Frank Sturgis, a man who live the life of a James Bond movie character,
In a post I originally made a few years ago I detailed the life of Otto Skorzeny, the ex Nazi commando who formed a paramilitary mercenary group that had it’s hand in almost every conflict in the 1960′s and early 70′s. A life worthy of being in a James Bond movie or novel, Skorzeny was a product of the times, the post World War II/Cold War era that was filled with espionage and intrigue. Another such person of those times who lived a “James Bond film” life was Frank Sturgis; commando, spy, revolutionary, assassin, and mercenary extraordinaire.
Frank Sturgis (born Frank Fiorini) began his career during World War II when he volunteered for the Marine Corps, becoming a Marine Corps Raider, a group of elite units that served as commandos in the Pacific Theater. After the war he was an officer for the Norfolk Police Department but quit after only six months due to rampant police corruption. On Nov. 9th, 1947 Stugis joined the US Navy Reserve where he was trained as a pilot. He was honorably discharged on Aug 30th, 1948, and the next day he enlisted in the US Army. While in the army he worked with an Army Intelligence unit in Germany and was stationed in Berlin during the Berlin Airlift. He also served as an honor guard for General Lucius Clay.
During his Army career Sturgis rescued a woman from being gang raped by a group of hoodlums. The woman and Sturgis formed a romantic relationship. As it so happens, Sturgis’ girlfriend was a member of the Haganah, an Israeli paramilitary group that would later form the Israeli Defense Force. Thus, during the 1940′s and early 1950′s Sturgis often worked as a spy for Israeli Intelligence.
In 1957 Sturgis married a Cuban woman and moved to Miami. Sturgis’ wife introduced him to former Cuban President Prio Socarras, who was deposed by a military coup led by Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Sturgis became an avid anti-Batista supporter, which is where he met an anti-Batista revolutionary named Fidel Castro.
Sturgis helped train Castro’s guerrilla army, and even personally trained the Castro’s right hand man Che Guevara. On January 11th, 1959 Stugis took part in the mass execution of 71 Batista supporters on San Juan Hill. A photograph of him was taken standing on the mass grave.
After the fall of the Batista regime Sturgis was named gambling czar and director of security and intelligence for the air force. His task as gambling czar was to root out mafia influence in the Cuban gambling and resort industry.
In the early years of the Cuban Revolution Castro wasn’t very forthcoming about his communist beliefs and the agenda he had for his regime. He was especially tight lipped to Americans and other foreigners who supported the Revolution. To many, Castro was merely a freedom fighter whose aim was to topple Batista’s dictatorship and restore a democratic Cuba. Hence, why after the fall of the Batista regime and the rise of Castro’s dictatorship, many became disillusioned with the Revolution and switched sides. In June of 1959, Sturgis left Cuba and defected to anti-Castro forces in exile.
After his involvement in the Cuban Revolution, Sturgis became an avid member of the anti-Castro movement; organizing, arming, and training various anti-Castro paramilitary groups in Florida. In 1975 an investigation conducted by the Rockefeller Commission concluded that Frank Sturgis was not employed by the CIA, however it is undeniable that Sturgis had some sort of CIA connections in the 1960′s. He was involved in training the exiled Cuban rebels who would take part in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, and organized attempts to assassinate Castro. In one attempt, Sturgis contacted Castro’s girlfriend Marita Lorenz, a German born American actress whose relationship with Castro soured when the dictator forced her to have an abortion. Sturgis provided Lorenz with poison capsules, which she hid in a container of facial creme. The assassination failed when the capsules dissolved within the creme, and Castro later discovered the plot. In a scene reminiscent of any spy thriller, Castro had Lorenz hold a pistol to his bare chest and told her to kill him. When she couldn’t do it Castro responded, “that’s right, nobody can kill me.” At that point Lorenz’s heart melted for Castro and they made sweet lovin’ one more time. Lorenz was then permitted to leave the country, where she then shacked up with Venezuelan dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez. Marita had a thing for Latin American dictators. She now lives in Baltimore and supposedly a movie is being made about her staring Jennifer Lawrence.
After the assassination of John F. Kennedy 1963 several allegations arose that Sturgis had some part in the conspiracy. Marita Lorenz herself later claimed that she once witnessed Sturgis, Lee Harvey Oswald, and a group of Cuban exiles plan the assassination. To his dying day Sturgis has denied any involvement, and made counterclaims that Jack Ruby was working for Castro. Government investigations would clear Sturgis of any involvement, however in 2007 CIA officer E. Howard Hunt made several deathbed confessions implicating Sturgis as well as many others. To muddy the waters further, Hunts widow and children claim that his two sons, Saint John Hunt and David Hunt, had coached the dying man into making the confessions for media attention and financial gain.
While it is unclear if Sturgis had any role in the assassination of JFK, it is certainly confirmed that Sturgis was part of one of the most infamous political scandals in American history, one that would bring down a President. In 1972 President Richard Nixon approved a plan by G. Gordon Liddy (Committe for the re-election of the President CRP) and E. Howard Hunt (CIA Agent) to install wiretapping devices in the Democratic National Committee’s offices in the Watergate Hotel. On May 28th, 1972 a group of men broke into the DNC offices and were successfully able to install phone tapping equipment and listening devices. However it was discovered that the device were not working properly. On the night of June 17th, a second burglary was attempted, however this attempt would fail when five men were discovered by a security guard leading two their arrest. The five men were two anti-Castro exiles; Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard Barker; A CIA operative who directed attempts to overthrow Castro, James McCord; a former CIA electronics expert and CRP manager, and of course Frank Sturgis.
Sturgis served 14 months in Federal Prison for his involvement in the Watergate Scandal. After his prison term Sturgis became an informant for the Miami Police Department who were investigating illegal activities conducted by anti-Castro exile groups. During the 70′s he was also an informant for the Drug Enforcement Agency. In 1980, Sturgis traveled to Angola to train anti-Communist rebels during the Angolan Civil War. In 1981 he trained US backed Contras in Honduras. In the later 1980′s he interacted with the terrorist Carlos the Jackal, and spent time with Palestinian Liberation Organization chairman Yassir Arafat, debriefing the CIA on Arafat’s peace plans with Israel. On December 4th, 1993 Sturgis died in a VA hospital after losing a battle with lung cancer.
BUT THE STORY DOESN’T END THERE. On December 4th, 1980 a private jet crashed shortly after take off, killing seven, among them Portuguese Prime Minister Adelino Amaro da Costa. Initial investigations concluding the crash was an accident but later investigations suggest a bomb may have been involved. After the 15 year statute of limitations expired in 2006, some people came forward admitting they were part of a conspiracy, among them a security agent named Jose Esteves, who claimed he had constructed and planted the bomb. Esteves claims he was given $200,000 and instructed by Frank Sturgis.