PARIS (AFP) – Two Britons and three Italians were charged Tuesday with smuggling 1.3 tonnes of cocaine worth an estimated 200 million euros ($270m) into Paris on an Air France flight, a judicial source said.
The drugs were concealed inside 30 suitcases that were placed on a plane from the Venezuelan capital Caracas to Paris on September 11.
Paris judges charged the five men, aged between 26 and 45, with importing and trafficking narcotics in an organised gang, the source said.
Venezuelan authorities, meanwhile, have detained 10 people in connection with the drug bust, including an officer from the anti-drug unit of the Bolivarian National Guard and two National Guard sergeants.
According to police sources, the drugs arrived in France on September 11 but were not seized until the 20th, the investigators apparently having allowed time to see who was picking them up.
Part of the haul was seized at the airport and some on a truck headed towards Luxembourg -- a route which suggests the end destination could have been the Netherlands or Britain.
British, Dutch and Spanish police were involved in the operation that led to the seizure, the biggest ever on French soil.
Venezuela has indicated that the traffickers must have had assistance from people working within Air France's operation at Caracas airport.