(Daniel Hopsicker) “Newly-obtained FAA registration records reveal that the American “mystery plane”busted this July with 35 kilos of heroin at an airport outside Sydney, Australia was a CIA plane. At least, it had been when it rolled off the assembly line 40 years earlier, courtesy a CIA deal with the U.S. Forest Service. And the CIA never sells off its planes.
The American-registered ‘mystery plane’ in Australia was a Merlin III twin–engine turbo-prop ( tail number N224HR).
FAA registration records show it was commissioned in the early 70’s by the U.S. Forest Service from aircraft manufacturer Swearingen in San Antonio, part of an operation to “sheep-dip” CIA planes through the U.S. Forest Service.
“Sheep-dip” is spook-speak for concealing the source or true ownership of something, or, at the very least, hiding it from Congress. When the plane was ordered, the CIA was merely anticipating Congressional calls for reining in the CIA, through (tellingly) forcing the Agency to divest its proprietary airlines.
By the time the plane was delivered two years later, the calls had grown much louder. In another two years, they’d become successful. More on this in a moment.
Hmm. A “sophisticated” drug network…
The discovery of an American-registered plane delivering drugs at an Australian airport heralded, according to Australian law enforcement, a “sophisticated drug network” that had begun using the tiny Illawarra Regional Airport, 60 miles south of Sydney, to import guns and drugs.
The purchase in the U.S. of the Merlin III, and the plane’s subsequent two-month long saga on its journey “home” to Australia, an Australian law enforcement official toldSydney’s Daily Telegraph, were actions undertaken at the behest of a “major international crime syndicate.”
Police were said to be “close-mouthed;”and “tight-lipped.” After revealing they had confiscated 35 kilos, they refused to identify the drug involved, which is heroin.
But Police prosecutor Sergeant Sean Thackray gave things away when he let slip, ‘‘We’re talking about the organization of a plane to import a large amount of a substance …. to the value of $9 million.’’
(Note: Price quotes per kilo for heroin in consuming countries vary widely, from a low of $100,000 to a high, in Australia, of all places, of $375,000. If we take a figure in the middle, $250,000, 35 kilos is worth $8.7 million, very close to Sgt. Thackray’s quote of $9 million.)
“Really? A major international syndicate?”