Canadians detained in Dominican Republic after packages of presumed cocaine found on aircraft

Click to play video: 'Authorities in the Dominican Republic inspect cocaine allegedly seized aboard Toronto-bound aircraft'
Authorities in the Dominican Republic inspect cocaine allegedly seized aboard Toronto-bound aircraft
WATCH: Video released by the country’s National Directorate for Drug Control (DNCD) shows law enforcement officers going through what is allegedly the cocaine seized on the plane. – Apr 15, 2022

Nine Canadians are among 11 who have been detained in the Dominican Republic after more than 200 packages of presumed cocaine were seized on an aircraft at Punta Cana International Airport, officials say.

In a press release dated April 6, the country’s National Directorate for Drug Control (DNCD) said the aircraft was set to fly from Punta Cana to Toronto.

Global News has confirmed the aircraft was operated by Pivot Airlines on April 5 who said they are “working diligently to secure the release of our crew.”

The DNCD said authorities began a “rigorous check” and allegedly found “eight black packages” in the aircraft.

“Each containing 25 packages, for a total of 200,” the release reads.

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Pivot Airlines said five crew members discovered, reported and suspected that there was contraband in a maintenance compartment of the plane. They have since been detained in the Dominican Republic, the airline said.

“Earlier this week, the court decided to improve the conditions for our crew, and have outlined a process for their eventual release from detention facilities,” the airline said. “We are grateful for the decision and are working diligently to secure their release.”

According to the DNCD, nine Canadians, one person from India and another from the Dominican Republic are “being questioned to determine their possible involvement.”

“An extensive investigation process has been initiated around this case, the Public Ministry, assisted by DNCD agents, are working hard to clearly establish who is directly linked to the seizure of the substance,” the press release reads.

The DNCD said the crew, passengers and “others investigated,” as well as the aircraft are now “under the control of the Public Minister” while the investigation continues.

According to DNCD’s release, the packages seized during the search have been sent to the country’s National Institute of Forensic Sciences, to determine “the exact type and weight of the substance.”

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Global News reached out to Global Affairs Canada who said it is aware of the detention of Canadian citizens in the Dominican Republic and are “providing consular assistance and are in contact with the families of the Canadian citizens.”

“The Government of Canada’s first priority is always the safety and security of its citizens,” a spokesperson wrote in an email.

But Global Affairs Canada said due to privacy reasons, no other information can be disclosed.

— With files from Global News’ Gabby Rodrigues

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