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Crew member from Brazilian president’s plane detained in Seville with 39 kilos of cocaine

The man, who was traveling on the backup aircraft used by President Jair Bolsonaro, was carrying the drugs in packages contained in his hand luggage

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in a file photo taken in Brasilia.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in a file photo taken in Brasilia. REUTERS

The Spanish Civil Guard on Tuesday arrested a military crew member from one of the planes that is used by the Brazilian Air Force to fly the president of the country, Jair Bolsonaro, when he makes international trips. Sources from the Civil Guard confirmed to EL PAÍS that the man was in possession of 39 kilos of cocaine when he was detained.

The Brazilian Defense Ministry issued a statement in which it confirmed the arrest of the crew member

The arrest was made when the plane in which the suspect was flying made a stopover at around 2pm at Seville airport in the south of Spain. The aircraft was headed to Japan, where it was due to be used as a reserve plane for the Brazilian leader, who was to fly to the same destination in another aircraft to take part in the G-20 meeting taking place this week in Osaka.

The Brazilian Defense Ministry has issued a statement in which it confirmed the arrest of the crew member. President Bolsonaro also posted a message on Twitter acknowledging the incident.

Civil Guard sources explained that the drugs were detected and the man detained when the 20 or so members of the crew and their luggage passed through customs on arrival at Seville airport. The arrested man, a 38-year-old petty officer whose identity has not been supplied, got off the plane with a suit bag and an item of hand luggage. When Spanish officers checked the bag, they found it filled with 39 kilo-packages of cocaine. “It wasn’t even hidden among clothes,” the same sources explained.

The Civil Guard is now investigating the planned final destination of the drugs

The Civil Guard is now investigating the planned final destination of the drugs, which may have been Spain. The Brazilian Air Force plane left with the rest of the crew on Tuesday afternoon headed for Japan.

The Brazilian Defense Ministry said in its statement that it “condemned” the actions of the man and that it would work with the Spanish authorities on their investigation. Bolsonaro said on Twitter that he had called on his defense minister to “immediately” assist the Spanish police with their probe.

The president’s plane was supposed to make the same journey to Tokyo, but according to Brazilian news site UOL, the aircraft took a different route. After taking off in Brasilia, Bolsonaro was due to make a stopover in Seville, but late last night his agenda said that Lisbon was the destination instead. The president’s press department did not explain the reason behind the change, or whether it was related to the discovery of the drugs being carried in the backup plane.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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