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Venezuela arrests 5 more in cocaine bust

27 September 2013, 08:01

Caracas - Venezuela has arrested five more people in a smuggling case in which 1.3 tons of cocaine were flown from Caracas to Paris on an Air France jet, officials said Thursday.

This brings the total number of arrests in Venezuela to 22, including eight members of the military.

The rest are airport or Air France employees, Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres said.

The drugs arrived in Paris on 11 September, concealed inside 30 suitcases. The cocaine has an estimated street value of €200m.

"There is a bit of everything among those who participated in this process, from the time the suitcase arrives at the airport to when it is put aboard the aircraft," the minister said.

In France, three Italians and two Britons have been arrested in the case.

Cocaine is processed from coca leaves grown in countries such as Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.

Venezuela does not produce cocaine, according to United Nations monitors, but drug traffickers are increasingly using its territory to smuggle drugs into other nations.

In 2012, Venezuelan police seized some 45 tons of illegal drugs, according to government figures.



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