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Aircraft With 300 Indian Nationals Onboard Detained in France After Police Receive Human Trafficking Tipoff

Aircraft With 300 Indian Nationals Onboard Detained in France After Police Receive Human Trafficking Tipoff

a large white airplane on a runway

An aircraft with more than 300 Indian nationals onboard has been detained by French police at a small airport near Paris after prosecutors received an anonymous tipoff that some of the passengers on the plane were victims of human trafficking, local media have reported.

The Airbus A340 has been grounded since Thursday afternoon after the aircraft landed at Paris-Vatry Airport following an eight-hour flight from Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.

The aircraft, which is operated by the Romanian wetlease and charter carrier Legend Airlines, is believed to have landed at Vatry for a short technical stop to be refuelled and was due to depart for its ultimate destination in Nicaragua.

Authorities have closed the airport to the public, and after initially keeping the passengers onboard the aircraft, they have now been moved into the main terminal building, where cots have been set up for them to rest while prosecutors continue their investigation.

The local prefecture has confirmed that 303 people of Indian nationality were onboard the detained aircraft.

There were several children onboard the aircraft, and it is understood that prosecutors are investigating the possibility that at least several of the passengers could be victims of human trafficking.

Two of the passengers have reportedly been taken into police custody to “verify and corroborate the suspicion of trafficking in human beings in an organized gang”, according to the BFM news station.

A lawyer representing Legend Airlines has told French media outlets that the airline didn’t have anything to do with the accusations of human trafficking and that the carrier was operating the flight as a charter service on behalf of an unknown customer.

Due to lax visa requirements, Nicaragua is one of several countries in Central and South America that is a popular starting point for immigrants looking to enter the United States illegally through the southern border.

After arriving in Nicaragua, immigrants from Africa and Asia must then make the perilous journey through El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico before they attempt to cross the US border. The journey is often organized by criminal human smuggling gangs.

The number of Indian citizens who have been caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally through the southern border has ballooned in recent years.

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