Smoke and Mirrors

February 16, 2018 Crime , OTHER


Ricardo Swire



A private jet recently attempted to smuggle fifteen cocaine loaded suitcases from El Dorado International Airport in Bogota Colombia to Farnborough Airport near London. The effort was a brazen demonstration of South American cartels’ tenacity and prowess. On January 29, 2018 five European passengers deplaned a Central Charter S.A owned aircraft, carrying five hundred kilos of cocaine worth US$70 million. The private passengers were intercepted by UK Border Force officers. Two British construction workers, one Spanish assistant chef, one Spanish hairdresser and one unemployed Italian man collectively paid US$300,000 for the chartered flight.


Acting on shared intelligence a collective effort between Britain’s Border Force, National Crime Agency (NCA) and Hampshire Constabulary monitored the aircraft’s fifty-two hundred miles journey and intercepted the multi-million dollar drugs shipment. NCA agents searched three related Bournemouth addresses connected to two detainees, forty-eight and fifty-three year old brothers from Poole in Dorset. Computers and mobile phones were confiscated. The five traffickers individually carried thirty-seven cocaine parcels, each weighted one kilogram, collectively valued more than £50 million.


Close Circuit Television (CCTV) surveillance cameras recorded the group arriving at Bogota Marriott Hotel, fifteen minutes away driving by car from El Dorado International Airport. In November 2017 the five traffickers entered Colombia using tourist visas. Their mission was to source a cocaine supplier for the Ndràngheta, one of Italy’s notorious criminal organizations. The powerful syndicate manages offshore underworld empires in the UK, Colombia and eleven other international countries. The Ndrangheta’s London branch controls trafficking, money laundering and catering enterprises.


International counter narcotics operatives theorized the five star Bogota Marriott hotel room was the cocaine’s collection point. During 2016 the same Colombian cartel that masterminded January 2018’s cocaine shipment additionally dispatched one metric ton of the drug, intercepted by counter-narcotics agents in Bayonne a south-western French town. In November 2017 one point two tons of cocaine was seized from traffickers, who used a similar method of operation, near the French border with Spain. Modern trafficking trends highlighted the majority of South American cocaine shipped across the Atlantic Ocean along maritime cargo channels.


South American cartels’ private jet/charter flights usage has noticeably increased. Traffickers’ cleverness and persistence played out in one charade of the January 2018’s multimillion dollar cocaine smuggling attempt. Colombian National Police confirmed the Cartel used a police imposter wearing a vest, posing with a “K-9,” to deceive airport security and ensure the cocaine departed El Dorado International Airport for Farnborough Airport in the UK. The detained traffickers’ choice of Central Charter S.A’s two engine jet that rents for US$100,000 per trip was based on the premise such unique aircraft, with completed transcontinental flights worth £40 million, would be beyond suspicion and above airport security’s interception apparatus.





Ricardo Swire - Tuck Magazine

Ricardo Swire

Ricardo Swire is the Principal Consultant at R-L-H Security Consultants & Business Support Services and writes on a number of important issues.

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