Suitcase-Gate, CIA Drug Plane
between two scandals visible in
The true owner of the "N" number painted on the business
jet used in the sting
against Hugo Chavez is a CIA contractor.
Tuesday Sept 30, 2008
by Daniel Hopsicker
luxury business jet carrying
a suitcase filled with $800,000 in bribes whose discovery last August kicked off
the Suitcase-Gate Scandal had the same American
registration, or" N" number, as that of a plane flying for a CIA contractor in
MadCowMorningNews has learned.
The so-called Suitcase-Gate Scandal is
playing out in a trial
currently underway in a Federal courtroom in Miami.
photos taken of the
Citation X top-of-the-line business jet right after the ill-fated suitcase
flight show ‘N’ number N5113S on the tail.
But a Florida-based CIA air
contractor called Air-Scan Inc. is assigned that tail number,
according to FAA records, for a Cessna 182 flying in Iraq.
(Air-Scan Inc. is not to be confused with a barcode scanner like a
Air-Scan Inc. is an American
military contractor which has—even for an American military contractor—a
checkered past. Still, there has been no mention during the
so far of the murky
provenance of the plane.
Corruption Laid Bare...Or bare-Naked
in the trial indicated that the $800,000 in the suitcase,
discovered by a rookie Customs Agent in Argentina, as well as $4.5 million in
cash in a second suitcase which wasn't discovered,
was a bribe from Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez to
the couple running Argentina, former President Nestor Kirchner
and his wife Cristina, the current President
The case hit the headlines this
week because of the expected testimony of a star witness, the former comely
Customs agent who discovered the suitcase stuffed with $800,000.
María del Luján Telpuk
has been transformed by her involvement in the case. The one-time nursery school
teacher became an Argentine folk
as well as a 3-page spread and her picture on the cover of the
Argentina edition of Playboy.
had a field day: “Corruption laid bare!” screamed
“As evidenced by her loving
embrace of the cameras at Miami International Airport,” reported the Miami
Herald, “she is clearly savoring her 15 minutes of fame.”
What Maria wants, it turns out, is to be an ice-skater. A famous
contractor's 'checkered' history
investigators by using a single “N” number on two different planes, like two
cars bearing identical license plate numbers-- was also
used by planes busted with multi-ton loads of cocaine, a number of which were
sold by SkyWay Aircraft in St. Petersburg.
So it may be something more
than coincidence that the true owner of the "N" number painted on the business
jet which delivered an embarrassing present to the President of Argentina
is a CIA contractor.
The founders of
Air Scan, Walter Holloway and John W Mansur, both have
backgrounds as air commandos, the Air Force version of Special Forces, and met
while flying in America's Secret War in Laos.
A quick look at their company's checkered past:
In December 1998, the Colombian Air Force dropped cluster bombs on Santo
Domingo, a village near an Occidental pipeline, killing 18 people.
Human rights groups and Colombian government officials say the bombing was
a massacre of 18 civilians by the Colombian military in Santo Domingo in
December, 1998, when a pilot working for the US company, Airscan, Inc.,
under contract to the Colombian government to protect Occidental’s pipeline,
directed the Colombian Air Force to drop a US-made cluster bomb on the village.
employees of the security company dropped out of sight. Human rights groups
filed suit in California in 2003 and 2004 against Occidental, whose headquarters
is in Los Angeles.
“U.S. Army Awards $165
Million Contract to Air Scan for Surveillance Support,” reads one
typical recent headline about Air-Scan.
they are, at least, doing well financially.
"Honey, did you pack the overnight bag with $800
Suitcase-gate began with
the mission flown by the Citation X between Caracas and Buenos Aires thirteen
Newspaper accounts stated the flight had been chartered by the Argentine
Aboard were various Venezuelan oil execs and “yuppie socialist” cronies of
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez. Chavez himself was scheduled to arrive on a
state visit in three days.
Along for the ride was Guido Antonini Wilson, a mysterious Venezuelan
businessman who took the fall for the $800,000
when he went through Argentinean Customs.
Guido had taken twelve similar trips between Venezuela and Argentina during the
All were one-day turnaround trips. This did not leave Guido much time for
Presumably, Argentine Customs took note.
"Guido, meet the
General. General, meet Guido."
The Customs check
wasn’t supposed to happen.
The plane had been cleared to taxi
directly, according to Argentinean newspapers, to the Presidential gate.
$800K in the suitcase was intended for the campaign of the now President of
Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, a gift from Hugo Chávez, scheduled to
arrive in town just three days later.
According to the Miami Herald,
"Experts say that it was a bribe designed to
expand Chavez’s leftist revolution."
Most people would agree that that would be just like him
You can't really trust someone wearing a raspberry beret.
Appearing in the
Octagon one final time
is first and foremost, a titanic geo-political conflict, pitting George W. Bush
in red-white-and-blue-trunks in one corner of the Octagon, versus his opponent,
wearing the Raspberry Beret, Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez.
It is also
the biggest international scandal to hit the Western Hemisphere in years.
Two dozen Latin
American journalists are in attendance in a Miami courtroom to watch the trial
of a wealthy businessman, accused of being an illegal agent for the socialist
government of President Hugo Chávez.
The scandal has rocked
Latin America hard, provoking outrage, potentially destroying political
careers, and threatening to seriously damage U.S. relations with several Latin
American countries, including Bolivia, Argentina, and Venezuela.
Venezuela kicked out the U.S. Ambassador. So did Bolivia.
the State Department declared Bolivia’s ambassador to Washington persona
non grata, and bid him go hence. They said they were also
expelling Venezuela’s ambassador.
At the end of last week, Russia and Venezuela announced they were staging an
unprecedented joint Russian-Venezuelan naval exercise.
Two huge Russian bombers, painted antiflash-white to deflect nuclear blasts,
touched down on Venezuelan runways in preparation for the joint training
As a tribute to Fidel Castro, Chávez pledged to personally pilot one of the
Russian bombers over Cuban skies.
Whether or not Chávez actually breaks out his
flying goggles, Russia’s military presence underscores a new low in US-Latin
Diplomatic niceties aside, the state of affairs can be summarized as:
More instances of "player overlap"
exported at least
five American-registered planes to Venezuela that were shortly
thereafter busted hauling multi-ton loads of cocaine,
is also involved in
the Suitcase-Gate Scandal.
The drug allegations against Hugo Chavez were made by busted Venezuelan drug
smuggler Feris Farid Dominguez, and repeated by U.S. diplomatic personnel last week.
led almost immediately to the breakdown in diplomatic relations.
Feris Fernandez’s testimony was also cited last week by U.S. officials when they
accused the head of Venezuelan military intelligence, Gen. Hugo Carvajal, of
protecting drug shipments. The result has been an almost complete diplomatic
Feris Dominguez was busted on Margarita Island, a small Caribbean island off
Venezuela. Venezuelan officials seized 2.5 tons of cocaine as smugglers prepared
to load it onto an Africa-bound private plane, a Beechcraft King Air, owned by
Dominguez had bought the plane, three weeks earlier, from SkyWay Aircraft
of St Petersburg.
"Clan of the Cave Bear Generals"
Farid Feris Dominguez told investigators that several high-ranking Venezuelan
officials helped him. His lawyer told the AP that Feris even obtained a
Venezuelan diplomatic passport.
is awaiting trial after being indicted in Washington on drug trafficking
El Nuevo Herald reported last September that Feris
negotiating with U.S. prosecutors to tell all about the alleged involvement of
Venezuelan officers involved in drug trafficking.
He dubbed them
“The Clan of the Generals.”
The alleged kingpin's organization was dubbed the "Cartel of the Suns,”
for the stars worn on the uniform of Venezuelan Generals. It sent more than six tons of cocaine
from Colombia into neighboring Venezuela, then smuggled it to the United States.
"All our scandals are the same."
Feris Fernandez is also a key player in the CIA Drug Plane
which began two years ago when a DC9 airliner (N900SA) was caught carrying
5.5 tons of cocaine at a tiny out-of-the-way rural airport on the back side of
While being loaded with cocaine at the airport in Maiquetía, Venezuela, the DC9
was reportedly being guarded by Venezuelan soldiers, before taking off for
Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico, where it was supposed to refuel before traveling on
to its final destination, the U.S.
Instead, it was busted.
Law enforcement authorities say it belonged to
Feris Fernandez, who bought it from the other SkyWay Aircraft in
They are supposedly distinct entities.
The DC9 incident was followed 18 months later by a second American-registered
plane, a Gulfstream II business jet(N987SA), which broke into pieces while
crash-landing in a jungle outside Merida in the Yucatan interior, carrying
almost 4 tons of cocaine.
Both planes flew out of St. Petersburg, FL. Both have suspicious
connections with U.S. intelligence.
DC9 airliner had been painted to impersonate aircraft from the Dept of Homeland
A number of former CIA and military intelligence operatives grace the
top ranks of executives at SkyWay Aircraft in Clearwater, which owned the DC9,
(and which authorities argue unconvincingly is not connected with the Skyway
Aircraft in St Petersburg).
The Gulfstream II business jet (N987SA) busted two years later had been used for
a number of years by the DEA, as well as by the CIA in extraordinary renditions.
target rich environment
The seizure of the
5.5 tons of cocaine was the inciting incident which led to the discovery of a
money laundering scheme which became known as the CIA Drug Plane Scandal.
The scheme funneled money from South American drug
traffickers, through a Mexican currency exchange, and then on to a Miami bank.
The laundered cash was used to buy a fleet of as many as 100 American planes to
ferry cocaine and other narcotics around the world.
To date, only twenty of the
planes involved have been identified.
prepares to leave office, the economy in free-fall, Hugo Chavez is saying
he wants Venezuela to build a nuclear program... with the help of Mother Russia.
Chavez insists, as do the Iranians, that it would be for purely peaceful
The Suitcase-Gate Scandal’s one grace note:
The Bush Administration, down
to its last seven weeks, may not be able to decide who to bomb first.
"Skating with the
Cave Bear Clan"
After her Playboy
debut, former Argentine Customs hottie Maria del Luján Telpuk
spent six months rehearsing for her on-ice television debut, then was suddenly
demoted to be an alternate on the country's top-rated show.
Argentine publications asked if she believes it was because of government
Maria declined to speculate. "I can't say
that,'' she said. "They didn't say anything like that to me.''
But, just on the
off-chance that she might get to practice while she's in town, the Miami Herald
reported, she'd brought her ice skates with her to Miami, tucked into a hot
Under the circumstances, going ice-skating in Miami seems as good a response as any.
Drug Money Derivatives,
Narco-Republicans & the Collapse of Wachovia Bank