette. Montreal. February 8, 1975. p. 12. Retrieved December 8, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c Hall, Isabelle (September 22, 1972). "Heroin, Smuggling Case May Uncover Mystery". Ludington Daily News. Ludington, Michigan. UPI. p. 8. Retrieved December 8, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Jail Escape Plot, Rio Cop Linked". The Pittsburgh Press. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. UPI. November 15, 1972. p. 36. Retrieved December 8, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "French accused of killing JFK". Observer-Reporter. Washington, PA. AP. October 27, 1988. p. A-8. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d Williams, Carol J. (March 20, 2007). "Watergate plotter may have a last tale". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b Hedegaard, Erik (April 5, 2007). "The Last Confessions of E. Howard Hunt". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 18, 2008. 
  9. ^ McAdams, John (2011). "Too Much Evidence of Conspiracy". JFK Assassination Logic: How to Think About Claims of Conspiracy. Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books. p. 189. ISBN 9781597974899. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
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