Michael Hand

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Michael Jon Hand, "the American hero who played a key role in narcoticising Australia, was born in New York City in 1941, and enlisted in the United States Special Forces (the Green Berets) in 1963. Michael Hand won a Silver Star, a Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross in Vietnam. He went on to become a contract agent working for the CIA with the Hmong army in the secret war in Laos. According to Andrew Lowe, his involvement in the heroin trade began there, smuggling heroin home in the bodies of dead soldiers.

"Hand came to Australia in 1968, making contact with Bernie Houghton who got him a job with Sir Paul Strasser’s Parkes Corporation. It was through Houghton that he met crooked lawyer Frank Nugan with whom he opened a number of companies which would later became fronts for drug dealing, and would act as a ‘black bank’ for CIA activities. He was employed selling real estate at Ocean Shores in Northern New South Wales; and there are allegations that Hand, together with an ex-Air America pilot, Kermit ‘Buddy’ King, was involved smuggling drugs through Byron Bay...

"In 1975 he left Australia and spent a year smuggling arms to US supported rebels in southern Africa, working for Ed Wilson and US Naval Intelligence. Agents of the Eastern Division of the CIA, run by Ted Shackley, were also involved in this shipment. Hand occasionally returned to Australia, and there are allegations he helped forge documents during the Loans Affair to discredit the Whitlam government.

"In March 1976, Hand returned to Australia to set up the Nugan Hand Bank, a ‘legitimate’ bank for black money, which he co-founded with Frank Nugan. Again, it seems to have been Ed Wilson who arranged for Nugan Hand to get a banking licence in the Cayman Islands." [1]

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  1. John Jiggens, 'Marijuana Australiana: Cannabis Use, Popular Culture and the Americanisation of Drugs Policy in Australia 1938 - 1988' (QUT PhD, 2004), pp.173-4.