NARCO-POLITIK: A Prime Minister, A Drug Pilot, An Oligarch, & RussiaGate – By Daniel Hopsicker (Archive)

Source –

“…Briefly, it involves a lear jet belonging to Wally Hilliard, owner of the infamous Huffman Aviation flight school in Venice Florida which taught Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi to fly, that was busted at Orlando Executive Airport on July 22 2000, three weeks after Atta began flight lessons at his school, carrying 43 lbs of heroin”

A Prime Minister, a Drug Pilot, an Oligarch, & RussiaGate – By Daniel Hopsicker

RussiaGate is all about the Mob, says the current meme. Not ‘The’ Mob, or just one Mob, but a gamut of players— Russian, American, British, Israeli, Saudi—belonging to a global criminal network connecting the forces of transnational organized crime across nation-states, time-zones, and continents.

‘Transnational organized crime’ doesn’t have quite the same ring as  ‘The Purple Gang’ or ‘Murder Inc.’ But the Obama Administration considered it enough of a threatto national security to issue an unusual 2012 warning.

Evidence of the network can be seen in some strange and unlikely places, like Sarasota, Florida; and some strange and unlikely people as well, like Omarosa Manigaul0t-Newman, whose connection to RussiaGate players was only recently revealed.

First to Sarasota, where two local grifters plied their ‘craft:’ Jonathan Curshen, currently serving 20 years in federal prison, and Andy Badolato, currently free as a bird. Curshen is a dual British-U.S. citizen who operated out of Sarasota and Costa Rica, after serving an internship in fraud and financial crime on Vancouver Canada’s wild-and-wooly stock exchange.

Badolato, Steve Bannon’s former chief lieutenant, surfaced in the media after Bannon switched his legal residence in a panic before the 2016 election to Badolato’s beach-front pad on Casey Key in Sarasota, to avoid a vote fraud rap while his candidate was strenuously decrying…vote fraud.


The ‘players’ in RussiaGate’s Sarasota thread

curshen-badolatoAndy Badolato and Jonathan Curshen participated in a number of continuing criminal conspiracies together, along with a colorful cast of co-conspirators whose importance to RussiaGate is growing all the time.

Curshen and Badolato were partners in what’s known as a “hyena pack” engaged in stock fraud and related financial crime. Each was an officer in a number of dummy front companies, supposedly independent of one another, but acting in concert with interlocking ownership.

The crew was led by a wily 30-year veteran of scams and white collar crime, a man whose name was already famous from previous scandals, Adnan Khashoggi, Saudi arms dealer, long-time CIA ‘fixer’ and Iran Contra middleman.

Khashoggi, who died recently, was at the height of his powers in the early 2000’s, and pulled off an ingenious scamusing a company he controlled called GenesisIntermedia to steal $300 million from investors with the help of Germany’s criminal Deutsche Bank. The bank later paid a fine of  $270 million to the U.S. Government. Khashoggi walked.

Rounding out the hyena pack was Khashoggi’s long-time lieutenant Ramy El-Batrawi—an Iran Contra figure in his own right—and an assortment of retired CIA and DIA assets including Glen Kovar, who once claimed that he had invented‘Smokey the Bear’ while he was ‘sheep-dipped’ as an employee of the U.S. Forest Service whiler really working undercover for the CIA.


Moon rocks & Blue Moon

kovar3Glen Kovar will eventually “settled down” into a career that includes peddling ‘unauthorized’ moon rocks while running up the stock price of a series of dummy companies which masqueraded as ‘national security plays’ in the wake of 9/11.

Kovar, Adnan Khashoggi, Ramy El-Batrawi and Jonathan Curshen all had a hand in a company called SkyWay Communications.

SkyWay provided the men with a cover story: testing an inflight wireless communications invention which didn’t exist as an excuse to buy a pair of DC-9 airliners, one of which will be busted in Mexico’s Yucatan in 2006  carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine.

Curshen and Badolato ran companies which owned, or were in business with, dummy companies that were fronted by a hapless Tampa Mobster named Mike Muzio, currently residing in federal prison until 2020.

BLUEMOON-1His Blue Moon Group, which operated under a number of different names and was into everything from music publishing to internet porn, was owned byAdnan Khashoggi.

Muzio and Blue Moon ran dozens of internet porn sites. Their biggest site was, where for $19.95 a month you could watch supposed co-eds frolicking in a dorm fitted out with cameras broadcasting their every sigh online.

In 2003-2004, Blue Moon Group shared a house in Howard Beach Queens and did business with a company owned by a Russian hacker named Pavel ‘Red Eye’ Vrublevsky. It represents the first pooling of computer coding resources by Russian and U.S. mobsters for mutual benefit.


Enter ‘Red Eye’

pavel-red-eye-vrublevskyVrublevsky had founded a Russian version of PayPal called Chronopay, which helped monetize numerous online scams, like online pharmacies  selling Viagra and sex toys through massive spam campaigns whose billions of spam emails began clogging the internet.

‘Red Eye’ handled the back end cash transactions for Muzio’s porn sites, a crucial step enabling the internet as we know it today.

Eleven years later Pavel ‘Red Eye’ Vrublevsky became the first Russian hacker the FBI fingered for involvement in the 2016 Presidential election.

Last but not least, there’s Semion Mogilevich, the Russian Mob’s boss of bosses. Mr Big-Ski.

Mogilevich was caught red-handed infiltrating Western capital markets utilizing a joint U.S.-Canadian company that supposedly made magnets called YBM Magnex. In a desperate ‘Hail Mary’ bid to stave off government seizure of the bankrupted company,  a U.S. “investor” stepped up at the last minute offering to play the role of white knight and take the company private.

Mogilevich’s white knight was an unknown from Sarasota, Florida, who supposedly owned a supposed insurance company called “Southern Assurance.”

His name was Jonathan Curshen.


Oma, meet Oprah. And Uma.”

omarosaTo introduce this web of illicit connections, there’s probably no one better—in no small part because of her current notoriety—than Omarosa Manigaul0t-Newman.

Surprisingly, Omarosa’s connection to the criminal conspiracy isn’t through her ex-boss Donald Trump. It’s through her former lover,Michael Misick, whose affair with Omarosa was leaked in the middleof her scorched-earth book tour.

In an ‘exclusive report’ London’s Daily Mail trumpeted in bold headlines details of a torrid six-month affair in 2005 between Omarosa and the shady Prime Minister of the Turks and Caicos, a tiny Caribbean nation of low-lying islands 600 miles southeast of Miami.


“EXCLUSIVE: Omarosa’s secret romance with ‘corrupt’ politician!

“Fired Trump aide had six-month hook-up with Michael Misick, former prime minister of Turks and Caicos!” 


Dished the tabloid, “The duo stayed at five-star hotels around the world, enjoyed yacht parties, and spent time at Misick’s home in the Turks & Caicos.

misickSaid one source, ‘The physical attraction was obvious.’

Misick and Omarosa met at what the Daily Mail described as a ‘charity function’ in New York City. Misick was described as “busily courting celebrities in a bid to bring wealth and glamour to his sun-drenched archipelago.”

Who knew civic-mindedness could be so sexy?

Sparks flew. And that same night the duo checked in at the plush Four Seasons Hotel for an intimate tete-a-tete that stretched through the weekend.

Misick was so smitten he flew back a week later just to see her again.

“Omarosa clearly admired him,’ the paper reported. “And Misick was clearly aware of her ties with Trump.”

‘In New York they would meet at the Four Seasons, or the Mandarin Oriental, where Mike usually stayed,” the source told the Daily Mail.  “Omarosa even accompanied Misick to Dubai for an investment conference, where they stayed at the One and Only Royal Mirage Hotel where suites cost up to $6,000 a night.”

The sex lives of the rich and semi-famous rarely intersect so directly with America’s national security. This happens to be one of those times.


Corrupt Prime Ministers. crooked pilots

brass-misickThe Daily Mail’s scoop was probably an attempt to slow Omarosa’s Sherman’s March through Trump to the Sea,  by embarrassing a woman who had recently married a Christian pastor.  Because rather then pursuing the story any further, the tabloid seemed oblivious to the implications of its own reporting.

What implications? While Omarosa’s new beau the Prime Minister was squiring her around the world and staying at exclusive 5-star hotels, he was working overtime acquiring a massive fortune in a time span so brief it defied reason.

Right before Omarosa’s eyes, Michael Misick became a real life Caribbean Drug Kingpin whose wealth soon exceeded—by orders of magnitude—anything that could reasonably have been scraped together using the Caribbean’s standard fare of bribery and graft.

After he became Prime Minister Misick named an infamous Guyanese drug pilot named Michael Francis Brassington as his personal pilot.

What Brassington brought to the table was a small fleet of luxury jets supplied through his extensive criminal and covert contacts,including their favorite Gulfstream III (N165G) owned by a prominent Washington D.C. lobbyist.

As the head of a government recognized by the United Nations, Prime Minister Misick enjoyed diplomatic immunity. So his end of the deal presumably entailed carrying around over his shoulder a duffel-bag-sized diplomatic pouch.

The corrupt Prime Minister and the crooked Guyanese pilot crisscrossed the Caribbean, flew to Europe, the Middle East, and the U.S.,  where  he had a fateful encounter with an honest (and scared) U.S. Customs Agent at Fort Lauderdale International Airport. The encounter ended with the Customs Agent losing his job, even though his immediate supervisor—while he was screening Brassington— ordered him to treat Brassington “as a grave threat to national security.”


‘Gangster Planet’ in the Caribbean

Trouble in paradise(Shameless plug: There’s more on all of this in my new book, Gangster Planet,  coming in January.  )

Michael Misick’s blatant corruption eventually grew so egregious—even by the Caribbean’s less-than-rigid standards—that the former British Empire manned up and bit the bullet, announcing the formation of the dreaded British Commissions of Inquiry. 

The wigs were laid out.

When he became Prime Minister in 2003, Misick net worth was less than $50,000.

Four short years later his net worth was $180 million. 

The British Commission ventured no explanation for how Misick managed to rake in $40 million a year four years in a row. They had none that could be mentioned aloud.  The Western taboo concerning discussion of elite involvement in the drug trade is too strong.

So an official explanation of sorts for how Misick got so rich so fast was mumbled, then quickly forgotten.  To explain the unexplained, they floated the idea that Misick had just been astutely acquiring publicly-owned land before selling it off to developers.

“Mr. Misick is accused of offences including selling Crown land to developers for less than its true value,” the Commission reported.

It became painfully obvious that there are times when a dumb explanation is worse than no explanation at all.

Explained the Daily Mail, “Misick was forced out of office in 2009 after the British government accused him of corruption. He was put on trial over accusations he stole million from public coffers.”

To some observers, “stealing millions from public coffers” sounds a little like being caught with your hand in the cookie jar.

The Commissioners were tap-dancing in a stiff upper-lip sort of way. But they were forced to confirm the $180 million estimate of Misick’s private stash by Lisa Raye McCoy-Misick’s public testimony.

Politicians have sold favors to developers since the dawn of time.  None ever salted away anything like $180 million dollars in just a few years. But then nobody had  partnered with a drug pilot as well-connected as Michael Francis Brassington before.


Decapitation is an occupational hazard

Plane Skids Off Runway And Crashes In New Jersey

TETERBORO, NJ – FEBRUARY 2: A CL-600 Challenger corporate jet sits partially inside a warehouse after crashing while trying to take off from Teterboro Airport in February 2, 2005 in Teterboro, New Jersey. The plane, with 11 aboard, skidded across Route 46 during the morning rush hour striking two cars before crashing into the building. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Brassington’s Platinum Jet air charter company flew Misick and Omarosa around the world even as the company was being enjoined by both the FAA and the NTSB—in strong language— to stop flying illegal charters on U.S. registered airplanes.

Even after Brassington’s company was charged with felonies in the crash of one its planes at Teterboro Airport outside New York City that nearly decapitated a bystander, testimony at a British Commission of Inquiry showed Brassington was flying illegal charter flights on American-registered planes for Turks & Caicos Premier Michael Misick.

Misick’s own testimony to the Inquiry revealed a shamelessly corrupt figure whose government was so broke that classrooms went without roofs, communication systems at government offices were disconnected, and government employees were forced to bring their own rolls of toilet paper to work.

Yet Misick thought nothing of sticking the impoverished island nation with a whopping $160,000 per month tab for two Gulfstream’s that was promptly paid each month to a lobbyist in Washington D.C. who had worked in the Clinton White House named Jeffrey Watson.


A timely ‘fizzle alert’

lisarayeUltimately Omarosa had a rival for Michael Misick’s dubious affections which turned into the sort of cat fight that tabloids love.  Misick began seeing actress Lisa Raye McCoy, already a well-known Hollywood sit-com star, whose life and romantic career were avidly chronicled by a surprising number of magazines and online publications.

Omarosa and Misick’s “tryst fizzled,” tabloids reported, “after McCoy allegedly confronted Omarosa over her continuing ‘friendship’ with Misick while both were at an NAACP event.

Lisa Raye was a “fizzle block.”

Omarosa and Misick stopped seeing each other.  And just a few scant months later the ‘other woman’ in the love triangle became Premier Michael Misick’s next wife.

The rest is tabloid history.

Two years later the couple’s forever love became just another shocking celebrity break-up.  

The pair divorced in 2008. But for Misick, the split came at the worst possible time, just as he was being ousted from power and forced to resign by Her Majesty’s representatives. Observers of the resulting political shake-up in the Caribbean got to witness something never before seen on Earth:

A former colonial power taking back the sovereignty of one of its former possessions for the first time in history.

The former colonial power, Great Britain, was embarrassed.  The visuals were awful. Visions of manacles snapping back on the wrists of descendants of slaves.  The Queen, reportedly, was not amused.


A woman’s revenge can be awesome to witness

lisa raye mccoy Then—like an unexpected twist at the end of the second act in a Hollywood thriller—something happened which changed everything.

Lisa Raye had had enough of being dissed in divorce proceedings. So she sweetly offered to voluntarily return to the Turks & Caicos’ and testify before the British Commission of Inquiry about what she knew of her husband’s corrupt activities… which turned out to be a lot.

For tabloids and movie star blogs, it was like Christmas and Carnival rolled into one.

“Word on the street was that Premier Misick is a bit of a hoe.While Lisa Raye was in the U.S. on business, Misick had BET’s on-air personality Rocsi all draped up in his Turks & Caicos’ mansion, wearing only a bikini and a custom robe made for her visit.

To top it off, Rocsi was giving tours of the mansion.

‘You giving tours of another heffa’s house? Gaaaangster!!’   

Lisa Raye returned to the island posthaste, and was filmed arriving at the Turks & Caicos airport, where she gave a brief interview to a local news station.

“You could almost see the crazy in her eyes,’ wrote one observer. “She just didn’t look right.”

She immediately confronted her cheating husband.

“Word on the streets was that Lisa Raye and her husband were beefing really hard.”

A physical altercation ensued, in the presence of a number of government officials. It resulted in both Mr. and Mrs. Misick seeking emergency medical attention. Not for broken bones, or black eyes. But for bites. Lisa Raye reportedly bit both her husband, and an innocent bystander.

It seems fairly certain that— even before the unfortunate bystander got in the way—the marriage was over.

Lisa Raye later returned to the island to voluntarily testify during the British Commission of Inquiry. Her appearance brought out a standing-room-only crowd.


Oleg the Oligarch 

oleg-the-oligarchBack in Guyana, drug pilot Michael Brassington’s prominent family was making some news of its own. The pilot’s father, also named Michael Brassington, was Guyana’s Minister for Privatization, which was—just like in Russia!—a really sweet job.

On behalf of his grateful nation (no doubt), Brassington Pere sold a billion dollar bauxite concession in Guyana to the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who controlled Russia’s aluminum industry.

Oleg the Oligarch has recently become well-known in the U.S. for paying Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort a reported $60 million dollars.

There have been a number of corroborating reports in the mainstream media  confirming reporting in this space about Michael Francis Brassington.

A “Caribbean News Now” feature from McClatchy-Tribune Business News on Dec 6, 2010 was headlined “Turks and Caicos aviation issues up in the air”

“Residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) have been largely kept in the dark regarding the aircraft used by former Premier Michael Misick, which was reportedly leased to the government for a large monthly fee.”

“Michael Brassington, who reportedly piloted the plane for Misick, was recently been found guilty in the US of offences stemming from a serious jet accident that occurred in New Jersey  in 2005.

“Brassington, known as the “Heroin Pilot,” was charged with endangering passengers and the public. His plane failed to take off from a New Jersey runway and crashed through a fence at a high rate of speed smashing cars on a nearby highway and injuring occupants.’


Michael Brassington, 9/11 heroin pilot

brass-sThe ‘heroin pilot’ designation hung on Michael Brassington by McClatchy is the result of dogged reporting in this space on his criminal exploits over a number of years.

Briefly, it involves a lear jet belonging to Wally Hilliard, owner of the infamous Huffman Aviation flight school in Venice Florida which taught Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi to fly, that was busted at Orlando Executive Airport on July 22 2000, three weeks after Atta began flight lessons at his school, carrying 43 lbs of heroin. 

“Top ten stories of 2010 in the Turks and Caicos Islands”

More mainstream corroboration came in a Jan 1 2010 feature headlined “Top ten stories of 2010 in the Turks and Caicos Islands”

“Number Ten: Special Prosecutions and Civil Recovery” was all about Misick & Brassington’s illicit air carrier

“Michael Misick’s former pilot, Michael Brassington, was convicted in the US for violating numerous FAA regulations and may serve as much as 20 years in prison. It was also revealed that Brassington had been under surveillance by US authorities for drug trafficking.”

There’s one more mainstream corroboration of the story told about Brassington in this space, a story from the Caribbean News Agency (CANA) slugged GUYANA-SECURITY  which came out just last month.

The headline read “Police detain chartered aircraft.”

A police statement read:

 “A private chartered aircraft which arrived at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (in Guyana) has been detained by the police who suspect that the plane has a false registration number and false documents. When customs and security officials carried out inspections, several irregularities were found.

‘Ranks of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit conducted a preliminary inspection of the aircraft and discovered certain irregularities which were promptly reported to higher Headquarters.’

The pilots and passengers had been invited to Guyana by a man who was at the airport to receive them, identified as Michael Brassington, who has served time in the U.S. on several charges.

‘Further enquiries revealed that the registration number on the aircraft may be false, since another aircraft also carries the same registration number. The data plate of the aircraft was also missing, said the statement.

Investigators say they plan to question Brassington about the plane.’

Later the report was fleshed out a little.

The plane landed with two Venezuelan pilots and four other Venezuelans, including two lawyers. There to greet the group was Captain Michael Brassington. They were here on a business trip, they said.

 Online sources show a plane bearing the same registration markings —a Beechcraft, tail number YV-2493, serial # BL 23, registered to Aerocaribbean Corp—is owned by the Venezuelan military. Guyana  Defense Forces spokesman Lt. Colonel Field was unable to say whether the plane that landed was the same plane.


And the beat goes  on.

Daniel Hopsicker is an investigative journalist and the author of two books on transnational crime, Welcome to Terrorland and Barry & the Boys.

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