NEW YORK (AP) - Federal investigators are piecing together details of an audacious new trend in drug smuggling: South American gangs are buying old jets, stuffing them full of cocaine and flying them across the Atlantic.
Prosecutors say at least three gangs have struck deals to fly drugs to West Africa and from there to Europe.
One trafficker claimed he already had six aircraft flying. Another said he was managing five airplanes. Big planes can cross the Atlantic virtually undetected because there is no radar in the middle of the ocean.
Experts say the air route is remarkable because of the distances involved and the complexity of flying big jets. A trip from Venezuela to West Africa is about 3,400 miles - triple the distance to Florida.
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