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Venezuela sentences 10 people to 22 years for cocaine on Air France flight

By
Andrew V. Pestano
In September 2013, French authorities seized about a ton and a half of cocaine from an Air France flight that originated from Venezuela. The South American country's Public Ministry on Tuesday said it sentenced 10 people to 22 years imprisonment for their roles drug trafficking. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
In September 2013, French authorities seized about a ton and a half of cocaine from an Air France flight that originated from Venezuela. The South American country's Public Ministry on Tuesday said it sentenced 10 people to 22 years imprisonment for their roles drug trafficking. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

CARACAS, Venezuela, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Venezuela's Public Ministry on Tuesday said it sentenced 10 people to more than 22 years in prison, including three National Guard members, for trafficking a ton and a half of cocaine on an Air France flight.

The Bolivarian National Guard members were respectively in charge of a drug-sniffing canine, of operating an x-ray machine and of counting inventory. The other seven sentenced were airport personnel with duties including security and supervision.

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The men will be held in Venezuela's Judicial Confinement of the Yare I prison complex while the women will be held in the Institute of Feminine Rehabilitation in the city of Los Teques.

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The sentence comes after nearly three years when a ton and a half of cocaine was seized in France after departing from Venezuela's Simón Bolívar International Airport.

The Public Ministry also said 17 people successfully appealed the sentence, but added that those individuals will remain imprisoned until a decision by a court of appeals that will be based on possible further action by the prosecution.

The alleged financier of the drug trafficking operation, Harry Augusto Romero Morales, was extradited to Venezuela on Thursday.

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"Morales Romero was charged with the alleged commission of the offenses of illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, money laundering and racketeering," Venezuela's Public Ministry said in a statement.

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