Used as a storage and distribution facility to spread weapons to rebel fighters around the world – and also to prepare for the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion – the location of the CIA’s secret arms storage center has reportedly been identified in Texas.
According to the New York Times, that location is believed to be north of San Antonio, Texas, at the US Army facility Camp Stanley.
Over the years, the arms cache has been referred to simply as the “Midwest Depot,” but documents studied by the Times, as well as studies conducted by former CIA analyst Allen Thomson, seem to indicate the codename didn’t actually refer to the facility’s precise location.
Thomson’s research was published online by the Federation of American Scientists in December. While he stated that the evidence is not conclusive, he added there are “some indications” the Camp Stanley Storage Activity (CSSA) “may be the site of a facility called Midwest Depot that the CIA has used for clandestine accumulation and dissemination of arms to various parties from at least the early 1960s through 2001 and probably through 2010.
“If the CSSA, established in 1949, has always been the cover for Midwest Depot, then the covert facility dates to the earliest days of the CIA and, speculatively, may have been created to provide an arms channel to resistance groups in Soviet-occupied Eastern Europe and elsewhere,” he added.
As noted by the Times, Camp Stanley has likely played a role in numerous operations carried out by the CIA. Missiles headed to Iran as part of the Iran-Contra affair passed through the facility, as did weapons being shipped to rebel fighters in Angola and Nicaragua during the 1970s and 1980s. Even plastic C-4 explosives made their way through the depot.
Additionally, there is a 1967 CIA memo connecting the Midwest Depot to the paramilitary training conducted prior to the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba. Meanwhile, a 1986 memo mentioned that missiles would pass through the facility before reaching Afghan resistance fighters battling the Soviet Union.
Were it not for a 2011 lawsuit filed by former CIA employee Kevin Shipp, it’s possible the Midwest Depot’s location would still be unknown. Shipp claimed his family – who lived at a government-owned house at Camp Stanley – became sick as a result of the toxins the base is contaminated with. The lawsuit was blocked by the CIA, which also prevented Shipp’s memoir from being published.
Shipp’s son, Joel Shipp, said he is working on a memoir of his own, and reportedly refers to Camp Stanley as “a secret base which had been used for illegal arms running and chemical weapons storage.”
Corresponding with the Times via email, Thomson said the history of Camp Stanley needs to be studied and scrutinized.
“I have worried about the extent to which the U.S. has spread small arms around over the decades to various parties it supported,” he said. “Such weapons are pretty durable and, after the cause du jour passed, where did they go? To be a little dramatic about it, how many of those AK-47s and RPG-7s we see Islamists waving around today passed through the Midwest Depot on their way to freedom fighters in past decades?”