Two men who allegedly flew a plane from Belize carrying cocaine appeared at an initial court hearing in Portuguesa State, Venezuela. 51 year-old Canadian William David Sawatzky and 31 year old Colombian Jorge Armando Bustamante ware detained when the plane landed on February 22nd at General Oswaldo Guevara Mujica Airport, located in Acarigua, Portuguesa State.
Informed sources claim that the man listed as Canadian, William Sawatzky, is actually a Mennonite from Blue Creek, Belize.
Prosecutor Zoila Fonseca said the men were charged with smuggling narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. They were also charged with incurring interference in the safety of civil aviation, and fraudulently obtaining a diversion route for an aircraft and illegal transportation of dangerous materials.
Authorities in Belize said the aircraft left Belizean airspace from a licensed airfield in Western Belize on the afternoon of February 21st without a flight plan.
the absence of a flight plan makes it impossible to land at any legal airport in the world.It also suggests that illicit cargo could have been involved.
Normally, if an aircraft intends to leave Belizean airspace, it would have to first fly to the Phillip Goldson international Airport, check with immigration, customs and police and file a flight plan with civil aviation, and then it could leave the country.
The National Guard in Venezuela detected the plane flying over the airspace of Acarigua. The plane had not notified any authorities of it’s flight plan, and so National Guard officers went to Acariqua Airport to watch it land.
Military Troups also came to the airport and detained the two men, who said they took off from a private airport in Belize. The pilot said he had made an emergency landing in order to refuel. Officers of the Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations Deoartment searched the aircraft, a red Aero Commander 500 with registration N345MP. Inside they found cocaine, four 30 gallon cans of gasoline, a hand pump, a hose and an additional tank for fuel.
It is believed that the pair were intending to reach the Columbian border where the cocaine would be processed. The men remain detained in the prison of Los Llanos, located in Guanare.