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#4397: Haitian airline snared for drug smuggling (fwd)


WIRE:06/26/2000 16:33:00 ET
Haitian airline snared for drug
MIAMI (Reuters) - Customs agents seized two planes belonging  to a    
company called Air de Ayiti Express in a bust of an  operation allegedly
 smuggling cocaine by air from Haiti to south  Florida, the Customs
Service said Monday.  Seven people were arrested and cocaine worth $2.3
million  was seized. Agents had watched Air de Ayiti since March, 
suspecting it of smuggling cocaine and illegal immigrants by  landing
after-hours at airports in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.  On Saturday
night, a Customs plane followed an Air de Ayiti  Cessna when it left
Nassau in the Bahamas. Agents moved in when  it landed at Miami's       
Opa-Locka airport, arresting the pilot, a passenger and the latter's
wife, who was waiting to meet him.  Four suitcases containing cocaine
were found.Four other people were arrested on Sunday and a second Air 
de Ayiti plane was seized at Fort Lauderdale airport."The weekend events
are very significant, it is concrete  evidence drugs cartels are
utilizing the  Caribbean for air smuggling operations in addition to 
go-fast boats and freighters  arriving from the Bahamas and Haiti,"
Frank Figueroa, the chief  Customs agent in Miami, said in a statement.