Pivot Airlines’ two pilots and three crew members were detained in the Dominican Republic after illicit drugs were discovered on their plane soon before it was scheduled to fly from Punta Cana to Toronto.
The five crew members detected and reported contraband found aboard the plane, according to a statement released by Pivot Airlines to CTV News Toronto.
After a comprehensive examination, the Dominican Republic’s National Drug Control Directorate (DNCD) said that eight packages, each containing 25 smaller packets of cocaine, totaling 200 packages, were discovered in the aircraft’s control compartments. The seized drugs amount to around 200 kilograms of cocaine, making it a significant drug seizure.
According to the National Post, Dominican prosecutors believe that Pivot Airlines, an Ontario-based charter airline launched in 2020, and its occupants, including the crew, were “serving as a front for importing cocaine into Toronto.”
ARRESTAN TRES Y OCUPAN 810 PAQUETES PRESUMIBLEMENTE COCAÍNA EN SPM @ArmadaRepDom @ProcuraduriaRD https://t.co/M3CW42CJNK#DNCDRD #DNCDCambia #TodosUnidos #Decomiso #SanPedrodeMacorís pic.twitter.com/qjQDALsJCl
— Dirección Nacional de Control de Drogas (@DNCDRD) April 11, 2022
Prosecutors also asked that the crew and passengers be detained in detention for at least a year while investigations are conducted.
Meanwhile, Pivot Airlines CEO Eric Edmonson wrote to Melanie Joly, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, pleading with her to intercede and “do more.”
“We are reaching out to you to request your urgent assistance in ensuring the safe return of the Canadian aircrew being wrongfully held in the Dominican Republic,” Edmondson wrote in a letter to Joly, quoted by Global News Canada.
“For more than 24 days, our crew has been subject to threats against their lives, inhumane treatment, and arbitrary detention, for dutifully reporting a crime and averting a potential aviation disaster. We are deeply concerned for their safety and are pleading with you to intervene so they may return home to their families,” Edmonson said.
Edmonson also wrote a post on LinkedIn on World Pilots’ Day to raise awareness on the Pivot Airlines crew’s involvement in the case.
“On World Pilots’ Day, I would like to ask my aviation industry connections to pause and think about the two pilots and three other crew members held in the Dominican Republic after reporting suspected contraband onboard their aircraft before departure from Punta Cana to local and Canadian authorities, “ Edmonson wrote.
Edmonson further added: “Under Dominican laws, you can be detained WITHOUT charges or the assumption of guilt for 12 months in complex cases during an investigation. The pilots and other crew members spent several days in a horrific detention center only to be released on bail under the condition of remaining in the DR, all while being publicly identified and labeled as whistleblowers.”