June 30, 2006


Airline used to set up drug route from the Caribbean

AMSTERDAM, 2004--Netherlands: Seven people, including two directors of bankrupt airline Air Holland, have been arrested on charges they used the airline to set up a drugs route between the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles and Suriname.

The arrested directors, who are alleged to have financed the airline for years with illegal drugs money, have been identified as a former Air Holland chief executive and the company's former financial director. Police raided the homes of the seven suspects in recent weeks, accusing them of money laundering and smuggling at least 633kg of cocaine. The shipment was discovered several months ago in a container of coffee beans at Rotterdam Port.

According to a report in newspaper De Telegraaf, a spokesman for the public prosecution has confirmed the arrests. A total of EUR 50,000 (US $66,500) and a firearm were also reportedly seized in the raids. The EUR 25 million (US $33 million) allegedly earned by the drug dealing is believed to have been invested into Air Holland, but the company's planes are not thought to have been used for drug smuggling.

The profits were also invested in real estate and other businesses. The financially-ailing Air Holland has been a source of controversy for some time. It previously hit the headlines after being granted permits by the aviation inspectorate despite the fact that it was almost bankrupt.

600 Kilos of Cocaine

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