Canadian crew says they were jailed after reporting suspected contraband on Dominican Republic flight

A pilot from Antigonish, NS, wants more attention to what is happening to his friends and colleagues who are being detained in the Dominican Republic after the multimillion-dollar girl was found. found on their plane.

On April 5, the crew of Pivot Airlines were sent to prison after drugs were found in several duffel bags. Carl Falsnes knew some of the crew was working at another airline. He is a close friend of Aatif Safdar, a pilot from Hamilton, Ont.

Pivot is a private airline based in Toronto.

“I check our group chat and feed every day and wonder what’s going on with these people. Aatif has a young child, a young wife,” Falsnes told CBC News.

The crew was released on bail. Last week, they released a video explaining their side of the story and asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to help bring them home.

Captain Robert Di Venanzo said two months ago, the crew found contraband on their plane to Canada. They reported it to the RCMP and the Dominican Republic authorities.

“The Dominicans threw us in prison,” said Di Venanzo.

‘We got death threats,’ the pilot said

“We were threatened with death by drug criminals, blackmailed by prisoners, and lived in inhumane and humiliating conditions. In prison, a corpse was placed outside our cell, and we was told we’d be next. We’re living a nightmare.” “

Di Venanzo said they could be sent back to prison as soon as possible.

“Mr. Prime Minister, we need your help. We did our job by reporting this drug and saving Canadians. Now we need you to do our job,” he said. speak.

VIEW | NS pilots fear for friends detained in the Dominican Republic

NS pilots fear for friends detained in the Dominican Republic

In April, a Pivot Airlines crew member was sent to prison after finding millions of dollars worth of cocaine on their plane. The crew were friends and colleagues of Antigonish, NS, pilot Carl Falsnes. Falsnes said the case should get more attention in Canada.

Falsnes said he tried to text the crew, but they didn’t receive it. He said he wasn’t even sure they had their phones.

“I mean it’s unbelievable that a crew member who discovers a problem can get into a situation where your life is so threatened that you’re not even sure you’ll get out of it,” Falsnes said.

Falsnes said the situation went unnoticed. He fears his friends will not get justice in the Dominican Republic. Falsnes wanted the federal government to intervene.

The federal government knows

During his visit to the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles last week, Prime Minister Trudeau met with Dominican President Luis Abinader.

On his official website, the prime minister said he “raised the case of the Canadian crew in the Dominican Republic and received assurances that the authorities would deal with the matter in accordance with the law.” .”

Global Affairs Canada said it was also aware of the crew’s situation.

The cocaine pills were found on the plane. (National Drug Control Bureau)

“Canadian officials continue to monitor the situation closely, cooperate with local authorities and provide consular assistance. Due to privacy considerations, no further information can be released,” said Charlotte MacLeod , a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, read.

Meanwhile Falsnes is worried about his friend. The last time they spoke was four days before the flight. He says he’s excited to fly more. During the pandemic, Falsnes said Safdar made money driving for Uber.

“I feel sorry for these people. It’s sad. You go to work, you do your job and you end up in jail,” he said.

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