Monday, September 23, 2013

The Venezuelan narco-state caught pants down in Paris: a price to pay

I need to come back to this 1.3 tons of cocaine seized in Paris airport because I think it is as clear an example for all to see on how deep into narco-statism we have descended, and how the rest of the world knows it and deals accordingly.

Once one gets through the massive amount of hot air emissions from journalists in search of front lines we can find a few pieces that start explaining how things may have worked out. True, the French police is not going to give all the necessary precision because they need to hold a few trump cards for future shipments. The magazine Le Point in France offers one of the few serious analysis on how the shipment may have made it to the Air France flight: the drug may have been in overweight bags but it most likely was not shipped through the luggage section of the plane but as freight. Thus the complicity inside the airport is not with the passenger attending personnel but through the "contractor" that distributes freight among the different airlines. This of course does not exonerate Air France since it should have checked better the contents of its freight holds. But it opens the field of wise speculation.

30+ overweight luggage had to enter into Maiquetia/Simon Bolivar (MIQ) through a small truck. We are talking a 2-3T plus vehicle here. One supposes that such a truck is inspected entering any, ANY international airport of the world. Clearly that step was voided here.

The truck had to circulate through the airport and there are restrictions as to who can drive where inside. Clearly we have there not only security violations but also administrative fault from the airport itself. Amen of where the hell 30+ overweight bags were stored for 1? 2? 5? days before the flight.

If we take a number of 35 suit cases for 1.3 tons we have 38 kilos per piece. Anyone taking a plane these days know that you are simply not allowed a 35 kilo luggage even if you pay excess: a special procedure is set in place when you carry overweight stuff. No baggage handler at MIQ complained, that we know of, on September 11 when supposedly the drug was loaded. Interesting detail, no?

Since the luggage went likely through fret then passenger personnel at check in did not see it. But what about Air France personnel? are they not supposed to check the fret embarked?

Last and not least MIQ is reputed internationally as a true pain in the a.. for "security check". As I wrote, bags are opened BEFORE check in and they go all through it without any consideration, take away what they want form it, and as Miguel wrote, you can even be sent for a body X-ray to make sure you have drug in your intestines. The Nazional Guard has no qualms in pushing you through all of these abuses and delaying flights for as long as they please. You are even subjected often to a last body and cabin bag search before stepping inside your plane. How come that cargo freight container went through without trouble?  Aren't there supposed to be scanners for these containers as they are for bags since we regularly hear passengers called to custom to open their bags?

I probably can come up with yet more questions, but this above should suffice to make it clear that there must have been MANY security breaches, from the airport administration, from the security personnel and from at least one Air France personnel. I am not going to speculate about what happened in Paris since clearly the traffickers expected clear sailing. After all, Paris did catch the shipment. But one thing is certain, adding the people directly involved in the shipment and those that pretended to see nothing we are talking of around a dozen folks involved (without counting those involved in bringing the drug from Colombia to MIQ in spite of all the constant road checks that cost my business hours in delays and bribes).

And yet the regime was speedy in finding three fall guys, three low ranking military from the Nazional Guard, people without any real authority: a lieutenant and two sergeants who probably would not be caught dead doing physical work loading the fret container..... And quickly advertised a drug capture inside Venezuela of half a ton, taking the opportunity to insist stupidly that Maduro in China is informed of that and gives orders himself as to proceed with the investigation. Geeezzz........

Sorry, but no deal.  To ship a ton of drug from Colombia to MIQ, to have it board a regular flight to Paris, you need to coordinate security personnel at a level that cannot be possibly achieved by a mere Lieutenant no matter how skilled he may be at computing or something. To begin with, road blocks are not computerized ....  Here, there is at least one General and a couple of helpers strategically placed, probably at Colonel level, to make sure the shipment made it through and through.  The three fall guys, for all that I know, may not even have known what was in the container (though they certainly should have suspected it). They simply were the security personnel on duty on September 11 and given orders not to look closely at the stuff. Or, charitably, blackmailed into it as probably was the case of the involved Air France personnel of Venezuelan origin.

An operation like the one of Air France flight can only be mounted in a country that is deeply rotten, deeply corrupted, where drug traffickers have no problem to find all the help they require for their business.  Let's not forget something: this is not the first time it happens, from planes landing in emergency in Mali coming from Venezuela with tons of the stuff, to a plane in the Canary Islands,  to boats, to whatever..... What happened this time is only a stepping up of the chutzpah of these people.

But at least inside of Venezuela I am not the only one to think that we are a rotten to the core country. Capriles for once was prompt in calling a corrupt spade, a corrupt spade. At least the international scandal is forcing the interior minister to go on record to admit that at least 20 people are being interrogated on the subject. But no one is holding breath: if a General were to be indicted in that event it could be the occasion of a dangerous unraveling of the power base of the regime which relies on massive laundering of public monies stolen to and deep permissiveness on drug traffic in spite of the widely publicized drug hauls.

To all of this we must add one thing. The French government has claimed that the shipment left Caracas on September 11 and yet the haul was made public on the 20th, on for all that we know that was the day Venezuela was told. I do not want to speculate much on that but if indeed the regime was so late in being warned it can only be coming from the experience of the international security community as to how unreliable their Venezuelan colleagues are today. On a public relation point of view, one thing is to catch a stolen fisherman ship with tons of coke on board, another one is to use a normal passenger flight for a ton. This is a degree of magnitude that should not be crossed and I suspect that Venezuela will, for once, pay a price for such a mistake. Not only overseas but also in Venezuela where the spectacular nature of the haul is already used by Capriles. We shall see but for once I am optimistic: it was too much and surely someone inside the regime is going to use that for political advantage.


  1. Anonymous11:51 PM

    This is probably not the first time public transport has been used for transporting the coke out of Venezuela, and what should really make the carriers nervous is the fact that an additional 2600 lbs. of anything can be added into the cargo hold without notice...especially on 9-11. The ones involved were either getting really brave, or are just really stupid. Heads will literally roll for losing that much coke and bringing down that much bad publicity on Vz.

    I would bet a good drug sniffing dog would overdose in the cargo hold of the Conviesa planes.


  2. Anonymous12:41 AM


    1. Right! Damn spell checker!
      Corrected, thanks.

    2. Daniel,

      Spell checker is OK. Fret is a verb meaning to worry or a noun meaning the little metal bars on the neck of a guitar.

      The real problem is the English language! lol... You may enjoy this to show why English spelling is so difficult:

  3. There is very strange thing, one that is hinted at with this badly phrased sentence:

    "Mais l'enquête actuelle cherche aussi à déterminer les complicités dont le trafic bénéficiait à Roissy-CDG lors de la récupération de la tonne de drogue ? "
    Question mark at the last moment.

    Le ministre de l'Intérieur Manuel Valls avait affirmé samedi soir que "plusieurs membres d'une organisation criminelle" avaient été placés en garde à vue au cours des 24 heures précédentes."
    Could it have been a setup? If not: there is something very serious at the French side as well.

    1. Of course there is something very serious at the French side. The difference is that they are truly investigating. No fall guys there.

  4. "Some men have morals, and some men have... other things." ~ Mark Twain

    * firepigette

  5. Anonymous3:15 PM

    "The minister said he has been in contact with French authorities to find out how the whole thing happened" . Quote from Venezuelan Minister of the Interior and Justice Miguel Rodríguez.

    Seems as if this was a French planned and executed job !
    I don't quite understand why a Tap, Iberia or Alitalia flight wasn't used. Maybe the French don't quite understand Latino "complexities ?


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