HomeNewsBriefNo Top National Guard Officials Will Stand Trial in Venezuela’s Air France Cocaine Bust
BRIEF

No Top National Guard Officials Will Stand Trial in Venezuela’s Air France Cocaine Bust

CARTEL DE LOS SOLES / 15 OCT 2014 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

Venezuela has charged 27 suspects in a case involving a massive cocaine seizure made on an Air France flight last year, but high-ranking members of the National Guard are conspicuously absent from the list. 

A Venezuelan court will try the suspects for charges including drug trafficking, money laundering and conspiracy, reported the Associated Press. Those facing trial were arrested in 2013, after more than 1.3 tons of cocaine was found on a Paris-bound plane that had departed from Venezuela’s international airport, known as the Maiquetia. 

Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) is responsible for providing security at the airport. The suspects include four members of the GNB — among them the airport dog handler, the supervisor of the anti-drug unit and a lieutenant colonel — the former head of Air France’s Maiquetia operations; three airport security agents; and various other airport employees, including two X-ray machine operators, reported El Universal

Also among the accused are employees of two Air France contractors and a private security company.

InSight Crime Analysis

The charging of these suspects sheds some light on the manpower needed to carry out what was one of the most ambitious smuggling operations Venezuela has seen, from the low-level airport employees to their supervisors.

However, a year after the seizure, just a handful of GNB members are being sent to trial, and the highest ranking suspect is a lieutenant colonel. As InSight Crime reported, after the Air France bust took place in September 2013, the complex drug trafficking operation would have required extensive support from GNB officials, likely at the highest levels.

In addition to the logistical difficulty of getting 1.3 tons of cocaine onto a commercial plane, the shipment was originally believed to have been purchased by the GNB from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and destined for Italy’s ‘Ndrangheta mafia — a deal not likely to have been conducted by lowly criminals. More recently, Venezuelan officials blamed Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel for the Air France case, although such a deal would also require high-level brokering.

SEE ALSO: Cartel of the Suns News and Profile

The network of corrupt officials within Venezuela’s security forces, referred to as the Cartel of the Suns, has long facilitated drug trafficking, and since the mid-2000s their involvement in the cocaine trade has deepened. However, the government has done little in terms of conducting a serious investigation into possible ties between the drug trade and the security forces. 

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

CARTEL DE LOS SOLES / 28 JUL 2014

A former intelligence chief from Venezuela accused of drug trafficking and ties to Colombia's FARC guerrillas has been released just…

COLOMBIA / 13 FEB 2014

The emergence of allegations made by an incarcerated drug baron that he funded the political activities of Colombia's former President…

ELITES AND CRIME / 2 JUN 2017

A former vice president of Guatemala allegedly used her majority stake in two newspapers to try to influence their coverage…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Strategic Communications Manager Job Description

12 FEB 2021

InSight Crime is looking for a full-time strategic communications manager. This person needs to be able to work in a fast-paced world of daily news, high-profile investigations, national and international…

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …