Venezuela creates Air France cocaine case commission

CARACAS (AFP) - Venezuela's National Assembly has created a special commission to investigate 1.3 tonnes of cocaine shipped from Caracas to Paris aboard an Air France jet, Venezuela said on Saturday.

On Sept 11, the plane left Maiquetia international airport, which serves the capital, and arrived in France loaded with drugs spread out among 30 suitcases that no one came forward to claim.

In Venezuela, 23 people were detained over the case, including eight members of the country's National Guard. Three Italians and two Britons have also been apprehended in France.

"Socialist National Assembly member Freddy Bernal will chair the legislative committee investigating the confiscation," the Ministry of Communication told the press.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Wednesday he was investigating whether US drug enforcement agents were involved in the drug bust as part of a plot to brand Venezuela a "narco state." Mr Maduro, an elected leftist, often charges the United States with trying to kill him and to destabilise his government, following in the steps of his predecessor, the staunch US opponent Hugo Chavez.

Venezuela is considered a non-drug producing state by the United Nations, but is identified as a route used by drug cartels.

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