Airport drug bust reveals luggage-switching ring

Lima, Peru -

Peru's counter-narcotics police say they broke up a ring that shipped cocaine from Lima's international airport to Mexico on commercial flights by swapping out unsuspecting passengers' luggage with identical suitcases. The passengers' real bags would be put on later flights.

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Thursday's announcement of the arrest of eight employees at airport services companies follows the April and May detention of five police officers assigned to the airport, also for alleged cocaine-smuggling.

General Vicente Romero says the latest arrests arose from a tip from Mexican police that led to the discovery last month of a suitcase holding 24kg of cocaine.

Romero says authorities don't know how long the suitcase-switching ring operated. But he says one suspect had $58 000 in his possession and claimed to earn $7 000 a shipment. - Sapa-AP