Thursday, December 23, 2010

U.S. Pilots Freed on Bail in Dominican Republic

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Two U.S. pilots suspected of drug smuggling have been freed from a jail in the Dominican Republic.

Kevin Kuranz, 31, and Christopher Schmidt, 28, were detained on December 2 in Santo Domingo, the Caribbean country's capital, after officials from the Dominican anti-narcotics agency found approximately 4 pounds of heroin and 321 pounds of cocaine in their cargo plane, according to the Associated Press.

A three-judge panel granted each pilot $12,160 bail. However, Kuranz and Schmidt must return to the Dominican Republic on the request of local authorities. After the trial, Schmidt said he planned to return to his home state of Tennessee.

Supporters of the two pilots are adamant that Kuranz and Schmidt are not involved in the drug smuggling operation, though Dominican agents said the drugs were found hidden in ceiling and floor panels of their airplane.

Miguel Valerio, their lawyer, said no evidence linking the pilots to the drugs has been found.
Charges have yet to be filed, but the pilots were held under a Dominican law that allows for preventative detention, the Associated Press reported.

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