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Approximately five years ago, WPLG-TV (Channel 10) in Miami reported that Southern Air Transport (SAT), a known CIA proprietary airline operating out of Miami International Airport at that time, was intimately involved in the resupply of the Contra army during the mid-eighties, and particularly was involved in smuggling narcotics from Barranquila, Colombia. WPLG-TV based its reports on the testimony of a cartel wife-turned-FBI informant, Wanda Palacio and the findings of DEA agent Bradley Ayers and Customs Inspector Joe Price. The airline denied the allegations, and sued WPLG for libel and defamation. WPLG won the lawsuit.
SAT appealed, but instead of another long drawn-out legal battle, the two sides reached an out of court settlement in which no money was involved. (see Southern Air Transport, Inc. v. Post-Newsweek Stations, Florida, Inc., d/b/a WPLG Television, Candiotti (Susan), Izaguirre (Marcia), Terenzio (John), Ryan (G. William), Paige (L. Stanley), 1990, District Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District, 568 So.2d 927, 15 Florida Law Weekly D1290)
It was Ayers' testimony that caused SAT's original lawsuit to be dismissed in favor of WPLG. Ayers' testimony had long since been forgotten until it was dug up by attorney Alan Fenster who served the defense for Ricky Ross in early 1996 (Ricky Ross was the L.A. drug kingpin who enjoyed a direct protected cocaine pipeline from Contra supporters in the early 1980's, thus becoming the "Johnny Appleseed" of crack cocaine). Ayers' investigation of these two related airlines, Southern Air Transport and Pan Aviation, and his subsequent testimony in the lawsuit against WPLG, offers strong evidence of CIA complicity in smuggling drugs into this country.
In the early part of 1985, Ayers began receiving reports from confidential informants, including a former Customs official, that two airlines, Southern Air Transport and Pan Aviation with known links to the CIA, were involved in drug trafficking. Ayers immediately launched an investigation. For several months he maintained surveillance of the airlines' compounds at Miami International Airport (Their compounds were adjacent each other). In May of 1985 Ayers clandestinely entered the compound and boarded a C123 airplane. While investigating the plane, he found a box containing some rigging equipment. Within the box was the residue of a white powdery substance. Ayers tested the white powdery substance using a Scott Reagent drug kit, standard procedure for narcotic officers around the world. The white powdery substance tested positive as cocaine.
A month later he entered Pan Aviation's compound and clandestinely boarded a Pan Aviation 720 B airplane. In the cargo area he discovered a brownish-gray powder. He tested the powder in a Scott Reagent drug kit. It tested positive for cocaine composition.
Over the next eight months Ayers penetrated the compounds five additional times. On two occasions he discovered substances that tested positive as to cocaine. On two other occasions he didn't have time to administer a Scott Reagent test, however his DEA training led him to believe the white powdery substances he had discovered was cocaine. On the fifth occasion he discovered a green leafy substance that his DEA training led him to believe was marijuana.
On four occasions Ayers found substances their aircraft that tested positive to cocaine. On three other occasions he discovered substances that his training had led him to believe were narcotics. Based on his experience as a former CIA operative and DEA agent, and given all the available evidence, it was Ayers belief that the airlines were proprietary interests of the CIA. Ayers concluded that the Government of the United States was involved in trafficking narcotics into this country.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF AYERS INVESTIGATION
Ayers' investigation and subsequent testimony is significant because:
1. SAT and Pan Aviation were known proprietary interests of the CIA
and are so recognized by intelligence analysts and investigative
journalists around the world.
If Mr. Ayers had amassed this type of documentary evidence against any individual, as opposed to airlines contracting with the Pentagon, he or she would have been indicted for drug trafficking, convicted, and sentenced to spend the rest of their life behind bars long ago.
Mr. Ayers' investigation and testimony offer irrefutable proof of CIA involvement in drug smuggling. A transcript of Ayers' testimony is in the possession of Attorney Alan Fenster, and runs into many hundreds of pages. What you see here is an official Transcript Summary.
Official Court Document Transcript Summary
Bradley Earl Ayers claims that between 1985 and 1986, he surreptitiously entered the premises of the cargo airlines at Miami International Airport. During his clandestine entries, Ayers discovered cocaine and marijuana residue in the cargo areas of airplanes that were being unloaded and resupplied at these compounds.
Ayers began to investigate allegations that two CIA proprietary airlines were involved in drug trafficking. (Record at 81, ln 17-21). Some of these allegations came from Joe Price, a former U.S. Customs inspector, and other contacts Ayers created while he was a DEA operative in the Miami area. (Record at 82, ln 4-24). Ayers also believed that SAT which was 600 meters from Pan Aviation, was trafficking drugs while under government protection. (Record at 81, ln 14-21).
Ayers believed that the federal government was involved in drug trafficking because SAT has a close relationship with the CIA. (Record at 74, ln. 5-8). Ayers claims that the CIA utilized SAT for its air operations in J.M. Wave, during his assignment with the CIA in Miami. (Record at 74-5, ln. 22-25, 1-6). Ayers claims that it was common knowledge that SAT was a corporate proprietary entity directly supported by the CIA. (Record at 75, ln. 10-13). He believed that SAT supported various intelligence activities. Id., ln. 17-22. For example, Ayers and Price would utilize SAT to store an airplane they used during narcotics investigations in Miami. (Record at 76, ln 1-19).
Ayers concluded that SAT was involved in the resupplying of CIA covert operations in Central America, including the resupply of the Contra army. (Record at 87 ln, 17-23, and at 91, ln 12-16). During the investigation of a cocaine case, one of the subjects claimed to have had an association with the CIA and was well aware of the CIA operation of SAT, particularly relating to Contra supply effort. (Record at 188, ln 18-25).
Ayers began to maintain surveillance of the SAT and Pan Aviation compounds in the spring of 1985. (Record at 85-6, ln 14-25 and ln 1-10). Soon after, Ayers began to actually enter the compounds to determine if his intelligence information could be substantiated. (Record at 87, ln 9-12).
He made his first entry into SAT in May 1985 in disguise and entered a C123 K airplane. (Record at 92, ln 7-9 and at 93, ln 11-15). Ayers chose the C123 K airplane because it was the most convenient so as to conceal his presence on the premise, and it was the type that would be used in a resupply operation. (Record at 96, ln 3-13).
While aboard the airplane, he found a box containing rigging equipment, and within the box he found the residue of a powdery substance. (Record at 104, ln 5-9). Ayers gathered some of the substance and tested it with a Scott Reagent drug kit. He tested the substance, in conformity with the procedure he learned through the DEA. (Record at 104-5, ln 23-25 and 1-2). The substance tested positive for cocaine. (Record at 105, ln 10-23).
Ayers entered Pan Aviation's facility in June 1985 and proceeded to board a 720 B airplane. (Record at 199, ln 9-25). While in the cargo area of the airplane, Ayers discovered a brownish-gray powder. He tested the powder in a Scott Reagent kit, and it tested positively as cocaine. (Record at 200, ln 1-22).
Ayers entered the SAT facility again in August 1985 while in disguise. (Record at 112-13, ln 22-25 and 1-5). He entered a C130 airplane looking for a white powder residue. Finding none, he proceeded to investigate several plastic bags in the corner of the airplane. When he opened the bag, Ayers detected the odor of marijuana. (Record at 115, ln 20-25). Ayers reached inside the bag and pulled out green vegetation that he thought to be marijuana. (Record at 116, ln 1-24).
On another occasion, Ayers entered the SAT compound in October 1985. (Record at 119, ln 1-10). He boarded another C123 airplane and discovered white powder residue in the cargo area. Ayers was unable to test the residue with Scott Reagent kit because he had to make an abrupt exit. (Record at 122, ln 9-17). He had some of the residue on his fingers. Ayers tasted it and concluded that the substance was cocaine based on his DEA training. (Record at 123, ln 3-22).
Ayers went back to Pan Aviation in December 1985 and inspected a Lockheed Lodestar November 96 Gulf Sierra. He again discovered traces of a powdery substance in the cargo area and tested it. (Record at 208, ln 1-25). The substance tested positive as cocaine. (Record at 209, ln 1-5).
Ayers made another entry at SAT in January 1986 and boarded a Grumman Seaplane. Inside the seaplane, Ayers discovered white powder which he believed to be a narcotic. Before he was able to perform a test, Ayers was interrupted and exited the aircraft. (Record at 209, ln 12-21).
Ayers made his final entry at SAT in February 1986 and boarded a 720 B 54 Bravo Whiskey. While on board, Ayers discovered white powder scattered on the floor. He applied the testing procedure to the powder. The substance tested positive as cocaine. (Record at 210-11, ln 23-25 and 1-18).
On five occasions Ayers entered the SAT and Pan Aviation compounds and discovered substances that tested positive as narcotics. Based on his prior experience with SAT as well as his own investigative efforts, Ayers concluded that both SAT and Pan Aviation were proprietary interests of the U.S. CIA. Furthermore, it is Ayers' opinion that SAT and Pan Aviation were involved in trafficking narcotics into the United States.
"...[Bradley] Ayers, [Joe] Price, and my source who worked with them, suffered retaliation from the FBI after they reported on the CIA drug trafficking in the early 1980s, including the involvement of the [deleted] family and [highly placed person #1] and [highly placed person #2]. ... As to their [Ayers' and Price's] credibility, I feel it is OK.
The person they worked with is a reliable source ... another source, the head of a CIA proprietary airline for 16 years, described in detail to me the involvement of SAT in drug trafficking, including taking drug loads from him at Manila when his airline only had C-123s, and the flying the drugs into the U.S. Later, my source acquired C-130s and no longer had to rely upon SAT for flying the drugs into the United States.
I have an affidavit from that source, which has been filed in a U.S. district court action at Phoenix in 1995, that also explains much of this...."