17 November 2010

Improvise! Adapt! Overcome! -and on Chasing Shady Characters Like Viktor Bout, Konstanin Yaroshenko . . . and San Fan Nan

First, some Tire Repair 101

How to set the bead on a giant off-road tire 
while stuck in the boonies: 


Speaking of resourceful types... 
Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout -major supplier to Afghanistan's Northern Alliance in their 2001 war against the Taliban- has been extradited from Thailand to the United States to face terrorism charges:

CNN:
He's known as the "Merchant of Death" and the "Lord of War," -an alleged international arms dealer straight out of a cloak-and-dagger spy novel who eluded authorities for years and inspired Hollywood villains. 

But in reality, according to those who have seen or met Viktor Bout, he is a somber man, sometimes nattily dressed, a wheeler-dealer who has insisted he is innocent of the allegations leveled against him. 

Bout, a Russian citizen and former military officer, speaks six languages "and I could see him bargaining in all six at the same time," wrote CNN's Jill Dougherty in 2008, recalling her meeting with Bout in 2002 in Moscow, Russia. 


Bout arrived in New York late Tuesday after being extradited from Thailand. He faces charges in the United States of conspiring to kill U.S. nationals, conspiring to kill U.S. officers or employees, conspiring to acquire and use an anti-aircraft missile and conspiring to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization. American law enforcement officers have spent years pursuing him, and the extradition process from Thailand was an arduous one for them.


Naturally, the Kremlin is furious... but perhaps not due to the usual nationalistic-protective motives: Bout is believed to have sensitive information that could prove damaging to senior Russian officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin... and they surely don't need the Americans digging into that.
-
Moscow Times.

More The Americans vs.
Decrepit-Jetliners-Stuffed-with-Contraband
news:

U.S. prosecutors say they are beginning to unravel the latest innovation in drug smuggling: South American gangs that are buying airplanes, filling them with cocaine and using international teams, including Russians, to fly them more than 4,828 kilometers across the ocean to Africa. 


As aircraft prices have plummeted because of the financial crisis, and radar coverage over the Atlantic ocean remains spotty, at least three gangs have struck deals to fly drugs to West Africa and from there to Europe, according to U.S. indictments....

Most of the cocaine flown to Africa is bound for Europe, where demand has been rising over the past decade. South American gangs are turning to airplanes because European navies have been intercepting more boat shipments along the African coast, trafficking experts say...

The U.N. agency began warning about trans-Atlantic drug planes after Nov. 2, 2009, when a burned-out Boeing 727 was found in the desert in Mali. Drug smugglers had flown the jet from Venezuela, unloaded it and then torched it, investigators said. 

In the last year, arrests in Africa have begun shedding light on how the air routes work. The cases are being prosecuted in a New York federal court because some of the cocaine was supposed to have been sent to the United States. One case has attracted attention in Moscow because one of the defendants, Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, says Liberian police tortured him before he was handed over to the DEA. 

He and the other five defendants have denied the charges against them. The Russian Foreign Ministry accused the United States of "kidnapping" Yaroshenko and failing to tell the Russian government. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called his arrest an example of the United States overstepping its bounds. 

The DEA denies that Yaroshenko was abused. "The quantity of cocaine distributed and the means employed to distribute it were extraordinary," prosecutors wrote in one case. They warned of a conspiracy to "spread vast quantities of cocaine throughout the world by way of cargo airplanes."


Then there's this one... I heard she just lost a plane too lol:





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4 comments:

Maggie@MaggiesNotebook said...

The Bout story is fascinating, RR. It should be on the silver screen before long. A nattily dressed drug lord with a mustache - irresistible to Hollywood. I'm betting he will be romanticized - maybe Brad Pitt?

There are likely many, many planes sitting in small hangers with owners who can't afford to fly them. Drug lords could pay big money.

Great report! Very interesting.

Reaganite Republican said...

Thanks Maggie, but forget "small hangars" with Cessnas, that's the old days... these guys unloaded TONS of coke from a Boeing 727... then just torched the plane as an inconsequential cost of doing business!

Matt said...

Great one RR. I had no idea about the plane thing.

There is a hidden lesson here: don't f around in Liberia.

Reaganite Republican said...

Good advice, Matt- Charles Taylor trained the cops down there, you know!

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