The Rashomon Effect and the Narcoavión

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The mysterious narcoavión.

Narconews, a Web site dedicated to investigating narcotraffic-related topics, reported that the aircraft was used, not just by the DEA, but by the CIA, to move prisoners to the base at Guantánamo, in Cuba.

In Colombia, police sources believe that the deal was done by one of the paramilitary chiefs who remains at large.

Fiscalía investiga si avión que cayó con 3,7 toneladas de coca en México sirvió a la DEA: “Colombian authorities investigate whether an aircraft loaded with 3.7 tons of coca that crashed was used by the DEA.”

Contemporary reports put the tonnage at 3.3 tons.

Maybe an English-metric equivalency issue?

EL TIEMPO reports — citing, interestingly, Al Giordano’s Narconews project.

Fuentes de esa agencia en E.U. le dijeron que no pueden negar ni desechar esa información, pues es usual que las agencias norteamericanas contraten aviones para diferentes misiones.

Sources at the U.S. agency said they could not deny or discredit this information, since it is normal for U.S. agencies to hire aircraft for different missions.

That is to say, the same aircraft possibly used to transport extradited Colombian narco suspects may have also carried Bolivian marching powder to be consumed at all the best prep schools.

Guns for the Contras fly in, drugs from the Contras fly out? Maybe not. But you can understand why people tend to remember the historical precedent. Taxpayer money being paid out to drug-running cocaine cowboys — especially if it comes from the War on Drugs budget — is a notion I am not that fond of myself.

El avión, Grumman Gulf Stream II de matrícula N- 987 SA, tuvo un aparatoso aterrizaje hace dos meses en zona rural del poblado Tixkokob, en Yucatán, México, donde las autoridades mexicanas tenían preparado un amplio dispositivo antinarcóticos.

The Gulf Stream II, registration N-987 SA, made a force landing in a rural area near Tixkokob, in Yucatán, where Mexican authorities have set up an ample antinarco system.

Había despegado siete horas antes el mismo día del aeropuerto José María Córdova, de Rionegro (Antioquia).

It had taken off seven hours before from the Coŕdova airport in Rionegro, in Antioquia province.

En la operación fueron detenidos el copiloto colombiano Omar Alfredo Jácome Del Valle y los mexicanos Leonel Ayala López y Dante Paz. Estos últimos no iban en el avión, pero llegaron al sitio del accidente y no pudieron explicar qué hacían allí.

Arrested at the scene were the Colombian Omar Alfredo Jácome Del Valle and the Mexicans Leonel Ayala López and Dante Paz. The latter two were not aboard the aircraft, but arrived at the scene of the crash and could not explain what they were doing there.

El caso ocupó por varios días la atención de la prensa mexicana, que destacó en sus noticias que el Ejército mexicano les impidió a seis agentes de la Agencia Antidrogas de E.U. (DEA) acercarse al sitio del accidente.

The case occupied the attention of the Mexican news media for several days. The media emphasized the fact that the Mexican army prevented six DEA agents from approaching the site of the accident.

Ahora, la Fiscalía colombiana investiga no solo quiénes son los narcotraficantes colombianos que están detrás del envío -que según la Policía no se cargó en Rionegro sino en algún sitio del norte del país o Centroamérica- sino el historial de la nave. En concreto, si ese avión había sido utilizado por la DEA para llevar narcotraficantes colombianos extraditados a los Estados Unidos.

Colombian authorities are investigating not only which Colombian drug smugglers are behind the shipment — which according to police was not loaded in Rionegro but rather some location in Northern Colombia or Central America — but also the history of the aircraft. Specifically, whether this plane was used by the DEA to transport extradited narcos to the United States.

Fuentes de la DEA también fueron enfáticos en negar cualquier relación de la agencia con el embarque de droga y aseguraron que no se trató de una entrega controlada, una posibilidad que en su momento fue contemplada por los periódicos mexicanos.

DEA sources emphatically denied any relationship between the agency and drug shipments and stated that this was not a controlled delivery, a theory entertained by the Mexican press.

That is, I am guessing, that it might be an undercover shipment to see who shows up to buy the stuff.

Una fuente en Estados Unidos le dijo a EL TIEMPO que en la última transacción del avión, realizada pocas semanas antes del accidente, tomó parte un piloto, de nombre Greg Smith, que hace algunos años realizó trabajos para la DEA.

A U.S. source told EL TIEMPO that in the aircraft’s last charter, a few weeks before the accident, a pilot named Greg Smith took part who several years ago did work for the DEA.

Narconews, un portal de internet que se dedica a investigar temas de narcotráfico, reportó que el avión no solo fue usado por la DEA sino por la CIA para mover presos hacia la base de Guantánamo, en Cuba.

Narconews, a Web site dedicated to investigating narcotraffic-related topics, reported that the aircraft was used, not just by the DEA, but by the CIA, to move prisoners to the base at Guantánamo, in Cuba.

And why did Al & Co. say that?

did Al & Co. say that?

I find their work very interesting, but I find it astonishing that EL TIEMPO would simply cite that statement without describing the evidence for making it, or giving it an independent reality-test.

The article was by Bill Conroy:

Mysterious Jet Crash Is Rare Portal Into the “Dark Alliances” of the Drug War

Conroy, as it turns out, is not at all categorical about the putative CIA connection.

He definitely does not write, in the indicative mood, that the plane was used by the CIA. He muses on the possibility, sure.

But unless I am missing the latest scoop — it would be helpful if EL TIEMPO cited the story it refers to by byline and date — it does not seem to be the case that Narco News “reported that the aircraft was used … by the CIA …”

Bill Conroy (November 17, 2007) writes:

The fact that the ownership of the aircraft apparently switched hands twice within weeks of the crash, helping to obscure its ownership, has only further fueled media and Internet speculation that the jet’s illegal payload was being transported as part of some larger U.S. government black operation. All that might be true — or not.

It might be true that monkeys fly out of my butt (as Wayne Campbell is fond of saying.) Or it might not. (It is not. At least so far.)

EL TIEMPO: “Colin Brayton reports suffering from flying butt-monkeys!”

Narco News has uncovered at least one fact that is certain to deepen the mystery surrounding the crash of the jet whose tail number, N987SA, is now affixed in the lexicon of CIA folklore. That fact revolves around the name Greg Smith, who was identified in a McClatchy Washington Bureau report on the Gulfstream II’s crash as follows:

NarcoNews uncovered the fact from McClatchy?

A bill of sale obtained by McClatchy Newspapers indicates that Florida pilot Clyde O’Connor bought the plane on Sept. 16 — eight days before it went down in the Yucatan jungle. Another Florida pilot, identified by his license number and signature as Greg Smith, also signed the document, but his relationship to O’Connor isn’t detailed.

Cutting to the chase, NN wonders if this Greg Smith might not be the same Greg Smith mentioned by Baruch Vega, who told NN in an interview:

Well originally… I met Greg Smith… we needed a pilot, a very trustful pilot, someone we could trust to bring in the [Colombian] drug traffickers to surrender. Then the members of the FBI recommended to get in contact with this guy [Smith] because he was very close to them. Ever since we flew only with him. Everything was with him. … I never asked anything [about Smith’s background]. But he [Smith] brought a couple of pilots because we always have two pilots in the plane. He occasionally brought pilots from the US Customs. I tell you one thing. We flew with Greg Smith easily 25 to 30 times. All [the] operations [were] between the end of 1997 to 2000.

Vega says the name of the company that appears on government invoices as having leased an aircraft to the DEA is the same as the company owned by this Smith: “Vega also confirmed that Smith’s company was called Aero Group Jets.”

Another Greg Smith is angry that Florida newspaper identified him as the Greg J. Smith

Another reporter with a Florida weekly also claims to have interviewed the real Mr. Smith. However, as it turns out, when Narco News contacted that individual, he stressed that the reporter had gotten the wrong man. “I was falsely written up … and they named my company,” says Greg Smith, who is with a company called Global Jet Solutions of Pembroke Pines, Fla. “There’s probably three or four Greg Smiths in aviation in South Florida. But it’s not my name on the bill of sale [for the Gulfstream II jet that crashed in Mexico on September 24].”

NN compared the man’s signature with the Greg J. Smith signature. Do not appear to be the same. Go figure.

NN can get a little melodramatic at times, when writing the thing us, but they do usually do true due diligence, and generally do not commit the fallacy of wishful thinking.

Back to EL TIEMPO.

DEA dice que era un embarque del cartel de Sinaloa

DEA said this was a shipment of the Sinoloa cartel

Las autoridades federales y la misma DEA aseguran que se trataba de un embarque del cartel mexicano de Sinaloa en asocio con carteles colombianos. En Colombia, fuentes policiales creen que el negocio era de uno de los jefes paramilitares que siguen libres.

Federal authorities and the DEA itself said this was a shipment by Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel in partnership with Colombian cartels. In Colombia, police sources believe that the deal was done by one of the paramilitary chiefs who remains at large.

La nave está aún en una zona selvática y debió ser desarmada por las autoridades federales para su recuperación.

The aircraft remains in a densely forested zone and is due to be dismanteled by Mexican authorities in an attempt to recover it.

La coca estaba en 3.300 paquetes. Es el mayor decomiso en ese estado y durante un tiempo fue el mayor en México en los últimos años. El cargamento iba para Cancún, a 300 kilómetros de Mérida.

The coke was in 3,300 packages. This was the largest decommision ever in the state and for a time was the largest in Mexico in recent years. The shipment was bound for Cancún, 300 km from Mérida.

La DEA y las autoridades federales han realizado varios allanamientos en el Distrito Federal.

DEA and Mexican federal authorities have realized various raids in [Mexico City.]

Mérida está a 1.800 kilómetros de Ciudad de México. Fuentes judiciales en Colombia explicaron que detrás de este cargamento tienen identificados a los miembros de de una poderosa red de narcotraficantes colombianos y mexicanos, que utilizan diferentes rutas para el envío de droga.

Mérida is 1,800 km from Mexico City. Colombian judicial sources explained that a powerful network of Colombian and Mexican narcos were behind it, a network that uses various routes.

Explicaron que no es el único cargamento de cocaína que se la ha caído a esta organización en los últimos meses. En agosto pasado, otra aeronave, de características similares se accidentó en territorio mexicano.

They said this was not the only shipment of cocaine by this organization that has fallen in recent months. Last August, another aircraft, with similar characteristics, crashed on Mexican soil.

Los investigadores verifican si algunos empleados aeroportuarios en los dos países pueden haber colaborado con estos embarques.

Investigators are looking to whether several airport employes in the two countries might have helped with the shipments.

And so on. Colorful comment from the EL TIEMPO comment thread, more or less chosen at random, and translated with colorful license:

En los ee.uu. los habitantes monos se meten por la nariz hasta los talco mexana, ya es una forma cultural de vivir, como nosotros tomar jugo de naranja o tinto en las mañana,. por eso es que deberíamos enviarle toda la que puedan consumir y seguro nos tratarán como amigos y no como imigrantes ilegales.ademas tendríamos grandes trasatlanticos fondeados todos los días en cartagena

Those idiot Americans even shovel Mexican baby powder up their nose, it’s their way of life, the way we drink orange juice in the morning. That’s why we ought to ship them all the marching powder they can handle. Then they might treat us like friends and not illegal immigrants. What is more, we would have big transatlantic ocean liners dropping anchor in Cartagena every day.

Personally, I never touch the stuff.

You, gentle reader, might consider adopting the same policy. And if you just cannot function without an alkaloidal lift stronger than Turkish coffee, try mate. Mate is atomic supercaffeine brewed from Ilex paraguariensis.

Gauchos consume it as cimmarón or chimarrão. It is also a little too punk rock for me, in my old age, but if I had to make a 30-mile hike in one day to save my life, that is what I would have for breakfast.

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