A pilot accused of owning
the Gulfstream business jet (N987SA) which broke in two and crash-landed in the
Mexican Yucatan carrying nearly 4 tons of cocaine has denied being the true owner of the drug-running
MadCowMorningNews can report exclusively.
Greg Smith, one of two
pilots in Fort Lauderdale Florida who have been accused of owning the plane,
denies any connection with the plane.
“Who owned drug plane that
crashed in Mexico?” asked the headline of Jay Root and Kevin Hall’s September
27, 2007 story in the McClatchy Newspapers, the first U.S. report of the
The question has been met
with stony silence by U.S. authorities, and remains unanswered, marking the
second time in the past 18 months an American-registered aircraft carrying a
multi-ton load of cocaine has been interdicted in Mexico... with no subsequent
action taken by U.S. authorities against the American owners of the drug-running
The war on drugs is a war on some
While more than three weeks
has elapsed since the American-registered airplane’s crash-landing, there has
still been no official word on indictments, arrests, or even a determination
from aviation officials of who exactly owned the plane that crashed in a field
45 kilometers outside Merida International Airport shortly after dawn on
A list of questions sent last
week to the FAA's media contact, Kathleen Bergin, remains
unanswered. If you'd like to assist our government in understanding it's
role in serving the people, please write her
to remind her of her
promise to respond.
However a phone call to Jeannette Moran, the DEA’s Miami media contact, did produce this just-before-deadline voicemail response:
“I know you’re asking about the Gulfstream in the Yucatan,
I do not know who has that case, or if it’s a DEA case, I don’t know which
division it might be out of... So I really cant help you with that, and I apologize.
If you need anything else give me a call.”
This encapsulates the situation perfectly. When a bank
robber steals a few thousand dollars before holing up with a hostage, does the
FBI take three weeks before divulging the name of the suspect?
But cases involving politically-connected American drug
smugglers, ferrying multi-ton loads of dope worth hundreds of
millions of dollars, are treated as matters of the highest national
Meaning: don't bother to ask...
But while U.S. officials
aren’t talking, one of the two pilots at the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport
accused of owning the Gulfstream business jet told an aviation executive this
week that the money to purchase the plane came from the owner of a jet charter
business at the airport, where he sometimes works as a contract pilot.
Considered "most likely to go down"
According to the McClatchy
report, Pilot Greg Smith’s signature is on the FAA transfer of
registration documents, along with that of fellow pilot Clyde O’Connor.
pilots refused to talk to the media. Understandably, both are feeling
was apprehended carrying
into Canada over the weekend while fleeing the U.S. for sunnier climes, in his
case, the Azores.
The two men are among those
considered most likely to take the fall for owning the plane when it was caught
carrying 4 tons of cocaine, along with Brazilians Joao Malaga and Eduardo Dias
Guimaraes, who were, according to FAA registration documents in our possession,
the last registered owners of the plane.
When news of the plane’s
discovery with a multi-ton load of cocaine became public, the Brazilians immediately began
asserting to reporters that they had already sold the plane to Smith and
Verifying their claim has
proven impossible to date.
The Brazilian men
are alleged to be aircraft brokers. But their "company,"
Donna Blue Aircraft, as we saw last week, is a
paper entity. And just like the supposed aircraft broker in California to
whom St Petersburg Florida’s Frederic Geffon claims he sold the DC9 airliner
caught with 5.5 tons of coke in the Yucatan 18 months ago, the men and their
firm have no track record of purchasing and selling aircraft, which is what
aircraft brokers do.
"Not likely to have $2 million anytime soon"
An aviation executive in frequent contact with Smith—the only
one who hasn't yet fled the country—agreed to contact him for us to ask about the incident
and get his comment on the situation.
Asked how he was, Smith
allowed that he was doing good…considering.
“I’m having my ups and down,”
Smith admitted, sounding a little morose. “You probably heard, I had a bit of an
accident in Mexico.”
The executive tried to
lighten the mood. “Are you good enough to loan me two million dollars? I hear
you’ve come into quite a bit of money.”
The reference is to the
statement to authorities by Brazilian Joao Malaga of Donna Blue Aircraft
(d/b/a), that the men had paid him $2 million in cash to purchase the
Malago’s statement was
greeted with derision by insiders at the airport who know the men, neither
considered anywhere near wealthy.
“Smith’s a good pilot, and
dependable, and I never thought twice about hiring him to fly a charter for me,”
one aviation business manager at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport told us.
“Except I had to be sure to
always front him money for expenses, or I’d get phone calls from the backside of
nowhere telling me they didn’t have enough money to gas up the plane to fly
Confession is good for the soul.
"The boys' history,
we learned while writing
“Barry & the boys:’ The CIA, the Mob, and America’s Secret History,”
in turn, Seal himself got in trouble, his Lear jet (N13SN)
went back to its true owner: the CIA’s Paul Helliwell, called the
"CIA's paymaster at the Bay of Pigs,” through a Cayman front company he
controlled called Intercontinental Holding.
Helliwell’s storied spook
career, too illustrious and shady to recap here, included founding The Bank of
World Commerce in the Bahamas, where CIA and Mob money flowed into secret
numbered accounts by the billions-- Lansky money, most of it -- and then out
again to the International Credit Bank of Switzerland before returning to the
U.S. for reinvestment.
Oh well. Imagine how Ferdinand Marcos felt
flight school owner Wally Hilliard didn't get his drug-running Lear jet out of
the ads in Trade-a-Plane, either.
Hilliard's Lear was confiscated with 43 pounds
of heroin onboard at the Orlando Executive Airport in July 2000,
coincidentally (or not!) the same
that Mohamed Atta arrived to attend his flight school.
We are looking at a monster
from the deep.
Beneath the surface of the
story of the latest American-registered drug-running airplane whose American
owner is going unpunished lies corruption on such a massive scale that the only
rational response appears to be a boogie board, some suntan oil, and an
extra large pitcher of margaritas.
NEXT: THE BUSH CONNECTION.