Saturday, September 23, 2006

Comair Crash: More Prehistory - the CIA, Arms Smuggling, Drugs, Danny Casolaro, Phyllis George ...

"The real story is Drew's intelligence connections and the widespread corruption of the Lexington police force and their ties to larger dope and arms smuggling conducted by the CIA from the 1950's
through today...."
The CIA & Lexington's "Company," Arms Smuggling, Dope, Danny Casolaro, Phyllis George ...

Continuing out descent into Lexington's CIA-based criminal underground ...

"The real story is Drew's intelligence connections and the widespread corruption of the Lexington police force and their ties to larger dope and arms smuggling conducted by the CIA from the 1950's through today...."
Drew Thornton

Drew, as he liked to be called, was a former police officer from Fayette County (Lexington's County) on the narcotics task force. Drew was not someone that I tended to gravitate around for many reasons, chief among them his law enforcement background. Turns out Drew had been high society Lexington, his family was in the Blue Book that listed only the top names, and he had gone to Sayre School, the private school for those of a certain class. How he ended up in law enforcement, I do not know. But what came clear a few years later, was that Drew did not leave his narc background behind. He started dealing in drugs at some point, probably during his law school career and used his connections to help his career.

Several years after graduation from law school he had a huge network
built up where he and those who worked for him were regularly importing huge amounts of cocaine up from Mexico and/or South America. There's a badly written book out there about his story titled The Bluegrass Conspiracy. Although, the writing is execrable, the gist of the story is true. Drew was able to convert or subvert law enforcement through out the Commonwealth
of Kentucky so that he could run his drug business.

However, this being Kentucky, things can and do have a tendency to go badly wrong. As they did for Drew. Seems that Drew's preferred mo was to fly a plane up from S. America or Mexico w/ large bales of cocaine,
each with a parachute and transponder attached for ease of recovery. Then at pre-arranged locations, the bales were pushed out of the plane, the parachutes opened and voila, instant mega cash. Drew would jump
out at the last minute, put the plane on automatic pilot directed into the Appalachian or Smoky mountains, the plane would crash in wilderness
presumably, and Drew would be laughing all the way to the bank.

Until his last flight, when Drew jumped out strapped to a bale of cocaine. Turns out that the combination was too much for the parachute, which couldn't take the excess weight and collapsed. Drew 'bought the
farm' so to speak on someone's driveway in eastern Tennessee or western Carolina. The plane crashed into the mountains further east. The authorities, finally driven to investigate after the homeowner put in a complaint, found the plane and located some of the cocaine bales. Well at least one. It was also up in the woods. It had been opened by a bear, who had engorged himself on the contents and died nearby shortly afterward.

Drew Thornton, a sterling example of Lexington's finest in law and in law enforcement.
Sep. 23, 1985 ?Fred Myers, 84, got up to shave last week in his Knoxville home, looked out the window and saw a body in his backyard. Police found the remains of Andrew Carter Thornton II, 40, snarled in a parachute. Along with 79 lbs. of cocaine, two pistols, knives and $4,500 in cash, Thornton carried night-vision goggles and wore a bulletproof vest. Police believe he had smuggled the drugs, with a value of $15 million, in a twin-engine Cessna. He put the plane on * automatic pilot and bailed out. At treetop
level, his chute became fouled. Instead of landing upright, he hit the ground headfirst. The wrecked plane was found 70 miles away in North Carolina.
?A member of a well-to-do Kentucky family, Thornton went to Sewanee Military Academy, then joined the Army and trained as a paratrooper. Back home in Lexington, he became a narcotics officer, then went on to earn a
law degree from the University of Kentucky and worked as an attorney. But he soon strayed to the other side of the law. He had been implicated in marijuana smuggling, and he was on probation from a drug-possession conviction.

Anonymous said...

The real story is Drew's intelligence connections and the widespread corruption of the Lexington police force and their ties to larger dope and arms smuggling conducted by the CIA from the 1950's through today.

John Y. Brown Jr. (1979-83)

Gov. Brown, the owner of Kentucky Fried Chicken who brought his Miss America wife, Phyllis George, to town, was investigated by a federal grand jury about a $1.3 million cash withdrawal from a Miami bank. He testified it was to pay gambling debts. He swore in 1983 never to gamble again.

Mr. Brown, one-time co-owner of Trumps nightclub in Cincinnati, and his partners were included in law enforcement and surveillance reports in connection with “The Company,” a 1970s and 1980s cocaine and gun-smuggling ring that operated out of Lexington.

The Company's criminal activity included the spectacular death of former Lexington police officer Drew Thornton, who jumped out of a plane with $75
million in cocaine and a bad parachute strapped to his back, landing in a Knoxville driveway.

The Company came dangerously close to Mr. Brown's circle of friends and business and political associates. It is the topic of The Bluegrass Conspiracy, Sally Denton's 1990 true-crime classic.

The Last Circle

Brian Leighton had been instrumental in prosecuting 29 members of a drug/arms organization called "The Company." The Company had been written up in the San Francisco Chronicle on April 28, 1982 under the heading "Story of Spies, Stolen Arms and Drugs." According to reporter Bill Wallace, The Company consisted of (quote) "about 300 members, many of them
former military men or expolice officers with nearly $30 million worth of assets, including planes, ships
and real estate."

The article went on to say that "federal drug agents said the organization had imported billions of dollars worth of narcotics from Latin America, and was also involved in gunrunning and mercenary operations." Specialized military equipment consisting of nine infrared sniperscopes, a television camera for taking pictures in darkness, 1500 rounds of small arms tracer
ammunition for night combat, a fivefoot remotecontrol helicopter, and secret components from the radar unit of a Sidewinder guided missile were stolen from the U.S. Naval Weapons Station at China Lake in the Mojave

Federal agents said some of the stolen equipment was going to be used to make electronic equipment for drug smugglers and some was traded to drug suppliers in Columbia. Twentynine members of the Company were
indicted by the Fresno federal grand jury in 1981. Amongst those indicated was Andrew "Drew" Thornton, 40, a former narcotics officer.

On September 13, 1985, the Los Angeles Times published the story of Thornton's death, entitled, "Former Narcotics Officer Parachutes Out of Plane, Dies with 77 Pounds of Cocaine." The article said Thornton was
indicted in 1981 for "allegedly flying a plane to South America for a reputed drug ring known as `The Company.'" In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Brian Leighton said, "I'm glad his parachute didn't open. I hope he got a hell of a high out of that ..."

Thornton's mysterious death was discussed at length in a book written by Sally Denton entitled, "The Bluegrass Conspiracy." Part of The Company was
headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky. Prosecutors in Lexington, Fresno, California (Brian Leighton), and Miami, Florida were working together in a joint effort to bring down The Company....

The San Francisco Chronicle noted that in January, 1982, Gene Berry, a state prosecutor in Charlotte Harbor, Florida, was shot in the face as he answered
his door. Police subsequently arrested Bonnie Kelly as Berry's murderer. Bonnie's husband, Mike McClure Kelly, was a suspected member of The Company who later pleaded guilty in the Fresno, California case.

Journalist Danny Casolaro had been communicating regularly with Michael Riconosciuto and obviously learned about The Company....