Crashed drug plane owned by US Government?

Interesting story about the Gulfstream II jet filled with 3.7 tons of cocaine that crashed in the Yucatan a couple of weeks ago. According to the Austin American Statesman, this plane has previously flown to Guantanamo Bay, which has a highly restricted airspace:
Some news reports have linked the plane to the transport of terrorist suspects to the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, but those reports cite logs that indicate only that the plane flew twice between Washington and Guantánamo and once between Oxford, Conn., and Guantánamo.

No terrorist suspects are known to have been transferred to Guantánamo directly from the United States.

The jet, with the tail number N987SA, changed hands twice in recent weeks. But how it ended up in the hands of suspected drug traffickers remains a mystery.

The Mexican attorney general's office said the blue and white Gulfstream II crashed Monday in a remote jungle area on the Yucatán Peninsula. Authorities seized 132 bags of cocaine weighing four tons.

Mad Cow Morning News visited the owners of the plane, "Donna Blue Aircraft Inc" of Coconut Beach FL., and discovered that it's an "empty office suite with a blank sign out front."
200710091557 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.

Phone calls to Butters Development, the industrial park's leasing agent, went unreturned.

Moreover the brief description of Donna Blue on its Internet page, apparently designed to "flesh out the ghost a little," is such a clumsy half-hearted effort that it defeats the purpose of helping aid the construction of a plausible "legend," or cover, and ends up doing more harm than good...

For example, the website features a quote from a satisfied Donna Blue Aircraft customer. Unfortunately his name is "John Doe." And the listed phone number is right out of the movies: 415.555-5555.

Link

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  1. The fact that they leave a commenter anon isn’t all that strange (their fashion of doing it maybe) My favorite part is that they don’t know how long they’ve been in business.

    From the homepage:
    we are in this business over 20 years…
    From the about page:
    We opened in 1995…

    wait…so..2007 minus 1995…hmmm

  2. Gosh… wouldn’t happen to be a subcontracted pilot for a govt. contractor – say Presidential, etc. would it?

    Would make for a classic “squeeze” play – “Okay, if you don’t help us with problem A (Iraq shootings, etc.), there’s no telling what secrets might leak out – say incident B (Drug laden plane going down).

  3. The Web site is a Homestead.com template. Homestead is based in Menlo Park. The “contact us” page is the Homestead address as well as their email info@homestead.com;
    Nobody bothered to completely replace the dummy text – there is no mystery in this, just ignorance.

  4. ps – forgot. the Donna Blue site is too bad to be real, ya know? Like someone overdid a psyops job or I should say pyops attempt.

    the whole things fishy, Kafkaesque, predictably funny, etc. – like a bad movie (still).

  5. Actually… the 415 area code stretched all the way down to Mountain View in the 90’s. I think it was… what? 1997 when they split off the peninsula into the 650 area code?

    Also, the address is the address of a real company… Homestead. I can verify that they’re a real company and have been operating out of that location since at least 1999. During the height of the dot com era, I almost sublet some of their office space. Homestead was known in dot com circles for producing a pretty straight-forward simple web-page generator (kinda like the .Mac thing Apple has now.) I lived in the North Fair Oaks neighborhood and they were known to be pretty good corporate citizens; they even donated some cash to build a playground at the end of our street.

    My guess is these Donna Blue bozos simply registered the domain and used the Homestead interface to build a simple, cheap “website.”

  6. “My guess is these Donna Blue bozos simply registered the domain and used the Homestead interface to build a simple, cheap “website.”

    Bingo…

    But, was it incompetence or criminal genius? LOL

  7. I actually live close to this address. To correct #2 the zip code is in fact a Menlo Park zip and the address is legit. (beat to the punch see above post)

  8. The Menlo Park address is boilerplate. Donna Blue’s registered address is in Florida, and according to Mad Cow Morning News, there’s no office at the official address.

  9. Bush’s dad also had a plane go down with cocaine in it. This is so horrific – as if we’re experiencing all the bad GOP presidents wrapped in one.

  10. So could this could be?
    A: Charter plane which usually runs drugs got some legitimate charter business flying folks to Guantanamo.
    B: Somebody in Washington needed more of-budget funds to sell aircraft parts to Iran. (something like that.)

  11. Uh, what’s the big deal? The CIA has been dealing coke for years. Decades. How is this news?

    …Oh, you guys thought the US government wasn’t intractably corrupt? How cute. Next tell me about how invading Iraq was for freedom.

  12. the web site cover up is quite humorous and pathetic

    “we are in this business over 20 years, attending South, North and Central america, with outstanding service, we are today most trusted company in this market. our customer loyality make us different.”

  13. I call bullshit on several grounds:

    1. A Gulfstream wouldn’t even get off the runway with 3.7 tons of cargo to have the *chance* to crash. It tops out at 2.2 tons of cargo, and that’s assuming a very, very light fuel load.

    2. How in the world does a helicopter chase a Gulfstream? Helicopters only go a couple of hundred MPH, tops. A Gulfstream maxes out at 459 mph.

    3. The source for this is “Mad Cow Morning News”? WTF?

  14. So , Waldo, a lot of major news orgs have reported that a Gulfstream with over 3 tons of cocaine in it crashed in the Yucatan and that the owner was Donna Blue. Do you call bullshit on that, too? If so, that means some other kind of conspiracy is going on. Any theories?

  15. Waldo,

    Something tells me that the crew who loaded up all that coke had more on their minds than making sure they didn’t exceed the recommended payload.

    They would still be able to get it off the ground, but it would be a bitch to fly, you might even… uh…crash.

  16. They don’t call it a “cartel” for nothing:

    A cartel is an organization that artificially limits their own production, to boost prices.

    And the only visible efforts to restrict output are undertaken by the DEA. Efforts whose success is measured by their ability to drive up prices, might I add.

    So yeah, it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s more cooperation than meets the eye.

  17. “Uh, what’s the big deal? The CIA has been dealing coke for years. Decades. How is this news?”

    Bears repeating. The CIA deals drugs to get off-the-books, no-Congressional-oversight funding for its little ‘side projects’. Do another line, Johnny! You’re funding Gitmo!

    Apparently I was wrong in thinking this was common knowledge..? Anyway…

  18. It should be common knowledge. The San Jose Mercury News ran a series in 1996 documenting the CIA’s involvement in cocaine trafficking in the 1980s, when they did it to finance the Contras. The journalist, Gary Webb, pretty soon found that writing about such things was a career-limiting move, so subsequent investigations of this kind have mostly been left to motivated freelancers, or as the MSM prefers to call them, “conspiracy theorists”. Thanks to people meticulously logging flights and correlating local news items there’s now a considerable body of evidence connecting planes known to be operated by the CIA with planes making the Columbia run.

    As for Mad Cow Morning News, Daniel Hopsicker may not be the world’s best writer but you can’t fault his investigative skills.

  19. As far as the 3+ tons numbers goes, the DEA and other law enforcement agencies have been exaggerating marijuana bust numbers for years. It really wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they did the same for cocaine.

    Then again, it also wouldn’t surprise me if they overload planes on a regular basis. Maybe a bit of both.

  20. Are you suggesting the CIA may be involved in smuggling drugs? Impossible! My good man that is an absurd claim. That’s not the CIA I’ve come to know and love!

  21. And yes, elements of the CIA are involved in trafficking coke, and I’m sure they have closely “inspected” the opium fields of Afghanistan since the invasion.

  22. Well, whoever owns it sure does have a lot of websites out there. See what happens if you do a search on this text from their About us page:
    “with the hopes of being the best. We’ve achieved our goal and are now proudly serving many repeat customers. Our customers look to us for great quality and incredible service.”

    If you include the omitted results, you get 422 “very similar” sites.

  23. “A Gulfstream wouldn’t even get off the runway with 3.7 tons of cargo to have the *chance* to crash. It tops out at 2.2 tons of cargo, and that’s assuming a very, very light fuel load.”

    Don’t always believe everything you read on Wikipedia, ESPECIALLY when there are no references.

    A Gulfstream II has an empty operating weight (no fuel, cargo or passengers) of 36,500lb and a MTOW of 65,500lb.

    The GII has a range of 4200nm with max fuel. It can carry 28,000lb+ of fuel. Take out 3.7 tons of fuel (7400lb) and you still have more than a 3000nm range.

    http://www.jetsales.com/comp/types/jets/bgulfstreamII.html

  24. Waldo:

    A Gulfstream II has a maximum useful load of 26,000 pounds and a maximum range of about 4,200 nautical miles.

    Take 3.7 tons of that load out and you have 21,000 pounds of fuel. That still gives you a range of 3,300 nautical miles (pretty dang good, a Learjet 60’s max range is only 2,700nm).

  25. Interesting from the whois record… It’s either a joke, or idiotic, or coverup by somebody who doesn’t know jackshit about the web…
    Record last updated on 20-Aug-2007.
    Record expires on 21-Aug-2008.
    Record created on 21-Aug-2007.

  26. Registrant:
    joao malago
    4811 Lyons Technology Parkway
    Suite 08
    Coconut Creek, FL 33075
    US

    Domain name: DONNABLUEAIRCRAFT.COM

    Administrative Contact:
    malago, joao donnablueair@yahoo.com
    4811 Lyons Technology Parkway
    Suite 08
    Coconut Creek, FL 33075
    US
    +1.5612397585 Fax: +1.8134342358

    Technical Contact:
    Admin, Domain DomainSupport@homestead-inc.com
    3425 EDISON WAY
    MENLO PARK, CA 94025
    US
    +1.8007972958 Fax: +1.6503647329

    Registration Service Provider:
    Homestead Technologies, Inc, hostmaster@homesteadsupport.com
    800-797-2958
    650-364-7329 (fax)
    http://www.homestead.com

    Registrar of Record: TUCOWS, INC.
    Record last updated on 20-Aug-2007.
    Record expires on 21-Aug-2008.
    Record created on 21-Aug-2007.

    Domain servers in listed order:
    NS2.MDNSSERVICE.COM
    NS3.MDNSSERVICE.COM
    NS1.MDNSSERVICE.COM

    Domain status: clientTransferProhibited
    clientUpdateProhibited

  27. donnablueaircraft is registered in FL. check the whois record for more detailed contact information. site is obviously not government because of the errors and poor grammar. if this were a legend it would certainly be more believable.

  28. WHOIS response for donnablueaircraft.com:

    Registrant:
    joao malago
    4811 Lyons Technology Parkway
    Suite 08
    Coconut Creek, FL 33075
    US

    Domain name: DONNABLUEAIRCRAFT.COM

    Administrative Contact:
    malago, joao donnablueair@yahoo.com
    4811 Lyons Technology Parkway
    Suite 08
    Coconut Creek, FL 33075
    US
    +1.5612397585 Fax: +1.8134342358

    Technical Contact:
    Admin, Domain DomainSupport@homestead-inc.com
    3425 EDISON WAY
    MENLO PARK, CA 94025
    US
    +1.8007972958 Fax: +1.6503647329

    Registration Service Provider:
    Homestead Technologies, Inc, hostmaster@homesteadsupport.com
    800-797-2958
    650-364-7329 (fax)
    http://www.homestead.com

    Registrar of Record: TUCOWS, INC.
    Record last updated on 20-Aug-2007.
    Record expires on 21-Aug-2008.
    Record created on 21-Aug-2007.

    Domain servers in listed order:
    NS2.MDNSSERVICE.COM
    NS3.MDNSSERVICE.COM
    NS1.MDNSSERVICE.COM

    Domain status: clientTransferProhibited
    clientUpdateProhibited

  29. CIA’s gotta get money somehow.

    Next you’ll be wondering why Opium production in Afghanistan is at record highs….

  30. DONNABLUEAIRCRAFT.COM

    Administrative Contact:
    malago, joao
    4811 Lyons Technology Parkway
    Suite 08
    Coconut Creek, FL 33075
    US
    +1.5612397585 Fax: +1.8134342358

  31. The name from the whois record, Malago Joao, turns up in a PDF that appears to be a city council report for the city of Jales, Brazil, as a private contractor for airport repairs (babelfish trans):

    That they require of the Executive so that informs to the City council if the City hall could use asphalt mud for the recovery of the landing track and take-off of the Municipal Airport and if the municipal administration has interest in making Parceria Pública Privada (PPP) with the entrepreneur Malagó João, with reference to the maintenance of the Municipal Airport. – Authorship of the Councilmen: Prof. Jediel Zacarias and Prof. Especiato Luis

    Which doesn’t mean much, I suppose, other than the person who registered the domain has some kind of ties to aviation, presuming it’s even the same dude. Interesting though. It was fun investigating that far. I gotta go do dishes now.

  32. According to the New York Post article linked to above:

    “The Gulfstream had been owned by Hotel Gansevoort proprietor William Achenbaum from 2001 until Aug. 30 of this year – more than three weeks before the plane crashed.

    The plane was reportedly sold to Florida aircraft broker Donna Blue Aircraft, which then promptly peddled it to another man, Clyde O’Connor, for $2 million.”

    Yet, the domain donnablueaircraft.com was created on Aug 20, 2007. How long has this company really existed?

  33. Extended budgets:

    3.7 tons of coke, at a wholesale value of 8k a kilo, would generate approximately $27 million in revenue. Assuming the CIA is actually in bed with the DEA and all the conspiracies are true, and assuming they are paying the farmers shit, you are still looking at probably netting somewhere around $20 million in profit per run. Just an interesting note.

    Just because the plane was used in the past by the CIA does not imply that the plane was currently being used by the CIA. It just means that the plane has a very shady past and has always had a very shady past.

    The bad website could be an indication of either a company from the Miami area (a surprising number of companies in this area have similarly shady websites with bad information on them), a CIA cover up, or a simple front company for bringing in and laundering money. A flight group is a great front for laundering money because it is very hard to track people who pay for “day flights” in cash. Laundering money isn’t a very difficult task in this country, and is very over played in the movies.

    CIA or not, still shady and worth an investigation. That is, if you’re into that kind of thing.

  34. This is like an episode of Scooby-Do where those darned kids spoil everything.

    Here’s a NY Times article about the US giving one billion $ to Mexico to fight drugs.
    Since the US and Mexico know where the drugs are coming from, I
    can only assume that this was hush money.

    Mexico: U.S. Plans $1 Billion in Aid to Fight Drugs

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/05/world/americas/05briefs-drug.html?ex=1349323200&en=fa048d42683fc635&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

  35. Gets better & better

    Crashed drug jet belonged to company linked to CIA and “Bojinka” terror plot

    http://mparent7777-2.blogspot.com/2007/09/crashed-drug-jet-belonged-to-company.html

    or…russian mafia & Rudy Guliani

    http://www.jurnalul.ro/forum/index.php?showtopic=2140

    The Gulfstream II jet plane with tail number N987SA has been traced to William Achenbaum, a wealthy New York real estate tycoon. Mr. Achenbaum says that the jet plane was being managed by Air Rutter International that according to the New York Post is owned by Arik Kislin of Long Island in New York. Arik Kislin is the nephew of Semyon Kislin that the Center for Public Integrity alleges is a powerful Russian Mafia member. The Kislin family have made very large contributions to the political campaigns of Rudy Giuliani.

  36. THIS is the kind of thing that makes me start to believe in conspiracy theories.

    It also reminds me of the Iran/Contra affair.
    (I wonder who’s trading what-for-what now?)

  37. The plane’s probably not OWNED by the US Government – even the CIA wouldn’t be that stupid – but it was quite likely leased to them.

  38. It is possible the drug smuggling had no actual connection to the CIA, but I suspect it does.

    Consider this: at your job, whatever it is, you often take advantage of “perks” of the job, whether it’s something as simple as photocopying, or as advanced as a cheap car repair. Auto dealers drive around “dealer” cars all the time, and people in the music industry trade promo cds with each other all the time.

    So what if you worked for the CIA, and knew all the ins-and-outs of making a front company, and wanted to earn some quick cash? “Oh, the company is ditching one of it’s old jets, maybe I can buy it for cheap, company discount. Plus I know a contact in Peru who owes me a favor. . . .” It would be easy and simple, and relatively safe as you work for the CIA. And if “the company” had been doing similar things for years, what moral barriers could there possibly be to hold you back?

  39. A good synopsis of the usage of private aviation companies in CIA rendition work……most likely just a plane that was leased, rather than some big conspiracy:

    http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAMR510512006

    “The intelligence and military community of the USA has long used private air carriers for secret operations. Some of the covert carriers identified by past US congressional inquiries and other investigations(45) are still in business. In November 2003, for example, carriers such as Southern Air, Kalitta Air, Evergreen International Airways, and Tepper Aviation – all known for their connections to covert intelligence and military operations – received a “US Transportation Command Certificate of Appreciation” for their support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, in the “Global War on Terrorism”. (46)

    The use of planes able operating as private aircraft, without the restrictions placed on official or military flights, has been a key component of the rendition programme since the mid-1990s. According to Michael Scheuer, when the outlines of the current system were established in 1995, the CIA needed the means to locate, detain and remove terror suspects.(47) A small fleet of private jets able to land discreetly at both commercial airports and US military bases worldwide was the essential ingredient for making the system work.”

  40. Hmmnnnn…let’s see, that’s roughly 3,700,000 grams of coke times whatever the going rate is today per gram.
    That’s one hell of a perk. In other words I hear what you’re saying, but I doubt it.

  41. Back to the Gary Webb issue (because, please, that issue needs to be raised whenever possible), did anybody else see in the LA Times opinion section (within the last year or two, I believe) the apology they made for their part in debunking Gary Webb’s work? It consisted of a couple paragraphs in total, but they did admit to a whole lot more than I would have expected, considering that the matter had largely disappeared from the public conscience, and Gary Webb himself had died several years prior. The way Webb was treated by the LA Times, the Washington Post, and other supposedly “liberal” media was shameful to the highest degree, but I was still pleased to see the often shameful Times take responsibility for their role in this whole debacle.

  42. Anonymous #57 –

    “most likely just a plane that was leased, rather than some big conspiracy”

    The key difference here is that this was not an Evergreen jet, it was owned by a shell company fronting for a ghost company with connections to shady characters.

  43. Funny coincidence, pointed out to me by a Boing Boing reader: Donna Blue Aircraft is an anagram of contraband failure.

  44. “Hmmnnnn…let’s see, that’s roughly 3,700,000 grams of coke times whatever the going rate is today per gram.”

    well. . . I never said the apparent CIA agent would be out hawking the stuff on the street. AND he would have had to pay for the stuff up front, so more likely a decent markup, dump the stuff on some connection, and off he goes with a million dollar “bonus”– people have been know to do far more dangerous things for less.

  45. At first glance at the title, my youthful exuberance got the better of me:

    “Crashed drug plane pwned by US Government!?! YEAH! we’re winning the war on drugs…”

    Oh wait…

  46. This country is the biggest illegal drug importer in the world friends. It is no surprise that a plane crashes with a ton of it now and then is it? Read the book, The Boys On The Tracks; this is a story of small time drug dealing that got out of hand and went all the way to Clinton. That was just one little burg (Mena) in Arkansas that was tainted with the white marching powder. Why do you think we are so engrossed with Afghanistan? The heroin poppy capital of the world. When the Taliban controlled it, the poppy was eradicated but no, America needs heroin to flood the streets in the US to kill off the poor and the blacks. The money is good too and no overhead! This goes from the top down, president to cop on the street, all are corrupted! Fuck America!

  47. “America needs heroin to flood the streets in the US to kill off the poor and the blacks.”

    Riiiight. Damn America for tackling and holding down all of those poor and/or black people and forcing them to smoke crack and/or shoot smack. I’m sure that none of them decided on their own to fuck up their lives with bad drugs.

    Note to self: stop oppressing folks, OK?

  48. the address is menlo park, the area code is marin county.. sigh.

    and the phone number (415) 555-1515, is either made up, or a variant of the local information number, the only testimonial is from “John Doe”, and the website contact address is to their ISP.

    best line – “we believe your satisfaction should be guaranteed”.

  49. I don’t claim to be an aviation specialist, but I think Waldo’s calculation is a bit off the mark. The total available (safe) payload for a Gulfstream II is 13.55 tons. I think it’s safe to assume 2-3 people were on board, and even granting half a tank of fuel would leave at least 7 tons for payload. So the 3.7 tons was well within this bound.

  50. All the people assuming the CIA and world governments do that sort of thing themselves are very mistaken; they use people like Viktor Bout to move things around for them. A lot less hassle and accountability contracting someone to do work for you.

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