PARIS (Reuters) - French police found a record haul of 200 million euros (169 million pounds) of cocaine hidden in suitcases on an Air France flight from Venezuela’s capital Caracas to Paris, police and government officials said.
The suitcases were registered under false names that did not correspond to passengers on the flight to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, police sources told Reuters on Sunday.
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.
Government officials said the drugs were found at Charles de Gaulle earlier this month but only released details of the raid over the weekend. They did not give a precise date.
France’s interior minister Manuel Valls said the 1.3 tonnes of cocaine had a wholesale value of 50 million euros, while police and legal sources said the street value of the drug could be as much as 200 million euros.
“This marks the biggest seizure of cocaine ever made in mainland France as part of a judicial investigation,” Valls told reporters on Saturday.
At least six people of several European nationalities were being held in relation to the case, the police sources said, declining to give further details.
The public prosecutor’s office in Caracas said it was also investigating the case.
The seizure was the result of cooperation between security forces in France, the Netherlands, Spain and Britain, Valls said.
Reporting by Gus Trompiz, Jean-Baptiste Vey and Nicolas Bertin; Additional reporting by Brian Ellsworth in Caracas; Editing by Andrew Heavens