The search for the organizers of an airplane filled with North Korean weapons bound for Iran and detained in Thailand has led to a company in Hong Kong.
A company called Union Top Management Ltd., registered in Hong Kong, signed a contract this month to lease the cargo plane, according to documents obtained by arms-trafficking researchers in Belgium and the U.S.
Attempts to reach Dario Cabreros Garmendia, listed in public documents as Union Top Management's owner and director were unsuccessful. A Dario Cabreros signed a contract on behalf of Union Top Management on Dec. 4 to lease the plane.
A woman who answered the phone at an office in Hong Kong given on Union Top Management documents provided an email address for Mr. Garmendia. An email sent to the address was returned as undeliverable. Union Top Management's filings list a Barcelona, Spain, postal address for Mr. Garmendia.
Thai officials seized the Ilyushin-76 aircraft and its cargo -- missiles and guidance systems -- on Dec. 11, setting off an international hunt to determine its origins. The Union Top Management contract, and a flight plan, were revealed in a report by TransArms, of Chicago, and the International Peace Information Service, of Antwerp, Belgium. Both organizations study conflicts around the world, including how they are financed and supplied with weapons...
In the case of the plane, a secretary firm called Acota Ltd. in Hong Kong's Wan Chai district set up Union Top Management on Sept 1. From filings, it appears Mr. Garmendia took control of Union Top Management on November 10. (The Wall Street Journal, "Hong Kong Firm Leased Plane Carrying Weapons," 12/22/09)