Two American-registered drug planes busted in Mexico carrying four and 5.5 tons of cocaine are just the "tip of the iceberg" in a blockbuster aviation deal which sold 50 American-registered aircraft to the Sinaloa Cartel, the MadCowMorningNews has learned.
According to an indictment released over the holidays by Mexico’s Atty. General, Pedro Alfonso Alatorre, already indicted as the cartel’s chief financier, purchased the DC9 (N900SA) airliner, the Gulfstream II business jet (N987SA), and 48 other planes not yet identified for Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel with laundered drug money, using a company he controls which owns currency exchanges at major airports in Mexico.
Now we know who bought the airplanes. The trickier question is: who sold them? The answer, normally, would be, "Their local counterparts in international organized crime."
But these aren't normal circumstances. Why? Because the U.S. doesn't even have any Drug Lords. Ask anybody at the DEA. Apparently, we don't even bother to field a team.
Elusive seldom-photographed American Drug Lords
News of a 50-plane fleet of drug smuggling aircraft being sold to a Mexican Cartel by mysteriously unnamed American owners confirms rumors of a mushrooming scandal, one which may eventually implicate top officials in the U.S., Mexico, and Colombia.
The reason was left unspoken in the Mexican Atty. General’s statement, because it lies on the American side of the equation, in the identity of the sellers of the planes…
The DC9 and the Gulfstream II, the two American jets now known to be part of a 50-plane sale, share interlocking ownership. The stock of two corporations which owned the planes was used in the massive recent Adnan Khashoggi-led stock fraud.
Khashoggi, currently a fugitive from justice in the case, engineered the biggest brokerage bankruptcy in America since the Great Depression, costing investors and taxpayers over $300 million.
With gas prices over $3 a gallon, you wouldn't think the Saudi billionaire needed the money. So, what did 'they' do with the money?
Upcoming Presidential elections, perhaps?
The operation was manned by “retired” CIA and military intelligence personnel, had close ties to major Bush backers and the national Republican Party, (Sen. Mel Martinez, until recently the Chairman of the GOP, flew free on Skyway’s Cocaine One DC9 during the crucial final two weeks of his campaign in Florida for the Senate.)
And with seeming impunity the operation engaged in multi-ton load drug trafficking, as well as massive financial fraud.
What began as a minor scandal without fanfare in April of 2006 with the bust of an American-registered DC-9 airliner carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula gathered momentum when a Gulfstream business jet flying out of the same airport was busted in the Yucatan 18 months later carrying 4 tons of cocaine.
The level of citizen outrage increased with the crash-landing of the second American plane. With the news that the number of American planes sold to Mexican drug traffickers was not just one or two planes—but 50—the scandal is now threatening to mushroom into something much larger.
Kingpin Airlines welcomes you aboard
The brazen fleet-sized sale of American planes to Mexican drug traffickers has huge implications.
"The extraordinary similarity,” to use the phrase used by Mexican newspaper Por Esto, between the DC9 airliner and the Gulfstream II…
The American owners of the drug planes have suffered no adverse consequences whatsoever to date.
If you own an airliner or business jet discovered hauling pure cocaine into the U.S., literally by the ton, authorities are sympathetic. They know the hazards unauthorized charter flights pose to innocent business owners, and the confusion that can result when you've inadvertently purchased an airplane from someone known to be involved with international organized crime.
"Our Story Thus Far"
As this amazing information begins to sink in—that owning a drug plane may have little downside and be a terrific hedge against coming hard times—a brief recap of "Our Story Thus Far" may be in order.
Two American-registered airplanes with clear ties to the U.S. Government—a DC9 airliner (N900SA) painted to resemble an airplane from the U.S. Dept of Homeland Security, and a Gulfstream business jet (N987SA) formerly used by the CIA for renditions—were busted in Mexico 18 months apart carrying multi-ton loads of cocaine .
Both planes flew from St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport to Mexico, then on to Colombia, where they loaded the cocaine, before being caught on their return journey to (supposedly) Fort Lauderdale, stopping to refuel on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
Just before both plane's ill-fated final flights, the “ownership” papers were shuffled around like peas being moved underneath shells on a card table in a billion dollar game of three-card monte by people known as “aircraft brokers.”
Bush Rangers, cardboard-thin cutouts
However, the MadCowMorningNews learned from an FAA official that neither of the two “aircraft brokers” bought or sold any other planes during the entire year.
They aren’t really “aircraft brokers.” Aircraft brokers buy and sell planes.
They’re “cut-outs,” a spy trade term for the layers of insulation relied on to provide plausible deniability. They play a critical role in the cover story, shielding the plane's true owners from scrutiny.
Both busted airplanes give every indication of having been involved in a “protected” drug trafficking operation. Imagine the surprise and shock back in the Home Office. No wonder the cover story is, in many places, exceedingly thin.
A shameless plug:
Almost two weeks before the Mexico’s Atty. General’s announcement in early November that both planes had been used in the same drug smuggling operation, readers of the MadCowMorningNews already knew of connections between the two downed American drug planes, and their interlocking ownership.
The "W" Connection
Stephen Adams, a secretive Midwestern media baron and Republican fund-raiser, owned the Gulfstream II at the same time he was personally purchasing one million dollars of billboard advertising for George W. Bush during the 2000 Presidential Campaign.
Adams was also in business, in two separate companies, with Michael Farkas, the man who founded SkyWay Aircraft, which owned the DC9. Both men control companies used in Adnan Khashoggi’s $300 million stock fraud rip-off.
The multi-ton drug busts, as well as the numerous murders already surrounding the case, are part of a continuing "Mexican stand-off" between rival Mexican drug cartels allied with dueling factions contesting Mexico's unsettled political landscape.
The contest has so far resulted in more than 2500 murders in Mexico last year. Mexico’s internecine drug war is a hotter theater of operations than Iraq.
Bank robbers for Equal Justice Under Law
When a bank robber steals a few thousand dollars before holing up with a hostage, does the FBI take more than eighteen months before divulging the name of the suspect?
Certain cases involving politically-connected Americans suspected of involvement in drug smuggling, through ownership of drug smuggling aircraft, seem to be being treated, not as crimes, but as urgent matters of national security.
But the American owners of the two airplanes busted in Mexico do not look like innocent victims of mean and nasty Mexican drug traffickers, but their American counterparts... the elusive and almost never-photographed American Drug Lords.
The Gulfstream, for example, picked up its multi-load of cocaine at the international airport in Rio Negro, just outside of Medellin. Although the city became famous as Pablo Escobar’s hometown, today Medellin is known for being current Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s home turf…
So it wasn’t FARC dope.
And there is no way the shipment can be blamed on the guerrillas, which may yet prove inconvenient if—after all the pieces are fitted into the puzzle—government-to-government drug connections are visible between the U.S. and Colombian governments.
An official issue get-out-of-jail-free card
The first plane to go down was a DC9 airliner (N900SA) which left Colombia carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine
The DC9’s owner regularly engaged in illegal, and as yet unpunished, activity, as if he had an official issue get-out-of-jail-free card.
One example: Forgetting legal niceties–like "don't sell a plane you don't own, dude"– the DC9 was passed from “Skyway Aircraft” to a company controlled by a company insider, “Royal Sons LLC.”
But the real owner of the plane at the time was the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Tampa. And they weren’t even told of the sale.
Maybe it helped their legal cause that Skyway's Chairman, Glenn Kovar, had been a U.S. Forest Service employee who boasted of long-standing ties to the CIA.
And several of the firm’s top executives, including its President, have backgrounds in U.S. military intelligence. That probably didn't hurt either.
Paint your car like a police car! Comes with own siren!
Skyway’s DC9 was painted with the distinctive blue-and-white with gold trim used by official U.S. Government planes, and an official-looking U.S. Seal, featuring the familiar Federal eagle clutching an olive brand, had been painted alongside the door.
If you look closely, however, the legend wrapping around the outer edge of the Seal says “SkyWay Aircraft: Protection of America’s Skies.”
Still, most who saw the DC9 sitting on the apron of the St-Petersburg Clearwater International Airport figured the aircraft belonged to the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security.
The DC9 was clearly impersonating an aircraft from the Dept of Homeland Security. Yet it sat unmolested by authorities at the St Pete-Clearwater Intl' Airport, parked less than a hundred yards from the US Coast Guard's major Caribbean Basin Air Facility.
Skyway’s SUV's, by contrast, were painted with a bogus U.S. Government Seal were pulled over by local police, and ordered to remove the seals.
Pretty lucky? Or pretty well-connected?
Another intriguing fact is that several years ago Skyway's listed address in plane ads was a hanger at Huffman Aviation at the Venice Fl. Airport. Huffman trained both pilots who took down the World Trade Center, Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, to fly.
The Gulfstream II (N987SA)
The biggest clue to date to the true identity of the individuals or organization operating behind the scenes is in the name of the dummy front company which was the last registered owner of the Gulfstream business jet that crash-landed with 4 tons of cocaine may lie in the firm's initials.
"Donna Blue Aircraft" is "DBA," for "doing business as," the kind of clever nomenclature "the boys" are fond of.
When we visited the company’s listed address, it was in an empty office suite with a blank sign out front.
What This is Really All About
Mankind’s knowledge about who owns large commercial and business jets which get busted carrying narcotics appears severely limited for several reasons.
1. It is completely governed, like the movement of subatomic quarks, by Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, with one teensy change.
2. Ownership Uncertainty fluctuates with the level of influence the plane's owner is able to exert.
3. Prospects are especially poor of ever identifying the owners of planes associated with national Republican figures.
The whole business, suggested a story from the Associated Press, rather quickly moves beyond the realm of human ken.
“How the U.S.-registered Gulfstream ended up in the hands of suspected drug traffickers remains a mystery,” the AP reported.
And not by accident, either.