The now-famous DC9 from St Petersburg Florida caught carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine in the Yucatan four years ago is back in the news, as the centerpiece of a new DEA campaign of “projective or reverse propaganda."
Just four months ago federal prosecutors used the bust of the cocaine-laden DC9 to finger Wachovia Bank, then the U.S.’s fourth largest, for laundering drug money used to purchase the plane.
An incredible $450 billion had been run through Wachovia, said U.S. prosecutors, whose origins and provenance were considered… (here they used the same word a Federal Judge in Tampa used, to describe the circumstances surrounding SkyWay Aircraft's bankruptcy)… murky.
The bank was allowed to plead guilty to laundering a fraction of that amount, was fined $160 million, and then sold off to Wells Fargo Bank. How much had Wachovia made for washing all that filthy lucre?
The figure was never revealed. Dollars to donuts (or sub-prime mortgage securities) the bank made a killing.
As ever, the U.S. treats some elements of the drug trade (Republicans?) as more equal than others.
"Chairman Hugo just don't sound right"
Hugo Chavez is the latest victim of a U.S. reverse propaganda campaign.
The term, first coined by eminence grise Professor Peter Dale Scott, the leading academic authority on the drug trade, describes a U.S. tactic repeatedly used for over 50 years of accusing a current American foe of drug trafficking that the U.S. is itself guilty of conducting with covert assistance from U.S. proxies and allies.
For example, the U.S. blamed Red China in the 1950’s for trafficking heroin into the U.S. being transported by Air America from Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Chinese strongholds in the Golden Triangle.
More recently, President Reagan blamed the Sandinistas for flooding America with cocaine actually being supplied by drug traffickers supporting the Contras and flown to the U.S. by life-long CIA assets like pilot Barry Seal, in an operation coordinated in the White House by Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North.
Acting DEA Adminstrator Chats with American DrugLord
The propaganda campaign began in earnest last January. That's when an unidentified official from the Dept. of Homeland Security announced the discovery of a pipeline, using cargo planes and even Boeing 727’s, pumping cocaine from Venezuela across the Atlantic to West Africa.
The surging sales and burgeoning supply of cocaine in Europe could be blamed on Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.
And, can you guess?
Al Qaeda in North Africa.
"Al Quaeda linked to rogue air network: U.S. official” read the headline on a January 14, 2010 wire service report.
From the FARC to Chavez to Al Qaeda…
It was a terrorist tri-fecta. And it must have been the closest thing to a wet dream that grizzled old U.S. drug war apologist Gen. Barry McCaffrey has had since Jane Russell starred in “The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown.”
Too bad it isn't true.
"A kingpin among kingpins."
But don't take our word for it.
Let’s take a look at the affidavit filed in support of Walid’s indictment by DEA Special Agent Gregory Ball, and compare it to the widely-quoted news conference held earlier this month by DEA acting administrator Michele Leonhart and Manhattan U.S. Atty. Preet Bharara, who fingered Syrian-born Walid Makled-Garcia, 43, a former crony of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, as a drug kingpin.
Walid Makled was “a foreign drug kingpin with a long history of drug trafficking, and he has built a vast global drug trafficking empire on illicit proceeds," gushed DEA acting administrator Michele Leonhart.
"These airstrips were used by different traffickers."
A careful reading of the indictment and DEA affidavit filed in New York Federal Court provides evidence confirming Makled's involvement in drug trafficking. But it does not support the charge that Walid Makled-Garcia is a “kingpin among kingpins.”
It states Makled operated and controlled several airstrips in Venezuela between 2006 and 2010 which were "used by different drug trafficking organizations.
Makled was responsible for paying off local law enforcement officials in Venezuela so that planes carrying drug loads could leave Venezuela, said DEA Agent Ball's confidential informant.
They weren’t Makled’s drugs. They weren’t Makled’s planes either.
But wait. It gets worse.
He coordinates. You know, like, a wardrobe coordinator?
Ball’s affidavit cites Makled for just two overt acts.
The first is his role in the 5.5 ton DC9 drug move. Makled isn't named for being responsible for delivering the drugs to the U.S. His job, states Ball, was to “coordinate the transportation to Mexico” of the 5.5 ton load.
In the second overt act, a plane loaded with 1.5 tons of cocaine (1500 kilos) left Venezuela on May 10, 2009 bound for Honduras. On that flight Makled once again “coordinated the transportation from Venezuela to Honduras." The flight crashed with three people onboard, one of whom died in the crash.
Was it Makled’s plane that was lost? No. Was it his cocaine? No again. Was it Makled who suffered the loss?
If the answer to any of these questions were “yes,” it would have been in the indictment.
Not as lot of "overt acts" for a "kingpin among kingpins"
When we look at Makled’s “overt acts” in his indictment, the situation goes from bad to worse, and ends up positively comical. Makled is again cited for coordinating the transportation to Mexico of the 5.5 ton DC9 flight.
On the May 11, 2006 1.5 tons of cocaine flight from Venezuela to Honduras, Makled again paid off authorities for a flight controlled by “other co-conspirators not named as defendants.”
Co-conspirators not named in this indictment? Who might they be?
Makled wasn’t even a plane-mover, just a flight facilitator. A bag man. The money he was spreading around wasn’t even his.
Makled wasn’t a kingpin. He just worked for them, bribing local officials, Generals, and Venezuela’s anti-drug czar, and making sure they stayed bribed.
And the DEA won't name the real drug traffickers involved. Is it because they're waiting to reel in the Big Fish?
Don't hold your breath. You could die waiting.
Decision 2008: Too Late to Vote "No?"
It was the kind of lie we came to expect during the bad old days of the Bush Administration. Remember?
Former pest control man Tom Delay strutting around like a little Napoleon in cowboy boots?
But this… this here's the Obama Adminstration.
Who ever thought Obama would second the nomination to head the DEA of someone chosen by someone, former President George W. Bush, whose drug war credentials include the rumor which has been abroad for two decades that he was caught offloading cocaine off a plane by "DEA Agent"Barry Seal?
Acting DEA administrator Michele Leonhart is the clear early favorite for the Asa Hutchinson Memorial Looking the Other Way 360 Award."
Maybe that's why Leonhart was consorting with FOX News reprobate North on her recent look-see trip to the heroin capital of the world, Afghanistan.
Maybe she was checking out firsthand the testimony in court of the Colombian assassins of Barry Seal, who said they'd been directed while in the U.S. by an anonymous U.S. military officer, who they quickly figured out was Oliver North.
“Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian,” said one of North’s own pilots about him, “anymore than going to a carwash makes you a car.”