The Sinaloa Cartel infiltrated Maiquetía

It’s been a while since Venezuela’s anti-narcotics organisms have been having their alarms ringing. Now that the drug has been connected once again to the Bolivarian Government elites, it’s good to remember that the main airport in Caracas served as an aerial bridge for the largest Cartel in the hemisphere, the Chapo Guzmán’s. And it did it, surprising as it is, next to the presidential hangar.

11 November 2015

(*) This reportage was originally published on June 16th 2013 on the journal El Universal.

A DC-9 plane coming from Venezuela appeared as a touristic charter, but on April 10th 2006 it landed on the southern shores of Mexico not precisely with passengers in shorts and beach wear, but with 128 suitcases packed with cocaine. Although the scandal diluted itself after the Government denied that the drugs were loaded in the country, some documents filed on Mexican courts expose that drug trafficking cells used the Simón Bolívar International Airport on Maiquetía as an air bridge on this and other occasions.

The then president of the National Anti-Drugs Office, Luis Correa, assured that the felony wasn’t committed on Maiquetía. “I cannot say if the plane landed on Colombia, Panama or any other place, but we have hard evidence that it took off empty from Venezuela”, he pointed out on April 25th 2006, two weeks after the incident.

What Correa didn’t say was that behind this operation was no less than the Sinaloa Cartel. Since then nor this or any other Venezuelan functionary has noticed that the biggest criminal organization in Mexico had infiltrated the Maiquetía Airport, and not even once or twice…

This information comes from a sentence dictated by the Mexican State’s Fifth Court on Federal Criminal Proceedings on June 23rd 2009, and which details are known now that the Mexican State made them public by a request made for this journalistic work.

According to that document, several of the planes that were mentioned during the trial as part of the Sinaloa Cartel’s fleet, match with the acronyms and characteristics of a series of aircrafts that, during the years 2005 and 2006, came and went without problems by the most important airport in the country.

The same airstrip

The official story states that a DC-9 airship with an American flag proceeding from Venezuela with the N900SA acronym was detained with more than 5 tons of drugs on the airport of Ciudad del Carmen, where another suspicious Falcon 20 plane with the XB-IYK acronym was parked on the opposite hangar waiting for the 128 suitcases, so it could continue with the journey which final destination was the United States.

The drug suitcases journey ended when the Mexican authorities detained several crew members from both airplanes. Nevertheless, there was no one anywhere who would realize that the second plane – the Falcon 20 that would wait for the suitcases in Mexico – was seen around Maiquetía Airport on other occasions. And no other than in the same seventh ramp from the auxiliary terminal where the famous 128 suitcases scandal started.

On 2006 the Government guaranteed that the 5,5 tons of cocaine where not loaded on Maiquetía or anywhere else in Venezuelan territory. But anyhow, the same players related to the Sinaloa Cartel used the same airstrip, hangar and air terminal, at least twice, to park the other airplane involved in the biggest drug trafficking case that is remembered on any airport in the region.

It is stated on the International Take-off and Landing Permits stored in the International Maiquetía Airport Institute. According to some filed forms dated November 2nd 2005 and February 10th 2006, the Falcon 20 that would continue its journey from Mexico carrying the suitcases had also entered and departed Maiquetía using the name of the Mexican Raúl Jiménez Alfaro, who turned out to be Fernando Blengio, better known as one of the pilots of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias “El Chapo Guzmán”, the most wanted drug dealer in Mexico.

After a legal process in Mexico that allows to ask for information through mechanisms established by the Federal Law for Transparency and Access to Public Information, now it’s clear that Chapo Guzmán’s pilot spent periods of time working in Caracas under the name of Raúl Jiménez Alfaro.

“I phoned Raúl Jiménez Alfaro from the office to Venezuela because he traveled there a lot”, declared one of the Mexican aeronautic inspectors that were summoned to collaborate on the trial and that later and without knowing it ended up confirming, by a photo of the subject shown to him, that he was talking about Chapo Guzmán’s pilot: “I identify him as Raúl Jiménez Alfaro and after listening to remarks made on this case I learn that he answers to the name of Fernando Blengio Ceseña and I have just heard comments saying that he is Blengio.”

The same person

The already famous 128 drug stuffed suitcases are just the slip from a drug trafficking net that made use of some of the most important airport facilities in the country. Although the Venezuelan prosecutors limited themselves to investigate three employees in Maiquetía, the Mexican Justice System concluded that “the activities developed on this case related to the illegal cocaine traffic and transport came from Venezuela by air for its distribution and transport to the border with the United States of America”.

The drugs route was drawn in Mexico and even in the United States where Chapo Guzmán’s pilot was sentenced to 13 years in prison and another 5 years of supervised release for using American airplanes for drug trafficking.

Blengio was arrested in Dominican Republic on 2011 and from there he was transferred to a court in Florida’s South District. However, his detention was unnoticed because he had changed his name again, just like in Maiquetía.

At the beginning of the trial, prosecutor Andrea Hoffman didn’t realize that she had introduced him with one of his nicknames, but anyhow there was no lack of words to describe all the trickery that him and other drug dealers have been employing on this part of the world.

“There’s a handmade industry in the United States that is faking American airplane registers and using them for drug trafficking outside the country” said the prosecutor on November 29th 2011 on one of the hearings where she presented Blengio to judge Patricia Seitz. “The longest routes in the world right now are boarding in a zone called Apure in Venezuela. The drug dealers fly from there to the outskirts of the Colombian air space where they go to Honduras and Guatemala”.

(*) You can read the first part of this reportage on El Universal

¡Hola! Gracias por leer nuestro artículo.


A diferencia de muchos medios de comunicación digital, Armandoinfo no ha adoptado el modelo de subscripción para acceder a nuestro contenido. Nuestra misión es hacer periodismo de investigación sobre la situación en Venezuela y sacar a la luz lo que los poderosos no quieren que sepas. Por eso nos hemos ganado importantes premios como el Pulitzer por nuestros trabajos con los Papeles de Panamá y el premio Maria Moors Cabot otorgado por la Universidad de Columbia. 

Para poder continuar con esa misión, te pedimos que consideres hacer un aporte. El dinero servirá para financiar el trabajo investigativo de nuestros periodistas y mantener el sitio para que la verdad salga al aire.

Haz tu contribución aquí
ETIQUETAS:                    

Artículos Relacionados

General Rangel Gómez Under the Shadow of his Son-In-Law's Business in Mexico

The former chavista governor of the State of Bolívar from 2004 to 2017 changed overnight from excessive media exhibitionism to low profile. His departure to Mexico completed the circle of the retirement plan he had been preparing while on civil service. He was now staying in the same country where the businesses of his daughter's husband flourished, which he had significantly fostered from his positions in Guayana. Now, with financial sanctions imposed on him by Canada and the United States, Francisco José Rangel Gómez prefers to stay under the radar.

12-05-19
Mexican cartels control the caravan of Venezuelan 'escorts' on the way to death

Six out of every ten Venezuelan sex workers killed abroad since 2012 were in Mexico. In that country it is often about attractive girls who work as high-level company ladies or night-time waiters, businesses directly managed by organized crime. There are many clues that lead to the Guadalajara New Generation Cartel at the peak of this trade in people, with the complicity of others such as Los Cuinis and Tepito. Often the human merchandise becomes the property of capos and assassins, with whom he knows the hell of the femicides

24-03-19
Newly Sanctioned by the United States of America, but an Old Friend of Saab and Pulido

Adrián Perdomo Mata has just entered the list of sanctioned entities of the US Department of the Treasury, as president of Minerven, the state company in charge of exploring, exporting and processing precious metals, particularly gold from the Guayana mines. His arrival in office coincided with the boom in exports of Venezuelan gold to new destinations, like Turkey, to finance food imports. Behind these secretive operations is the shadow of Alex Saab and Álvaro Pulido, the main beneficiaries of the sales of food for the Local Supply and Production Committee (Clap). Perdomo worked with them before Nicolás Maduro placed him in charge of the Venezuelan gold.

The Tuna in the CLAPs Is of Vegetal Origin

A study by Mexican authorities confirms what the palate of the Venezuelans quickly detected: There is something odd in the Mexican canned tuna that comes in the combos of the Local Supply and Production Committee (CLAP). At least three of the brands that the poorest homes have consumed in the country since March 2016, when the state plan was formalized, have high proportions of soy, a vegetable protein that although not harmful, it does not have the same taste and protein contribution of tuna. Behind the addition of soy there is an operation to reduce costs where all the intermediaries, handpicked by the Venezuelan Government to buy the goods, have participated.

27-01-19
Electoral Observer Sells Food to the Government of Maduro

Gassan Salama, a Palestinian-cause activist, born in Colombia and naturalized Panamanian, frequently posts messages supporting the Cuban and Bolivarian revolutions on his social media accounts. But that leaning is not the main sign to doubt his impartiality as an observer of the elections in Venezuela, a role he played in the contested elections whereby Nicolás Maduro ratified himself as president. In fact, Salama, an entrepreneur and politician who has carried out controversial searches for submarine wrecks in Caribbean waters, found his true treasure in the main social aid and control program of Chavismo, the Clap, for which he receives millions of euros.

Three Families in Mexico Fatten their Fortunes with Venezuela’s Claps

While the key role of Colombian entrepreneurs Alex Saab Morán and Álvaro Pulido Vargas in the import scheme of Nicolás Maduro’s Government program has come to light, almost nothing has been said about the participation of the traders who act as suppliers from Mexico. These are economic groups that, even before doing business with Venezuela, were not alien to public controversy.

1 2 3 10

Otras historias

Venezuelan Sex Slaves, a Booming Industry in Trinidad

They lose their freedom as soon as they set foot on any Trinidadian beach, and their “original sin” is an alleged debt that these women can only pay by becoming sexual merchandise. They are tamed through a prior process of torture, rotation and terror, until they lose the urge to escape. The growth of these human trafficking networks is so evident that regional and parliamentary reports admit that the complicity of the island’s justice system in this machinery of deceit and violence multiplies the number of victims.

A Venezuelan rascal in the Banco Espirito Santo's corrupt court

In front of the curtain of collapse of the major financial group in Portugal, José Trinidad Márquez, a native of Caracas, offered the stellar performance to his lifetime career of fraud. After swindling the high management of the bank, he’s taken refuge presumably in some part of Spain, where the press baptized him as “the golden middleman” or “the man with thousand faces”. With his well trained routine of a petroleum expert, who offers himself to try and arrange business connections with PDVSA, perfected over the course of more than two decades, he’s earned himself millions of dollars, as well as criminal accusations in various countries.

14-06-20
Alex Saab’s Penultimate Flight

Nicolas Maduro’s main contractor was arrested last Friday, right after landing at the international airport of Cape Verde, an archipelago in the Atlantic, on the gates of Africa. It may be his penultimate trip, if he is finally deported or extradited to the United States, as U.S. authorities expect. It would be the worst of all endings after many years travelling and earning miles but, above all, millions of dollars thanks to opaque corporate structures, whereby he managed preferential currencies, public works, food supplies for the CLAPs, contracts with PDVSA, and even the trade of Venezuelan gold and coal since 2013.

In the Caribbean, a Buoy Floats for Chavismo's Finances

A small bank in Antigua and Barbuda, but controlled by Venezuelans, is at the center of some of the financial operations of Nicolas Maduro’s regime. Created in 2008 and with a diffuse trace for years, North International Bank began to take off in 2016 when it was authorized to operate in Caracas. Since then, it has been channeling millions of dollars to and from the coffers of the revolutionary ‘nomenklatura.’

01-12-19
Do You Need to Clear Your Reputation? There Are Deputies Available for Hire

For some months now, parliament members of different opposition political parties have been offering to make informal proceedings on request before agencies like the Colombian Attorney General's Office and the United States Department of the Treasury. They issue letters of good conduct to those responsible for negotiations on the imports for CLAP combos, so that such agencies absolve or stop investigating entrepreneurs like Carlos Lizcano, a subordinate of the already sanctioned Alex Saab and Alvaro Pulido. The fact that the most active defense of the main social program and focus of corruption of the government of Nicolas Maduro comes from the heart of the National Assembly 'in contempt' is just one of the ironies of this story.

General Rangel Gómez Under the Shadow of his Son-In-Law's Business in Mexico

The former chavista governor of the State of Bolívar from 2004 to 2017 changed overnight from excessive media exhibitionism to low profile. His departure to Mexico completed the circle of the retirement plan he had been preparing while on civil service. He was now staying in the same country where the businesses of his daughter's husband flourished, which he had significantly fostered from his positions in Guayana. Now, with financial sanctions imposed on him by Canada and the United States, Francisco José Rangel Gómez prefers to stay under the radar.

1 2 3 21
Sitio espejo
usermagnifierchevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram