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Air France worker arrested in cocaine haul case

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September 25, 2013 06:54 PM EST | AP


CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan officials say they have arrested an Air France assistant manager and six more people for alleged roles in the smuggling to Paris of 1.4 tons of cocaine on a commercial flight.

The Interior Ministry announced the arrests of Juan Chirino Ariza, the Air France employee, and six other men whose names it did not provide.

That brings to 22 the number of people being held in Venezuela and France in the case. Among the 10 others arrested in Venezuela are eight National Guard soldiers, including a lieutenant colonel.

Authorities say the cocaine was shipped on Sept. 10 in 31 suitcases. Five suspects were arrested in France – three Italians and two Britons.

Officials did not explain why they waited nearly two weeks to announce the seizure.