Wednesday 23 October 2002

Drugs smuggling pilot says he was on CIA mission

A pilot from the Westcountry accused of smuggling £22 million worth of cocaine into Britain has told a jury that he had been working for an "arm of the CIA" when he was arrested by Customs officials.

Christopher Barrett-Jolley, 55, of Wellington in Somerset, was flying a Boeing 707 aeroplane which landed at Southend airport, Essex, in October.

Six suitcases packed with cocaine were dropped from the plane as it taxied along the runway, Basildon Crown Court heard. Customs officers were lying in wait after a tip-off and arrested Barrett-Jolley and two other people on board the plane.

Mr Barrett-Jolley, a freelance pilot who has been flying for nearly 40 years, told the court that he was not involved in drug smuggling, had no knowledge of unlawful drugs being on board the aircraft and was not aware of suitcases being thrown on to the runway.

He said the 707 had been chartered by a company called Air America which was an "arm of the CIA".

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