March 24, 2011 / 3:54 PM / 8 years ago

Four arrested in "Air Cocaine" investigation

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Authorities in Mali have arrested four people after an aircraft loaded with 10 tonnes of cocaine crashed in the country in 2009, a source close to the probe said Thursday.

Malian authorities suspect the aircraft was part of a larger drugs trafficking network linked to Colombia.

French pilot Eric Vernay, whose company chartered the Boeing plane, was arrested last week. A CEO of a local company “Go Voyage,” and two other people have been arrested since, also in connection with the so-called “Air Cocaine” probe.

“The investigation is progressing, due to good cooperation between security services of other countries, including Morocco. Four people are now under arrest, and are under investigation,” the source told Reuters.

Authorities suspect a growing fleet of rogue aircraft are regularly crisscrossing the Atlantic Ocean with drugs from the cocaine-producing areas of South America, transiting through some of West Africa’s most unstable countries into Europe.

Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Bate Felix

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