Police coordinate investigations into major Spanish drug bust on Maltese-registered jet

Maltese police coordinated major drug bust on Spain’s Canary Islands, after local company tipped off authorities on trafficking plot.

The Malta-registered Bombardier luxury jet BD-700 surrounded by Spanish Police at Gran Canaria's airport.
The Malta-registered Bombardier luxury jet BD-700 surrounded by Spanish Police at Gran Canaria's airport.

Officers from Malta's Security Services played a major role in an Interpol seizure of an estimated tonne of cocaine on board a luxury private jet in the Canary Islands this week.

The jet, a Bombardier BD-700, registered in Malta with call sign 9H-FED, was raided by Spanish police as it landed in Gran Canaria last Monday night. Two German pilots and an Austrian crew attendant have been arrested in connection with the haul.

The plane, owned by Hyperion Aviation which operates at Malta International Airport, remains grounded at Gran Canaria airport, as intensive international investigations continue. "What I can say is that our company has assisted the Maltese and Spanish authorities all throughout, and what I can say is that we were immediately in contact with them soon after an forced and unauthorised take-off from Valencia, Venezuela was made," said Eric Wiesskopf, Hyperion Aviation chief executive in comments to MaltaToday.

While denying the "Miami-Vice-flavour" attributed to the story in foreign press reports, suggesting that the plane flew from Venezuela to Miami before flying to Europe, Wiesskopf said that both Interpol and his company will issuing a formal statement to the media tomorrow.

A search on board the aircraft yielded boxes with International Red Cross signs on them containing packs of solid cocaine.

The plane had previously landed in Venezuela from Trinidad and Tobago, while its flight plan indicated that it came from Granada. Officially, it was intended to fly from Venezuela to Brazil, but landed on Monday in Gran Canaria. Press reports said the aircraft's crew filed a flight plan to Brazil, but flew out without lights, and without authorisation. Reports have suggested that the intended destination was Benin in West Africa.

A Malta police source close to the investigations told MaltaToday the plane dropped off a female Australian passenger in Venezuela, who latercaught a commercial flight to Spain. This passenger is currently being sought by Interpol.

While Interpol is said to be looking into the alleged involvement of some 28 people who may be connected to the case, Venezuelan authorities have also launched an investigation into the accomplices who facilitated the unauthorised take-off from Valencia's Arturo Michelena's airport.

Venezuela's interior minister addressing the media

Speaking to Venezuela television this morning, the country's interior and security minister Tareck El Aissami said that his country is looking into every aspect of the case. "Venezuela has started an investigation to determine the alleged responsibility of people and authorities who may be involved in the unauthorised departure of this jet plane from national territory," the minister said, while confirming arrests have been made.

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