Two South African Airways (SAA) flight attendants were arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle $3 million worth of cocaine into Hong Kong International Airport.
Officials caught the 39-year-old female flight attendant with 26 pounds of cocaine on September 22, and the 35-year-old male flight attendant with 14 pounds of the drug on September 24.
Both individuals reportedly hid the drugs inside their luggage, according to The South African.
A press release by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department stated that “This is the largest drug trafficking case involving flight crew members detected by customs in the past decade.”
In a statement regarding the arrests, SAA’s spokesperson, Tlali Tlali, said the flight attendants were operating on two different flights.
The statement read:
We confirm that two of our employees have been arrested in Hong Kong on suspicion of being in possession of drugs, the two employees were operating on two separate flights that were originating from Johannesburg to Hong Kong and were arrested one on arrival the other one following an investigation by customs officials in Hong Kong. Their matters have been before the courts and they remain in custody at the moment.
Reports said the drug bust was part of an operation called “Bullseye” that aimed to stop cross-boundary drug trafficking, according to Travel Pulse.
Lunga Ngqengelele, a spokesperson from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco), said that although the names of the flight attendants have not been released, their families have been notified of the arrests.
“The South African consulate-general in Hong Kong is rendering the necessary consular assistance and Dirco is also in contact with their families in South Africa. Due to consular privacy, the department is not in a position to release their names or any further details,” Ngqengelele concluded.
Tlali declined to comment further regarding the case but did note that “SAA would equally like to emphasize that the airline remains intolerant of any criminality by any of its employees. The course of action the company may pursue will be informed by its policies and the outcome of the cases.”