Peru’s Armed Forces and National Police Disable Clandestine Narco-strips

Peru’s Armed Forces and National Police Disable Clandestine Narco-strips

By Dialogo
December 15, 2014





Peru’s Armed Forces and the country’s National Police are ramping up their efforts to dismantle clandestine landing strips used by drug traffickers.

In November, they destroyed or disabled 15 clandestine landing strips that drug trafficking operatives used to transport cocaine, cocaine precursor chemicals, and cocaine paste. Those substances are typically imported from Brazil, Bolivia, and Colombia. By interrupting the ability of narco-traffickers to transport drugs on planes, Peruvian military and law enforcement authorities are forcing them to use ground routes.

“[That’s where] we’ll get them,” said GeneralVicente Romero, chief of Peru’s National Police Drug Enforcement Directorate.

Security forces use explosives to disable or destroy landing strips


To destroy or disable the strips used by drug traffickers, security forces usually dig two holes -- one on each side of the strip -- and fill them with explosives. Detonating those explosives usually create depressions about two meters deep and five meters wide.

“We [sometimes] have to come back not long after we disable a clandestine strip, because a drug trafficker can pay a coca farmer less than 20 dollars to rebuild the landing strip, filling the holes in, and in some cases they even use heavy machinery found in the area,” said security analyst Darío Hurtado Cárdenas, who led the Drug Enforcement Directorate and the National Defense and Border Protection Directorate from October 2011 to January 2013.

Ten of the strips that the Armed Forces and National Police dismantled were located in the district of Canaire, province of Huanta, in the Ayacucho region; the other five were located in Pichari, province of Convención, in the Cusco region, according to the Armed Forces Joint Command. Overall, there are about 150 clandestine landing strips in the 13 coca-producing basins in Peru, according to an estimate by the Drug Enforcement Directorate of the National Police. They’re typically between 600 and 800 meters long, depending on the type of plane that uses them.

The economics of narco-flights


Transporting drugs by plane is expensive. For example, it costs $60,000 to rent a plane in Bolivia – usually a single-engine Cessna 206s or 210s, according to Hurtado. Drug trafficking organizations typically pay pilots $20,000 for every narco-flight.

Nonetheless, narco-flights can be lucrative for drug trafficking groups. For instance, one load of drugs, weighing between 200 and 500 kilograms, can be worth as much as 300,000 dollars to a drug trafficking group. And building clandestine landing strips for narco-flights is not costly for drug trafficking groups generating large amounts of cash.

“It is not very expensive to build a clandestine landing strip because they do not need to meet the legal requirements for proper landing strips,” Hurtado said. “They are sometimes used just for a few flights or special cargo and subsequently abandoned.”

Some clandestine air strips are located in the coca-producing basin of the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers Valley (VRAEM), since that is where much of the country’s coca crop is cultivated.

Of the 49,800 hectares which farmers in Peru use to cultivate coca leaf, more than 19,100 hectares are in the VRAEM, according to the National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs (DEVIDA). Most of the annual crop is used to process illegal cocaine.

Combatting narco-planes in the air


Disabling and dismantling clandestine air strips have proved an effective approach to combatting aerial narco-trafficking, but it’s not the only method. Peruvian law prohibits the Air Force from shooting down civilian aircraft, but it can confront suspected narco-planes in Peruvian airspace and force them to land.

From November 2013 through to November 2014, Peruvian aircraft intercepted 14 Bolivian planes that entered Peru to transport drugs from the coca-producing areas, Leonel Cabrera Pino, the chief of the Peruvian Armed Forces Joint Command (CCFFAA) reported.

With improved technology, Peruvian security forces will be better equipped to detect narco-planes. Minister of Defense Pedro Cateriano announced in May that the country was purchasing six sophisticated radar devices to locate unauthorized planes entering Peruvian airspace.

“The Armed Forces, through the Air Force, will acquire radar -- which our country currently does not have -- that will allow us to confront these drug planes successfully,” Cateriano said on May 22, during a visit to the Incahuasi military base, located in Cusco.

Peruvian law enforcement authorities are building control towers at legitimate airfields in coca-producing regions where the military and police have found clandestine air strips. Once the towers are complete, air traffic controllers who detect unauthorized planes will be able to notify the Air Force, which can respond quickly to intercept suspicious aircraft.






Peru’s Armed Forces and the country’s National Police are ramping up their efforts to dismantle clandestine landing strips used by drug traffickers.

In November, they destroyed or disabled 15 clandestine landing strips that drug trafficking operatives used to transport cocaine, cocaine precursor chemicals, and cocaine paste. Those substances are typically imported from Brazil, Bolivia, and Colombia. By interrupting the ability of narco-traffickers to transport drugs on planes, Peruvian military and law enforcement authorities are forcing them to use ground routes.

“[That’s where] we’ll get them,” said GeneralVicente Romero, chief of Peru’s National Police Drug Enforcement Directorate.

Security forces use explosives to disable or destroy landing strips


To destroy or disable the strips used by drug traffickers, security forces usually dig two holes -- one on each side of the strip -- and fill them with explosives. Detonating those explosives usually create depressions about two meters deep and five meters wide.

“We [sometimes] have to come back not long after we disable a clandestine strip, because a drug trafficker can pay a coca farmer less than 20 dollars to rebuild the landing strip, filling the holes in, and in some cases they even use heavy machinery found in the area,” said security analyst Darío Hurtado Cárdenas, who led the Drug Enforcement Directorate and the National Defense and Border Protection Directorate from October 2011 to January 2013.

Ten of the strips that the Armed Forces and National Police dismantled were located in the district of Canaire, province of Huanta, in the Ayacucho region; the other five were located in Pichari, province of Convención, in the Cusco region, according to the Armed Forces Joint Command. Overall, there are about 150 clandestine landing strips in the 13 coca-producing basins in Peru, according to an estimate by the Drug Enforcement Directorate of the National Police. They’re typically between 600 and 800 meters long, depending on the type of plane that uses them.

The economics of narco-flights


Transporting drugs by plane is expensive. For example, it costs $60,000 to rent a plane in Bolivia – usually a single-engine Cessna 206s or 210s, according to Hurtado. Drug trafficking organizations typically pay pilots $20,000 for every narco-flight.

Nonetheless, narco-flights can be lucrative for drug trafficking groups. For instance, one load of drugs, weighing between 200 and 500 kilograms, can be worth as much as 300,000 dollars to a drug trafficking group. And building clandestine landing strips for narco-flights is not costly for drug trafficking groups generating large amounts of cash.

“It is not very expensive to build a clandestine landing strip because they do not need to meet the legal requirements for proper landing strips,” Hurtado said. “They are sometimes used just for a few flights or special cargo and subsequently abandoned.”

Some clandestine air strips are located in the coca-producing basin of the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers Valley (VRAEM), since that is where much of the country’s coca crop is cultivated.

Of the 49,800 hectares which farmers in Peru use to cultivate coca leaf, more than 19,100 hectares are in the VRAEM, according to the National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs (DEVIDA). Most of the annual crop is used to process illegal cocaine.

Combatting narco-planes in the air


Disabling and dismantling clandestine air strips have proved an effective approach to combatting aerial narco-trafficking, but it’s not the only method. Peruvian law prohibits the Air Force from shooting down civilian aircraft, but it can confront suspected narco-planes in Peruvian airspace and force them to land.

From November 2013 through to November 2014, Peruvian aircraft intercepted 14 Bolivian planes that entered Peru to transport drugs from the coca-producing areas, Leonel Cabrera Pino, the chief of the Peruvian Armed Forces Joint Command (CCFFAA) reported.

With improved technology, Peruvian security forces will be better equipped to detect narco-planes. Minister of Defense Pedro Cateriano announced in May that the country was purchasing six sophisticated radar devices to locate unauthorized planes entering Peruvian airspace.

“The Armed Forces, through the Air Force, will acquire radar -- which our country currently does not have -- that will allow us to confront these drug planes successfully,” Cateriano said on May 22, during a visit to the Incahuasi military base, located in Cusco.

Peruvian law enforcement authorities are building control towers at legitimate airfields in coca-producing regions where the military and police have found clandestine air strips. Once the towers are complete, air traffic controllers who detect unauthorized planes will be able to notify the Air Force, which can respond quickly to intercept suspicious aircraft.


I would also like the ARGENTINE Republic to intervene. that's terrible
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