CARACAS: Venezuela has arrested five more people in a smuggling case in which 1.3 tonnes of cocaine were flown from Caracas to Paris on an Air France jet, officials said Thursday.
This brings the total number of arrests in Venezuela to 22, including eight members of the military.
The rest are airport or Air France employees, Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres said.
The minister gave no details on the new detainees.
The drugs arrived in Paris on September 11, concealed inside 30 suitcases that no one came forward to claim. The cocaine has an estimated street value of 200 million euros ($270 million). It was the biggest coke seizure ever on French soil.
"There is a bit of everything among those who participated in this process, from the time the suitcase arrives at the airport to when it is put aboard the aircraft," the minister said.
In France, three Italians and two Britons have been arrested in the case.
Rodriguez Torres said French anti-drug police have told the Venezuelans this case involves an Italian-British gang that buys drugs in South America and distributes them in Europe.
"Those people move a lot of money, and they must have taken a long time and paid a lot of money" for the cocaine to travel from Caracas to Paris.
Although the plane arrived in France September 11, the seizure was not announced until last Saturday.
It is not clear if the suitcases spent the night before the flight at Caracas' airport but they did go through X-ray machines before being loaded onto the aircraft.
"The X-ray records we have from that day show the cocaine clearly visible in the suitcases," he said.
The suitcases were labeled as belonging to someone with a Spanish name, to make it look like a Venezuelan was traveling with them, he added.
"That was done very well, and the baggage claim tickets were originals," Rodriguez Torres said.
Cocaine is processed from coca leaves grown in countries such as Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.
Venezuela does not produce cocaine, according to United Nations monitors, but drug traffickers are increasingly using its territory to smuggle drugs into other nations.
In 2012, Venezuelan police seized some 45 tonnes of illegal drugs, according to government figures.