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A Canadian airport crew reported suspected bombs on their plane. Soon after, they were arrested for drug smuggling.
According to Pivot Airlines, its five-person crew on a private jet where thrown in jail in the Dominican Republic after they reported a stash of cocaine hidden in the plane, fearing it was a bomb.
The crew members, who haven't been named, reportedly found the drugs on the aircraft as it prepared to take off from Punta Cana airport on 5 April.
A maintenance engineer came across the suspicious package when he tried to access the avionics bay under the plane's fuselage. At the time, he wasn't sure whether it was lost luggage, a bomb or something else entirely.
They quickly reported it to the local police, as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the National Post reports.
At this point, police boarded the plane and found seven other bags, eventually amassing 200kg of cocaine worth around $25 million (£19.2m).
While it's likely the crew avoided an air disaster by reporting the stash - due to the area of the plane needing good airflow to prevent overheating - they've since been placed in detention centres on suspicion of smuggling drugs.
INVESTIGAN ONCE PERSONAS POR INCAUTACIÓN DE 200 PAQUETES PRESUMIBLEMENTE COCAÍNA EN AEROPUERTO @CESAC_RD @ProcuraduriaRD https://t.co/OhRPUAo7JM#DNCDRD #TodosUnidos #Decomiso #DNCD pic.twitter.com/SnO5xQFR4Q— Dirección Nacional de Control de Drogas (@DNCDRD) April 6, 2022
In a statement, the airline said: "They do not speak the language, have been identified as reporting the contraband to authorities and fear for their safety.
"We are deeply concerned for the safety, security and ethical and humane treatment of our crew.
“It is unacceptable that a Canadian aircrew could remain detained for the duration of a potential 12-month investigation for a suspected crime that they reported.”
In a news release regarding the haul, the Dominican Republic’s National Directorate for Drug Control (DNCD) said the drugs were found in the plane's 'control compartments'.
It added: "An extensive investigation process has been initiated around this case. The Public Ministry, assisted by DNCD agents, are working hard to clearly establish who is directly linked to the seizure of the substance.
"The crew, passengers and other investigated, as well as the aircraft, Mitsubishi CRJ-100ER, are under the control of the Public Ministry while the investigations continue to determine if there are other possible implicated."
There have been some positive moves, with a Dominican court ruling to 'improve the conditions' for the detained crew and even outlining a plan for their release.
Pivot said: "We are grateful for the decision and are working diligently to secure their release."
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