Peru and US to assess air interdiction program to fight drug trafficking

Aviones de las FFAA brindan servicio a la ciudadanía. Foto: ANDINA/archivo.

13:33 | Lima, Nov. 20.

The implementation of an air interdiction program to fight cocaine-carrying airplanes is being assessed by both Peruvian and US government, informed President Ollanta Humala on Wednesday.

The program is aimed at shutting off illegal drugs trafficking.

“We are holding talks with the United States [government] to work together in what is intended to become a real interdiction program,” he told foreign media correspondents in a press conference.

The aforementioned program, if approved, will be launched in coordination with the US in the corresponding international legal framework, Mr. Humala made clear.

In 2001 a interdiction program was shut down. A Peruvian Air Force fighter plane, guided by an American radar aircraft, mistakenly shot down a plane carrying American missioners. Two people were dead.

“During prior administrations, agreements were signed to reject air interdiction due the accident. With the US government we are precisely reviewing these agreements, so we can become more efficient in the war against drug trafficking,” Mr. Humala claimed.

The Head of State expressed Peru has made an “important step” by setting up a no-fly zone at the VRAEM. The measure is intended to prevent potential drug-Lord owned planes from landing or taking off from the area.

The remote jungle-located extension known as The VRAEM refers to a Valley formed by the the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro rivers (Vraem).

VRAEM has been considered a danger zone due to the hidden presence of drug traffickers and terrorists. The valley has the optimal conditions to enable locals produce large amounts of cocaine.

Peruvian law enforcement agencies have engaged in conflicts with the local insurgents, in charge of protecting the illegal drug production.

Among the measures taken by the government are: Setting up the coordinates and the altitude range, which are forbidden for commercial and civil aviation flights, the President commented.

Controlling chemical inputs and eradicating coca-leaf plantations have also been imposed, Mr. Humala added.

Coca crops will be reduced by 30,000 hectares this year, the President comment. He highlighted the destruction of 43 illegal airstrips in the VRAEM. 

According to the Head of States’ calculation, drug trafficking has reported losses of at least US$ 2.5 billion. At least 100 cocaine-tons have not been produced due to government action.


Published: 11/20/2014