2006 Mexico DC-9 drug bust

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The 2006 Mexico DC-9 drug bust is a known drug seizure where a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-15[1] airliner with the former tail number N900SA[2] (c/n 45775) was involved in drug smuggling and was caught with 5.5 tons of cocaine onboard after landing in Mexico on April 10, 2006. On April 13, 2006, the aircraft was deregistered and sold to an unknown customer in Venezuela. In December 2006, Mexican Newspaper Reforma reported the previously seized aircraft was being operated by the Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) under Daniel Cabeza de Vaca and based in Mexico City [3][4] as XC-LJZ.[5]


Originally manufactured in 1966 for Trans World Airlines as N1061T, the aircraft has had a long career flying for various individuals and companies, including Tracinda Investment (N241TC), Kenny Rogers (N9KR), Southmark Corporation (N89SM), the Seattle Seahawks (N40SH), Aircraft 45775, Inc, and HW Aviation.

The DC-9 was traded to SkyWay Communications Holding by duPont Investment Fund 57289, Inc in exchange for 28,000,000 shares of stock.[6] in December 2004, though photographs show the SkyWay logo to have been painted on the aircraft at least eight months before.[7] The FAA records, however, show the aircraft as registered to Royal Sons LLC. SkyWay Communications had previously announced the purchase of another DC-9, tail number N120NE (c/n 45731), to act as an "airborne test environment for new SWYC products and services".[8] It has been alleged by author Daniel Hopsicker that the companies involved are CIA front-companies.[9]

Drug seizure[edit]

The aircraft departed Simón Bolívar International Airport in Caracas, Venezuela on the afternoon of April 10, 2006. Approximately 1½ hours into the flight, it reportedly returned to the airport and refueled before resuming its flight to Toluca, Mexico. However, some time into the flight they made an emergency landing at the Ciudad del Carmen airport, claiming hydraulic problems with the landing gear. The flight crew told the ground crew to keep people away from the aircraft, claiming leaking oil could be hazardous and that a tire could explode.

The flight crew was identified as Carmelo Vázquez Guerra a Colombian National with Venezuelan passport.The second pilot of the DC-9 is unknown. [10]

The Mexican police approached the aircraft with drug-sniffing dogs and the ground crew attempted to keep them away, without success. The dogs identified the presence of drugs and the police entered the aircraft, they found 5.5 tons of cocaine packed into 128 identical black suitcases they arrested the pilot, Carmelo Vázquez Guerra, who later "vanished".

A Falcon business jet of Mexican registry (XB-IYK) was making a rendezvous with the DC-9 and its crew was also arrested. The pilot of the Falcon was loto Fernando Joaquín Poot Pérez, who was working as flight coordinator manager for la Comisión Nacional del Agua but was later released.[11]

There are reports that say Mexican soldiers patrolling the airport observed a Falcon arriving several days before the DC-9's arrival and that two Mexican pilots were seen in the area throughout the next few days and reportedly attempted to pay for the DC-9 to make an emergency landing after the airport was closed.

The DEA lists the bust as one of Mexico's largest in recent history, using it as an example of international cooperation against drug trafficking and a part of "Operation All Inclusive".[12][13]

After a few weeks, no one was interested in this case. But in July 2008, Mexican authorities had to recall some details of this case, as in Guinea Bissau airport landed a jet from Venezuela loaded with 515 kilos of cocaine and inside was none other than the pilot Carmelo Vázquez Guerra but this time he didn't disappear he was simply released as the judge, with the connivance of the Attorney General, decreed the freedom of all detainees for lack of evidence, three Latino-Americans and Guinean.[14]

That didn't stop the pilot who continued in the drug trade and was arrested for a third time in Caracas Venezuela inside a car in which three men were traveling, the police found 70 panels of cocaine with a gross weight of 70 kilograms. Guerra Vasquez had an arrest warrant pending for the DC-9 drug bust.

See also[edit]

  • Rendition aircraft N987SA[15]: on September 24, 2007, N987SA crashed in Yucatán, Mexico, carrying 3.2 tons of cocaine. The Gulfstream II business jet had been involved in the transport of extraordinary rendition victims to Guantanamo Bay by the CIA.[16]


External links[edit]