2006 Mexico DC-9 drug bust
|Date||April 10, 2006|
|Description||A DC-9 made an emergency landing and was found to be containing over 5 tonnes of cocaine. The pilot "disappeared", unnamed, and the plane was deregistered and sold within days to an unknown customer in Venezuela.|
The 2006 Mexico DC-9 drug bust (which Daniel Hopsicker dubbed "Cocaine 1" in reference to its cargo and the fact that it was painted to impersonate a US government plane) followed after the emergency landing of an aging DC-9 which was not fit to fly. On April 10, 2006, en route from from Venezuela to USA, this suffered an engine failure and made an emergency landing in Mexico, where it was found to contain over 5 tonnes of cocaine. Michael Braun, Chief of Operations of the DEA testified to the US Congress that 5.6 tonnes of cocaine were found aboard the plane. The co-pilot was arrested, but the pilot was not.
- 1 Official Narrative
- 2 Plane History
- 3 The Flight
- 4 The Bust
- 5 Fallout
- 6 Rating
- 7 References
- 8 External links
- 9 Rating
The DEA used the event to suggest the success of their campaign to intercept smuggling by sea. A Wikipedia article was created 9 days after the event, nominated for speedy deletion less than 4 months later, but not deleted. The Wikipedia talk page notes that "most of the mainstream media sources on this story have removed the stories for some reason", so the official narrative would seem to be more or less that this didn't happen, or, as a senior editor once said about the BBC's premature report of the collapse of a skyscraper in New York: "If we reported [it], it would have been an error - no more than that."
The aircraft was originally manufactured in 1966 for Trans-World Airlines as N1061T. It had a long career flying for various individuals and companies, including Tracinda Investment (N241TC), Kenny Rogers (N9KR), Southmark Corporation (N89SM), the Seattle Seahawks (N40SH), Aircraft 45775, Inc, and HW Aviation. It "was Howard Dean's presidential campaign plane in 2004". As often happens with planes involved in drug busts, the paper trail of ownership gets more convoluted in the time leading up to the bust.
Skyway Communications LLC
Skyway Communications LLC (not to be confused with the similarly located Skyway Communications Inc.) is the parent company of Skyway Aircraft in Clearwater. Skyway Communications arranged to purchase the DC-9 (tail number N900SA) via a stock swap with the Costa Rica-based firm Dupont Investment Fund 57289, according to an 8K filing with the SEC of in 15 November 2004. A Collateralized Loan Agreement with Lantex, Ltd was filed on December 16, 2004 It is interesting that photographs reveal that the aircraft was already sporting the SkyWay logo in April 2004, months before the change of ownership was officially reported.
In August 2005 the jet was registered with the FAA by a company called Royal Sons Inc. Daniel Hopsicker writes that "Royal Sons Motor Yacht Sales, Inc. DBA Royal Sons" and a company owned by Brent Kovar (a friend of Tom DeLay) called Skyway Communications Holding Corp jointly signed a loan with United Bank and Trust Company in St. Petersburg, Florida. for $1.5 million. This is interesting since another a year after this event, another luxury jet registered in St. Peteresburg, Cocaine 2, also registered St. Petersburg, Florida, was revealed to be loaded with cocaine.
It was reportedly sold to an unknown Venezuelan buyer just days before the bust in Mexico. The Tampa Bay Times reported that a "man identifying himself as Jorge Corrales said he needed a plane for a traveling soccer team. The plane's owner, Fred Geffon, needed the money" and received six payments from Corrales totaling $1.047-million. Frederick J. Geffon, president of Royal Sons, was a shareholder in Skyway Communications and his company was a major creditor in the Skyway Communications bankruptcy.
The FAA stated that an aviation inspector had authorized one flight to a hangar in Caracas, Venezuela, so the plane could be repaired, noting that overseas repairs would have been cheaper. The plane flew to Venezuela, but was not repaired there.
The aircraft departed Simón Bolívar International Airport in Caracas, Venezuela on the afternoon of April 10, 2006. It was painted with the distinctive blue and white color color scheme of official U.S. Government planes, with an official-looking seal painted on its side, announcing "SKY WAY AIRCRAFT - PROTECTION OF AMERICA'S SKIES", with a familiar eagle and olive branch motif. The DC-9 was preceded by a smaller executive jet, possibly a Falcon business jet of Mexican registry (XB-IYK).
The plane, which had no passengers, was loaded with 5.5 tons of cocaine packed in 128 pieces black suitcases with the word "PRIVATE" stenciled on the side. Approximately 1.5 hours into the flight, it reportedly returned to the airport and refueled before resuming its flight to Toluca, Mexico.
Emergency landing in Ciudad del Carmen
At some time into the flight they made an emergency landing at the Ciudad del Carmen airport, 350 miles to the southwest of Cancun claiming hydraulic problems with the landing gear. The flight crew told the ground crew to keep people away from the aircraft, claiming leaking oil could be hazardous and that a tire could explode. The pilot reportedly left the area at this time and was never caught or identified. One source names the official pilot as "Alberto Damiani", but notes that he was not flying the plane. The co-pilot was named as Miguel Vázquez Guerra, aged 47, a citizen of Venezuela.
Mexican soldiers carried out the bust after dogs had identified the presence of drugs. They ignored airport officials' efforts to stop them from approaching the plane, and their claim that there was an oil leak and that it might explode. They arrested the co-pilot, Miguel Vicente Vázquez Guerra or (Carmelo Vázquez Guerra?), a Colombian National with Venezuelan passport.
A Falcon business jet of Mexican registry (XB-IYK) owned by the Government of Mexico's Water Commission, was making a rendezvous with the DC-9. Some reports that say Mexican soldiers patrolling the airport observed a Falcon arriving several days before the DC-9's arrival. The two pilots were Fernando Poot Pérez and Marco Antonio Pérez Gracia, both employees of the National Water Commission of Mexico. They reportedly attempted to pay for the DC-9 to make an emergency landing after the airport closed. They were arrested, and the latter (associated with another doomed drug flight, N987SA) supposedly hung himself "with his socks", in the maximum security Altiplano prison facility outside Mexico City.
Both before and after the bust, the aircraft was listed for sale on the website of United Flite (with identical - and therefore mendacious - statistics of its flying time). Interestingly "United Flite" has the same address as several aviation companies, including Royal Sons. This information was removed as "irrelevant" by Wikipedia administrator "Akradecki". Daniel Hopsicker opines that this is a CIA front company.
Murders in Mexico
The Director of Civil Aviation in the Yucatan, Jose Luis Soladana Ortiz was assassinated on his way to work, the same day that three tortured bodies were discovered alongside a road near the Merida airport. Martin Gomez Soto, a traffic controller at Cancun International Airport, was abducted and is presumed dead.
"Investigation" in USA
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security reportedly interviewed the officials interviewed Frederick Geffon about the cocaine found on board, but no charges were made. Pleading ignorance, Geffon stated that "I just chalked it all up to a bad experience". Daniel Hopsicker asserts that "Geffon back-dated sales documents and then had them faxed to the FAA several days after his DC9 was already in the news for the big bust". He also suggested that the bust was responsible for Porter Goss’ resignation as CIA Director.
Wachova bank failure?
Plane used for rendition
In December 2006, Mexican Newspaper Reforma reported the aircraft was being operated by the Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) to transport prisoners with extradition charges to the USA under Daniel Cabeza de Vaca and was based in Mexico City. as XC-LJZ.
- Full article: 2007 Yucatan Gulfstream drug crash
- Full article: 2007 Yucatan Gulfstream drug crash
The next year a DC-9 full of cocaine crashed in Mexico. When it later transpired that it had been used by the CIA for "rendition" it was dubbed "Cocaine 2" in reference to this earlier CIA plane, which had vanished and was again being used to transport prisoners.
- Skyway Form 8K details
- Airlines.net image
- - DC 9 Kokainflieger war in Kolumbien
- http://z14.invisionfree.com/GangstersInc/ar/t19.htm - Formerly published by AP but now withdrawn.
- Mad Cow Morning News - Plane With Five Tons Of Coke Owned By Royal Sons
- Y estrenan avión... decomisado Abel Barajas. Reforma. Mexico City: Dec 24, 2006. pg. 1
- Utilizan avión incautado Palabra. Saltillo, Mexico: Apr 11, 2007. pg. 16
- FAA - N-Number Inquiry Results for N900SA
- Airliners.net - Photographs Of Aircraft
- Flight Track Information for N900SA