Mexican Drug Cartels & ‘The Enterprise’ at Venice Airport

“Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.”
George Santayana.

24370186_5cb3901e9aIt is 11 a.m. on the morning of June 30, 1997.

On the steps of the Sarasota County Courthouse a public auction is underway. Being auctioned off is the lease of a bankrupt company at the Venice Municipal Airport.

Before it went under, 4Square Aviation was owned by two people. One is a pilot, Joe Duncan. Joe is a likeable guy, but has what can charitably be called a checkered past.

Several years earlier, he had been charged with bank fraud. It was a misunderstanding.

Several years before that one of his charter jets went down in San Diego, killing just about every member of country singer Reba McIntire’s band.

Several years before that, he was flying weapons to the contras in Honduras from Venice, as part of Oliver North’s contra resupply operation, and became a close associate of an infamous drug smuggler from Venice named Stephen Ruth.

images (See Confessions of a drug smuggling CIA hit man.)

Duncan’s co-owner at the aviation company isn’t a soldier of fortune like Joe. He is a pastor at Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg Virginia.

That must be why they call it 4Square Aviation. Rent a biblically-inerrant Gulfstream, or prepare for the fires of damnation.

“Pirates of the Caribbean for $500 please Alec”

 oldthomasroadPastor Wayne Booth is also Chairman of the Endowment Fund at Falwell’s Liberty University, which means he’s good at raising money. This is good, cause, at least while he was still alive, Jerry always needed money.

We were looking at this old transaction only because there’s another faintly dodgy Christian aviation company at the Venice Airport currently, occupying the same space and same hanger where 4Square use to be. La plus ca change…

(see Pirates of the Caribbean: Christian fundamentalists & the CIA.)

But we’re glad we did. Because while reading the tiny print of one of those boilerplate Public Notice of Sale listings in the newspaper that no one ever reads—you know, the ones announcing bank sales of foreclosed property and tax lien and bankruptcy sales— we saw the name of a third man with an ownership interest in the 4Square foreclosure sale.

Remember the question we posed in  “The 9/11 Social Network”: “What does Mohamed Atta have in common with Carlos Salinas?” The unexpected presence at the Venice Airport of REDACTED is, at the very least, a very big clue.


REDACTED is a shady Mexican businessman implicated in the failure of a Florida bank which intelligence officials say was involved in everything from money laundering to weapons and drug smuggling.

In 2002, The Miami Herald reported that bags of cash from Latin American political leaders were routinely being flown to Hamilton Bank for money laundering.

After US bank regulators moved in on Hamilton, the first thing they did was prohibit the bank from making any more loans to REDACTED.

The 9/11 Social Network offered a brief profile of the richest man (until he died several years ago) in Mexico,Carlos Hank Gonzalez, a behind the scenes kingmaker who had made Carlos Salinas President of Mexico.

REDACTED was in business with Carlos Hank González in a Panamanian highway construction project which never gets built, but does get paid for.

A DEA investigation in 1997 code-named Operation White Tiger accused Carlos Hank Gonzalez and his sons of laundering billions of dollars of drug money through American banks for the jefes of Mexico’s most infamous drug cartels.  That investigation’s findings were officially suppressed by the Dept of Justice.  After “White Tiger” documents are leaked to The Washington Post, the paper reports, “The Hank family poses a significant criminal threat to the United States.”

The diplomatic pouch: Elite Deviant fashion accessory of choice

Although he lived in a $5 million estate in West Palm Beach, REDACTED was Panama’s Honorary Consul for Tampa.

In 2004, based on a tip from the FBI, which had been conducting surveillance of REDACTED, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) searched REDACTED’S’ private plane, a Jetstar II, which he had acquired through Duncan Aviation at the Venice Airport.

Agents discovered such an embarrassing large pile of cash and bonds on the plane that The State Department felt compelled to request Panama to ask REDACTED to resign his position.

REDACTED had to turn in his diplomatic pouch.  Ouch!

nacifREDACTED took frequent business trips to Panama with Mario Villanueva. Villanueva was the fugitive Governor of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, wanted for drug trafficking and money laundering. He was recently extradited to the U.S.

Villanueva’s home state, where the resorts of Cancun and Cozumel are located, is ruled by a vicious—even by Mexican standards—cabal of Mexican-Lebanese drug traffickers who are also known pedophiles.

They are involved in the international trafficking of children. In the Mexican press—which is far braver than our own—they are known as “The Narcopederastas.”

There is more to tell about REDACTED. He is, at the very least, an extremely odd associate for one of Jerry Falwell’s Pastors.

Then again, maybe not.

History is what we say it is

C-H-G Partners in an aviation company at the tiny Venice Municipal Airport were: An Iran Contra pilot with some blemishes on his record…

A pastor for Jerry Falwell, who already has suspicious links to the Venice Airport…

And a shady Mexican businessman who’s in a score of businesses with Mexican drug cartel “kingpin of kingpins” Carlos Hank Gonzalez…

Yet any decades-long history of continuing criminal activity at the Venice Airport is completely unrelated to Mohamed Atta’s presence there.

Drug trafficking gangsters at the Venice Airport are a matter of indifference in the story of the 9/11 attack.

That is the United States Government’s official position.

How did things get this way?  What follows is merely my own editorial opinion, and is openly labeled as such. We don’t know about you, but…

We blame Ronald Reagan. Seriously.

“Turn the howitzers on Zsa Zsa.”

539w It is Saturday February 6, 2011. Just another sunny day in Southern California at the beginning of the second decade of  the 21st Century.

But the name on everyone’s lips is Ronald Reagan, who was born before the start of World War I.

At the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Westwood, Zsa Zsa Gabor celebrates her 94th birthday with a big chocolate cake.

And at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley,  they’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ronald Reagan, himself.

Although Simi Valley is a long way from the center of Los Angeles, the Reagan Library is “freeway-close,” just off exit 22A of The Ronald Reagan Freeway.

Today is a festival of All Things Reagan.  1500 dignitaries crowd the lawn.

James Baker III is there. So is former Vice President Dick Chaney.  They listen to speakers praise the Reagan legacy.

There is a ceremonial wreath laying. A 21-gun salute with 105 Howitzer Saluting Battery Fire. There is talk of freedom, common sense, self-reliance.

Speculation about incorporating—at some point— a manger into the tableau is just malicious gossip.

Stealth Heart   

cheney's heartNancy Reagan looks skyward. She says, “I know that Ronnie would be thrilled.”

The Beach Boys sing “Happy Birthday.” Everyone applauds. Even former Vice President Dick Cheney rises to his feet.

Once Cheney was just a heart beat from the Presidency.

Now he doesn’t even have one.

His heart runs on batteries. Instead of a pulse, he has a Ventricular Assist Device.

It took years of trying, and incredible persistence, but the Russians finally killed Rasputin.

America will have no such luck. Nothing , it seems, will ever kill Cheney.

Credit where credit is due: Ronald Reagan was charming. Engagingly modest. Even surprisingly brave. After the assassination attempt against him, and in the face of what might have been imminent death, when he sees Nancy at the hospital as he’s being wheeled into surgery he says “Honey, I forgot to duck.”

Even liberals respect moxie.

But—and its a big ‘but’—there’s a dark side to the Reagan legacy.

A dark side that Americans—long after Ronnie has shuffled off this mortal coil—must  live with every day. And its visible—to this day!—at the Venice Municipal Airport.

Operation Condor’s Evil Spawn

jerrywally Call it The Enterprise.  The “Company.” The Iran-Contra rackets. Or even The Octopus…

Of course it didn’t start with Reagan.

Still, despite a “Mighty Wurlitzer” of propaganda to the contrary, allowing an arms-dealing drug trafficking Praetorian Guard to replace the U. S. Constitution with a secret government won’t get Reagan’s face up on Mount Rushmore.

Because there’s a surprisingly direct link between the spooks, gangsters and con men who peopled Danny Casarolo and later Cheri Seymour’s tale of  government corruption at a Casino on the Cabazon Indian Reservation… and one particular associate of Mohamed Atta’s.

He knows who he is. But I’m saving that story for later.

Operation Condor, the precursor to The Enterprise, began way back in ’72, when Reagan was just a snot-nosed Governor of California defending the war in Vietnam, and vowing to keep campuses at the University of California open during the Christmas carpet bombing of North Vietnam one year.

(He didn’t. I know. I helped shut it down.)

No it didn’t start with Reagan. But it became institutionalized while he was President.

To the bitches brew still bubbling in Venice,  Ronald Reagan provided an essential precursor… He made it all right to subvert the U.S. Constitution, as long, of course, as you did it for patriotic reasons.

The dark prophetic warning of former President Dwight David Eisenhower as he left office, about what he called “a unique circumstance in American history, the military industrial complex,” finally and horribly came true…

On Ronald Reagan’s watch.

Something wicked this way comes

NADL11e567e0141ca173a Three of the four pilots involved in the 9/11 attack learn to fly at a tiny Municipal Airport in an out-of-the way retirement community on the sleepy Gulf Coast of Florida.

This is nothing more than happenstance. It is incidental information.

At least, so says the FBI.

When I first arrive in Venice three months after the attack,  it appears they must be right.

Because if they aren’t, there would be reporters from all around the world crawling all over each other to get a scoop.

But at the biggest September 11th crime scene that wasn’t reduced to rubble, reporters weren’t crawling all over each other. Because there weren’t any. None.

There was no ‘team coverage.’  There were no reporters ‘standing by.’

And at the Crows Nest on Dona Bay, I wasn’t stepping over Bob Woodward to get to the bar.

I found it all more than passing strange.

And it wasn’t as if the mainstream media decided there were no stories worth pursuing in Venice, except for one guy with a wild hair up his ass at the Seattle Post, and one woman at the Cleveland Plain Dealer who needed to see something else that winter beside more dirty snow.

The decision was unanimous. Nobody came to Venice. About how many subjects can it be said that America’s great and glorious free press expressed a unanimous opinion?

Do a survey of reporters. Ask whether they are for or against the proposition that “You should call your Mother on Mother’s Day.” The results will be, at best, 60/40 for.

I had to figure this all out myself in Venice. I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t major news when it was discovered that the owner of the flight school Mohamed Atta trained at lost his Lear jet when it was seized carrying 43 lbs. of heroin.

Here’s what I figured out: “Something wicked this way comes.”

Shark Tooth Capital of the Terrorist World!

Atta leaves Venice (for good!) in December 2000, says the FBI, says the ‘official story.’

He spent a mere six month sojourn among the “People Who Walk Around Looking for Shark Teeth.”

No need to consider replacing the city slogan “Shark Tooth Capital of the World!” to “Welcome to Venice Florida! Home of the 9/11 Terrorist Cadre!”

bradBrad Warrick owns Warrick’s Rent-a-Car in Fort Lauderdale. Atta and Marwan rented his cars. Atta is in Venice Florida on three separate occasions in the last six weeks of his life, says Warrick.

“I know. Once he broke down there. Another time he called when a red light went on the dash.  He called from the 941 area code. I saw it on the caller ID.”

I interview four eyewitnesses in Venice—cab driver, local pharmacist, two restaurant owners— who see the same thing: Atta in Venice two weeks before the 9/11 attack.

Every fact, every piece of information, every nodded head, and every deflected or unanswered question I have seen or heard since supports this statement:

“Something weird was going on in Venice Florida… and still is.”

Still tilting at the same windmill with no plans to stop

fbipanel One of Brad Warrick’s rental cars is left in the parking lot of Logan International in Boston.

The FBI impounds it. He never gets it back.

Warrick is not asked to testify before the 9/11 Commission.

His information is incidental.  It does not signify.

“In March 2000 Atta emails 31 different U.S. flight schools on behalf of a small group of Arab men studying in Germany who, while lacking prior training, were interested in learning to fly in the United States,” states the 9/11 Report.

Wow.  Were 31 flight schools in the U.S. really in the running for an Al Qaeda expansion franchise?  Maybe they chose Venice by accident. Like just drew a name out of a hat.  Do ya think?

What we think:

It would be, for the FBI, so much easier if they had.  There’d be far less not to explain.

Daniel Hopsicker

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