The car, which was stopped and searched in France, belonged to Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia, who had entrusted it to two Italian men.
The two men, aged 30 and 41, had reportedly been told by his private secretary to take the car for a routine service.
The Vatican confirmed the report, but said that as both men were Italian rather than citizens of the Vatican City State, it had nothing to do with the Holy See.
During his trip to Brazil in July he was driven around Rio de Janeiro in a small silver Fiat at his own request, and when he visited a refugee centre in Rome on Tuesday, he used a Ford Focus from the Vatican's car pool.
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Pope Francis has used a number of different car brands as Popemobiles during his trips: Mercedes, Toyota, Isuzu, Kia, Hyundai, Land Rover and Jeep, according to the Vatican.
They were arrested and will appear in front of a French magistrate on charges of drug trafficking.
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At least one iteration of the Popemobile, used in Naples, was conveniently open enough on the sides to allow a local pizza joint to make a special delivery to Francis.
He brought it last weekend, along with some of his parishioners, to the Vatican, where the pope told him he knew how to drive it because he had had a Renault 4 in Argentina.
Instead they promptly drove to Spain, where they allegedly bought the cocaine and from there drove into France. They reportedly believed that the car’s diplomatic status would place them above suspicion.
Drug trafficking “continues to spread inexorably,” he said, adding it was fuelled by “a deplorable commerce which transcends national borders.”
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Since the attempt on Pope John Paul II's life in May 1981 in Rome, several popemobiles have also been outfitted with armor plating and bullet-proof glass. With all the extra weight, it's hardly surprising that the modified M-Class Mercedes currently serving as the popemobile weighs almost three metric tons and has a transmission specially designed for slow driving.
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It's license plate reads "SCV-1," which stands for "status civitatis Vaticanae," Latin for "state of the Vatican City." And, of course, the "1" is an unmistakable indication that it belongs to the pontifex maximus -- or, in other words, the boss.
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"I think the pope will drive it a bit himself inside the Vatican," the Holy See's deputy spokesman, Father Ciro Benedettini, said on Thursday.
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Cardinal Mejia is not well and obviously has nothing to do with this,” said Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman. “It’s now up to the police to pursue their investigations.”
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SANTO STEFANO DI SESSANIO, Italy Within the stone walls of the medieval village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio, narrow lanes weave through stone arches, cobbled piazzas and overhanging buildings.
But Joachim Schmidt, the head of sales and marketing at Mercedes, put an end to the guessing right before the pope's trip. He said the company had not built the pope a new car for this visit. Instead, both of the popemobiles based on earlier M-class models had undergone "major servicing." Likewise, he refused to say whether and when Mercedes would be providing the Vicar of Christ with a new ride.
“It’s true that anything could happen,” the 78-year-old Francis added, “but let’s face it, at my age, I don’t have much to lose.”
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Aged 91, the cardinal retired in 2003 and holds the title of emeritus librarian at the Holy See.
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