The Guyanese pilot implicated
by a former Customs agent as part of a ring of corrupt Customs officials being investigated
by the Dept. of Homeland
Security was in the news again recently as part of another scandal, this time in
his native Guyana.
Brassington, whose name is a footnote in
the 9/11 investigation, was named in a procurement scandal
over the disputed purchase by the Guyana Defense Forces of two antique 30-year old
helicopters from a 'dummy' company in Delaware that sounds suspiciously like a
front for the CIA, the ironically-named
“Global X Group.”
The company may have no visible corporate
history and a suspiciously- improbable name, but today one thing "Global X Group" does have is a whole lot of Guyanese
citizenry of the tiny impoverished South American country of Guyana were up in
arms over the scam, which fleeced them of $1.5 million, a
sizable sum in a country with a deteriorated infrastructure, bad housing,
sanitation... and an unfinished sports stadium with an unpaved parking lot in
the capital of Georgetown, which
one determined blogger is attempting to shame the Government into
While researching pilot
Brassington's involvement in the Guyana scandal, we were astonished to discover
father (also named Michael Brassington) has close business
ties with one of the
most notorious oligarchs in the Russian Mob,
Oleg Deripaska, the
“last man standing” in the brutal Aluminum Wars in Russia during the 1990’s for
control of that strategic resource.
This information is important to a full understanding of the 9/11 attack.
Brassington’s name surfaced in connection with 9/11
because he had been the
co-pilot on the drug-running Lear jet (N351WB) owned by Wallace J.
Hilliard (right). Hilliard also—and not coincidentally—owned the Venice FL flight
school where Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi were at the time learning to fly.
as it happens, is also one of
two figures in the "100 Drug Plane-U.S. Customs Scandal" who have
threatened to file lawsuits
against the MadCowMorningNews for our
coverage of the developing scandal.
"Aluminum is a dangerous
Brassington's father was the
head of Guyana's "state's privatization unit," and rejected bids by the
local subsidiary of U.S. aluminum giant Reynolds Co. to buy out the state's
interest in a joint bauxite venture in favor of selling out
Guyana's state-owned bauxite company to Russian Aluminum (RusAl), controlled by
Russian Mob Boss
made his way up, 'protection' rackets run by organized crime groups were
gradually taken over by law enforcement agencies," read a New York Times
"Aluminum is a very dangerous
business in Russia."
"Deripaska sided with them as
he strengthened his ties with the country's ruling elite, marrying
Yeltsin's granddaughter Polina in 2001 and creating a powerful security
service of his own."
Deripaska's marriage into the
Yeltsin family cemented his leap. "By the time Oleg got married, he really was
representing the family," one banker with knowledge of the matter told the
Times. "It's a family partnership. You don't mess with
ex-presidents or their families."
Facing criminal sentences, bosses of big
Russian aluminum smelters opted to sell their stakes to
Deripaska and his then partner, Roman Abramovich. By 2000, Deripaska controlled
over 70 per cent of Russia's aluminum output.
Today the 37-year old is
conservatively estimated to be worth $15 billion dollars.
The Friends of Wallace J. Hilliard
The Learjet which Brassington
co-piloted on its last run made
39 weekly flights, according to the DEA
affidavit filed in the case. The flights originated in Venezuela, made a stop in Fort Lauderdale, and then
flew to Orlando and New York.
An informant’s tip led to the July 25, 2000
bust, where the plane was surrounded by DEA agents brandishing submachine guns on a
runway at Orlando Executive Airport.
Agents discovered 43 pounds of
According to the Orlando
Sentinel, it was the biggest heroin bust in central Florida
Law enforcement officials
called it "the largest find of its kind in the southeastern United States in
recent years," the Sentinel reported. Five people in Orlando were eventually
convicted, including two Venezuelans.
A "dimly-lit intersection" no one admits exists
Brassington was never charged, or even mentioned by
name in DEA affidavits filed in the case, indicating, at the very least, that he
had a certain level of protection.
The intersection between the shady world of transnational organized
crime and the 9/11 has perhaps been the most sensitive aspect of investigations
into the attack.
Newspapers have ignored the fact that terror flight school owner Wallace J. Hilliard straddled both
“Wally Hilliard put P.J.
Khan and Mike Brassington together back in the
90’s,” stated one authoritative source at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.
“Brassington was like a son to Wally.”
Ironically, Pervez (P.J.)
Khan, another of Wally Hilliard’s shady “business partners,” is suspected of
involvement in the current Customs corruption probe as well.
Sweaty glee and a Guyanese Luncheon.
Guyana, we were surprised to
learn, is a country with a feverish political
environment, in a
near-state of civil war. Published reports nonchalantly speak of the
ruling party's political
opponents turning up dead, and, even worse, missing their heads.
One recent example of the kind of violence which runs
rampant in Guyana will suffice. Murdered businessman Farouk Kalamadeen turned up
recently after being missing for a week.
Or, rather, his head did. It was discovered in a canal, which,
conveniently, was just a block away from his business.
Despite, or maybe because over-priced helicopters may seem
the least of the country's woes,
Guyana's chattering classes
criticized the chopper transaction
with a certain sweaty glee.
One of the helicopters was
so old that it would soon require a complete overhaul, several critics pointed out,
effectively costing the same as a new helicopter. “These helicopters are a bad
buy,” protested an aviation observer in an irate letter to the editor.
“The government has wasted
millions of dollars on this deal. They have been clearly misled or not properly
advised. This helicopter was sitting on the ground
for almost thirteen years before it was purchased.”
involvement in the helicopter purchases was revealed by Dr. Roger Luncheon,
a top Guyanese official, who defended the deal by stating that before
making the decision he
had sought the advice of competent officials in the aviation sector like... Michael Francis Brassington, who Luncheon
described as “a
"Guyanese pilot living in the U.S.”
"What you want us to do? We
didn’t have any helicopter and people were complaining. Now we have two and they
are still complaining," Luncheon said, with an air of indignation mixed with
“Let us wait on the
results,” he challenged reporters. “Ask me one year from now about
the effectiveness of the
"It wasn't me."
For his part, and despite the fact that a top Guyanese government official said
he was consulted on the decision to purchase the helicopters, Brassington
back-pedaled furiously to distance himself from the deal. A local newspaper
headlined his account:
“It Wasn’t Me!”
He said he’d tried to assist
the acquisition, but, sadly, his choices had not been accepted. Still, to prove
there were no hard feelings, Brassington ended his missive with an upbeat
“I would like to add that
our country has a great Commander-in-Chief and a very competent
Chief of Staff!”
What do you mean, you're not getting out of the chopper?
The lack of suitability of the recently
acquired helicopters to fight crime in Guyana was only too obvious to many.
While criminals roam in packs of dozens, the
choppers only seat four, a fact only too
painfully obvious to anyone who might find himself facing the prospect of
exiting the chopper at an inopportune moment.
“If 25 gunmen attack a location in the interior, would the security forces fly
in four men, leave them there and go and pick up another four?”
"Be careful who you piss off on the way up"
When Brassington entered the
U.S. through Customs at Fort Lauderdale International Airport on April 6th,
2004, the agent on duty was a rookie Customs inspector working the night shift
at the General Aviation Facility.
J. L. Sanders was the unlucky Inspector charged with checking Brassington
through Customs that night. When he entered Brassington’s name into his
computer, the July 2000 heroin bust came up on his screen.
confirms that Brassington was the co-pilot when Wally Hilliard’s Lear jet was
busted in Orlando.
"The pilot had a lookout for
heroin smuggling. His name is Mike Brassington. He had in his possession a
letter from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement stating that is
record would be modified so that he would no longer receive close scrutiny from
Customs," said Sanders.
"However, he still had an
active record in the system. This conflict may have occurred because the letter
he had was from Customs but he had a record from the DEA. This may have been an
attempt by Customs to illegally override a DEA lookout."
"Red flags in the sunset is the least of it."
Nor was that Brassington's
only red flag.
“In the 'active lookout' it
stated Brassington was known for bringing in suspect passengers,” Sanders told
"He handed me a manifest for
the flight from Executive Flight Support, which I found out later was owned by
Wally Hilliard, and managed by Afphonso Bowe,” Sanders stated. "So he
apparently still has some kind of financial relationship with Hilliard.”
Huffman Aviation flight
school owner Wally Hilliard is the owner of Executive Flight Support FBO (fixed
base of operations) in Nassau. Alphonso Bowe manages the facility for him.
“The charter company
Brassington was flying for is controlled by a family suspected of running an
organized drug ring," said Sanders.
“In the Customs computer
system, the terminology used to describe the criminal organization associated
with Executive Flight Support is the ‘Alfonso Bowe Smuggling Group.’
Another secret "internal" investigation
apparent immunity from prosecution, if not from criticism, in his numerous
scrapes with authorities have made him the subject of intense speculation.
Brassington’s luck even held
when he and his charter company were the recipients of withering criticism from
the NTSB for their role in a serious plane crash in 2005 in Teeterboro, New
His firm, Platinum
had what many felt was criminal culpability in that crash, which injured 20
people, including several maimed for life, yet walked away with only
a civil penalty of $150,000, half of which
was suspended for two years and then forgiven.
More recently he made news because of his alleged involvement in the supposedly
secret internal investigation at the Dept. of Homeland Security, which a
high-level DEA source in Miami brusquely
confirmed several months ago.
“Its an ICE operation, out of
Miami. Has nothing whatsoever to do with the DEA," stated the Miami official.
"You should check with the OIG (Office of Investigations) in Washington.”
Homeland Security inherits Customs dirty secrets
course, Customs corruption in Mexico and Latin America is a decades-old
well-ingrained practice, historically used by political leaders for personal
purposes and to pay off political debts.
Specific allegations against Miami's
much-celebrated Contraband Enforcement Team (CET) were documented in
investigative files obtained and published by The Miami Herald.
"They were out of control and everyone knew
they were out of control, no question about it," said a Customs investigator
More recently an
internal investigation by the Homeland Security Dept.’s OIG five years ago into
this same organization was thwarted, sources in Fort Lauderdale told us grimly,
and the Special Agent in charge re-assigned.
During the '80s and '90s, it was mostly used
to stem the flow of marijuana and cocaine heading for Florida. The program was
beginning to fade out, but received a new lease on life after the 9/11 attack.
"That CET group had a lot of power, and
Customs did everything it could to make the case go away - merits of the
complaint be damned," the investigator said. "The truth of the matter was
not the concern, everyone in Customs knew the truth. The concern was for saving
When two American-registered airplanes were
busted in Mexico trafficking multi-tons loads of cocaine, and were found to have
been purchased with laundered Sinaloa Cartel cash, officials were forced
to re-open the investigation.
Death squads, drug trafficking, working for the CIA."
best-known, of course, as the home of the Rev.
Jonestown cult suicide, where more than 900 people perished.
More recently the country has achieved a
certain infamy as a regional distribution hub for
making their way across the country's easily-crossed border to neighboring Brazil, Venezuela and French Guiana
to the wider world outside South America.
The current government
"playing ball" with major drug traffickers, like
Shaheed Roger Khan, who, after a long career in drug trafficking,
with a Chamber of Commerce-type boost from Guyana government officials, is
currently on trial in New York for numerous felony drug trafficking charges.
Latinnews Daily Service reported that on
June 19, 2006, under a headline reading “Suspected CIA operative
arrested,” that Guyanese businessman Shaheed Roger Khan has
been accused of drug trafficking, organizing death
squads and working for the CIA.
Khan is known to be close to the
highest levels of the Guyanese government. He boasted of bugging the
telephone of the country's police chief. And he operated with impunity inside
Guyana until his arrest, which only occurred after he was lured out of the
country to neighboring French Guiana.
Khan, even on trial in New York, seems
better off than victims of his officially-sanctioned death squads.
And so it goes.