A French court in Aix-en-Provence acquitted two pilots of a Dassault Falcon 50 on appeal last week. The pilots, identified as Pascal Fauret and Bruno Odos, faced drug-smuggling charges and ultimately six years of prison in France after their March 2013 arrest in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Authorities there searched the Falcon trijet just before a planned takeoff for Saint-Tropez, France, and found 1,500 pounds of cocaine. The drugs were concealed in approximately 20 suitcases belonging to the jet’s passenger, who was also arrested and faced charges.
After the pilots’ arrest on the ramp in Punta Cana, a Dominican tribunal in August 2015 handed down a 20-year prison sentence for their “connection to commit international drug smuggling.” They fled the Dominican Republic to the French territory of Saint Martin, after which the French court of Aix-en-Provence launched its own case into what was popularly dubbed “Air Cocaine.” In April 2019, the French court found the pilots guilty.
Following lengthy appeals, the French court last week confirmed the sentences for other defendants in the case but acquitted pilots Fauret and Odos. According to a report in the French newspaper La Monde, a convicted intermediary in the drug deal told the judge that the pilots were innocent victims of deceit.