MEXICO CITY (AFP) - A private jet that crash-landed almost one year ago in eastern Mexico carrying 3.3 tons of cocaine had previously been used for CIA "rendition" flights, a newspaper report said here Thursday, citing documents from the United States and the European Parliament.To give credit where it's due, the Fort Worth Star Telegram's Jay Root first broke the story last year (reporting with Kevin Hall of McClatchy News), and the web-based Mad Cow News was all over the case after it came out. According to MCN reports, this plane is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of US-registered planes smuggling dope for Mexican cartels. Even so, the story almost immediately died down here in the States, though obviously the Mexican press continues to investigate.
The plane was carrying Colombian drugs for the fugitive leader of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman, when it crash-landed in the Yucatan peninsula on September 24, El Universal reported.
The daily said it had obtained documents from the United States and the European Parliament which "show that that plane flew several times to Guantanamo, Cuba, presumably to transfer terrorism suspects."
It said the European Parliament was investigating the private Grumman Gulfstream II, registered by the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation, for suspected use in CIA "rendition" flights in which prisoners are covertly transferred to a third country or US-run detention centers.
It also said the US Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) logbook registered that the plane had traveled between US territory and the US military base in Guantanamo.
There can be few explanations beyond straight up corruption, it seems to me, for why the DEA or FBI has not followed up on this major lead. After all, the downed plane represents a concrete link between Mexican drug runners and American spooks. If an American using planes for US government rendition then sold one (or more) to the Sinaloa drug cartel, that should be easy for investigators to track. So where are the US-side arrests?