The federal government has seized a private plane and 100 kilograms of cocaine from a suspected Mexico-to-Chicago pipeline. 80 kilos were seized from a vehicle in Chicago and another 20 were found in a hotel room. The plane was seized as part of the investigation. Authorities believe that the plane made its way to the Gary International Airport by way of Houston. The drugs were eventually found here in Chicago. Three men are now facing charges related to drug trafficking.
Private Jets and Drug Trafficking
Despite the cost of private jets, they are becoming much more popular among cartels and other traffickers. Private jets can look like personal business jets, so they provide good cover in plain sight. In many cases, these planes are coming from Brazil, which has been red-flagged as a major narco hotspot after mechanics found cocaine on a plane that had radioed for help.
The pandemic actually had a major impact on the economics of drug trafficking. With fewer international commercial flights, there were more private jets in use. This offered drug traffickers an opportunity to purchase private jets for the purpose of drug trafficking. Today, authorities are seizing more drugs on personal business jets than ever before.
Authorities first became aware of the issue in Europe when they broke up a trafficking pipeline between Portugal and Brazil. Today, European port authorities are on the lookout for private jets operating under the cover of legal businesses. With the normal drug pipelines shut down due to the pandemic, drug traffickers have gotten creative about how they move their products.
The Popularity of Private Planes
In the U.S., private planes have been used for cocaine smuggling since the 70s. However, these were mostly propeller planes, not jets, and are considerably less expensive. However, the biggest benefit of using planes to smuggle drugs is that smugglers can target smaller airports at which there are fewer security resources. Furthermore, since the vast majority of those who fly in private jets are top-rung CEOs, airports are reluctant to be poking through their personal belongings in the hopes of finding some fresh cocaine. This has provided drug traffickers with the perfect cover: The ultra-rich. Since the airports place the privacy of the ultra-rich over the safety of the streets, America is the perfect place for trafficking using private planes.
While you can be sure that private plane companies do some due diligence when vetting customers, the planes can pass between several entities before they get into the hands of a narco. Once the plane is sold, however, the company loses control over it. While companies in South America purchase private jets all the time, it can be hard for the plane company to know a good actor from a bad one.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
David Freidberg represents the interests of those charged with drug trafficking offenses in Chicago. Call today at (312) 560-7100 to schedule an appointment and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.