Venezuela detains seven more over France cocaine bust
(AFP) Five members of the Venezuelan military were among seven people arrested following the seizure of 1.3 tons of cocaine aboard a airliner that flew from Caracas to Paris, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Part of the drugs were seized a truck heading towards Luxembourg, a route which suggests the end destination could have been the Netherlands or Britain.
French police sources say the drugs arrived on the Air France plane in Paris on September 11 but were not seized until the 20th. Investigators apparently allowed time to see who was picking them up.
The cocaine has an estimated street value of 200 million euros.
The arrests raised the total number to 10 detainees in Venezuela, which is not considered a big producer of the drug but rather a transit point for shipments headed from Peru and Colombia to the United States and elsewhere.
So far, Venezuela had detained an officer of the anti-drug unit of the Bolivarian National Guard and two other military people and Venezuelan Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez said it seems clear that Air France employees conspired with the Venezuelan military to get the drug load into France.
"How does it arrive in France and they get it off the plane without going through the normal procedures?" Rodriguez said.
Of the new detainees, who were arrested Monday and Tuesday, five are members of the national guard, another is an airport security official and the last one also works at the airport, the prosecutor's office said in a statement.
Two Britons and three Italians have been detained in France over the smuggling case.