>Meet Ronald Stark : the man up to deal L.S.D. Traffic for U.S. Intel :
“…revolutions are not won by enlisting the masses. Revolution is a science for the few who are competent to practice it. It depends on correct organisation and above all,
on communications.” — Robert Heinlen
>Ronald Stark had been working with US intelligence agencies for at least 9 years by the time of his most infamous moment, a legendary meeting with the “hippie mafia” drug syndicate called The Brotherhood of Eternal Love. They were looking for a new supplier and Stark kicked off the meeting by showing them a kilogram of liquid LSD — for US readers, that’s 2.2 pounds of acid. Needless to say, his resume was persuasive. He claimed to have a dedicated lab in France, but it’s his political philosophy that really makes Stark such an interesting character:
“He had a mission, he explained, to use LSD in order to facilitate the overthrow of the political systems of both the capitalist West and communist East by inducing altered states of consciousness in millions of people. Stark did not hide the fact that he was well connected in the world of covert politics.”
The Brotherhood was sufficiently impressed to bring Ronald Stark into the fold, and what followed was the Golden Era of cheap, high-quality LSD. From 1969 through 1973, Stark and the Brotherhood dosed a generation and got away with it, too.
Until he suddenly was: “Whatever game Stark was playing took an abrupt turn in February 1975 when Italian police received an anonymous phone call about a man selling drugs in a hotel in Bologna. A few days later at the Grand Hotel Baglioni they arrested a suspect in possession of 4,600 kilos of marijuana, morphine, and cocaine. The suspect carried a British passport bearing the name Mr. Terrence W. Abbott. Italian investigators soon discovered that “Mr. Abbott” was actually Ronald Stark.”– Source: Acid Dreams,
“…the picture of Stark’s activities began to broaden with the discovery of a vial of liquid and a cache of papers kept in a Rome bank deposit box. The vial was sent for forensic examination. The scientists reported back that they could not precisely identify the drug it contained. At best, they put it close to LSD. Perhaps it was the synthetic THC Stark had dreamt of creating; the papers included formulae for the synthesis. There were also plans for the bulk purchase of hemp seeds and calculations for shipments, investments and plant installation. Some of the papers went back to the Brotherhood days but they gave no details of his LSD operations after the Belgian episode. They did show that his range of interests in the drug world had expanded to include narcotics. There were details of the synthesis of cocaine.” Source: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love
Stark’s time in Italy is the strangest and bloodiest chapter of his odd history. Although most accounts frame his 1975 arrest as a “bust,” one commentator who does not is worth mentioning here: Phillip Willan. His view of Stark is shaped not by LSD folklore, but through earnest journalism and research into the history of political terrorism in Italy. The Ronald Stark that Willan presents is not a drug lord getting taken down, so much as an intelligence asset deliberately changing venues.
Willan: “Stark’s arrest in Italy was prompted by a mysterious phone call to the police and he seems quite happy to go to prison, where his time was gainfully employed in winning the confidence of captured Red Brigades leaders, given that he turned down the opportunity of bail in August 1978.”
Stark was no mere snitch, though. He was actively setting up infrastructure, teaching the principles of operational security and preaching the virtues of the “cell” structure. “He also provided them with a cryptographic system for coded radio communications,” Willan says, although it should be assumed that Stark was also passing that system on to his secret employers. Prison records show that he met with Italian police and intelligence agents many times while he was networking there. It was in Italy that a large part of Ronald Stark’s operation collapsed into the visible world. The facts that emerged are an education in covert warfare and intelligence operations.
Researching Roland Stark, I was reminded of people like Porter Goss, Henry Karl “Andijra” Puharich, or Barry Seal: it is unreal how much this guy got around. He stayed in close contact with the founders of “The Process Church of the Final Judgement,” which is another hub in the Dark Network of occult history.
They began as a splinter group who broke ranks from Scientology, which meant they were waging spiritual war with L. Ron Hubbard from 1965 through 1974, which was a pretty bad year for “The Teacher,” Robert DeGrimston.
Timothy Leary was a perfect avatar for the Age of Horus: playful, brilliantly creative and blissfully unaware of the bad consequences he was unleashing. Although there is little evidence to tie Leary himself to the drug smuggling and merchandising activities of the Brotherhood, there is no question he quickly became the spiritual center of the group. For what it’s worth, Leary himself downplayed their significance:
LEARY: “The whole concept of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love is like a bogeyman invented by the narcs. The brotherhood was about eight surfer kids from Southern California, Laguna Beach, who took the LSD, and they practiced the religion of the worship of nature, and they’d go into the mountains. But they were not bigshots at all. None of them ever drove anything better than a VW bus. They were just kind of in it for the spiritual thrill.”
Maybe so — but probably not. In September 1970, Leary escaped from prison in a complicated deal exposing just how serious the Brotherhood network had become. Money from Ronald Stark was paid to the Weather Underground, which is the precise point where the “hippie mafia” became connected to actual hippie terrorists. Leary himself wound up in Algeria under the (very) armed watch of Eldridge Cleaver, himself in exile. A year later, Leary and his wife were in Switzerland, living under the protection of the arms dealer Michel Hauchard. For a story about spiritual thrills, there’s definitely a lot of guns involved here.
Stark : LSD Revolution
At his appeals trial Stark changed identities once again, this time passing himself off as “Khouri Ali,” a radical Palestinian. In fluent Arabic he spelled out the details of his autobiography, explaining that he was part of an international terrorist organization headquartered in Lebanon, called “Group 14.” Stark’s appeal failed, and he was sent back to jail.
But Italian police took a renewed interest in his case after they captured Enrique Paghera, another terrorist leader who knew Stark. At the time of his arrest Paghera was holding a hand-drawn map of a PLO camp in Lebanon. The map, Paghera confessed, had come from Stark, who also provided a coded letter of introduction. The objective, according to Paghera, was to forge a link with a terrorist organization that was planning to attack embassies.
Stark was an infiltrator, creating back channels for communication between intelligence and police agencies and the underground movements that were trying to fight them. The fact he was so successful and so prolific is what makes him a remarkable character. Throughout his documented life, Stark is relentlessly working with, for and against dozens of competing players. He travels constantly, juggles multiple identities and stays actively involved in multiple conflicts simultaneously.
Looking over his strange, tangled career, it’s hard to avoid thinking that LSD was really not the point. The single biggest producer of raw LSD the world has ever known was not a True Believer, he was just passing through on his way to bigger and better things. His work for US intelligence agencies had less to do with blowing minds than establishing connections. Vast quantities of acid was perhaps more of a bona fide, a calling card to establish himself as a legitimate criminal figure.