Tuesday, December 21, 2010


This article appeared in Saga magazine, 1981

He's dropped rats infected with bubonic plague on North Vietnam, recruited mercenaries for hot spots all over the world, and runs the top antiterror school in the country.

Mitch WerBell may seem outlandish--because he is!

"If somebody wants a revolution, they usually wind up talking to me."

These are the words of 63 year-old Mitchell Livingston WerBell, one-time OSS officer, international arms dealer, mercenary recruiter, and commander of Cobray International, an "Antitierrorist Training Center" he operates at his 66-acre estate (called "The Farm") in Powder Springs, Georgia.

At five-foot-seven with little piercing eyes, WerBell is most aptly described as nasty. (How else can one describe a man who once headed an operation to bomb North Vietnam with live rats infected with bubonic plague?) Mitch WerBell spends his days gulping large shots of Chivas Regal, smoking fine cigars, and fondly reminiscing his days as a mercenary extraordinaire.

A fervent anticommunist, WerBell has conducted paramilitary operations--mostly for foreign dictators--in Cuba, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. Through the tears he has become known as a sort private CIA for hire.

Coco-Cola sang along with Mitch some yeara back after receiving kidnapping threats in Argentina. Although the cola company now denies this, WerBell observes, "Coca-Cola hasn't had any kidnappings lately." Continuyes Mitch: "I'll tell you how we stopped it. We said, number one, anybody kidnapped, go ahead and kill them, because we're not going to ransom them, not for 10 cents. But we will go after you. We will kill you. We will kill your wife. We will kill your children., you cats and dogs, your pigs and your chickens."

WerBell's intensive 10-day antiterrorist training course is priced at $2,500. He runs two courses a month, each attended by six or eight students. The course offers training in .38 and .45 calibre pistols, rifles and scopes, shotguns, unconventional weaponry, martial arts and counter-terrorist procedures. In addition, there are sessions in bomb search techniques, electronic countermeasures, convoy techniques, and evasive driving.

So far, over 300 students have passed through WerBell's school. It has become so popular that courses for the next six months are fully booked.

Next: The Interview