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Aeromexico pilot held in Madrid on suspicion of smuggling cocaine

August 24, 2011 |  4:49 pm

Aeromexico epa madrid spain cocaine

A Mexican airline co-pilot is under arrest in Spain on suspicion of attempting to smuggle 92 pounds of cocaine in his personal luggage on an Aeromexico flight he helped pilot.

The case marks the second time in nine months that Aeromexico employees have been arrested at Madrid's Barajas Airport on suspicion of smuggling cocaine after flying there on Mexico's remaining legacy airline. In December, three Aeromexico flight attendants were arrested after allegedly attempting to enter Spain with more than 308 pounds of the drug between them, as La Plaza reported.

The flight attendants, all men, were traveling as tourists but carrying Aeromexico identification. The recent arrest is considerably more serious. The suspect, Ruben Garcia Garcia, had served as first officer on an Aeromexico Boeing 777 flight to the Spanish capital from Mexico City when he was arrested Aug. 17.

In a statement posted on its website, the airline said it "deeply regretted" the arrest and that Garcia had been fired (link in Spanish). Mexico's federal transportation agency on Wednesday revoked Garcia's pilot license, and the national pilots union said it would not come to his defense (links in Spanish).

Garcia was being held at a Spanish jail while awaiting charges. Federal authorities in Mexico said they were also investigating (link in Spanish).

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo: A file image of a pilot and Aeromexico airliner. Credit: EPA