Another Ton Of Coke, Right Under The Bolivarian Revolution’s Eyes

September 22, 2013


A few weeks ago, a good friend was traveling to Europe, when he was stopped right after Maiquetia immigration and interrogated by some officials. When it was determined that he was only going for a few days, the questions got more direct and unnerving, as they were directly suggesting that he may be carrying drugs on him. Unfortunately, in the world of digital communications, he was carrying no papers about his meeting and did not have on him his ID from work.

He was asked if he minded having an X-Ray done, which he clearly didn’t. At that point, he was moved to a room with other “suspects” and taken away from the airport to some form of dispensary run by Cubans near Catia La Mar. By now, the whole process was quite unnerving, as it was already past the departure time of the airplane and he was far from the airport and did not know if he would miss his flight or not. An X-ray was done, obviously showing nothing and he and the others were returned to the airport to catch their flight, which was delayed two hours because of them.

This story comes to mind, because French authorities revealed this week, that 1,3 Tons of cocaine were found in an Air France airplane arriving from Maiquetia. The stash was found in 30 suitcases, which cnn describes a “colorful” and which did not belong to any of the passengers on the plane.

Imagine this, in an airport where individuals are x-rayed to see if they have drugs in their stomachs, 30 suitcases full of cocaine, worth close to a quarter billion dollars are “sneaked in” on to the airplane. This requires the cooperation of the authorities, of Air France employees, of the National Guard and of the same people that basically harassed my friend.

But that is not the problem. The problem is that this find, proves how rotten Venezuela is when, in a facility controlled by the military, anyone can move one Ton of drugs and succeed. To give you scale, this is the largest drug catch in Frances’ history. This factoid alone should raise concerns about how screwed up Venezuela is.

Another Ton Of Coke, Right Under The Bolivarian Revolution’s Eyes

So far, there has been no statement from the Minister of the Interior and Justice. The Prosecutor’s office opened an investigation and faster that you can say “Maduro is in China”, they detained three National Guardsmen: Two Sargents and one Lieutenant. Sure, quite believable that these three lowly Guardsmen put together an operation worth a quarter billion dollars. This in a country that has a few Generals in the DEA’s watch or is it black list?

Meanwhile the French took ten days to reveal the that they caught the drug, before making their own detentions. Interesting, no?

And Maduro says he wants an Enabling Bill to fight corruption, when his own military and his own security is immersed with drug traffickers to the hilt, as shown by this case. The delay in making any announcements in itself suggests that they were scrambling to see how to react publicly. In any other country, the Airport would be intervened and its Head removed, until the investigation was completed. But General Graterol, Director of the airport is high ranking, as well as close to Diosdado, very powerful. In one of those crazy things that only happen in the revolution, he is not only Director of the Airport, but President of airline Conviasa.  They can barely do one job well, and they are given two.

But think about it: A Ton of cocaine not only was loaded in Maiquetia, but how did it get there frm wherever it came from? Too much complicity, at very high levels.

Like Maletagate, Illaramendi, Bandes, Corpoelec, etc, etc, etc, the case will blow over with time, nothing will happen, the case will be shelved, forgotten in the myriad cases of corruption of the revolution, many of them which hit too close to power and too close for comfort.

Funny how most of these cases are always discovered, investigated and announced abroad, no?

42 Responses to “Another Ton Of Coke, Right Under The Bolivarian Revolution’s Eyes”

  1. xp Says:

    Should the fruit drop,
    Who will bell the tiger?

    Cancelling trips to the UN,
    a lesson learned from Pinochet in England?

  2. arco Says:
    And here we got the names of some of the generals involved.

  3. m_astera Says:

    Meanwhile, little old ladies get their carefully packed suitcases dumped out and their carefully folded underwear unwrapped by 19 year old punks wearing an army costume, while other19 year old punks wander around with AK 47s.

  4. VJ Says:

    This is a very interesting news about the IAIM Simon Bolivar security chief Lt. Col. (GNB) Ernesto José Mora Carvajal.
    All of a sudden, he has been reassigned to a new post as the new commander of the GNB, CORE-2, D-25, based at Puerto Cabello replacing an officer who was just 7 months on the job. If this is true he must have a big brother protecting him.–la-unidad-militar-este-viernes/
    However, there are conflicting news about his fate, El Universal says that today he is going to appear before a judge.

    • arco Says:

      I travelled in july with my venezualian girlfriend to the Netherlands. And I’m pretty good in remembering names. This guy was a high rank officer. Big guy, looking mean and questioning the passengers at the suitcase controle. He made me and my girlfriend feeling very uncomfortable because we didnt have photos and paperwork with us to support our story. Same as you are saying in your post. Its a digital world, no papers with us, only a laptop.
      I didnt have my RIF of my company, no photos of my daughter in holland on me and not carrying a Phone (only a dutch simcard). Luckely I had a businesscard. That did the trick or else I was shipped to the cuban xray as well probably.
      I can not be more happy to here this cabron is busted.

  5. arco Says:

    This photo of the Air-france drugs was posted on a Dutch crimesite.
    Watch the logo on the bricks of drugs!

  6. Lars Says:

    this one a bit weird in that it seems semi-rogue operation. Desperation must be setting in. They where using business jets but starting having losses in past year. Western law enforcement agencies where wise to the business jets. The takedowns have been spectacular with air force jet forcing them down (you wont find this in the news). Then the big guy gets popped in Bogota then this happens. They are going to go back to moving it over water.

  7. Lars Says:

    that’s correct, USD$10M is the rough cost. In DR, the soldiers get around $1000 per load and the higher ups exponentially more. These three patsies will probably get bonus pay for taking the fall. The coroneles and generales are millionaires. Their takes per load run into the low hundreds of thousands again based on data DR (same shit, same organizations). The data is published, the Dominicans at least do something about it.

  8. Kepler Says:

    José Eliecer Pinto Gutiérrez, I just checked out in the CNE database dump, was born 10 October 1960 and has as Venezuelan ID 7718807.
    In 2010 he was registered to vote in Miranda State but if you check out the CNE site, you will see he has been successfully transferred to Amazonas to vote there.

  9. hobo_lib Says:

    The ICIJ has published a remarkable series of articles on the off-shore banking system in the Caribbean and beyond. Notice one of the remarkably wealthy Venezuelans they’ve uncovered using a shell company and connect the dots –


    José Eliecer Pinto Gutiérrez

    Army General

    Details: Top commander in the Amazonas state, overseeing security in the Venezuela-Colombia border.

    Offshore business: Shareholder, director and secretary of Romana International Holdings, Ltd. (2003-2006) in the British Virgin Islands.

    Comment: Pinto Gutiérrez could not be reached for comment. ICIJ verified his connection to the offshore company through his identity card, a copy of which was included in the offshore files.

  10. […] cocaine was packed in over thirty suitcases that were not registered to any passengers. As Toro, Miguel and others point out, all of the baggage security at Venezuela’s biggest international […]

  11. dko Says:

    Title should ready: “Another Ton Of Coke, Right Under The Bolivarian Revolution’s Noses”

  12. AlbertoG Says:

    One Ton of coke (of course undeclared) was a SUPER SAFETY HAZARD for the flight itself! (load and balance control).. Of course those trading that amount of posion couldn’t care less.

    • Ira Says:

      Anyone remember the old Avensa (or was is Viasa) story?

      A pilot kept making arrivals with less fuel than he should have, time and again. Finally, after he was ready for takeoff one day, he stopped everything and pulled all of the luggage off for a re-weight–and it was like twice what it said on the manifest.

      Turns out counter employees were taking bribes for overweight bags.

      He blew the whistle because of the serious safety breaches, and was promptly fired.

      • Ira Says:

        Of course, he didn’t actually pull off all of the luggage by himself!

      • Ronaldo Says:

        Been there. Done that. My Vzla primos think that a bribe to get extra luggage onboard a plane is totally acceptable. And it works. I watched them do it at Dulles with no problems. Somehow they can tell which employees will take cash for a favor. Routine transaction in Caracas.

        • Lars Says:

          How do they do that? They sense it? I want to learn how to tell who will take the bribe? Do I have to live in Venezuela a few years of this is genetic or in the water?

    • Noel Says:

      I was wondering the same: who did the weighing of the luggage? Did the pilot feel the plane was not properly balanced and did this lead to an inspection of the luggage once the plane landed in Paris?

  13. Dr. Faustus Says:

    One can only imagine as to how brazen these guys felt in making the arrangements to bring that amount of cocaine into the heart of France. Not by way of Senegal. Not by boat crossing the Mediterranean in the dead of the night. No, they used a commercial airliner right into Paris under the noses of airline/airport security. wow. Just imagine how many times they had gotten away with THAT, ….before. Every and any flight coming out of Caracas going anywhere in the future will be under closer scrutiny.

  14. Roy Says:

    The process of bag inspection at Maiquetia is unnerving, even without being dragged to the Cuban dispensary for an X-ray. You are told at the gate that you have to follow an airline employee to have your bag inspected. They take you and a small group of people through several corridors that are clearly (employee only) areas to the baggage handling areas on the same level as the tarmac. There you wait your turn to identify your luggage and have it inspected by surly looking GN uniformed soldiers. Eventually, they get done with you, and you return to the departure gate feeling confused as to exactly what the purpose of whole exercise was and vaguely violated.

  15. Ronaldo Says:

    It would have been a heavily escorted truck to keep curious people away.

    • Tom ODonnell Says:

      I imagine the bags were “transferred” from another flight? In which case, I wonder what kind of screening occurs for bags transferred from a plane from another country or another internal national flight?

      In Algiers, they have a solution for this sort of thing (this was a few years back, I;m not sure if they still do it): After everyone and all their bags have gotten their usual screenings, you walk across the tarmac to your plane. Near the plane there are a bunch of National Guard guys with Ak-47s standing alongside all the bags in a pile to one side, away from the plane. You go and take YOUR bags yourself and, with their approval, walk your bags across to side of the plane and hand it to the guys who then load them into the baggage compartment. No bag gets on without a particular passenger taking responsibility for it right then and there. (Well, 200-300,000 dead in the civil war against the fundamentalists brought some very effective measures.)

  16. moctavio Says:

    I doubt they went to the plane via the usual route. I bet they were all brought into the airport together on a truck anspd went straight to the plane.

  17. Bruni Says:

    1.3 tons divided by 30 gives 43.3 Kgs per suitcase.
    These are very heavy suitcases…Air France’s weight limit is 32Kgs per suitcase and there were 30 of them!
    All those that handle the suitcases must have known…

    • Velcro Says:

      You mean to say that, on top of smuggling coke, they also failed to pay the excess weight baggage fee? Have the corrupt no shame?

  18. Ronaldo Says:

    The cocaine trade is exceptionally dangerous. I expect 20 to 30 workers involved in this failed drug export operation will lose their lives. If nothing else, then to keep them quiet. Just look around Maiquetia and see who stopped showing up for work. For your own sake, don’t ask questions. $250 million would be felt by even the highest Chavistas including the Chavez, Maduro, and Cabello families.

    • m_astera Says:

      “$250 million would be felt by even the highest Chavistas”

      Maybe. Except 1.3 tons = 1300 kg = 1 300 000 grams.

      Cost of manufacture is probably $10/gram, so $13 million.

      The usual exaggeration from the “authorities”.

  19. Maybe the delay by France, in reporting this incident, was to see what Venezuelan governmental agency might inquire about the whereabouts of the suitcases. That could be the case if the French did not initially tell the Venezuelan government of their find.

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