Photo Credit: Photo by Scott Webb
Canadian Airline Crew Back Home After Being Detained For Months By Dominican Authorities
A Pivot Airlines crew has finally returned to Canada months after being detained by Dominican authorities for what they are claiming are bogus drug trafficking charges.
It has been a hellish almost eight months for five Canadian crew members. But the story has a happy ending.
When the crew discovered cocaine on board their Pivot Airlines aircraft, the punishment was severe. Authorities in the Dominican Republic kept them from returning to Canada.
In October, Travel Noire reported that the crew was on board a commercial flight bound for Canada from Punta Cana. The pilot was Robert Di Venanzo.
“The maintenance engineer traveling with the crew discovered duffel bags full of cocaine–an estimated $25 million worth–in the avionics bay,” he said.
Prior to their return to Canada, the crew members “were under virtual house arrest, without their passports, on a no-fly list, and living in fear of retribution for disrupting a major shipment of cocaine. Those fears meant being moved to five different safe houses and requiring 24-hour armed protection,” per a report.
But, finally, after nearly six months of being detained by the Dominican Republic, the Pivot Airlines crew has now returned home.
As expected, the reunion between the crew and their loved ones at Toronto International Airport was emotionally charged.
How Did DR Respond To The Discovery Of The Drugs?
CTV News explained, “with seven Canadian passengers on board the chartered plane, the crew discovered eight large duffel bags stuffed in the plane’s avionics bay. They immediately notified Dominican authorities and the RCMP back in Canada.”
Upon discovery of the cocaine, Dominican authorities confiscated the passports of the crew.
According to Travel Noire, “they were held in prison before being released on bail. Since then, they’ve all been kept in a safe house.”
The Crew Endured "Inhumane" Treatment
The crew members were allegedly treated like hardened criminals.
According to Pilot Di Venanzo, while in jail, “corpses would be placed outside of their cells and they [the crew] were told that they may suffer the same fate.”
At the end of August, it was determined that there was no evidence to link the crew to the drugs.
Travel Noire reported, “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.”
It's A Good Thing The Drugs Were Found Before Takeoff
Di Venanzo believes that as bad as the situation was, it could have been even worse if the plane had departed the Dominican Republic with the drugs on board.
“There is no doubt in my mind that had we got airborne or attempted to get airborne, we would have been in trouble,” he said.
The avionics bay, where the drugs were found, is also where the computer system is.
“They are not aviation professionals who did this,” Di Venanzo went on. “They’re jamming bags up there with control cables and threats of fire. It would have been a literal disaster.”
There Was An Emotional Reunion
CTV News reported, “the crew touched down shortly after 7 p.m.”
“Pilot Rob Di Venanzo was engulfed in a hug with his wife Melanie, who is also a pilot, and his teenage son Tyler.”
The pilot gushed, “this is surreal, it’s such a relief, I feel like the last couple of months the hope was gone.”
Mechanic B.K. Dubey felt the same way as he was reunited with his three young children.
CTV News quoted flight attendant Alex Rozov as saying, “this is a dream come true. This man is my rock, my everything. I love you so much,” in reference to his partner, Eduardo.