Venezuela jails 22 over cocaine smuggling to France

Venezuela jails 22 over cocaine smuggling to France
File photo cocaine seized.

CARACAS - A Venezuelan court has ordered jail for five more people linked to a massive cocaine shipment on an Air France jet, bringing the total number incarcerated to 22.

The number jailed includes 17 who were imprisoned on Friday, the attorney general's office said.

The latest five people sent to prison pending a trial are two airport officials with the attorney general's office and three workers employed by two companies contracted by Air France, a statement read late Saturday.

Those arrested and imprisoned earlier include at least eight Venezuelan National Guard officials responsible for security at Caracas' Maiquetia airport.

The 1.3 tonnes of cocaine arrived in Paris on September 11 on a flight from the Venezuelan capital. The drugs were concealed inside 30 suitcases that no one came forward to claim.

The cocaine has an estimated street value of 200 million euros ($270 million) and the shipment was the biggest ever seizure of the drug on French soil. All 22 people in jail are accused of conspiracy and "aggravated illicit trafficking of narcotic and psychotropic substances."

In Paris five people - three Italians and two Britons - have been arrested in connection with the massive smuggling operation.

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