A Nicaragua-bound plane carrying more than 300 Indian passengers has been grounded in France over suspected “human trafficking”, authorities said on December 22.
The plane had taken off from the United Arab Emirates and was detained after an anonymous tipoff.
The aircraft carrying passengers “likely to be victims of human trafficking” was detained on December 21, the Paris public prosecutor’s office told AFP.
The national anti-organised crime unit JUNALCO has taken over the investigation, prosecutors said.
The prefecture in the north-eastern department of Marne said the A340, operated by Romanian company Legend Airlines, “remained grounded on the tarmac at Vatry airport following its landing” on December 21.
Legend Air has a small fleet of four aircraft, according to the Flightradar website.
The plane had been due to refuel and was carrying 303 Indian nationals who had probably been working in the UAE, it said.
According to a source familiar with the case, the passengers might have planned to travel to Central America in order to attempt illegal entry into the United States or Canada.
After landing in France, they were first kept on the aircraft, but then let out and given individual beds in the terminal building.
The entire airport was cordoned off by police.
The Vatry airport, located 150 km east of Paris, serves mostly budget airlines.
Human trafficking carries a potential sentence of up to 20 years in France.