A Canadian airline crew is finally back home after spending eight months detained in the Dominican Republic on what they say are bogus drug trafficking charges.
The five members of the Pivot Airlines crew were on board a flight headed to Canada from Punta Cana when the flight engineer discovered cocaine on board.
“The maintenance engineer traveling with the crew discovered duffel bags full of cocaine–an estimated $25 million worth–in the avionics bay,” pilot Robert Di Venanzo said.
Authorities in the Dominican Republic stopped them from returning to Canada. They “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,” a report stated.
Crew members shed tears and hugged their loved ones after arriving at Toronto’s Pearson airport.
They were met by family and friends who last saw them in person in April when they set off on a trip that was supposed to be a short day trip, MSN reported
The two pilots, two flight attendants, and a mechanic with tiny Pivot Airlines were finally allowed to leave DR after prosecutors announced two weeks ago they didn’t have enough evidence to charge the group.
The crew was working a seven-passenger charter flight at the time of the detainment, and after reporting the cocaine, their passports were taken by local authorities.
“It’s hard to believe that we’re actually back home,” said flight attendant Alex Rozov.
“The way everything was unfolding, we just started losing all hope,” he said. “It was an absolute circus. It doesn’t make any sense the way they were trying to prosecute us.”
“I’m back, I’m with my family. I’m really happy,” he said. “I can’t express it,” Mechanic B.K. Dubey added.