French pilot arrested in Mali for suspected drug trafficking
A French pilot implicated in drug trafficking in west Africa has been arrested in Bamako, a Malian security source said on Tuesday.
The suspect was arrested on Monday and has been allegedly "linked" to drug rings involved in trafficking in Guinea, Guinea Bissau and possibly Senegal.
"What I can tell you is that we may begin to find an answer to a big drug scandal which took place in 2009," said the security source.
In November 2009 a Boeing 727 coming from Venezuela carrying -- according to the UN -- "cocaine and other illicit substances", landed in the region of Gao in Mali.
Landing on a makeshift runway it offloaded its precious cargo before being set alight by traffickers, its burned-out hull found abandoned in the Sahara desert.
Mali's president at the time announced both a national and international inquiry into the affair which officials said showed West Africa's growing role as a hub for drugs smuggled from Latin America and bound for Europe.
Gangs of traffickers are also linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) which operates in this vast desert area, mainly in Algeria, Mali and Mauritania.
© 2011 AFP