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Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
Saudi prince faces drug charges
Cocaine haul
The drugs were allegedly smuggled on the prince's jet
A Saudi prince is being sought by US drug enforcement agents on charges of smuggling cocaine from Venezuela to France, US authorities have revealed.


Intercepting the flow of drugs and significant drug profits is a critical issue of national security and a responsibility that we take very seriously

DEA Director Asa Hutchinson
Nayef Bin Sultan Bin Fawwaz Al-Shaalan, whom prosecutors say is not in the line of succession to the Saudi throne, was indicted by a Miami court along with two Colombians and a Spanish man on charges of possession and conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

However, officials at the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) said they did not know the prince's whereabouts and it remains unclear whether he can be prosecuted if found because of his diplomatic immunity.

The prince is alleged to have smuggled 1,980 kilograms (4,400 pounds) of the drug on his private jet in 1999.

Global operation

Some of the drug seized in France and in Spain was subsequently traced back to the prince's alleged shipment, DEA agents told the Associated Press news agency.

Investigators uncovered the alleged operation following tip-offs from Colombian drug informants. A DEA report detailed how the reported deal broker - Doris Mangeri Salazar - had introduced the prince to smugglers in 1998.

Ms Salazar was arrested on Wednesday by DEA agents, who reportedly found her hiding in a bedroom closet in her Miami home.

Agents also seized several artworks at Ms Salazar's home, including a painting by the artist Goya thought to be worth around $1m, and several sculptures.

It is thought the art work may have been used as part of payment in the alleged deal.

DEA agents said the indictments sent a powerful message to would-be smugglers.

"Intercepting the flow of drugs and significant drug profits is a critical issue of national security and a responsibility that we take very seriously," said DEA Director Asa Hutchinson.

See also:

12 Mar 02 | Americas
06 Mar 02 | Europe
27 Feb 02 | Europe
17 Jan 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
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