Billy Graham, Ebola, and CIA Drug Trafficking Part II: Operation Watchtower

The FAA has a program called the Blocked Aircraft Registration Request, or BARR, which allows you to request that your plane not be tracked. Luckily, a court ruled that the list of blocked aircraft had to be released if a FOIA request was submitted. You still can’t track them, but you can see the tail numbers.

On this 2011 list, you’ll see the CIA aircraft from Stevens Express, Devon Holding and Leasing, as well as some aircraft from Samaritan’s Purse.

The following is Samaritan’s Purse request to have their aircraft blocked, on the grounds that radical Islamists might attack the Graham family.

The Stevens Express planes are registered to a Douglas R Beaty in Tennessee. Unlike the other names associated with Stevens Express, Beaty actually exists.

A lawyer for Memphis developers Rusty and Kevin Hyneman as well as businessman William B. Tanner, Beaty may be best-recalled as a co-defendant with then-Congressman Harold Ford Sr. in the Butcher bank fraud scandal.

Both Ford and Beaty were acquitted. Interestingly, prior to the indictment, Congressman Ford had cosponsored legislation to investigate the CIA for trafficking cocaine.

H.Res.520 – To establish a Select Committee to Investigate CIA Involvement in Crack Cocaine Sales to Fund Contras.



Aircraft N845S, registered to Stevens Express, is a modified DC-3 transport plane. Seen here in Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Fort Lauderdale, and Washington DC:

Here in Medellin, Colombia 2011:

Lajes Air Base in the Azores, Portugal, 2012. It had flown in from St Johns, Newfoundland and was heading to Morocco.


Here it is taking off from Baghdad 2012:

On the other hand, journalist Rui Costa Pinto was heard by the DCIAP, as he had written an article, refused by Visão, about flights passing by Lajes Field, a Portuguese airbase used by the US Air Forces, in the Azores.

Approximately 150 CIA flights which have flown through Portugal have been identified

It is investigated by the Canadian authorities, as it would have been flying from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada, via Keflavík in Iceland before going to Turkey

Many rendition planes pass through St Johns on their way across the Atlantic. Most stop at Shannon in Ireland or the Azores in Portugal.

But that’s not the most interesting thing about N845S…

What’s interesting about this aircraft is where it was before Stevens Express Leasing. Some excellent detective work here:

Checking my notes of a trip to Florida in April 1975, there quite clearly recorded at West Palm Beach Airport, north of Fort Lauderdale, on 22nd April was DC-3 N61696. It had a white fuselage with a mauve cheatline, white tail with a mauve band, and the title AUTEC in the tail band. N61696 was also noted and reported by many other enthusiasts who visited West Palm Beach during the early 1970s and was last reported there in January 1976, with the titles removed at that stage.

The aircraft was a CIA Air America plane. It was excluded from the FAA registry. In the 1970s it was an AUTEC plane, flying from the AUTEC base on Andros Island, in the Bahamas, to West Palm Beach. Eventually it wound up going back to the CIA / Stevens Express Leasing.

So if it was just ferrying personnel and supplies for AUTEC, why wasn’t it in the FAA files? Well I’m going to go off on a bit of speculative tangent here, but this could potentially connect to an alleged CIA black operation called Operation Watchtower. The operation allegedly had CIA birds flying contraband from Central America into the US via a covert route marked with radio beacons. It utilized the exact same path, from AUTEC at Andros Island to West Palm Beach. Today, Phoenix Air flies that route. It seems odd that shady CIA birds would be needed to ferry supplies to a Navy laboratory.


Operation Watchtower

Lt. Cmdr. Al Martin (US Navy, Ret) has testified before Congress for the Kerry Committee and the Alexander Committee, which investigated the illicit deals of Iran-Contra. He writes:

Watchtower was a series of very powerful radio transmitters on towers with beacons on the end of them, built from Andros Island off the coast of Colombia all the way up into U.S. air space, essentially transversing all of Central America. These beacons would emit a frequency which was changed from time to time for security reasons. Aircraft could triangulate a position from them.


The beacons in essence created a corridor. It was a so-called “safe corridor.” In other words, all aircraft flying in that corridor would not be intercepted. On the United States end, aircraft transmitting the correct frequency were not to be inspected by Customs.

The corridor was created originally for the same purpose it got used in later on in Iran-Contra — to provide a safe corridor for the shipping north of narcotics and the shipping south of weapons pursuant to authorized narcotics and weapons transactions.

Colonel Edward P. Cutolo’s Affidavit of CIA Drug Smuggling
Colonel Cutolo allegedly died in a car accident 2 months after signing this affidavit.

6. The purpose of Operation watch Tower was to establish a series of three electronic beacon towers beginning outside of Bogota, Colombia and running northeast to the border of Panama. Once the Watch Tower teams (Special Action Teams) were in place, the beacon was activated to emit a signal that aircraft could fix on and fly undetected from Bogota into Panama, then land at Albrook Air Station.


7. During the Feb., 1976, Watch Tower Mission, 30 high performance aircraft landed safely at Albrook Air Station where the plane were met by Col. Tony Noriega, who is a Panama Defence Force Officer currently assigned to the Customs and Intelligence Section. Noriega normally was in the company of other PDF officers known to me as Major Diaz-Herrera, Major Luis del Cid, Major Ramirez. Also present at most of the arrivals, was Edwin Wilson, and an unidentified male Israeli national.


8. The cargo flown from Colombia into Panama was cocaine.




16. Upon the assumption of command, I created and implemented 12 separate SATs. Their mission was to implement Army Regulation 340-18-5 (file number 503-05). My authority for this action came directly from FORSCOM through Edwin Wilson who appeared before me in my office at 10th Special Forces Group Headquarters. This action was taken to develop surveillance of politicians, judicial figures, law enforcement agencies at the state level, and of religious figures.


17. Mr. Edwin Wilson explained that it was considered that Operation Watch Tower might be compromised and become known if politicians, judicial figures, police and religious entities were approached or received word that U.S. Troops had aided in delivering narcotics from Columbia into Panama. Based on that possibility, intense surveillance was undertaken by my office to ensure if Watch Tower became known of, the U.S. government and the Army would have advance warning and could prepare a defense.




20. I instituted surveillance against Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Edward King, Michael Dukakis, Levin H. Campbell, Andrew A. Caffey, Fred Johnston, Kenneth A. Chandler, Thomas P. O’Neill to name a few of the targets. Surveillance at my orders was instituted at the Governors’ residences of Massachusetts, Maine, New York, and New Hampshire. The Catholic cathedrals of New York and Boston were placed under electronic surveillance also. In the area of Ft. Devens, all local police and politicians were under some sort of surveillance at various times.



30. At approx. 0945 hours on 30 Jan. 1979 Pvt. Tyree reported to my office at 10th Special Forces Group Headquarters per my instructions. Pvt. Tyree reported that between 2400 hours and 0100 hours of the previous night that his wife had received another threatening phone call. I was notified of the call by the SAT in place at the tyree residence prior to speaking with Pvt. Tyree. I ordered Tyree to keep this matter to himself as it was being investigated. I notified Pvt. Tyree I would contact him between 1200 and 1300 hours at his duty station as soon as I could look into a matter that pertained to the threats. This meeting lasted until 1019 hours.


31. On 30 Jan. 1979, at approx. 1147 hours, two men were dropped in the parking area of the apt. complex that Pvt. Tyree resided within. One man was identified as Erik Aarhus. The second man due to his face being covered could not be identified as the two men entered the apartment building that the Tyree family resided within. Surveillance indicates that at least one of the two men entered the Tyree apt. and left prior to the arrival of Pvt. tyree and his wife at noon.


32. On 30 Jan 1979, at noon Pvt. Tyree and his wife were seen arriving at the apartment complex they resided in. Pvt. Tyree never exited his truck and Mrs. tyree entered the building where their apt. was located. After she disappeared, a car almost ran into Pvt. Tyree as he was leaving the complex parking lot. Mrs. Tyree was stabbed to death in their apt. shortly thereafter.

The main AUTEC support base and downrange tracking stations are on Andros Island in the Bahamas, just west of Nassau and about 180 nautical miles (333 km) southeast of West Palm Beach, Florida.

In-air tracking is provided by radars and various other in-air tracking systems such as LATR, the Hyperbolic In-Air Tracking System (HITS), and Differential GPS (DGPS). These in-air systems cover the AUTEC Weapons Range up to a distance of 500 nautical miles (930 km) from Site 1 and a height of 70,000 feet (21,000 m). Surveillance radars operate to support air and surface safety.

Electronic Warfare Threat Simulator (EWTS) is a real-time system that can generate complex, dynamic, electromagnetic signal environments at the radio frequency (RF) level. With this system, AUTEC offers capabilities to test different platform receivers in an open-air, over-the-water range. The system consists of a radar simulator, pedestal and controller, antennas, high-power amplifiers, calibration equipment, and an operator workstation. The system is housed in an air-conditioned radome and located on a 74-foot (23 m) tower.

AUTEC complex at Andros Island:

Watchtower was a series of very powerful radio transmitters on towers with beacons on the ends of them from Andros Island off the coast of Columbia all the way up to US air space.


Aircraft could triangulate a position from the towers. The beacons created a “safe corridor.” All aircraft flying through that corridor would not be intercepted. On the US end, aircraft emitting the proper frequency would not be inspected by customs.


The Phoenix Air Ebola planes are currently flying that AUTEC route under the Gray Bird call sign.

‘Gray Bird 333’ comes through during Ebola epidemic

Phoenix evacuated medical aid workers Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol from Liberia last month on separate 14-hour flights — including fuel stops in the Azores and Maine — in a specially modified 32-year-old Gulfstream III, call sign Gray Bird 333, which had once done duty with the Royal Dutch Air Force and was still painted in its gray military livery.

05-Aug-2014 G159/G Andros Town Int’l (MYAF / ASD) Palm Beach Intl (KPBI)

31-Jul-2014 GLF3/L Cartersville (KVPC) Lajes Air Base Int. (LPLA / TER)

Perhaps it’s a coincidence that these CIA birds wind up flying the AUTEC route that was mentioned in Watchtower, but I thought it was worth noting the history of it.


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