Washington’s favorite Venezuelan opposition leader exposes links with Colombian paramilitary and narco networks
While the US and its allies glorify Leopoldo López as a new MLK, the US-backed Venezuelan opposition collaborates with Colombia’s narco-affiliated, death squad-sponsoring former President Álvaro Uribe.
by Ben Norton
Part 4 - Leopoldo López flies with drug trafficking-linked plane company
The various coup attempts planned by Leopold López, Juan Guaidó, and their sponsors in Washington and Bogotá had repeatedly failed. So this December, López adopted a new PR strategy.
On December 11, he flew from his new home in Spain (where he also has the support of the government) to Cúcuta, a Colombian city on the border with Venezuela. There López posed for photos with Venezuelan immigrants, in a marketing exercise designed to portray himself as a noble, bleeding-heart defender of his people.
But Venezuelan journalists soon uncovered a scandal: The plane that ferried López to Cúcuta was owned by a Florida-based company that had previously sold a plane to a Colombian who was busted in Honduras for transporting 500 kilograms of cocaine.
The Venezuelan investigative journalism publication La Tabla analyzed photos of López with the aircraft to uncover its links to Colombian drug trafficking.
López flew on a small AC90 plane with the tail number N690SE. The aircraft’s flight log can be publicly accessed using a tracking website. With these resources, as well as photos of the plane on Instagram, La Tabla found that it was owned by Skyline Enterprises Corp.
This company is registered with the United States government and based in Florida in the city of Miramar, a suburb of Miami.
Skyline Enterprises has been in the spotlight before for indirect links to drug trafficking.
In 2018, the Miami New Times published an article titled “Drug Traffickers Are Buying Up Planes in South Florida.” The investigation revealed that the company had sold a plane in 2009 to a Colombian customer. Then in 2010, that plane was found in Honduras with 500 kilograms of cocaine.
The director of Skyline, Gilbert Gonzalez, denied knowledge of the drug links, telling the newspaper, “We check as much as we can the background of the people or the companies,” but once it is sold, “you could turn around and give it to your cousin… It’s kind of hard to track.”
When the cocaine-filled plane was intercepted by Honduran authorities in a remote region of the country in 2010, the pilots landed and opened fire at security forces, according to a local media report.
One of the co-pilots, a Honduran national, was killed. The other co-pilot, a Colombian national, was arrested. The plane had a valid Colombian license when it was seized with the 500 kilos of cocaine.
La Tabla discovered that the same aircraft caught trafficking cocaine in Honduras was later found in 2020 in Colombia. The plane crashed north of the capital Bogotá.
It is unclear how the aircraft ended up back in the hands of its Colombian owner. Honduran authorities denied that it was the same plane, but La Tabla conclusively confirmed that it was indeed the aircraft.
The right-wing government in Honduras, which was installed in a US-backed coup d’etat, is notoriously corrupt and closely linked to drug trafficking.
According to public records, the plane was registered with a man named Henry Moreno Cortázar.