Monday, April 7, 2014

Dead Man Flying

A nice older executive jet landed at Roatan airport in Honduras on Tuesday, April 1.  Honduran authorities reported that the pilots, Darimel Guerrero Ríos, and Eric Emanuel Mejia Montes walked out of the airport and never returned to the jet.  Honduran authorities didn't notice this for a few days, however.  The two pilots have reportedly disappeared, probably having left Honduras.

We might be able to clear that up for the Hondurans. 

Eric Emanuel Mejia Montes was reportedly killed the very next day,  April 2,  in Torres, Venezuela when the Venezuelan air force shot down a Cessna with Mexican registration.  Two burned bodies were found in the wreckage of the plane, and one of them was identified as Mejia Montes, apparently through his passport.   What we know is that on April 1, someone purporting to be Mejia Montes flew a jet into Roatan airport, and the very next day someone identified as the very same Mejia Montes was shot down and killed in a Cessna in Torres, Venezuela while supposedly running drugs.

The jet in Honduras may or may not be an American registered Gulfstream II with registration N707KD.  Early versions of the story said the plane had a Mexican registration and showed a picture of a jet with Mexican registration MTX-01 on the engine.  The Honduran press is often unreliable on details, often attaching unrelated pictures to articles.  That appears to be the case here.

Later versions of the story alleged an American registration and showed a picture of N707KD and reported that as the registration of the jet.  Furthermore, an El Heraldo story supported Mexican registration, but gives flight details and an aircraft description of N707KD in the text of this article.  The plane pictured parked at Roatan in this La Prensa article is clearly N707KD.  Everyone agrees the jet is a Gulfstream IISP with two engines.  This jet, according to the FAA, can haul up to 12,500 pounds of cargo, or carry up to 22 passengers.  This plane is 37 years old and still flying, and belongs to a company in Florida. 

According to FlightAware, N707KD last flew out of the US from a general aviation airport in Miami to Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico on March 8.  This is a similar flight profile to a similar Gulfstream abandoned in Roatan just over a year ago.  That plane, N951RK, was abandoned by its Mexican pilots on Roatan March 22, 2013, and later reclaimed by its American owners Aero Group, without problems.  It had tested positive for cocaine.

So who really flew the current Gulfstream jet to Roatan, from where, and why?  If it is the American registered jet, what, if anything, does the owner know about who rented it, and for how long? These are questions that the DEA doesn't ever seem to ask.  US planes continue to fuel the flow of drugs through Central America.


RNS said...

Great. Now it appears that the Honduran press cannot even get the names of the "Mexican" pilots right. Do they just make things up?! Both pilots are US citizens.

A picture on twitter shows US passports for both "Mexican pilots", one born in Puerto Rico, and one in Colombia with completely different names than the Honduran press reported!

RNS said...

I love Proceso Digital's take on the name changes:

"From the beginning the Honduran authorities have informed us that the plane was abandoned by two Mexican crew members identified as Erick Emanuel Mejia Montes and Darimel Guerrero Rios; still today they report the capture of two other people [as the plane's pilots]"

raising the question, is the Government lying? The two detained today are American citizens named Luis Felipe Parra and Hector Manuel Guerra.