Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Remember the coke jet that went down in Mexico?

At the end of last month, I discussed the mystery of a cocaine-laden Gulfstream II jet that crashed in Mexico, near Cancun. The jet circled in the sky until it ran out of gas, then crashed in the jungle. Authorities found bags of cocaine and no bodies; apparently, the pilot and passengers had bailed.

Various unconfirmed reports held that the pilot had been captured and was trying to bribe his way out of his predicament. Since no further news stories have divulged the fate of this prisoner, we must presume that either the original reporting was in error or the bribe worked. I should note that, for whatever it may be worth, a Cuban periodical identifies the pilot as Eric Muñoz Sánchez, a man with "white skin and delicate features."

The European press reports that the same jet had been used in CIA prisoner transfers. Unfortunately, tracking the ownership history of this particular Gulfstream II proved difficult. A Brazilian lawyer named Joao Luiz Malago recently owned the aircraft, under the rubric of a Florida-based firm called Donna Blue Aviation -- a company with really cute initials.

When the news of the crash first broke, I wrote to Daniel Hopsicker and told him this story seemed to be up his alley. He has made some remarkable finds.
There was no sign of Donna Blue Aircraft, Inc., at the address listed at the Florida Dept. of Corporations, 4811 Lyons Technology Parkway #8 in Coconut Beach FL.

However, there were, oddly enough, a half-dozen unmarked police cars parked directly in front of the empty suite.
Hopsicker even provides a snapshot of the cop cars. He also notes that the Donna Blue website -- an obvious fake -- included a glowing testimonial from one "John Doe" whose telephone number is (415)555-5555.

Hopsicker calls this "sloppy tradecraft." Sloppy? Seems to me that they aren't even trying any more!

There's much more. Go here.

So. What do we have? What progress has occurred since my piece appeared on September 28? In that time, we have seen...

-- No confirmation of reports that police captured the pilot.

-- No confirmation of reports that passengers were located.

-- No real attempt to track down the owners of the plane. Joao Luiz Malago claimed that he sold the plane, on the very day it left for its drug run, to an obscure Florida pilot named Clyde O'Connor. No follow-up stories mention O'Connor. He hasn't been arrested -- so far as I can tell, he has not even been questioned.

-- Neither do we have any indication the cops have questioned Richmor Aviation, the CIA-linked company which appears to have controlled the craft at the time of the rendition flights.

Any of this sound "spooky" to you?
Comments:
Sound spooky? Hell yes it does. How often do such flights occur? Do they juggle the airplane registration just before contraband flights, or do they juggle the registration ex post facto when there is a problem (as it seems in these two known, recent cases)? About the busts, are they due to miscommunication? Warring factions? What's really happening?

It's fascinating, that's for goddamn sure.
 
Clyde Oconner flew to the Azores from Canada on 10/12
 
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