Argentine pilots held in Spain over drugs

January 7, 2011 12:00 am

, MADRID, Jan 7 – Spanish police have arrested two Argentine pilots for allegedly flying in more than 900 kilogrammes (2,000 pounds) of cocaine, Spanish newspapers reported Friday.

The pair, Gustavo Julia and Gaston Miret, were the sons of Argentine military officers and were detained "some days ago" in the northeastern city of Barcelona, the papers said.

They worked for an airline carrying medical supplies.

The pilots were "the sons of two soldiers who held important positions for years in the Argentine air force and who were also allegedly linked to criminal acts," Spain\’s leading daily El Pais said.

Another paper, El Mundo, said that police had not ruled out further arrests "in the coming hours."

"There is an operation ongoing over the interception of a plane with narcotics at El Prat airport" in Barcelona, a Spanish police spokesman told AFP. He declined to give further details for legal reasons.

A plane piloted by the two men landed in Barcelona from the Cape Verde islands in the Atlantic Ocean, where "according to all indications," the drugs were loaded onto the plane, El Pais said.

The paper said Julia was one of the main shareholders in the company Medical Jet, which transports medicines, and Miret was his co-pilot.

Julia is the son of retired Brigadier Jose Julia, head of Argentina\’s air force from 1989 to 1993, when Carlos Menem was president.

Jose Julia, who died four years ago, was questioned by the anti-mafia commission of Argentina\’s lower house of parliament in 1998 "for his suspected link with one of the biggest criminals in Argentina, Alfredo Yabran," El Pais said.

Yabran committed suicide in 1998 when he about to be arrested over the killing of a photographer.

Gaston Miret is the son of Brigadier Jose Miret, an official in Argentina\’s former military dictatorship, El Pais said.

Brigadier Miret "was also linked to Paraguay\’s General Lino Oviedo," who was suspected by the United States of of links to drug traffickers, it said.


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