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#4469: U.S. Customs makes arrests in alleged air smuggling organization (fwd)


Posted at 3:58 p.m. EDT Monday, June 26, 2000 
 U.S. Customs makes arrests in alleged air smuggling organization

 U.S. Customs said today that it has dismantled an air smuggling
organization that was smuggling cocaine into the United States from
Haiti. The organization had been operating in South Florida for more
than a year, according to a Customs press release. In March, agents got
information indicating that Air De Ayiti Express was being used to
import cocaine and undocumented immigrants into the U.S. from Haiti,
 the release said. An investigation allegedly revealed that the airline
used the Opa-locka Airport and the Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport for
after hours landings to unload the cocaine and passengers. On Saturday
night, Customs special agents found out that an Air De Ayiti flight
 would be leaving Nassau, Bahamas for South Florida. The U.S. Customs
 Service's Air and Marine branch went on alert to interdict the flight. 
 A U.S. Customs Service Citation jet found the plane, a Cessna Caravan,
and followed the plane to the South Florida coast, Customs said. A
Customs Blackhawk helicopter joined the effort there and continued
following the Cessna to Opa-locka Airport where it landed. As the
Customs aircraft were landing, a passenger on the Cessna got out of the
 plane and allegedly fled. Inside the plane Customs Air Officers found
four suitcases with 259 pounds of cocaine, worth $2.3 million, according
to Customs. The plane was seized and the passenger who allegedly fled,
Paul Voigt, 43, was arrested, along with pilot Robert Bruce Karns, 63,
and Anicet Voigt, 41, who was waiting to pick up her husband Paul. All
are from Miami. Customs made arrangements to deliver the drugs to the
people who they say were supposed to receive them. That resulted in more
arrests on Sunday: Mathieu Noel, 45, of Tampa, Slyvera Mathurin, 40, of
Haiti, Raymond Joseph, 50, of Haiti, and Rochambeau Dolcine, 43, of
Miami. Customs seized a second Cessna Caravan belonging to the airline
at the Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport for allegedly having been used
in other smuggling operations.