[News] Cocaine Jet That Crashed in Mexico Part of Cowboy Government Operation

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Dec 20 11:59:22 EST 2007

Cocaine Jet That Crashed in Mexico Part of Cowboy 
Government Operation, DEA Sources Claim


Mexican Officials Fear the Case, if Exposed, 
Could Jeopardize US Funding for “Plan Mexico”

By Bill Conroy
Special to The Narco News Bulletin

December 19, 2007

The Gulfstream II jet that crash landed in the 
Mexican Yucatan in late September carrying close 
to four tons of cocaine was part of an operation 
being carried out by a Department of Homeland 
Security agency, DEA sources have revealed to Narco News.

The operation, codenamed “Mayan Express,” is an 
ongoing effort spearheaded by U.S. Immigration 
and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the sources claim. 
The information surfaced during a high-level 
meeting at DEA headquarters in mid-December, DEA 
sources familiar with the meeting assert.

Those sources have requested anonymity out of 
fear they will be retaliated against by the 
government for revealing the information.

The operation also appears to be badly flawed, 
the sources say, because it is being carried out 
unilaterally, (Rambo-style), by ICE and without 
the knowledge of the Mexican government ­ at 
least it was up until the point of the 
coke-packed Gulfstream jet’s abrupt impact with the Earth.

“This is a case of ICE running amok,” one DEA 
source told Narco News. “If this [operation] was 
being run by the book, they would not be doing it 
unilaterally” – [without the participation of 
DEA] – “and without the knowledge of the Mexican government.”

The fact that the Gulfstream was forced to ditch 
over the Yucatan after being refused landing 
clearance at two Mexican airports is strong 
evidence that this operation, if ICE operated as 
alleged, does not have the proper controls in 
place, law enforcement sources told Narco News. 
If the operation was being adequately monitored 
and controlled by U.S. law enforcement, in 
coordination with Mexican authorities, the jet 
would have been directed to a safe landing zone, they add.

Mexican law enforcers subsequently apprehended 
the two pilots of the downed jet. Neither one of 
them appears to be a U.S. citizen, according to Mexican press accounts.

Narco News has previously reported that the bill 
of sale for the Gulfstream jet ­ which was sold 
only weeks before its crash landing ­ lists an 
individual named Greg Smith, whose name also 
shows up in public documents that indicate he 
worked as a pilot in the past for an operation 
involving the FBI, DEA and CIA that targeted 
narco-traffickers in Colombia. [See link 

Mexican authorities interrogated the pilots of 
the ill-fated cocaine jet prior to turning them 
over to DEA agents for questioning. DEA confirmed 
that it is now handling the investigation into 
the jet crash and subsequent seizure of the cocaine.

It appears that the pilots spilled the beans on 
the ICE operation during their interrogation by 
Mexican authorities, DEA sources tell Narco News. 
The meeting held at DEA headquarters was focused, 
in part, on assessing the implications of that 
information. The Mexican government has chosen 
not to raised a stink over the matter, the DEA 
sources claim, for fear of jeopardizing the 
pending $1.4 billion U.S. aid package promised as 
part of the proposed “Mérida Iinitiative” ­ 
commonly known as “Plan Mexico,” which will 
provide a Christmas list of training and 
equipment to the Mexican government to battle “drug cartels.”

Mexican law enforcement authorities recently 
arrested an alleged money launder, 
Alfonso Alatorre Damy, who they contend is linked 
to the Sinaloa narco-trafficking organization. 
They claim the narco-trafficking organization 
financed the purchases of the Gulfstream II as 
well as a DC-9 jet that was busted by Mexican 
authorities last April with a payload of some 5.5 
tons of cocaine. Both jets were sold while parked 
at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International 
Airport, according to a recent report by Howard 
Altman of the 

So, there is clearly a connection between the two 
jets. The thread that ties the Sinaloa 
organization, Greg Smith and the U.S. federal 
agencies that appear to have been involved 
together, however, remains very unclear. Did the 
cartel hire Smith and Clyde O’Connor (the other 
individual listed on the Gulfstream’s bill of 
sale) to handle the plane’s purchase, unaware 
that it was falling into a sting? Was the Sinaloa 
organization’s connection to the planes simply 
invented by authorities as part of a cover-up of 
the operation? Or is there another explanation yet to be found?

The alleged involvement of ICE in a unilateral 
counter-narcotics operation in a foreign nation 
is unusual (though not unprecedented) because DEA 
is supposed to be the lead U.S. agency in such 
efforts. ICE, however, generated a major 
controversy when it ran an operation several 
years ago targeting the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes 
(VCF) narco-trafficking organization in Juarez, 
Mexico. As part of that operation, ICE placed an 
informant (a former Mexican cop) inside a VCF 
cell in Juarez and continued the operation even 
after ICE agents became aware of their informant’s participation in murder.

That case, since dubbed the 
<http://www.narconews.com/houseofdeath/>House of 
Death resulted in some 12 people being tortured, 
murdered and buried in the back yard of a house 
in Juarez – all in an effort to make a drug case 
against a VCF lieutenant. As is alleged with the 
current Mayan Express operation, ICE officials 
were accused of running the House of Death case 
unilaterally and going to great lengths to 
conceal information about their informant and the 
murders from the Mexican government.

ICE public affairs officials in Washington, D.C., 
failed to reply to several inquiries (by phone 
and e-mail) from Narco News seeking comment on 
the alleged Mayan Express operation.

Narco News also contacted Steve Robertson, a 
special agent assigned to DEA public affairs in 
Washington, D.C., for comment about the 
allegation that the Gulfstream II jet that 
crashed in Mexico in late September with some 
four tons of coke onboard was, in fact, part of an ICE operation.

Robertson’s response:

I can’t confirm or deny that it was an ICE 
operation ­ even if I knew it was the case, and I’m not saying it’s true.

Our Mexico City office is working an 
investigation on it now. It started after the 
seizure [the jet crash]. It’s an ongoing investigation.

 It was not a DEA operation. The briefings I’ve 
gotten is that our investigation started after the seizure.

Out of Control

The structure of the Mayan Express operation, as 
outlined by the DEA sources, puzzles law 
enforcement officials contacted by Narco News. 
The operation appears to be playing out in Mexico 
and Colombia (where the cocaine was picked up) 
absent any tight law enforcement controls. As a 
result, the law enforcers agree, any criminal 
cases that might result from the effort likely 
could only be pursued once the cocaine entered 
the United States via an ICE-controlled delivery 
point, given the laws governing complex international narcotics investigations.

The apparent lack of control of the operation 
south of the U.S. border also raises questions as 
to how much of the cocaine made its way into the 
United States unchecked due to the mechanizations 
of crafty informants and assets involved in the 
operation or the indifference of federal agents 
looking to advance a career-boosting case. In the 
case of the House of Death, the informant 
a 100 pounds of marijuana across the U.S. border 
behind the backs of his ICE handlers, yet ICE continued to use the informant.

The bottom line, though, according to the DEA 
sources who leaked the information to Narco News, 
is that the real purpose of the Mayan Express 
operation remains unclear, as does the volume of 
drugs involved in the operation to date.

Spooks at the Levers

One proposition that all of the law enforcers who 
spoke with Narco News agreed on with respect to 
the Mayan Express is that even if DEA was 
precluded from participating in the effort, the 
CIA almost certainly was involved on some level. 
They say no law enforcement operation is carried 
out overseas without the CIA lurking in the background.

Some U.S. media have reported that the Gulfstream 
II jet that crashed in Mexico in September is 
suspected of possible links to the CIA’s 
terrorist rendition program and that the aircraft 
made several trips to Guantanamo Bay in years 
past ­ prior to being enlisted as a cocaine transport plane.

The Gulfstream II with tail number N987SA, one 
month before it crashed in the Yucatán peninsula.
Photo D.R. 2007 George N. Dean, <http://www.airliners.net/>Airliners.net
Confirming that information independently has 
proven difficult, but Narco News did find a 
report from a British government agency that 
lists the Gulfstream II’s registration number 
(N987SA) among the aircraft registration numbers 
European investigators were interested in 
obtaining more information about in relation to a 
probe into CIA rendition flights.

Information on N987SA ­ along with a number of 
other jets ­ was released to the Parliamentary 
Assembly of the Council of Europe in June 2006 by 
Britain’s Department of Transport.

 From the 
agency’s Web site:

On 7 April the Government published flight plan 
data received from Eurocontrol, the European 
Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation, 
concerning the movement of certain US aircraft 
into or out of UK aerodromes since 1 January 
2001. This data had previously been released by 
Eurocontrol to the Parliamentary Assembly of the 
Council of Europe to assist with its enquiry into 
allegations of “extraordinary rendition” flights 
operating within Europe. It provided information 
on the aircraft’s type, registration number, date 
and time of flight, point of origin and 
destination and recorded user’s name. It did not 
however contain information about any passengers 
on board or the purpose of the flight.

Since the disclosure of that initial flight plan 
data, the Council of Europe’s enquiry broadened 
to include investigations into a number of 
additional US registered aircraft. Further flight 
plan information was therefore sought from 
Eurocontrol concerning the movement of these 
newly identified aircraft to and from European aerodromes

Attorney Mark Conrad, a former high-level 
supervisory Customs agent who has an extensive 
background in the intelligence world, has no 
problem entertaining a CIA scenario in the 
Gulfstream II narco-world saga. Though he 
stresses that he has no knowledge of the Mayan 
Express operation, Conrad says based on its 
description, he suspects the CIA could even be running the show.

Conrad says in recent years, ICE’s investigative 
talent has defected in droves from the agency due 
to Homeland Security’s obsessive focus on what he 
describes as a “snatch and grab” mission targeting undocumented immigrants.

As a result, he told Narco News:

It [the Mayan Express] makes no sense and it 
makes perfect sense. There probably aren’t six 
people left at ICE who could put an operation 
like this together. It could well be a CIA operation working under ICE cover.

Conrad says such a “cover” approach is not a 
crazy conspiracy theory. He adds that when he was 
with U.S. Customs ­ which has since become part 
of ICE ­ the CIA placed one of its agents in 
Japan with Customs credentials as a cover.

Though speculation, such a structure could 
provide the Agency with the clearance it needed 
to carry out the operation stateside and a 
convenient scapegoat if the operation imploded ­ 
along with plenty of plausible deniability.

It wouldn’t be the first time that the CIA has 
been accused of running rough shod over law enforcement priorities.

In the early 1990s, the CIA ran a spook mission 
designed to infiltrate Colombian 
narco-trafficking groups that resulted in at 
least a ton of cocaine ­ some estimates put the 
figure much higher ­ entering the United States 
unchecked. The former head of the DEA, Robert 
Bonner, incensed at the Agency’s actions, which 
were carried out over DEA’s objections, went on 
TV at the time and essentially accused the CIA of engaging in drug trafficking.

The CIA operation, which was carried out with the 
assistance of the Venezuelan National Guard, 
unraveled after U.S. Customs seized a load of the dope in Miami.

So, one way to avoid a repeat of that mistake in 
an operation like the alleged Mayan Express, 
assuming it is a CIA-run effort, is to use 
Customs (ICE) as a cover for the operation, one law enforcer suggests.

Whatever the Mayan Express is designed to 
accomplish, the DEA sources who came forward with 
this information did so because they are 
convinced that the operation could jeopardize 
future legitimate law enforcement efforts 
overseas, but that official Washington will do 
whatever it can to cover-up the mess.

Congress could get to the bottom of these 
allegations, if it chose to, but the DEA sources 
contend that the Mayan Express has delivered a 
can of worms to their doorstep that no one wants 
to open during this election season.

Stay tuned

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