This came as a shock to many including the police due to the size of the shipment. It is uncommon for such a large quantity of drugs to be transported by air.
French officials worked together with British, Dutch and Spanish law enforcement managed to locate the drugs which were stored in 31 brightly colored suitcases.
900 kilograms of cocaine was found in the suitcases and a further 400 kilograms was caught in a lorry on its way to Luxembourg from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.
Although cocaine is not produced in Venezuela it is becoming more frequently used as a trafficking hub.
At this point it is unclear whether somebody inside the Venezuelan airport is involved or if it is an employee of Air France. Different investigations are being conducted.
This has been France’s largest drug bust in history and was recognized as a ‘fine’ accomplishment by the nation’s interior minister, Manuel Valls.
Though all the suitcases were registered to false entities, 6 suspects, 3 British and 3 Italian, have been taken into custody by French authorities and have been charged with belonging to an international drug cartel.
It is also assumed that the drugs were headed to a large Italian drug gang called the ‘Ndrangheta. The seized cocaine was given a lowest estimated value of $67 million or €50 million.
Drug trafficking is an ever-growing issue globally and initiatives by local authorities are becoming more frequent.
According to a report by the UN, the annual global cocaine trade is estimated to be $87 billion. The entire drug market is estimated to generate $435 billion annually.
According to another report from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, “In 2007 and 2008, cocaine was used by some 16 to 17 million people worldwide, similar to the number of global opiate users. North America accounted for more than 40 per cent of global cocaine consumption (the total was estimated at around 470 tons), while the 27 European Union and four European Free Trade Association countries accounted for more than a quarter of total consumption. These two regions account for more than 80 per cent of the total value of the global cocaine market, which was estimated at $88 billion in 2008.”
Consumption of cocaine and opiates is growing worldwide possibly at a rate that is too high for authorities to stop. The same report estimates that approximately 450 tons of heroine enters the drug market annually with 380 tons produced in Afghanistan.