Skip to main content

Arrests made in Air France flight cocaine case

By CNN Staff
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Wed September 25, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Airline executive, six airline workers, security guard, loading platform supervisor arrested
  • Eight members of the Venezuelan national guard are also in custody
  • 1.3 tons of cocaine traveled in 30 colorful suitcases from Venezuela to France
  • The bags weren't registered to any of the passengers on the flight

(CNN) -- Venezuelan authorities on Wednesday announced additional arrests in connection with a massive shipment of cocaine in an Air France flight from Caracas that landed in Paris.

In a prepared statement, the Venezuelan Attorney General's Office said 17 people have been arrested in the drug trafficking case. The flight originated at Simon Bolivar International Airport in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital.

An Air France executive in Venezuela, six airline employees, a security guard and a loading platform supervisor are among those arrested. Eight members of the Venezuelan national guard are also in custody and were scheduled to appear in front of a judge Wednesday afternoon for a preliminary hearing.

On September 11, French authorities discovered 1.3 tons of pure cocaine stuffed inside 30 suitcases on the flight. The colorful bags did not match any of the passengers on board, CNN affiliate BFMTV reported.

Coast Guard makes $20 million cocaine bust
Huge drug bust off the coast of Florida
Drug busts at sea: 4 tons of cocaine

The street value of the stash is about 200 million euros, or $270 million.

$2.6 million in cocaine found in British woman's luggage

French authorities didn't publicize the find until Saturday. Venezuela's Public Ministry announced the arrests of three of the national guard members Sunday.

Woman busted in Spain for cocaine in breast implants

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," French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said.

Suspected drug smugglers sail to jail

In Venezuela, authorities promised a swift investigation as soon as the confiscation was announced in Paris. All 17 arrests were made in less than three days.

Venezuelan Interior and Justice Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres told reporters in Venezuela that authorities think an organized crime group with Italian and British members is responsible for the shipment.

"The suitcases were not taken into the plane through the regular baggage platforms at the airport. We're investigating how the drug (shipment) got to the airport," he said.

CNN's Rafael Romo, Holly Yan, Christabelle Fombu and Nelson Quinones contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Explore CNN's interactive that explains ISIS' roots, what it controls, and where its support comes from.
updated 4:10 PM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
In his first-ever interview as the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani defended his country against allegations of funding terrorism.
updated 5:20 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
The U.S. and several Arab nations carried out airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, intensifying the campaign against the militant group.
updated 12:45 PM EDT, Sat September 27, 2014
A mysterious Chicago fire and possible suicide attempt causes massive disruption in the U.S.
updated 11:03 AM EDT, Sat September 27, 2014
The North Korean leader hasn't been seen for weeks, leading to speculation that he is in poor health.
updated 9:54 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Haider al-Abadi hopes airstrikes don't lead to "of another terrorist element" instead of ISIS.
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
The United States couldn't do it on its first try. Neither could the Soviets.
updated 5:10 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Emma Watson lent her name and her glittery profile to the cause of feminism at the United Nations.
updated 11:29 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
CNN's Nima Elbagir reflects on a harrowing trip to Liberia where she covered the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.
updated 10:23 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Contrary to public opinion, rats can actually save lives -- Apopo's rats have actually saved thousands.
updated 7:27 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT