CIA Drug Planes Probe Targets 9/11 Figure

Does Dept. of Homeland Security Threaten Homeland Security?

4ssaas New revelations in the broadening scandal kicked off by two CIA and Dept of Homeland Security-linked  airplanes busted in Mexico with multi-ton loads of cocaine point to a level of criminality and turpitude well beyond the corruption at U.S. Customs in South Florida to which officials have already admitted.

A central figure in the Customs corruption probe is Guyanese pilot Michael Francis Brassington, the MadCowMorningNews has learned, a name familiar to readers who have followed the unfolding and still largely untold story of the activities and associates of the terrorist hijackers while in Florida…

Michael Brassington was the co-pilot on a drug running Lear jet (N351WB)  caught by DEA agents at Orlando Executive Airport in July of 2000 carrying 43 pounds of heroin.  

The Lear jet’s owner, Wallace J Hilliard,  also owned the Venice FL flight school where, at that very moment,  the two terrorist pilots who crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center Towers, Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, were receiving flight training.

Today's $64,000 Question

Cocaine_Two-AIn the current Customs scandal Brassington is under suspicion for trafficking drugs, passports, people, currency, and diamonds  into the U.S. through two airports in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with the assistance of high-level officials in U.S. Customs and the FAA.
Discovery of Brassington’s participation in the rampant Customs corruption in South Florida raises questions about whether the criminal turpitude of officials there may have contributed to the breech in American national security which allowed 19 terrorist hijackers,  whose identities in some cases were already known to authorities, to roam freely in the U.S. before the 9/11 attack.

In other words, was a dirty operation engaged in drug trafficking and weapons smuggling, run with assistance from the highest levels of the U.S. Government,  responsible for creating the opening which allowed 19 terrorists to murder 3000 people?   

The Alphonso Bowe Smuggling Group, LTD.

fxesignWe first learned of Brassington’s recent activity from a former Customs Agent, who was able to confirm that Brassington was the co-pilot when Wally Hilliard’s Lear jet was busted in Orlando.   

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.  

Nor was that Brassington's only red flag.

“In the 'active lookout' it stated Brassington was known for bringing  in suspect passengers,” Sanders told us.

“Brassington 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 Brassington 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.’

"Here's my card. Call us when she comes out of the coma."

Other indications that Michael Brassington might be operating with a wink and a nod' from corrupt government officials can be found in recent documents.

An “unusual” relationship between Brassington and U.S. officials is hinted at in the sometimes harsh wording  of an NTSB decision  affirming an emergency order of revocation issued against the pilot in 2005 for a variety of violations, including a spectacular near-fatal crash  at Teeterboro Airport in New Jersey in February 2003.

The airplane accident for which he was facing the music was so colorful it led the local evening news that night in New York City…

Brassington's much-maligned charter company was flying a Challenger business jet which overran the runway during an aborted takeoff,  ploughed through the airport fence, and went flying across a busy highway, slamming into a moving automobile before coming to rest after crashing into a warehouse.

teb05tv_28The plane was demolished. Injuries were remarkably few, except for an innocent civilian driving down the street minding his or her own business…

“One passenger in the car remains in a coma,” a story about the crash reported  dryly, “while lawyers wait in the wings.”

For all this, Brassington's punishment seemed remarkably light to one NTSB administrator, who put his feelings into a dissenting opinion…

“My expectation of the Administrator in pursuing egregious safety violations of this nature is that she would pursue every violation demonstrated by the evidence.  (Yet) for reasons not explained in the record, (italics ours) the Administrator chose to allege a violation of the safety check requirement for only the flight on January 2, 2005.”

Magically Mushrooming

AMERCIAN_DRUG_LORDS1The CIA drug plane scandal began when two American-registered planes with ties to the CIA and the Dept of Homeland Security were caught in Mexico’s Yucatan, a popular refueling stop between Colombia and the U.S.

The first, a DC9 airliner (N900SA) busted carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine, had been painted to impersonate aircraft from the Dept of Homeland Security.

The Gulfstream II business jet (N987SA) caught in September with at least 4 tons (estimates vary) had been used in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition operation for several years. Prior to that, pilot Greg Smith flew for both the CIA and DEA in operations in Colombia during the 1990’s, Narco News reported, and mainstream media sources in Colombia state the Gulfstream was often seen there.

The scandal mushroomed exponentially last month when Mexico’s Attorney General announced that the sale of the two drug running American planes had been part of a huge 50-plane deal between Mexico’s dominant Sinaloa cartel, and unnamed sellers.

The Mexican Attorney General’s announcement diplomatically left the American side of the equation unstated. But if the Sinaloa Cartel hadn’t purchased the 50 planes from the pages of Trade-a-Plane, they had, presumably, dealt with as-yet unnamed drug lords in the U.S.

Drug Lord-less U.S. goes it alone… again.

mcgregor_intThe problem is immediately obvious. Top DEA officials have stated categorically that there are no American drug lords.

Once again, the U.S. is alone among nations.

The scandal also claimed its latest victim yesterday, with the arrest of the Chief of Staff and head of intelligence of the Judicial Police, Ricardo McGregor, in  Mexico City.

McGregor is accused of giving a “heads up” to suspected Sinaloa cartel money man Pedro Alphonso Alatorre  to move large sums from one of his money exchanges in advance of the arrest for paying $50 million in laundered money to buy 50 planes in the U.S.

Customs corruption in Mexico and Latin America is an ingrained and decades old practice historically used by political leaders there for personal purposes and to pay off political debts.

But in the case of the two downed American planes,  Mexican authorities have so far charged, in addition to McGregor, dozens of government employees and officials, from local police officers to Federal Police, Civil Aviation officials, Airport Administration personnel, and even two pilots working for Mexico’s National Water Commission.

A pilot who 'disappears'

B493-2qThis is not to say that things are jes’ all right south of the border, and that no sleight of hand is being practiced.

One example: when the Gulfstream business jet crashed, Mexican newspapers reported that government authorities caught the pilot, Edic Munoz Sanchez, who had been injured in the crash. They even published his mug shot.

In later reports, however, his name has been completely dropped. When seven people were charged with being present at the scene recently, his name was absent.

He has been "disappeared."

In stark contrast, American authorities have been totally silent. No officials have been charged, with no indication given that even the American owners of the two planes at the time they were caught are under suspicion.

"Eleven months and change and we're gone"

rawdeal1Well, maybe not entirely silent. There has been a certain amount of discreet passing-the-buck at the DEA in the form of denials by officials there of either any DEA investigation or  involvement in the case.

Several DEA sources have stated that the reason there is no DEA investigation ongoing is that, because the case involves corruption in a U.S. Custom’s “rogue operation,” it is being investigated internally by the Inspector General’s Office in the Dept. of Homeland Security.

However, the MadCowMorningNews has learned that the existence of any federal investigation in the scandal remains a matter of speculation.

An official in the Dept. of Homeland Security’s Inspector General’s office, Tamara Faulkner, told the MadCowMorningNews in a phone call last week that the Department’s practice is to neither confirm nor deny the existence of any internal investigation conducted by the Inspector General’s office.

So, let's see… Two American planes carrying ten tons of cocaine worth at least several hundreds of millions of dollars get caught red-handed. No Americans are charged with any crime.

And you and I, the American people, are not entitled to know if there's any federal investigation.

What we want to know is: how does that make you feel?

But don't tell us. Tell them.

Daniel Hopsicker

Daniel Hopsicker is an investigative journalist and the author of two books on transnational crime, Welcome to Terrorland and Barry & the Boys.