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
updated 12:35 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
The possibility of pockets of air remaining within the hull of the sunken South Korean ferry offers hope to rescuers -- and relatives -- say experts.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Despite hundreds still missing after the sinking of a South Korean ferry, reports of text messages keep hope alive that there may be survivors yet.
updated 12:14 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
An Iranian mother slaps and then forgives her 17-year old son's murderer in dramatic scenes at the gallows.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Mentions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests or political reform are still censored in China.
updated 5:31 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Russia's propaganda worse now than at height of Cold War, says Leon Aron, director of Russian studies at AEI.
Sanctions imposed against Russia are working as a deterrent, President Barack Obama and other White House senior administration officials said.
updated 12:40 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
A lack of progress in the search for MH370 is angering the families of victims.
updated 11:09 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
The searches for the Titanic and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 share common techniques.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
updated 11:35 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
This year's Pyongyang marathon was open to foreign amateurs.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
updated 1:53 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
How are police preparing for this year's 26.2-mile marathon, which takes place Monday?
updated 1:02 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Katrina Karkazis
Romance is hard, for anyone. For people with intersex traits, love poses unique challenges.
updated 5:26 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
The "kill switch," a system for remotely disabling smartphones and wiping their data, will become standard in 2015.
updated 11:52 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT