MEXICO CITY -- Thieves stole a business jet from an airport in central Mexico, flew it to Venezuela, apparently loaded it with drugs and then flew to Guatemala where the plane crashed, authorities said Thursday.
Prosecutors in Guatemala said a total of four bodies were found around the site where the BAE 125 jet crashed and burned Wednesday.
The dead could not be immediately identified, but drugs and weapons were found in the burned wreckage of the craft, which authorities referred to as a Hawker 800.
The bizarre round-trip illicit flight began Tuesday in the city of Cuernavaca, just south of Mexico City. The plane had arrived there on Aug. 10 and was parked at a private hangar.
Mexico’s Civil Aviation Agency said three people asked permission to fuel up the jet, purportedly in order to perform maintenance checks on the plane. Then, without permission, they taxied to a runway and took off, without having filled a flight plan.
Authorities tracked the plane as it flew south.
The Guatemalan army said the plane made a stop in Venezuela before entering Guatemala, which borders Mexico. It crashed for unknown reasons.
The drugs found on the plane could theoretically have been aboard since it left Mexico, but there would be little reason to move drugs toward Venezuela, which is a major transit hub for South American cocaine. It was much more likely the drugs were loaded aboard in Venezuela.