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Exclusive surveillance footage shows duffel bags being loaded onto Pivot Airlines jet

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Travellers would normally pay top dollar to stay at a beautiful villa at an exclusive resort in the Dominican Republic.

For pilot Rob DiVenanzo, the experience was a nightmare.

He was part of the five-member flight crew that was detained in the country for nearly eight months after they found large duffel bags that were stuffed with cocaine in their plane's avionics bay, and reported them to Dominican authorities and the RCMP.

When W5's Avery Haines caught up with him, he was staying in a villa that doubled as a heavily guarded safe house provided by his employer, Pivot Airlines. He and his fellow crew members were living in constant fear of retribution.

"It's paradise in another lifetime. Not now. I feel like we're trapped in a cage here," DiVenanzo told W5. "I'm constantly looking over my shoulder, worried about my safety. I'm worried about my family's safety back in Canada."

He took W5 minute-by-minute through surveillance video that was captured at Punta Cana International Airport the night before his crew discovered the duffel bags full of drugs.

One of the crew's flight attendants had noticed that the video, which was given to the crew's defence team by the prosecutor as part of the flight crew's long-running court battle, had been tampered with. At one point, the video's timecode can be seen skipping ahead by 43 minutes.

But a second misnamed video that was captured from a different angle was also sent to the Pivot Airlines crew, which showed what happened during those missing 43 minutes: an airport vehicle brings black bags up to the plane, and the bags appear to be loaded inside.

DiVenanzo told W5 that he and his crew don't know when the video was edited, or by whom.

"This was evidence that was provided to our legal team by the prosecutor's office," he told W5. "So we can assume that it was edited sometime between the airport providing it or the drug police or the prosecutor. So somebody within that group edited this, hoping that we wouldn't see what actually happened."

Watch W5's investigation, 'Cocaine Cargo,' on Dec. 10, 2022, at 7 p.m. on CTV

 

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