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$270 million worth of cocaine found on Air France flight

By Holly Yan, CNN
updated 7:54 AM EDT, Tue September 24, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Venezuela says it has detained three members of the National Guard
  • The cocaine traveled in 30 colorful suitcases from Venezuela to France
  • The bags weren't registered to any of the passengers on the flight
  • Several people have been taken into custody, France's interior minister said

(CNN) -- There was something odd about the 30 suitcases that showed up on a flight from Venezuela. The colorful bags weren't registered to any of the passengers on the plane.

When French officials opened them up, they discovered why -- 1.3 tons of pure cocaine were stuffed inside the anonymous bags.

The street value of the stash? About 200 million euros, or $270 million.

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The catch was made on September 11, but French authorities didn't publicize the find until Saturday.

On Sunday, Venezuela's Public Ministry said that authorities had detained three members of the National Guard in connection with the incident.

It wasn't immediately clear exactly what they are accused of doing.

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The suitcases came from Caracas aboard an Air France flight to Paris, but did not match any of the passengers on board, CNN affiliate BFMTV reported.

"Several" people have been taken in custody, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls told reporters Saturday.

Authorities worked with Spanish, British and Dutch police on the investigation, BFMTV said.

This case "illustrates the importance of strengthening International cooperation in the fight against traffickers," Valls said.

Venezuelan authorities are also investigating. The Public Ministry said prosecutors will investigate, along with the Counterdrug Command of the National Guard in Simon Bolivar International Airport, to see if any criminal activity took place.

Suspected drug smugglers sail to jail

CNN's Christabelle Fombu and Nelson Quinones contributed to this report.

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