updated 6/16/2007 7:22:09 PM ET 2007-06-16T23:22:09

An American and nine other suspects have been charged with attempting to traffic more than 2.2 tons of cocaine through a Venezuelan airport, the government said Saturday.

Venezuelan police arrested the gang on June 9 as its members loaded the cocaine bound for Africa onto a private plane at the international airport on Margarita Island, a popular tourist destination, officials said.

Those charged in the drug bust were Robert Charles Gagnon, identified as an American, two Mexicans, a Congolese man and six Venezuelans, the Public Ministry said in a statement. The statement did not say what state or city the American came from.

Interior Minister Pedro Carreno said the Congolese man, identified as Georges Masudi, had presented diplomatic credentials at the time of his arrest and claimed to be a relative of Congolese President Joseph Kabila. But Kabila’s spokesman, Theodore Mogalo, denied he was a relative of the president.

A judge has ordered the suspects’ bank accounts and other holdings to be frozen, the Venezuelan statement said.

The Venezuelans arrested were an airport employee and five police officers.

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