Venezuela arrests 3 soldiers in cocaine bust
PARIS — Venezuela has arrested three National Guard officials for alleged involvement in smuggling 1.45 tons of cocaine on an Air France flight from Caracas to Paris, the South American nation's public prosecutor's office said on Sunday.
The seizure of the cocaine haul, valued at as much as $270 million, occurred as Washington is again accusing Venezuela of failing to adequately fight trafficking of cocaine from neighboring Colombia.
Public prosecutors will charge a first sergeant, a second sergeant and a first lieutenant for “allegedly committing crimes established by Venezuelan law,” the prosecutor's office said, without offering details of what charges it would file.
It added that authorities in Paris had detained six people, three of whom are Italian and three British.
The drugs were stashed in suitcases that were registered under false names that did not correspond to passengers on the flight to Charles de Gaulle Airport, French police sources said.
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls estimated the cocaine shipment had a value of $67 million, while police and legal sources said the street value of the drug could be as much as $270 million.
“This marks the biggest seizure of cocaine ever made in mainland France as part of a judicial investigation,” Valls said.
French authorities said the drugs were found earlier this month but details of the raid were only released over the weekend. Venezuelan authorities said the drugs were seized on Friday.
Air France said it was still trying to find out how the drugs were smuggled on board.
“Pending the results of these investigations, immediate measures have been taken to enhance our checks of baggage and goods on departure from certain sensitive destinations,” the airline said in a statement.
Drug enforcement experts say Venezuela's location on South America's Caribbean and Atlantic seaboards makes it a preferred route for planes and ships carrying Colombian cocaine to the United States and Europe.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Testing of Tut’s tomb hints at hidden chamber
- French President Hollande, activists gear up for climate talks
- Top Kurdish lawyer shot dead in Turkey
- Kenyans accused of spying for Iran
- Russia hits Turkey with sanctions amid frayed relations
- Pope to preach peace in fractured Central African Republic
- Russia’s war room in multibillion-dollar Moscow control center grand, modernized
- Colombia frees 30 jailed FARC rebels as peace talk gesture
- France hails 130 victims of Paris terrorist attacks