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Brazilian authorities seize 1.3 tons of cocaine on private Turkish jet

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Brazilian police on Wednesday seized 1.3 tons of cocaine stashed in suitcases on a private jet belonging to Turkish carrier ACM Air and leased by a Spanish passenger, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.

Brazilian customs enforcement officers conducted a search of the jet on Wednesday at Fortaleza-Pinto Martins International Airport in Fortaleza, the capital city of Ceará, and discovered 24 suitcases containing drugs belonging to 60-year-old Spanish-Belgian dual national Angel Alberto Gonzalez Gonzalez, who boarded the plane at Leite Lopes Airport in Ribeirão Preto. The plane was headed to Belgium vis Lisbon.

The Brazilian police released a video of the operation, shared on Twitter by İYİ (Good) Party İstanbul city council member Ali Kıdık on Wednesday.

“Dozens of suitcases containing cocaine were seized in a Turkish business jet. Cocaine, reportedly belonging to a passenger who was flying from Fortaleza Airport in Brazil to Brussels, Belgium, was confiscated. The passenger and pilots were taken into custody,” Kıdık tweeted.

In the video Brazilian police officers are seen questioning the Turkish pilot about a suitcase, and the pilot says it belongs to Valdes. Then the police ask the Spanish passenger to open the suitcase. The police officers conduct a quick test on the powder in the suitcase and confirm that it is cocaine.

ACM Air released a statement in which it denied any responsibility for the cocaine found on its jet.

“We would [like to] inform the public that the customer in question and his personal belongings are not connected in any manner to our company or our air crew, and the responsibility for checking passenger belongings lies completely with the airport authorities, and our air crew and plane will be brought to Turkey as soon as possible after the completion of the legal proceedings,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, journalist Timur Soykan claimed that the jet in question had once belonged to the Prime Ministry, when it was operating under tail number TC-ATA. “The Turkish jet in which suitcases full of cocaine were seized in Brazil used to belong to the Prime Ministry, with tail number TC-ATA, which was very famous in the past. Its tail number was changed to TC-GVA before being sold,” Soykan tweeted.

The Brazilian police’s crackdown on drug smuggling came after Turkish mob boss Sedat Peker had revealed the alleged involvement of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in international cocaine trafficking, claiming that Turkey had become part of a new route for cocaine smuggling thanks to the efforts of the Turkey’s ruling politicians.

Erkan Yıldırım, son of former vice president Binali Yıldırım, who is currently deputy chairman of the AKP, was part of a major drug trafficking ring involving Venezuela and Turkey, Peker had claimed in a recent video posted on YouTube.

According to Peker, Erkan Yıldırım traveled to the Venezuelan capital of Caracas in January and February to establish a new drug trafficking route following a raid in Colombia last year when Colombian authorities seized 4.9 tons of cocaine headed for Turkey. Peker said measures implemented by Colombian authorities forced the Turkish drug network to find a new route via Venezuela.

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