SAO PAULO – A small plane intercepted earlier this week with more than a half-ton of cocaine aboard did not take off from property linked to Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi, Brazilian police said Wednesday.
Data from the twin-engine aircraft’s GPS system showed that the plane intercepted last Sunday took off from Bolivia.
When authorities first spotted the “suspicious” aircraft on radar they made radio contact. After the pilot declined to respond to requests for identification, a fighter plane was dispatched, the air force said in a statement.
The pilot of the small plane ignored the presence of the fighter until the air force pilot fired a warning shot, prompting the man at the controls of the small aircraft to land in a rural area of the central state of Goias.
Authorities found 653 kilos (1,438 lbs.) of cocaine aboard the small aircraft and the pilot said that he had taken off from Itamarati Norte, a spread of roughly 40,000 hectares (98,000 acres) in Mato Grosso state, the air force said.
Itamarati Norte belongs to the Andre Maggi Group, an agribusiness giant founded by Blairo Maggi’s father.
In a subsequent interrogation by police, the pilot said that he actually took from Bolivia bound for Jussara, Goias, and the co-pilot confirmed that account.