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Thu, Sep 28, 2006

Citation Impounded As Part Of Belgian Drug Sting

Authorities Seize Pilots, Passenger... And $13 Million In Heroin

Be careful who you let use your plane! Belgian police impounded a Cessna Citation of Irish registry on Tuesday. Why? Because a man carrying over 100 pounds of heroin tried to board the aircraft... and police were waiting for him.

The drugs are thought to be worth around $13 million.

Ireland's RTE reports the jet flew out of Weston Executive Airport in County Kildare, Ireland to pick up a passenger in southern Belgium. All seemed well... but agents with the Garda National Drugs Unit were keeping an eye on the plane, as part of an ongoing investigation into drug trafficking in Ireland.

Based on information gleaned during their investigation... they coordinated with Belgian police to have the aircraft impounded. The pilot, the co-pilot and the 36-year-old passenger were arrested by authorities.

The investigation also resulted in further arrests in Dublin and Holland.

The plane's owner, businessman Jim Mansfield, told RTE through a spokesman the flight was operated by the National Flight Center. That company, based at Weston, is owned by Captain Kieran O'Connor.

Weston Executive is privately-owned by Mansfield... and there is no permanent customs presence there. Mansfield's spokesman said another aircraft operator, not identified in the report, was using Mansfield's Citation because theirs was down for maintenance.

Mansfield expressed shock over the events and said he and the National Flight Center will cooperate fully with authorities.

FMI: www.nfc.ie

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