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Hydraulic Leak Aboard Air France Flight Leads To Repairs And ‘Accidental’ Discovery of 66 Pounds of Cocaine In Sint Maarten

PHILIPSBURG — A hydraulic fluid leak requiring repairs under the fuselage of an Air France Boeing 777 led to the “accidental” discovery of 66 pounds (30 kilograms) of cocaine hidden on the plane, authorities here said Friday.

Just a few minutes before takeoff, the hydraulic leak was discovered, requiring the airplane to wait on the tarmac while the maintenance crew crawled under the fuselage to repair the leak. Such a leak would need immediate repair since the hydraulics would be an important part of the airplane’s landing gear, brakes, and flaps. Without it, their aircraft would have a lot of difficulties in landing and stopping. It is unclear whether or not there was an issue with the hydraulic hose, however, in any case, it would need to be checked by a hydraulic service similar to this hydraulic hose repair in Sydney or by their local engineers in France or wherever the plane is taking off from.

When the repair crew did, they discovered the cocaine in two sports bags hidden behind plastic signs.

The French flight was leaving Princess Juliana International Airport in Dutch Sint Maarten bound for Roissy, France.

Air France said that it normally uses an Airbus A340 to handle the route, but in this case sent the Boeing 777, it did not say why.

Dutch authorities have opened up an investigation into the incident. An internal investigation has also been initiated by Air France itself, the Virgin Islands Free Press has learned.

In November 2015, ninety pounds (41 kilograms) of cocaine were discovered on an Air France flight headed from French Saint-Martin to Roissy, France.

The Dutch and French share the twin-island Sint Maarten-Saint-Martin. Only the Dutch have an airport.

A source close to the investigation told the V.I. Free Press that this is indeed “proof positive that the West Indies are a hub for drug trafficking.”

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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