Pivot Airlines has found itself at the centre of a drug scandal in the Dominican Republic after local police found a large stash of cocaine onboard its aircraft.

The aircraft’s entire crew, including nine Canadian nationals, has been detained in the Caribbean country.

The Canadian Civil Aircraft Register lists one aircraft as being registered to Pivot – a Bombardier CRJ100ER. The Ontario-based airline’s jet has remained in Punta Cana since it arrived from Toronto on Thursday 31st March.

Eight bags seized

In a statement released by the country’s drug enforcement authority, they confirmed they had seized eight large bags, containing a total of 200 packs of a white substance, stashed in “control compartments” of C-FWRR, the aircraft’s registration code.

The Ministry of Interior and Police have confirmed that eleven people remain in custody, along with the aircraft itself, whilst investigations are carried out to establish who else may be involved in the suspected drug smuggling operation.

According to a statement from Pivot Airlines, the nine-strong flight crew and two cabin crew members were detained after having reported the discovery of a bag to local police.

pivot airlines drug scandal in dominican republic
The cockpit of a Bombardier CRJ100ER, the type of aircraft involved in the incident | © aeroprints.com

Allegedly unsure of what he had discovered when inspecting a compartment under the jet’s fuselage, a maintenance worker who formed part of the crew reported one item to local authorities. Upon searching the aircraft, Dominican police discovered seven further bags.

The airline has since expressed concern for its crew’s safety:

“They do not speak the language, have been identified as reporting the contraband to authorities and fear for their safety. We are deeply concerned for the safety, security, and ethical and humane treatment of our crew.

It is unacceptable that a Canadian aircrew could remain detained for the duration of a potential 12-month investigation for a suspected crime that they reported.”

Pivot Airlines is owned by Binder Capital Corporation, a private equity firm based in Alberta, Canada.

Eric Edmondson, head of the airline, was not immediately available for comment.

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