A key employee in Bogotá of the Canadian oil company owners of the drug plane flown by Costa Rica’s President Laura Chinchilla was at the heart of the Contra Cocaine pipeline profiled by the late author Gary Webb in his 1996 best-seller “Dark Alliance.”
David Scott Weekly was both a CIA agent and drug trafficker, according to Webb’s book. His nickname was “Dr. Death.”
Today that same man is in Bogotá, reports Colombian newspaper “El Tiempo,” lobbying the Colombian government for oil leases for an oil company exploring in the jungles of the Amazon Basin, with ties to drug trafficker Gabriel Morales, whose drug plane took Laura Chinchilla for a ride.
In Colombia today, there is a a brand new type of oil venture: the narco-energy play.
El Tiempo reported, “Nobody has explained how a man with a past as singular ends litigation on behalf of a company whose promoters have ties to the oil Ricardo Morales, star of judicial scandals in Colombia.”
“Why does a Vietnam veteran, an expert on weapons and the training of mercenaries, so frequently visit the offices of the National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) in Bogota?” asked El Tiempo..
The question may have been rhetorical. The answer is anything but.
A spy novel come to life
But many seem convinced the coziness they saw between major drug traffickers and their elected officials was evidence of far more than a lapse in judgment. And despite being Central America’s first elected woman leader, Dona Laura Chinchilla is not beloved by her people.
Polls consistently show her to be the most unpopular President in modern Costa Rican history, perhaps because populations in third world countries have grown increasingly wary of the type of neo-liberal NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) based in Washington DC, for whom Chinchilla has worked for much of her career.
The Latin American press dubbed the aircraft in question the “Plane of Shame,” and focused on identifying the powerful government officials who, like Laura Chinchilla, had availed themselves of its use, pointing out that the sheer number of senior Colombian and Costa Rican officials who had rubbed elbows on the plane with lieutenants for one of the worlds biggest drug lords was a measure of the corruption and hypocrisy of their ruling Latin American elites.
Gary Webb, American hero
According to Gary Webb’s Dark Alliance, David Scott Weekly was a crucial component in the major cocaine-trafficking ring headed up by Danilo Blandon in Southern California to support the Contras.
When federal and local law enforcement officials executed warrants on a dozen locations in October of 1986, a major focus was the home to a former Laguna Beach police officer named Ron Lister.
In an official report, a detective on the raid wrote: “Lister … told me he had dealings in South America and worked with the CIA and added that his friends in Washington weren’t going to like what was going on. I told Mr. Lister that we were not interested in his business in South America. Mr. Lister replied that he would call Mr. Weekly of the CIA and report me.”
After the controversy erupted, the CIA conducted an internal investigation, which cleared itself of wrongdoing, an act so audacious as to render satire useless.
“Shell” oil companies without the “Royal Dutch” in front
Today the Contras are nothing more than a long-forgotten nightmare. But David Scott Weekly is very much alive, and working in Bogotá, for an outfit called Montco Energy.
Even though the drug plane was controlled by Gabriel Morales Fallan, a man of many aliases, none of them truly convincing, the Citation 3 is leased in the name of Thorneoloe, the predecessor to THX Energy. (See FAA registration pdf here.)
So David Scott Weekly’s Montco Energy and THX Energy would be competitors, seeking the same prize: oil leases granted by the government of Colombia.
How did that happen? Let’s take a look.
In Panama in 1995 Fallan incorporated a company called Thorneloe, which is the name the plane is listed under in official FAA documents.
Thorneloe, a Panamanian-registered company, has since changed its names three times. It has been listed variously as Thorneloe Corp, Thorneloe Energy, THX Energy, and, currently, THX Oil & Gas SA.
In turn, THX is owned by a Canadian equity firm called Birch Island Capital.
Birch Island, itself, in turn, is owned by Delavaco Capital, a US firm located in—of all places—Fort Lauderdale, Florida, America’s long-standing drug smuggling capital.
Finally, Delavaco Capital is owned by Andy DeFrancesco.
Where the drugs come in
In 2003, Gabriel Morales was fingered by officials as a lieutenant of Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia, alias el Chupeta, who ran Colombia’s largest remaining drug cartel, the Norte del Valle Cartel. While on the run he apparently had plastic surgery to hide his identity. The result looks a little like a cross between Michael Jackson and a chupacabra.
El Chupeta, from one of Columba’s wealthiest and most prestigious families, was trained as an economist, but despite his fine manners and careful elegance, he ended up as the boss of the Norte Valle Cartel.
While Fallan, also Colombian, spent much of the past decade pretending to look for oil—incorporating a dozen companies in Panama with names implying brawny men in hard hats facing down the elements—he was not-so-secretly working, according to numerous published reports, as a lieutenant of El Chupeta, who became almost by default one of Colombia’s biggest drug traffickers when the last Cali Cartel boss went down in the 1990’s.
Fallan left Colombia in 2002. He was afraid, he said, of retaliation from the FARC for snitching on their evil commie drug trafficking ways. In exile, he spent several years in, of all places, Texas. Little is known about his stay there (but much is suspected.) Finally he settled in Costa Rica, where he changed his name, married a local girl and became a citizen.
Then El Chupeta was captured, in Brazil in 2007, and extradited to the United States a year later.
On learning this, Fallon, no dummy, didn’t wait for the DEA to come for him. He went to the U.S. looking for them, and came to an arrangement, according to published reports, that in exchange for information about drug trafficking and money laundering the DEA would allow him to relocate in Costa Rica without molestation.
For her part, the details of this agreement were kept from her, sniffs Laura Chinchilla.
Back to the budding Petro-Coke Mergers
Several years ago the government of Colombia launched an ambitious program to bring foreign investment into the country’s oil sector. CalledRound Colombia 2010, the government let exploration and exploitation contracts on 76 blocks. For whatever reasons—and surely they were plenty and various—CIA Contra Cocaine veteran Scott Weekly’s Montco Energy, the darkest of dark horses, won big.
Hearing whispers from the wings of Mob involvement, the Colombian government experienced a relatively rare phenomenon called seller’s remorse, got cold feet, and nixed the Montco contract, citing several reasons: Montco’s records weren’t in order. Montco’s offices in Texas and Canada were just post office boxes. And an oil well Montco claimed to own in the west African nation of Gabon doesn’t exist.
A Colombian business magazine published a story about it under the headline: “Mob attempt to penetrate the oil sector?”
Proving it’s a small world, after all
Riding to the rescue to attempt to salvage the situation for Montco came Andy DeFrancesco (who owns Delavaco Capital, and THX Energy, remember?)
In the strangest of coincidences, Andy DeFrancesco had originally incorporated Montco Energy, back in 1992 in Fort Worth Texas!
Given his colorful history, if Scott Weekly is today working for an oil company which owns a drug plane, then things all seem to fit, do they not? David Scott Weekly’s presence in Bogotá now becomes understandable.
And once again, and unsurprisingly, Gary Webb’s reporting is verified.
Talk about shades of Iran Contra..
One big question remains: Authorities said the Gabriel Morales-THX Energy-David Scott Weekly drug plane flown by Laura Chinchilla was being watched and suspected of moving drugs for more than three years… Why, then, was it allowed to continue flying? And also… is it still flying?
In the absence of a definitive answer, and given what’s known today about state involvement in drug trafficking everywhere from Colombia to Honduras, from Venezuela to the good ol US of A… it does not seem wildly unrealistic to conclude the plane was hauling drugs with official impunity.
Colombian Drug Lord Vanishes After Conviction… in the US!
A major Colombian drug trafficker who willingly sought extradition to the United States—even offering a $40 million bribe to officials in Brazil to send him to the US—apparently knew what he was doing. After being extradited and convicted in Federal Court in New York of felony drug charges that could have put him in jail for life, he disappeared.
His name is Juan Carlos Ramirez-Abadia (nickname: Lollipop). He’s a figure in the recent scandal over the President of Costa Rica’s use of a drug plane belonging to Gabriel Morales Fallon, who was identified as one of his former lieutenants.
Juan Carlos Abadia’s extradition to the US from Brazil in 2008 received major media coverage.The DEA was calling him the biggest drug cartel boss since Pablo Escobar. They say he led the world’s biggest drug cartel, exporting more than 500 tons of cocaine—worth in excess of $10 billion—just to the United States alone.
His name was in the news again several months later, when he asked (citing claustrophobia) to be placed in a bigger detention cell while awaiting trial in New York.
But when he pled guilty in March of 2010 to felony counts of drug trafficking and racketeering, not one newspaper in America carried the story. His conviction went completely unreported. The DEA didn’t didn’t even issue a press release.
It was if, when Pablo Escobar was gunned down in Colombia, the story didn’t make the news.
Where is “My Boy Lollipop?”
Court documents indicate Abadia was sentenced to 25 years in Federal prison. But a search of theprisoner locater at the Federal Bureau of Prisons website does not list his name as among those currently incarcerated.
The Assistant US Attorney in charge of the Abadia case, Carolyn Pokorny, declined to comment on his whereabouts.
And that’s where the trail ends, at least for the moment.
Another anomaly: There is no record of his sentencing. Among the official court documents available through PACER is a transcript of a hearingheld before the court accepted Abadia’s guilty plea, to ensure he understood his rights, and was pleading guilty voluntarily. There is a binding 9-page forfeiture agreement. Abadia agreed to forfeit $10 billion (that’s billion with a ‘b’) in currency and property to the US Government. There is also an order by District Judge Sandra Townes accepting his guilty plea.
But—more than two years later—there is no record of his being sentenced. Whether the discrepancy concerns missing documents, year-long deferred sentencing, or some other cause is unknown at this time.
“Almighty Latin Kings and Queens” Beware
The situation is more than puzzling. On what should have been a banner day for the DEA and the Department of Justice, Drug Kingpin Juan Carlos Ramirez-Abadia was well on his way to being erased from public memory.
As an organization, the DEA has shown that it excels atonly one thing: shamelessly flogging its own dubious achievements. That, and putting the best face possible on the long-ago lost drug war.
So why did they pass up the chance to announce they’d bagged & tagged the biggest drug lord to walk the earth since Pablo Escobar fell off a roof?
A search of March 2010 press releases on the Department of Justice’s national website turned up . headlines announcing that a member of the“Almighty Latin King and Queens,”sentenced to 210 months for his role in a drug conspiracy; and a “Maryland Man,” convicted of sex trafficking, firearms and gun charges.
But nothing about Abadia’s conviction.
One headline looked promising. It announced that a “Leader of Colombian Narco-Terrorist Organization” had been sentenced to more than 20 years for conspiring to import tons of cocaine into the U.S
Alas, the DEA, as is well-known, plays favorites, and the narco-terrorist kingpin fixin to do time had been a leader of the gritty and perennially out-of-favor-in-Washington FARC. Abadia, on the other hand, had taken over the remnants of the “bandana-free” Cali Cartel, and turned it into the powerhouse North Valley Cartel.
A search of contemporaneous press releases on the US Attorney’s own website in Brooklynshowed they hadn’t even issued the standard boilerplate press release, thanking the DEA and the hard-working men and women of law enforcement etc., while trumpeting the significance of Ramirez-Abadia’s conviction.
A check of that month’s press releases at the national Department of Justice’s Eastern District of New York site turned up Bloods gang members indicted on murder and racketeering. There was a headline touting a “leader of violent drug crew” getting life in prison, while another, “leader of violent drug crew,” unconnected and slightly luckier than the first, was being dished out 27 years.
But not one word about the (local!) conviction of a man who’d just admitted to shipping 500 tons of cocaine to the US.
A lot of money changing hands
Authorities estimated that Abadia’s North Valley Cartel employed hundreds of people, and controlled 60 percent of the drugs leaving Colombia for the United States and Europe each year, a significantly bigger percentage than the Nedellin Cartel controlled in its heyday.
His employees weren’t stringing up narco-banners over highways, or sharpening their machetes, cutting up corpses into pieces small enough to fit into 55-gallon drums or strapping bandoliers across their chests. They were international businessmen and women, manufacturing and transporting multi-ton loads of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico, destined for the US market for Abadia’s Drug Division; or counting and then launderering money, or couriering it for the Money Laundering Division.
They doled out bribes to police, politicians and military officials in the cartel’s Corruption Division; or carried out murder, torture, kidnapping and violent drug debt collections for the “Office of the Sicarios.”
Law enforcement officials have confiscated more than 24 tons of cocaine from Abadia’s cartel associates, seized hundreds of properties; and dozens of legitimate corporations: pharmaceutical distribution companies, major currency exchanges, even thoroughbred horse breeding farms.
The Silence of those on the lam
Excessive government secrecy has long been common in cases involving national security. Less understandably, it is also common—suspiciously common—in cases involving drug trafficking.
The level of secrecy in the Abadia case is reminiscent of what was recently reported here involving a key figure in the biggest drug seizure on an airplane in Mexican history, the 5.5 tons of cocaine on a DC-9 from St. Petersburg, Florida.
Tracing the money from that massive drug bust led directly to the forced sale in 2008 of Wachovia, then America’s 4th largest bank.
When a key figure in that case pled guilty to unrelated drug charges two years ago in a Federal Court in Miami, it was a secret to journalists, as well as to probation officials preparing his Pre-Sentence Report (PSI). It was evenGus a secret to the Federal judge in the case. Court transcripts reveal she was unaware she was sentencing a key figure in that huge case.
Another “only in Miami” moment? Or something more?
It has been tempting to write it off as one of those “only in Miami moments” encountered regularly by observers of judicial proceedings in South Florida.
(Another is upcoming in two weeks, when men associated with the Gambino Family go on trail for the murder of Gus Boulis, more than seven years after their arrest in 2006.)
But now its happened in Brooklyn.
Are there similarities between the events in Miami and Brooklyn?
Here’s one: the Asst. US Attorneys prosecuting both cases specialize in prosecuting major drug traffickers. In Miami, Asst US Attorney Hoffman handles everything involving Colombians. But regarding the false identity under which she prosecuted a key figure in the 5.5 ton DC-9 story, she isn’t talking.
In Brooklyn, Asst US Attorney Carolyn Pokorny is the main prosecutor in major drug cases. Regarding the current whereabouts of the man she two years ago helped send to Federal prison for 25 years, she isn’t talking.
Could the reason both appear so tight-lipped be they’ve been “read into” a classified US operation involving drug trafficking?
Are they privy to information indicating that there are different categories of drug traffickers? Those who smuggle drugs for us? And everybody else?