[News] Cocaine Jet That Crashed in Mexico Part of Cowboy Government Operation
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 jets 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 OConnor (the other
individual listed on the Gulfstreams bill of
sale) to handle the planes purchase, unaware
that it was falling into a sting? Was the Sinaloa
organizations 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 informants participation in murder.
That case, since dubbed the
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.
I cant confirm or deny that it was an ICE
operation even if I knew it was the case, and Im not saying its true.
Our Mexico City office is working an
investigation on it now. It started after the
seizure [the jet crash]. Its an ongoing investigation.
It was not a DEA operation. The briefings Ive
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 CIAs
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 IIs 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
Britains Department of Transport.
agencys 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 aircrafts type, registration number, date
and time of flight, point of origin and
destination and recorded users 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 Europes 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, ICEs investigative
talent has defected in droves from the agency due
to Homeland Securitys 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 arent 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 wouldnt 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 Agencys actions, which
were carried out over DEAs 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.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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