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He Was to Fly With Brazil's Prez —Then Came Luggage Search

Airman accused of smuggling cocaine into Spain ahead of G20
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2019 12:36 PM CDT
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro talks at the government house in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on June 6, 2019.   (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

(Newser) – A promise to curtail drugs and crime helped Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro get elected last year—hence why NPR reports the arrest of a member of his G20 party is so embarrassing. Brazilian Air Force Sgt. Manoel Silva Rodrigues—serving as flight steward on a military plane en route to Japan ahead of Bolsonaro—reportedly told Civil Guard agents that he was carrying 37 blocks of cheese in his luggage when his plane made a stopover in Seville, Spain, on Tuesday. Agents say the officer, who previously traveled with three different Brazilian presidents, was actually carrying 86 pounds of cocaine.

"He was working as a qualified drug mule," CNN quotes Vice President Hamilton Mourao as saying. "We will not tolerate such disrespect to our country!" reads a tweet from Bolsonaro, who called for "immediate and severe punishment" while stressing that the crewman was not a member of his personal team. Still, Reuters reports Rodrigues was supposed to transfer to the president's plane when it touched down in Seville hours later. The president instead stopped in Lisbon, Portugal. Bolsonaro will also skip Seville, where Rodrigues is being held without bail, on the trip home. (Read more Jair Bolsonaro stories.)

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