CIA Plane in Big Aussie-American Heroin Bust“Newly-obtained FAA registration records reveal that the American “mystery plane” busted this July with 35 kilos of heroin at an airport outside Sydney, Australia was a CIA plane. At least, it had been when it rolled off the assembly line 40 years earlier, courtesy a CIA deal with the U.S. Forest Service. And the CIA never sells off its planes. The American-registered ‘mystery plane’ in Australia was a Merlin III twin–engine turbo-prop ( tail number N224HR).
FAA registration records show it was commissioned in the early 70’s by the U.S. Forest Service from aircraft manufacturer Swearingen in San Antonio, part of an operation to “sheep-dip” CIA planes through the U.S. Forest Service.
“Sheep-dip” is spook-speak for concealing the source or true ownership of something, or, at the very least, hiding it from Congress. When the plane was ordered, the CIA was merely anticipating Congressional calls for reining in the CIA, through (tellingly) forcing the Agency to divest its proprietary airlines.
By the time the plane was delivered two years later, the calls had grown much louder. In another two years, they’d become successful. More on this in a moment.