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Court Gives "Air Cocaine" Pilots 20 Year Prison Sentence

August 19, 2015 - A Dominican Republic court (tribunal) has sentenced two French pilots, Captain Pascal Fauret and Copilot Bruno Odos to 20 years in prison for drug smuggling. The pilots professed throughout the trial that they were innocent, Fauret said, “I had no knowledge of what was in the passengers’ luggage. I was only doing my job. I’m innocent.”

Back in March 2013, the pilots, Fauret and Odos were preparing their aircraft for takeoff from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for La Môle airport in the Côte d'Azur (French Riviera) with two passengers onboard, when by the Dominican Republic National Directorate for Drug Control (DNCD) stormed the French built Dassault Falcon 50 (F-GXMC), a super mid-sized, long-range corporate jet.

Onboard the aircraft were 26 suitcases containing 1,500 pounds of cocaine. The two pilots and two French passengers Alain Castany who is a pilot and Nicolas Pisapia who is an investor were arrested and jailed. Pisapia claimed at trial the bags were not his and that he only had one carry-on bag. He further stated he had traveled to Punta Cana to meet investors who wanted to invest in Romania and Europe.

The street value of the cocaine was estimated to be worth $26 million. The two passengers onboard the corporate jet were also given 20 years. The news media referred this case as "Air Cocaine".



The Dominican authorities believed the pilots and passengers, along with 35 Dominican officers and agents were part of international drug smuggling ring that was flying drugs in and out of Dominican Republic to several European countries for the past several years. Back in 2010, a number of European countries such as France, Holland, and Belgium had notified the DNCD that they had arrested a number of pilots arriving into their counties that had flown out Punta Cana caring drugs and suspected that the source was in the Dominican Republic.

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, after 10 hours of court deliberations, the court on August 14th sentenced the four men to 20 years and they will serve their time in French prisons. The Lawyers for the four French men have announced that they would appeal the ruling. The Dassault Falcon 50 which is owned by Jewish French businessman Alain Afflelou remains confiscated by the government of Dominican Republic. The lawyers representing the pilots claim the pilots of a commercial flight are not responsible for the contents of the luggage. However, the augment is given the number of bags and the number of passengers and the fact the so much luggage was stored in the cabin it should have sent of a warning to the pilots.

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