The Secret History of Cocaine One
Court documents obtained by the MadCowMorningNews shed new light in the murky tale of an American-registered DC9 caught carrying an astonishing 5.5 tons of pure cocaine in Mexico in early April.
The company which owned the seized "Cocaine One" DC9, SkyWay Aircraft of St. Petersburg FL, leased a 70,000 square foot “repair” facility at DFW Airport in Dallas for more than $20,000 a month…in a building owned by a man called “George W. Bush’s biggest supporter” and “the power behind the throne” during Bush’s first Presidential campaign.
SkyWay, a company with no products, and thus nothing needing "repair," nonetheless announced in July 2003 “their newly established Part 145 repair station” in a building owned by LIT Industrial Texas Limited Partnership, a venture of Texas real estate giant Trammel Crow, the flagship corporation in the far-flung empire of billionaire speculator Richard Rainwater.
Ranked among the 100 wealthiest Americans, Rainwater backed George W. Bush in four separate business ventures, including the Texas Rangers baseball team from which Bush, who had been drilling “dry holes” until then, profited handsomely. In a heated 1994 Governor’s race, Texas Democratic Governor Ann Richards charged Rainwater “owned" her Republican opponent Bush.
SkyWay "TV repair shop" rent: $20,000 a month
Court documents in the SkyWay’s Federal bankruptcy proceedings in Tampa reveal that SkyWay signed a lease costing $21,000 a month in base rent and operating expenses.
Why would a start-up company which doesn’t (and never will) have any products, spend $20 grand a month to rent a facility to “repair” them?
“We were told we were going to use the facility to service monitors and video equipment which airline’s use to provide onboard entertainment,” an ex-employee explained. “But when you think about it, fixing TV monitors on planes in a facility costing more than 20 grand a month doesn’t seem real economic, does it?”
SkyWay shared the facility with another firm, Airbase Services Inc. A month after the DC9 was seized in Mexico, Airbase filed for bankruptcy.
The registered owner of an airliner caught with more than five tons of cocaine had been leasing, for no easily-discernible purpose, an expensive airport property owned by George W. Bush’s biggest backer.
An amazing discovery. We thought: Eyebrows will be raised.
It seems to confirm our suspicion that tracking the parties involved in the massive cocaine shipment "might could" lead to top officials in the Bush Administration or the CIA.
But we never thought it would lead to them so quickly…
We think its a fair question to ask: What was the nature of SkyWay’s connection to Richard Rainwater, and to George W. Bush?
Scandal figure shows extra-Judicial initiative
Court documents in the SkyWay’s Federal bankruptcy proceedings also provided more detail on the DC9’s ownership, which has been hotly disputed.
At the time of the bust, April 10, it was registered, not to SkyWay, which had already gone bankrupt, but to a SkyWay insider who had somehow wrested control of the planes for himself.
In an example of ‘extra-judicial initiative,’ Frederic Geffon of Royal Sons Inc. registered the plane, N900SA, first in the name of his own company, Royal Sons Inc., and then in his own name.
Bankruptcy trustees are currently negotiating a settlement with Geffon. They told us that SkyWay creditors had to date received no money from this beneficial (to Geffon) change of ownership.
Also last week, a second group of investors, mostly from Kentucky, have filed a lawsuit against Sky Way in in Hillsborough County court, accusing the company and its principals of fraud, civil theft and conspiracy to defraud, among other charges.
The company "shamelessly used the tragedy of 9/11 to concoct an elaborate scheme of fraud designed to prey upon the vulnerable mind set of the American public," the lawsuit states.
Dinner with Bush a "brief encounter"
The lawsuit states that investors were told that “Sky Way's management team was invited to dinner with President Bush to discuss its operational status.” But the "dinner and talk was nothing more than a brief encounter along with a host of other political contributors," the lawsuit states.
The investors appear to have a reason to feel bitter. They, and their money, never stood a chance.
SkyWay Aircraft appears to be a classic example of a “dummy front company.” The purpose of the firm was not to make money. They had nothing to sell. Even if they did no one would buy it. In their self-proclaimed niche market, the main competition of this barely-there firm was… Boeing.
Here we recall that terror flight school Huffman Aviation wasn’t in the business of being a flight school. Nothing about the actions of the two principals there made any business sense.
They were losing $40,000 a month at their Naples location when they blithely decided to pay twice what it was worth in cash to buy a second flight school in Venice.
“When things don’t make business sense, sometimes its because they do make sense… just in some other way.” one former Huffman executive told us darkly. (He insisted on anonymity, because “I have a family, and I don’t want anything bad to happen to them,” he told us.)
"Murky is as murky does"
In exactly this same way, now-defunct SkyWay Aircraft was never a real business either, in the sense of being a corporation set up to make money for its shareholders, a fact which angry investors have now begun to realize.
While burning through $40 million of investor’s money in three years, the bankrupt firm’s only accomplishment was amassing a mini-fleet (actually, just two) DC9’s, one of which was painted to impersonate an aircraft belonging to the U.S. Dept of Homeland Security.
And SkyWay’s resident “boy genius,” Brent Kovar is no Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. People willing to go the extra mile to steal from widows and orphans aren't troubled by much. Kovar's neighbor lent him $300,000, one former exec told us, for a few days as a personal loan, without even bothering to write it up. His chances are slim to none, apparently, of getting his money back.
SkyWay Communications Holdings Corp., a “holding company” that “held” only one company, SkyWay Aircraft, lost nearly $40 million between 2002 and its last annual report in January 2005.
Skyway, "has left a trail of tangled litigation and angry investors, including 24 Kuwaiti and Saudi nationals," said an article in the August 26, 2005 Tampa Business Journal.
Investors "poured money into a company that promised to protect airplanes from terrorism and provide high-speed Internet at 30,000 feet.”
In a bankruptcy hearing, federal Judge Paul M. Glenn called the case "murky." "I have a great deal of concern about this case," Judge Glenn said. "There's a great deal we don't know."
How come we don't got no drug lords, Daddy?
When an American-registered DC9 airliner was caught red-handed, or red-winged, with 5.5 tons of cocaine, researchers into the murky world of international narcotics smuggling—the number one industry in the world in terms of foreign trade—were excited about the prospect that the case would reveal, at long last, the identities of the industry’s titans, figures heretofore shrouded in mystery.
In a nation of entrepreneurs whose globe-trotting verve is the envy of the world, it has been a puzzling oversight that the United States of America officially has no authentic native-born Drug Lords.
We seemed to do okay in other areas of organized crime…Our stock swindlers and fraud merchants, for example, are the envy of the underworld. John Gotti could hold his own with any Russian Mobsters. And the Yakusa wasn’t kicking sand in anybody’s face.
Yet it seems we have neglected to nurture any home-grown American Drug Lords.
What does this say to ambitious American youngsters, looking for role models for future careers? Were we fated to import them forever from South America, like we do with junior welterweights?
The hope of course was that at long last we would now learn the names of Drug Lords whose first names weren’t “Pablo” or “Juan…" that the massive seizure in Ciudad del Carmen, in a remote corner of Mexico’s Yucatan, would give American youth role models from their own culture.
'Meth for sex' trades no longer real big news
Alas, our elation was short-lived. The FAA accepted back-dated documents stating the plane had been exported before the bust. The registered owner wouldn’t say to who. The FAA claimed it wasn’t their problem. They didn’t care what you did with the planes. They just registered them.
The DEA was even worse. They deliberately undervalued the amount seized by a whopping $400 million dollars. Asked if they were investigating the American side of the 5.5 ton bust, the Tampa DEA office issued a terse no comment.
The DEA website has press release’s issued at about the same time as the cocaine bust… “7 Arrested and Thousands of Marijuana Plants Seized in East Bay Area,” heralds one.
“38 Members of a Palm Beach County Crack Gang Face Federal Charges,” another announced. A third release headlines this less-than-amazing fact:
“Meth Sold For Sex On Wind River Indian Reservation.”
In a world where they're already re-making Miami Vice, this seems a little tame. We wondered: did the DEA have to go undercover to see the "Meth Sold for Sex!" Were there secretly-recorded video of the transactions?
"Half a billion here, half a billion there, and pretty soon you got a Congressional Majority"
But there is nothing from the DEA—not one peep—about an American registered plane carrying more than a half billion dollars worth of product destined for the U.S.
In the lobby of the CIA there’s an inscription on the wall which reads: “Ye Shall Know the Truth, and the Truth Will Set You Free.”
If the DEA puts one up in their lobby it should say: “Mum’s the word.”
The chief shared characteristic of the people involved seems to be the ability to act with impunity and without regard for legal consequences. Their actions regularly make a mockery of the concept of “Equal Justice Under Law” which schoolchildren are taught is the basis of American government.
Call them what you will. We call them, a little melodramatically perhaps… the Masters of the Universe... people able to do things for which ordinary people ordinarily pull Federal time.
MONDAY: THE SCANDAL THAT WON'T GO AWAY