HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) — The flight instructor who helped train the 9/11 hijackers and subsequently lost millions of dollars now has a new charge levied against him – federal drug trafficking.
Rudi Dekkers, 56, is currently held in a Houston federal prison for charges in conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin. The pilot admitted to an undercover Homeland Security Investigations agent that he was ferrying drugs and cash in a private plane in exchange for money, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Dekkers’ federal charges for accepting a suitcase carrying 18.74 kilograms of cocaine and 860 grams of heroin are only his latest troubles since the 9/11 attacks that set off his decade-long descent.
The day after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Dekkers’ Florida flight training school was raided by federal agents.
In the years following, Dekkers said he was nationally demonized for providing flight training to Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, two of the hijackers who flew planes into the World Trade Center. Dekkers said he received numerous death threats, lost a nearly $12 million fortune that led him into bankruptcy, and his marriage of 20 years disintegrated into divorce.
The Chronicle reported that Dekkers had “regained some optimism” in recent years. He also remarried and has a young child.
But Dekkers is now facing some very serious prison time.
The criminal complaint from the Homeland Security agents said they were investigating an international drug trafficking group when they ran into Dekkers. Dekkers was introduced to their undercover agent on Nov. 5 during an illegal firearms smuggling transaction.
Following his recent narcotics arrest, a judge ordered Dekkers to remain in custody pending trial, citing that he is a citizen of the Netherlands without legal status in the U.S.
In an interview with Houston’s FOX 26 that marked the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Dekkers told the reporter he had moved to Texas to continue his new career as a keynote speaker.
When asked if he would ever “outrun the shadow” of 9/11, Dekkers had a quick reply: “Yeah. When I die.”