Venezuela: Nightmare for Routine Charter Flight Pilot and Crew reported —- it started as a routine charter flight. But when the business jet landed in Venezuela, armed men loaded 47 sacks of cocaine on board and forced the crew to fly the cargo back across the Atlantic. Since then, the German pilot has been living under an assumed identity. There aren’t too many places that offer better protection against criminality than an international airport. With all the video cameras, security personnel and scanners, there isn’t much room for malfeasance. Furthermore, every passenger is registered, every pilot is scanned and every cleaning lady has undergone a security check.

The airport in Valencia, Venezuela’s third largest city, is also patrolled by Commando 24 of the Bolivarian National Guard. Passengers are united in their hatred for the unit, with complaints rampant on Internet forums. Some passengers report having been searched up to three times before boarding their flights. The Venezuelan secret service also has agents posted at the city’s airport, Arturo Michelena International.

Karl Lückert*(name changed) can only smile wryly at the massive security effort. He once landed in Valencia as the pilot of a private jet of the kind often booked by CEOs, stars and the wealthy. In August 2012, he touched down at Arturo Michelena for what he thought would be a routine, and brief, stopover. But things turned out differently. So differently that, in subsequent days, he found himself confronted with the choice between losing his life or acting as a drug courier. Indeed, as a consequence of that layover, he was forced to burn all bridges to the life he had led to that point and take on a new identity. Now, over two years later, the man who forced Lückert into the drug trade may soon be facing trafficking charges in a US court. Read Article

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