The upcoming trial in Houston of Rudi Dekkers for drug trafficking has been pushed back and may now never happen, according to a lawyer close to the case.
“The case has been continued, and a plea agreement is in the works,” said the attorney, who asked for anonymity. “The case will never go to trial. That’s all I can say.”
The Asst U.S. Attorney declined comment, as did a representative from Floyd Carlson Choate, the prominent Houston law firm recently retained by Dekkers. In a brief phone conversation in which he declined comment, partner Chistopher Choate confirmed he is from the old New England family whose name adorns prestigious Connecticut boarding school Choate.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, it was Rudi Dekkers' running account of the character and personality of Mohamed Atta and the other terrorists which transfixed a nation and the world. He was everywhere on television.
The controversial Dekkers—who managed the Venice Florida flight school which trained both terrorists who crashed airliners into the World Trade Center— was arrested in the parking lot of a flight school in Houston in early December carrying a suitcase stuffed with two pounds of heroin and more than 80 lbs of cocaine.
Dekkers "a drug pilot for years."
The trial was set to begin February 23. But on January 18 Dekkers’ lawyers filed what the court docket calls a “Sealed Event.” Then on February 7 the judge issued an “Order on a Sealed Motion.”
In this case “sealed” means that—even if you’re a member of the general public affected by the events of September 11 2001 (as who among us was not?)—you’re not allowed to know..
According to the affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, a drug kingpin named Arturo Astorquiza, described as “the head of an international drug trafficking organization (DTO),” introduced Rudi Dekkers to an associate of his, who he did not yet know was an undercover agent."
Dekkers told the agent, quoting the affidavit, that he was “involved in narcotics transportation using private aircraft and that he has flown narcotics and currency previously without any problem.”
What Dekkers actually said was phrased in a less bureaucratic fashion. “I’ve been a drug pilot for years. Drugs. Money. No problem. What do you need?”
4th Hilliard 'associate' convicted of drug trafficking
A week later, agents arrested “drug kingpin” Astorquiza in the parking lot of his Houston condo.
Dekkers was arrested six weeks later.
With a guilty plea, hopes that Dekkers’ trial for drug trafficking will become an opportunity to illuminate the criminality of some of shadowy financier Wally Hilliard’s key lieutenants will be dashed.
While there has been little or no public recognition of the fact, three aviation executives present at Huffman Aviation while terrorists were there have since been implicated or convicted of drug trafficking.
A guilty plea from Dekkers will raise that count to four.
"The biggest heroin bust in Central Florida history"
Drug pilot #1 was Diego Texar Levine, a Venezuelan native and Hilliard’s partner in a jet charter service, piloted a Hilliard-owned Lear jet that was surrounded by DEA Agents on a runway of Orlando Executive Airport in July 2000, less than three weeks after Mohamed Atta began attending his flight school.
Agents discovered 43 lbs. of heroin on the plane. Five Venezuelan and Colombian nationals aboard the Learjet were arrested. All later pled guilty to felonies. The Orlando Sentinel called it "the largest-ever seizure of heroin in Central Florida."
But neither pilot Levine nor his co-pilot, Hilliard employee Michael Brassington, who would become infamous in the years after the 9/11 attack, were ever charged in the case.
However affidavits filed by DEA agents after the arrests make clear their belief that Levine should have been arrested and charged in the case. While machine-gun toting DEA agents were swarming the plane, the affidavit states:
"The pilot of the aircraft, DIEGO LEVINE-TEXAR, frantically attempted to make a telephone call using a cellular phone. LEVINE-TEXAR ignored agents and police officers who repeatedly ordered him to drop the telephone."
"It was just blatant"
"Agents had to physically remove the telephone from LEVINE-TEXAR’S hands," the affidavit goes on. "Based on my experience I know that narcotics traffickers maintain frequent contact with one another while transporting narcotics and currency. I believe LEVINE-TEXAR attempted to contact other accomplices as to the presence of agents and other law enforcement officials."
The affidavit also confirmed information about the frequency of the plane's trips to South America that I had heard from Hilliard employees and other sources at the Naples, FL Airport. It stated pilot Levine-TEXAR "stated he had known (Venezuelan) VALLES-DIAZ for approximately nine months. He has flown VALLES-DIAZ to New York and Fort Lauderdale approximately 30 times during that time."
The affidavit continues, "LEVINE-TEXAR said that he and his company were paid a total of $600,000 for those trips, and that he was going to be paid $80,000 for the current trip after arriving in Orlando."
Numerous aviation observers indicated that thirty flights in nine months—a weekly ‘milk run’ down and back to Venezuela—would ignite grave suspicions from any legitimate charter jet company. The discovery that Hilliard’s operation was paid cash for each of the flights, in the unanimous opinion of aviation observers in Southwest Florida, removes any question about the legitimacy of the enterprise.
"It was just blatant," said one. "They weren’t even bothering to hide what they were doing."
Second Hilliard drug pilot: Michael Brassington
Drug pilot #2: Michael Francis Brassington, a native of Guyana, was the co-pilot on that flight.
Despite carrying what is known in the trade as heavy weight (which the Orlando Sentinel called the biggest heroin bust in Central Florida history) neither pilot was ever criminally charged.
“Mike Brassington was co-pilot with Diego Levine on the heroin runs on the Lear Jet,” said an aviation executive who worked for Hilliard at the Naples Airport.
Yet co-pilot Brassington was conspicuously unnamed in the DEA’s affidavit filed in court documents in the case.
Perhaps this was due, a Naples Airport insider told me, to his second career… working for the DEA.
“He is DEA, assigned to Guyana,” asserted this source.
Running amok across the Caribbean… but for who?
Brassington also figured prominently in a scandal that brought down the premier of the Turks & Caicos Islands. According to a British Commission’s report on Premier Michael Misick’s corruption, as not only the personal pilot but Misick’s partner-in-crime as well.
The report shows the two men conspired to steal several million dollars from the coffers of the now-bankrupt Turks & Caicos government. Misick's crimes included a highly-publicized rape, intimidation and beating of rivals, as well as his wife, with whom he had several knockdown (literally) fights which required both to seek emergency hospital care.
In front of the British inquiry, Misick was portrayed in vivid testimony by his former wife (pdf), American TV-actress Lisa-Raye Misick-McCoy, as being a dripping-in-gold-jewelry gangsta in command a small fleet of Gulfstream luxury jets traveling all over the world.
As first reported here, a Gulfstream jet Misick and Brassington used while jetting around the world belonged to a former White House Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton named Jeffrey Watson. Currently a Washington lobbyist, Watson was once called “Florida's insider at the White House” by the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.
After being charged with 23 felony counts accusing him of putting the lives of passengers in danger, including in a near-fatal crash of one of his charter company’s luxury jets at Teterboro Airport outside New York City in 2005, Brassington was convicted in a trial in Federal Court (pdf) in Newark New Jersey and went to prison last year.
As if all that weren't enough, Brassington was a key figure fingered in a military procurement scandal in his native Guyana.
Hilliard drug pilot makes DEA's Top Ten list
Frater spent two years on the DEA’s Ten Most Wanted List. In 2008, he was caught, extradited to the US, and sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for drug trafficking..
In his plea, he admitted the investigation began in December 2002 when a Gulfstream II flying from Van Nuys Airport in California, to Farmingdale, New York, landed at the airport in Salina, Kansas, to refuel.
Acting on a tip, Drug Enforcement Administration agents searched the plane and found 153.4 kilograms (more than 338 pounds) of cocaine.
After learning Frater had chartered the plane and a courier on the plane was working for him, DEA agents attempted to lure Frater to Salina to pick up the cocaine by making him think the plane had been grounded with mechanical problems.
Instead, Frater left the United States to avoid arrest. He did not return until he was extradited from England on August 27, 2009.
Frater spent time in Cuba, Jamaica, the United Arab Emirates and England. When he was arrested, he was detained at Heathrow Airport while returning from Jamaica to Dubai.
The Nassau connection
Heroin seems to be a leitmotif running in many of Hilliard’s business connections. But these weren’t dese-dem-and-dose kind of guys.
“Nobody knows for sure who Wally works for,” the source stated. “He owns an FBO in Nassau called Executive Jet Support with a guy named Alfonso Bowe, whose sister is married to the Prime Minister of the Bahamas.
According to a former Customs Agent in Fort Lauderdale the executive flight manager at Hilliard’s Nassau FBO, South African Alfonso Bowe, is flagged in US Customs computers, where he is called the kingpin of what Customs calls the “Alfonso Bowe criminal organization."
“When Alfonso Bowe heard that the terrorists had trained at Rudi Dekkers’ flight school, he said, ‘It figures that out of all the flight schools in the nation the terrorists would go to Rudi.’”
Nothing could be more clear. Wally Hilliard, the owner of the flight school which trained Mohamed Atta, was not who he pretended to be.
Coy Jacob owned the aviation business at the Venice Airport directly beside Huffman Aviation. “I think common sense should prevail,” said Jacob. “And I think if you are a thinking person and you have common sense I think that you examine the person and see if there is any reason for falsehoods. It all looks pretty suspicious to me.”
NEXT: What does the oligarchy currently running Greece explain about why the the story of what was going on in Florida in the year before the 9/11 attack has never been told?