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 10:21 AM EST, Thu November 27, 2014
The first human trial of an experimental Ebola vaccine has produced promising results, U.S. scientists said.
updated 9:15 AM EST, Thu November 27, 2014
Darren Wilson, the police officer who fatally shot unarmed black teen in August abandoned home after address made public.
updated 5:36 PM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
HBO -- backing a documentary based on "Going Clear," a book about Scientology and Hollywood -- isn't taking any chances with legal side.
updated 2:35 PM EST, Wed November 26, 2014
Grandmaster Nguyen Van Chieu has devoted his adult life to spreading the word about Vietnames martial art, Vovinam.
updated 6:36 AM EST, Thu November 27, 2014
England cricketer Nick Compton shares insight into "drive and courage" it takes to face fears as top batsman.
updated 7:59 PM EST, Wed November 26, 2014
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson says he was just doing his "job right" when he shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown.
updated 8:18 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
The interior of the Formosa Boulevard Mass Rapid Transit Station in Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan.
Stunning stations where your first priority won't be finding the nearest exit.
updated 6:18 PM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says women's "nature is different," sparking fury.
updated 5:43 AM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
A 30-year-old woman has been charged with attempting to kill a baby police say spent five days down a drain before being discovered by cyclists.
updated 8:21 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
If it wasn't for a comic's skit, Bill Cosby would still be America's favorite father, says expert.
updated 7:51 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
Where do hip young things hang out in Taiwan?
updated 10:50 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Obama orders the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration in decades, prioritizing the deportation of "felons, not families."
updated 4:06 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Fighters loyal to ISIS are now in control of Derna, a city on Libya's Mediterranean coast.
updated 6:19 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
China and likely other countries have the capacity to shut down the U.S. power grid, says the NSA.
updated 2:45 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
The founder of a U.S. nonprofit that works with returning soldiers is named CNN's Hero of the Year.
updated 12:03 PM EST, Thu November 27, 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