'Air Cocaine' Pilots To Appeal 20-year Sentences

 - August 19, 2015, 9:37 AM

Pascal Fauret and Bruno Odos—the pilots of Dassault Falcon 50 F-GXMC that was caught with 1,500 pounds of cocaine on board in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, in March 2013—have been sentenced to 20 years in jail by a Dominican tribunal for their “connection to commit international drug smuggling.”

Their lawyer intends to appeal the decision and they are free until the appeals trial. Both passengers, Nicolas Pisapia and Alain Castany, have received the same prison term. The role of Castany, however, is unclear. Pilot union SNPL France Alpa does not consider him a crewmember on this flight, but he was seen wearing a pilot uniform on a television report and was described as a “flight assistant” in the Dominican press. The jury’s decision also includes the confiscation of the aircraft.

All four Frenchmen maintain their innocence. According to Dominican newspaper Diario Libre, Pisapi said he was not the owner of the 26 suitcases, many of which were in the cabin, that were found full of drugs. Four Dominicans were also sentenced to jail, with terms between five and 10 years.

The four Frenchmen have not left the country since their arrest and have spent 15 months in prison. The $26 million drug bust took place just before takeoff, as the engines were already running for a departure to Saint-Tropez, France, and the case has since been known as “Air Cocaine.” The operator was Lyon, France-based Aerojet Corporate.