“Socalj” for Borderland Beat

The Ministry of National Defense (Sedena) identified that at least nine ex-military pilots have possible links to organized crime.

In a couple of “Air Intelligence” documents on drug trafficking found in the leaks of the Guacamaya group, it is read that of 149 pilots who have violated some aeronautical law, eight were members of the Sedena; in a second report, one more is identified.

When looking for the names of the pilots whom Sedena is following up, journalistic notes were found in which it is stated that at least three of them were arrested and related to drug trafficking operations: two in Venezuela and one in Honduras.

One of them was identified as part of the Sinaloa Cartel. In another text, the link to drug trafficking is detailed: “Former Mexican Air Force pilot carries out drug transfer activities by air for the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel (CJNG),” read an internal report from February 2020.

“It was learned that the target has an arrest warrant issued by a military court. Likewise, it was learned that he was hired by another pilot to transport a drug shipment by air, as well as a person from Veracruz to Campeche. He made a stopover at an airport in Chiapas ”.

In a report entitled Air Intelligence Results, dated September 2020, Sedena affirms that “organized crime uses the airport infrastructure and the National Air Space, taking advantage of the authority vacuum due to the lack of capacities of some dependencies, lack of a framework of others and inefficient administrative processes”.

The document highlights that 110 air operations of interest are registered daily in the country. Irregularities include false flight licenses, pilot identity theft, false license plates or expired registrations, illegal transportation of hydrocarbons, aircraft that do not arrive at their destination, false information in the flight plan, and deactivated identification equipment.

There are 18 international and national airports with the highest incidence of irregularities, including those of Toluca, Chetumal, Guadalajara, Tapachula, Aeropuerto del Norte, Querétaro, Villahermosa, Xalapa, Puerto Escondido, and Campeche.

The documents reveal that the Sedena monitors at least 281 pilots who continue to operate despite having violated some rules in Mexico. Of these, 149 have a Mexican license, 26 have a US license and in 106 cases no record was found.

“Suspension of the licenses of 22 pilots who infringed the aeronautical regulations”, states the results sheet.

From December 1, 2018, to August 27, 2020, the Sedena registered 273 aircraft that have violated Mexican regulations. “The operation of 14 aircraft that presented irregularities and possible links to organized crime, detected by the Air Intelligence Subsec, was canceled. Nine of these have legal proceedings before the FGR,” he adds.