It is real easy to make fun of Homeland Security and the TSA are airports. But information recently uncovered by Reuter's reporters Tim Gaynor and Tiemoko Diallo is scary. But if one were to think like the enemy, then its a logical course of action for them to take.
Quote: The document warned that a growing fleet of rogue jet aircraft was regularly crisscrossing the Atlantic Ocean. On one end of the air route, it said, are cocaine-producing areas in the Andes controlled by the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. On the other are some of West Africa's most unstable countries. The clandestine fleet has grown to include twin-engine turboprops, executive jets and retired Boeing 727s that are flying multi-ton loads of cocaine and possibly weapons to an area in Africa where factions of al Qaeda are believed to be facilitating the smuggling of drugs to Europe, the officials say.
Alexandre Schmidt, regional representative for West and Central Africa for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, cautioned in Dakar this week that the aviation network has expanded in the past 12 months and now likely includes several Boeing 727 aircraft.
"When you have this high capacity for transporting drugs into West Africa, this means that you have the capacity to transport as well other goods, so it is definitely a threat to security anywhere in the world," said Schmidt.
Used Boeing 727 jetliners can haul up to 10 tons of cargo. Drugs, weapons, people. Venezuela is the key. Airplanes collect cargo all over Central and South America. Stop off in Venezuela for fuel. Fly off to Africa and then they return from Africa back to Venezuela.
And other aircarft are a part of this network. One of the pictures with original article show a Gulfstream jet grounded by authorities in July 2008. It was involved in a plot to transport more than 600 kilos of cocaine from Venezuela. Seen here at Guinea Bissau international airport January 10, 2010.
I found this to be very interesting. Quote: A number of aircraft have been retrofitted with additional fuel tanks to allow in-flight refueling -- a technique innovated by Mexico's drug smugglers. (Cartel pilots there have been known to stretch an aircraft's flight range by putting a water mattress filled with aviation fuel in the cabin, then stacking cargoes of marijuana bundles on top to act as an improvised fuel pump).
And the discovery last year of that Boeing 727 in Tuareg, Mali, lead intelligence people to the fact that other 727s have been used this way. In particular, this Boeing 727 landed on an improvised runway. But for some reason, it was unable to take-off again where upon it was burned to try and hide the evidence of what was taking place.
And I will ask the reader to remember that the drug cartels are very inventive when trying to transport product into the United States. They are into building their own semi-submarines to transport drugs. Remember those stories of several years ago?
Anyway, for additional information, please use the link below to read the entire article.
Ref. Reuters.com. January 13, 2010. Tim Gaynor and Tiemoko Diallo. Timbuktu, Mali (http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60C3E820100113).