Photo Credit: Kindel Media
Flight Crew Still Detained In Dominican Republic After Finding Cocaine On Their Plane 6 Months Ago
Six months ago, five Pivot Airlines crew members were taken into custody after reporting drugs they found in their aircraft. Today, they are still stuck in the Dominican Republic, unsure if or when they will be able to return home.
What we know:
According to Simple Flying, on April 5, the crew, headed by Captain Robert Di Venanzo, was scheduled to depart from Punta Cana to return on a commercially chartered flight back to Canada. However, the maintenance engineer traveling with the crew discovered duffel bags full of cocaine–an estimated $25 million worth–in the avionics bay.
The engineer immediately notified Captain Di Venanzo. The captain then reported the discovery to both Canadian and Dominican authorities. Though no one was charged, the authorities in the Dominican Republic responded by confiscating the passports of all crew members.
Captain Di Venanzo, along with two pilots, two flight attendants, and the maintenance engineer were held in prison before being released on bail. Since then, they’ve all been kept in a safe house.
Throughout the ordeal, the crew members have suffered inhumane treatment, including their lives being threatened. Captain Di Venanzo said that while they were in the jail, corpses would be placed outside of their cells and they were threatened that they may soon suffer the same fate.
No help from Canada’s government, yet-
Pivot Airlines, along with the crew’s families and humanitarian organizations, have been trying to get the government of Canada to help in some way. The Canadian government said they are monitoring the situation and talking to the relevant authorities.
On August 31, a motion to dismiss the case was filed due to a lack of evidence against Captain Di Venanzo and his crew. In fact, video evidence was found proving that the drugs found been put on the plane by a third party who was not a part of the crew.
Despite this, the lead prosecutor wants to see their bail revoked, which could put them back in prison. The crew members have an upcoming court hearing on October 20 and fear that an unfavorable outcome could possibly put them back in jail.
Pivot Airlines CEO Eric Edmondson also fears that things may not go their way due to corruption. The airline has several law firms in Canada and the Dominican Republic aiding the crew, however, he believes the Canadian government should be helping to get them released.