Argentine pilots arrested in Spain for smuggling cocaine

The two men, both pilots, were named as Gustavo Julia, a main shareholder in the company Medical Jet, and Gaston Miret, his co-pilot.

Julia is the son of retired Brigadier Jose Julia who was head of Argentina's air force from 1989 to 1993, when Carlos Menem was president.

Jose Julia, who died four years ago, was questioned by the anti-mafia commission of Argentina's lower house of parliament in 1998 "for his suspected link with one of the biggest criminals in Argentina, Alfredo Yabran," according to a report in Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Spanish police arrested the men after the aircraft landed at Barcelona's El Prat airport. The aircraft, a Bombardier Challenger 604 used for private medical transfers, arrived on Sunday from the Cape Verde Islands, the archipelago 350 miles off the West African coast, where police believe it took on the cargo of 900kg of pure cocaine.

The haul, has an estimated street value of 17 million and was discovered by Spain's Civil Guard during an inspection using sniffer dogs. A third man was also detained but no details of his identity have yet been released.

[Source: By Fiona Govan, Madrid, The Telegraph, London, 07Jan11]

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