Really, what kind of a background do you have to have, say to become a campaign manager or a campaign treasurer in a political campaign down here in Miami? Do you have to have an impeccable background and be an upstanding citizen to become a campaign consultant who receives tens of thousands of dollars from political candidates? Before we can answer that question, let's take a trip back to 1999 to an undercover operation that the feds called "Operation Ramp Rats" or "Operation Skychefs", from the New York Times article...
Airline Drug Sting Likely to Generate Action by Congress
WASHINGTON— U.S. authorities have indicted 58 people — mostly employees of American Airlines or a major German-owned airline catering company — after investigators uncovered an extended network of drug and weapons smuggling on regular commercial flights from South America to Miami and other U.S. cities.
It was one of the largest sting operations of its kind.
Coming amid fears of growing drug traffic from South America, the arrests Wednesday appear certain to bolster calls in Congress for even greater effort to counter the threat of illegal drugs, particularly from Colombia, long a key U.S. supplier.
Federal indictments, returned in Florida and New York, name 30 American Airlines employees, many of them baggage handlers, and 13 employees of LSG Sky Chefs, the largest in-flight catering company, as well as former employees and others.
No flight attendants, pilots or airline executives were indicted.
At least 48 people were arrested in predawn raids at their homes or at Miami International Airport. Most were charged with conspiracy to import or distribute illegal drugs. Some face gun charges.
In the course of the sting operation, undercover U.S. agents approached the suspects, who then used their security clearances to smuggle fake cocaine, handguns or inert explosives onto planes.
Basically the employees were smuggling drugs and distributing them themselves by flying when they were off duty, using their employee passes throughout the United States, said Bret Eaton, a Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman.
Also indicted were at least three law enforcement officers, one employed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, one by the sheriff's department in Broward County, Florida, and one by the U.S. Agriculture Department's inspection division.
The investigation involved federal, state and local law enforcement agencies with cooperation from the Colombian national police and American Airlines. Drugs came from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and possibly other countries.
The two-part investigation — comprising what the authorities called Operation Ramp Rats, a reference to American Airlines luggage handlers, and Operation Sky Chef — began two years ago.
Thomas Scott, a U.S. attorney in Miami who announced the arrests, said cocaine, heroin and marijuana as well as handguns and explosives had been brought into Miami International Airport, then carried by suspects onto flights to cities including Philadelphia, New York, Washington, Baltimore and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In some cases, he said, luggage handlers used their security clearances to move contraband past checkpoints, usually in backpacks. In others, he said, Sky Chefs employees attached packets of cocaine or heroin weighing 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) or more to the sides or bottoms of the food carts that flight attendants wheel up and down aisles, or they placed them in garbage bags.
Mr. Scott illustrated his point with an enlarged photo of a Sky Chefs food van servicing an American Airlines plane.
Drugs were also smuggled in phony packets of coffee. Mr. Scott described an incident in which a pilot on an American Airlines flight from Colombia to Miami was inadvertently served coffee made from such a packet. He complained that it had a distinct taste and seemed weak. An investigation found cocaine.
American Airlines, based in Fort Worth, Texas, emphasized that the company had cooperated with authorities.
"While we are disturbed that a small group of employees were part of this smuggling ring," said the airline, a unit of AMR Corp., "their activities have been under federal government and company surveillance for quite some time."
Through its Miami hub, American Airlines has some of the best air links between North and South America.
Lufthansa is in the process of acquiring nearly all of Sky Chefs.
Lufthansa Service Holding AG raised its share in Sky Chefs in March to 48 percent from 25 percent, one of the largest acquisitions in the airline's history. Lufthansa agreed to buy an additional 48 percent from the former controlling owner, Onex Corp. of Toronto, by the end of 2003.
The U.S. government recently heightened its efforts to fight drug smuggling from Colombia, which produces more than two-thirds of the heroin consumed in the United States, though only about 4 percent of the world supply.
Colombia will receive $300 million in assistance this year to be used in the drug fight. Only Israel and Egypt receive more U.S. military aid.
Recently, Republicans in Congress have charged with mounting anger that the Clinton administration has done little to stem a growing influx of heroin from Colombia.
U.S. officials have said they were investigating at least six embassy employees in Colombia over possible use of the mission's postal service to smuggle drugs into the United States.
In a nutshell, fifty or so employees who worked at Miami International Airport, either for different airlines or for Lufthansa Airlines owned SkyChefs were indicted in a federal undercover sting for smuggling cocaine, heroin, grenades and other explosives out of the airplanes by using their employee passes which gave them unfettered access to high security areas within the runways and throughout the airport.
So what does any of this have to do with politics in Miami or any of the other topics that we've been discussing lately? Guess who one of the folks who was indicted is? None other than Mr. Nacivre Charles, the political consultant that the Reverend Richard P. Dunn paid $5,000 to to help him get the Haitian vote for his City of Miami district 5 commission seat campaign! Let's not forget, before Mr. Charles was retained by Reverend Dunn, he was also City of North Miami Mayor, Lucie Tondreau's campaign treasurer as well and is now embroiled in an absentee ballot fraud investigation.
Check out the indictment for yourselves...
This is my favorite part of the indictment...
Saint-Victor advised the undercover officer that there were three additional employees of Lufthansa Service Sky Chefs who were involved in the diversion of one kilogram of cocaine that took place on 5/6/98. Saint-Victor identified these individiuals to include an individual Saint-Victor gave the narcotics to, Charles, a driver, (later identified as NACIVRE CHARLES) and Pena, a dispatch supervisor for SkyChefs (later identified as Juan Manuel Pena). Andrade and Saint-Victor informed the undercover officer that the $2,000 was divided between these individuals.
On June 4, 1998, the undercover officer met with Saint-Victor and Charles. Saint-Victor advised the undercover officer that Charles was the individual who assisted Saint-Victor in the diversion of the sham cocaine on May 6, 1998. The meeting was video and audio recorded.
LOL! If Mr. Charles is adept at smuggling narcotics, weapons and explosives, delivering Reverend Dunn some votes shouldn't be a problem!
Honestly, is anyone surprised that people with backgrounds like Mr. Charles are hard at work behind the scenes in Miami politics? Is that really what its come down to or has a chequered past become a prerequisite to succeeding in Miami politics?!
That's enough today, it's election day, let's see whether this cabal of thieves and charlatans are successful in winning any of the races that their involved in.