Dallas-based Gulfstream V luxury jet seized for gold smuggling last month by
authorities in the war-torn eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the
Congo is also under investigation for drug running by the U.S. Drug Enforcement
The Gulfstream implicated in gold
trafficking in Goma was on the DEA’s watch list, according to reporter Melanie
Gouby from the Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) news service. The BBC World
Service was reporting the same thing.
Contacted over the weekend, Gouby
source of the drug trafficking
Lambert Mendé, a Minister in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the
government’s chief spokesman.
told me the plane
was wanted by the DEA for drug trafficking,” she told us.
owned by a politically-connected Dallas “businessman” named David Disiere. Desiere's Gulfstreams (he
has three) are
based at Fort Worth Alliance Airport
near Dallas, the same airport where the Drug Enforcement Administration keeps
its fleet of planes.
"Assault rifles, RPG's, and machetes. Don't forget the machetes."
The international gold smuggling case,
already being described as “murky” in published reports, took an even darker
turn over the weekend, when it claimed its first victims.
a senior Kenyan official investigating the gold-smuggling ring was assassinated as he returned home from
Witnesses and police said
Kenyan Commissioner Joseph Cheptarus was confronted by three armed men who had
been lying in wait. He was shot four times in the stomach before the gunmen
fled in the wounded man’s silver Toyota SUV.
Cheptarus had just been assigned the
politically sensitive task of investigating who was behind 2.5 tons of
gold recently smuggled into Kenya from the eastern provinces of the Congo.
The shipment was linked to the
seizure of the Gulfstream in Goma, Congolese Minister of Mines Martin
Kabwelulu told reporters.
And in the Congolese capital of
Kinshasa a "heavily
armed group of men" launched an attack on the Presidential
compound of Joseph Kabila.
In a gunfight lasting several hours,
the men used assault rifles, RPGs and machetes in their assault on Kabila's
home. The assault left six dead, in what a Congolese government
spokesman called “an attempted coup.”
"Congo. It's where, like, Ali fought Frazier. No, Foreman."
The Gulfstream arrived at the airport
in the frontier town of Goma on February 3rd, carrying four shady
international businessmen and a stash of more than $6 million
It had already been
partially loaded with a cache of more than 450 kilos of gold, when it was
surrounded by soldiers from the Presidential Guard of Congolese President Kabila.
has a rich history of political assassination, violence, intrigue and
Decades ago Congo’s first
independence leader was assassinated and replaced, with the help of the CIA, who
objected to Patrice Lumumba’s Marxist posturing.
Joseph Kabila became president, inheriting the job from his father Laurent who
was killed by one of his own bodyguards. Five years ago Kabila Jr. won Congo’s
first multiparty election in nearly half a century. He hopes to win again in
November, but faces an array of determined opponents, some of whom are
apparently unimpressed by parliamentary niceties.
Six outside nations have
troops stationed inside the Congo. They are supposedly assisting the Congolese
government, a weak and degraded state unable to exert its authority over much of
In the mineral-rich
eastern provinces near Goma, where the Gulfstream landed, a patchwork of rebel
groups fighting to oust Kabila joust with the
Congolese government for control of the lucrative smuggling trade in diamonds,
gold, coffee and ivory.
Those planes are coup magnets, for sure.
A number of
readers alerted us to the story of the $60 million Gulfstream V luxury jet from
Dallas seized in Africa for suspected gold smuggling last month, perhaps because
of our recent reporting on American-registered airplanes busted for drug
trafficking in Africa (and mistakenly identified with Al Qaeda).
If we wanted to look for similarities
between the two cases, they weren't hard to find.
The Gulfstream in our earlier story,
busted with a half-ton of pure cocaine two years ago in the West African nation
of Guinea Bissau, was blamed by UN officials for precipitating a violent coup in
that country that left it with the unenviable reputation as “Africa’s
Now another American-registered
Gulfstream, this one grounded in the Congo’s strife-torn but mineral-rich
eastern region, appears to be having a similar disquieting effect.
One other striking similarity between
the two stories is the kid glove media treatment being accorded some of the
principals in the case.
In defiance of the Congolese
government's mining ban, designed to cut off funds being used to fuel the
conflict in that strife-torn country, the international
gold-smuggling ring is making regular flights into Goma exchanging cash for gold.
And they aren't making any bones about it, either.
A philanththopist, a felon, Tom DeLay & Edwin Edwards
Behind the Gulfstream stands a motley
crew of Texas movers and shakers.
The dictionary defines “motley crew” as
a roughly organized assembly of characters; pirates, brigands, rag-tag mercenary
bands or freedom fighters.
This group is all of that. And more.
Start with the owner the plane.
Dallas News repeatedly calls him “philanthropist David Disiere,” as if that were
part of his job description.
In reality (as opposed to in Dallas) calling him “convicted
felon David Disiere” might be a more accurate description.
Desiere owned several insurance
companies, including Cascade Insurance Co. in Shreveport Louisiana. It was doing
poorly. Then, it was going bankrupt.
Alas, CEO Desirie was on the hook,
according to Louisiana insurance codes, for as much as $27 million of the
expected shortfall, according to published reports.
"Insurance executive attracts
attention in Edwards probe,"reported the Jun 18, 1997 Baton Rouge
“Federal investigators probing former
Gov. Edwin W. Edwards continue to study a Dallas insurance executive, two of his
troubled companies and his negotiations with state insurance officials."
Hmm. Tell us more.
Who Ya Gonna Call?
will apparently take money from anyone, as witness the 'loan" he accepted from
drug smuggler and life-long CIA pilot Barry Seal when the two men briefly
crossed paths in a Las Vegas casino on a night when Lady Luck had not been
smiling on the Guv.
Sensing an opportunity, Desiere slipped
100 big ones to Edwin Edwards, and his big liability went away.
Alas, the FBI had a big
hard-on for Edwards, who for years had thumbed his nose at them, and operated
with impunity, living up to his famous saying that "He would never lose an
election in Louisiana unless he got caught in bed with a dead girl or a live
Or maybe its the other way around.
Either way, the meaning was painfully clear to the FBI.
Thus the FBI was listening in when Ed
and Dave chatted each other up on the phone more than 60 times. You know, just
two old boys, speculating 'bout this and that.
Some of that speculating' must have hit
an FBI nerve, however, because Desiere in short order became a co-defendant of
notorious former Louisiana Governor in a trial in 2002.
indictment charged that Edwards, his insurance commissioner, and
four others "corrupted the state judicial system and the office of the Louisiana insurance commissioner" to benefit David Disiere, the operator of the
Cascade Insurance Company.
Big men dreaming big, but not impossible, dreams
Louisiana's three previous insurance commissioners had all gone to
prison on corruption charges, corrupting the office of Louisiana's insurance
commissioner is not exactly considered to be the impossible dream.
Desiere and Edwards did was make it four in a row.
Mission accomplished, Desiere settled
back and enjoyed his-self while someone else paid to clean up his mess.
Facing 200 years in prison on charges
that included conspiracy, insurance fraud and witness tampering, Desiere's next
move was to roll on his benefactor.
He testified against Edwin Edwards. The case put Edwards behind bars for
Disiere got probation.
Referring to another squishy deal that
allowed Disiere, even after his conviction, to do business in New Mexico, an
publication called “Insurance Journal” ran a story about
Desiere that didn't require the use of the word philanthropist at all.
Instead, their headline read, "Retired New
Mexico Superintendent Approved Felon’s Work.”
Desiere was the felon referred to in
the headline. But by then he had moved to Dallas, bought a mansion that puts
J.R. Ewing's South Fork to shame, and become... you guessed it!
Texas oilmen are used to playing sticky wickets
As far as the gold smuggling Gulfstream
goes, Desirie claims to be an innocent owner— and where have we heard that
phrase before—and denies any wrongdoing in the case.
he does all this through his spokesman, Dan Allen, who was the
press secretary of House Majority leader Tom DeLay, until DeLay was convicted
and forced to resign from the House in disgrace.
Thus his protestations of innocence
somehow lose a teensy bit of their force.
At least for some. (You know who you
airplane, a $60 million Gulfstream V top-of-the-line luxury jet, was not
under his control, Desirie avers, (through former DeLay spokesman Allen.)
Desiere, the Gulfstream
V had been leased to CAMAC International, a Houston oil-trading company owned by
one of that city's richest men, whose brother, perhaps not coincidentally,
is one of the “businessmen” being detained in the Congo.
plane was the responsibility, in other words, of a prominent Texas
differ on whether Houston oilman Kace Lawal,
who holds dual Nigerian and US
fugitive from justice in his native Nigeria, where he stands accused
of stealing 10 million barrels of oil from the Nigerian government.
But all agree on this: Lawal
was a major fundraiser in Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign.
Ironically, just last year
Secretary of State Clinton found herself in the frontier town of Goma in the
Congo, where the Gulfstream is currently impounded.
She was there speaking out,
“Against the trade in ‘conflict minerals’ that has funded a cycle of conflict
there that has left more than 5 million people dead since 1998 and spawned an
epidemic of sexual violence.”
The CIA, the Terminator, & $20 million
There's General Bosco, the African
general indicted for war crimes by the Hague...
And Carlos St. Mary, a Houston diamond
merchant who claims to have graduated from West Point in the Class of 93, but
didn’t, who's being set up to take the fall...
St. Mary already owes judgments
totaling several million dollars in Houston and Arizona which he has done
nothing to repay. Meanwhile he's been living in a four-bedroom house with a pool
in the affluent Houston suburb of The Woodlands.
We spoke to one of the Arizona
businessmen who’d been taken to the cleaners by St. Mary.
In a number of instances
we’d seen, when things went south the bad guys began suing each other, more or
less pro forma, as if to indicate that whatever had been going on, they’d been
against it from the start. Was this like that?
Not in this case, he told me. "Carlos St
Mary and my partner are related,” he said. “They’re first cousins.
"Carlos came to us with a proposition
that looked good, and Mike talked a bunch of his friends into investing. It’s
hard to tell what really happened. Something blew up on him that had nothing to
do with our agreement, and everything went sideways.”
Peter Verszke is an attorney in Houston
who sued St. Mary on behalf of three clients who’d lost roughly $800,000
apiece. “He’s a very smooth operator,” he said, of St. Mary. “He’s very slick,
very friendly,. And he know a lot of people in Houston.”
"He told a story that ought to have
been on Broadway, a wild story that included people who used to work for the
“My clients settled with him. He said
he’d contact some of his CIA friends over there to see if they could help him
get their money back. But when it came time for St. Mary to begin repaying what
he owed, he refused, even though he’s living in a 4-bedroom house with a big
pool in the Woodlands. I wanted to take further measures, but at that point my
clients decided just to drop it.”
This looks to be another elite deviant
case study. A further example, as if any more examples were needed, that "equal
justice under law" is a joke in today's America.
But the hand has yet to play out.
We're looking for the responsible
Federal Agency in charge of keeping mayhem to a minimum.
Suggestions are always appreciated.
THURSDAY: THE RETURN OF BARRY & THE BOYS.