Narco planes ferry cocaine from remote valley under nose of Peru's military | World Defense

Narco planes ferry cocaine from remote valley under nose of Peru's military

Redheart

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Peru military fails to act as narco planes fly freely - US News

t happens about four times a day, right under the nose of Peru's military: A small single-engine plane drops onto a dirt airstrip in the world's No. 1 coca-growing valley, delivers a bundle of cash, picks up more than 300 kilos of cocaine and flies to Bolivia.

Roughly half of Peru's cocaine exports have been ferried eastward on this "air bridge," police say, since the rugged Andean nation became the world's leading producer of the drug in 2012.

Peru's government has barely impeded the airborne drug flow. Prosecutors, narcotics police, former military officers and current and former U.S. drug agents say that while corruption is rife in Peru, the narco-flight plague is the military's failure because it controls the remote jungle region known as the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro river valley.

Wilson Barrantes, a retired army general who has long complained about military drug corruption, said giving the military control over the valley is "like putting four street dogs to guard a plate of beefsteak."

Deputy Defense Minister Ivan Vega, who runs counterinsurgency efforts in the region, said that he was not aware of any military officials under investigation. "Corruption exists, but we are always looking out for it," he said. "If we know of anyone involved, we'll throw the book at them."

But an Associated Press investigation found that "narco planes" have been loaded with drugs at landing strips just minutes by air from military bases in the remote, nearly road-less valley where about two-thirds of Peru's cocaine originates.

Videos obtained by AP show small planes landing on clandestine air strips in the jungle region, about the size of Ireland. Elite squads of narcotics police hidden on nearby hilltops videotaped the landings, but were too outgunned to intervene, said two narcotics police officers who provided the videos but declined to speak on the record for fear of losing their jobs. Cocaine regularly disappears aloft in Cessna 206 planeloads, each worth upward of $7.2 million overseas.

The operations normally last about 10 minutes, usually just after dawn and tightly choreographed: A dozen or so cocaine-laden backpackers appear on a landing strip's fringe as the GPS-guided plane, its pilot having broken radio silence a few minutes earlier, approaches. Men with assault rifles guard the strip. Money is offloaded, drugs are jammed into the cabin. The motor re-engages. The plane departs.

One pilot told the AP that some local military officers charge $10,000 per flight to allow the planes to land and take off unbothered.

Concern over the flights spurred Peru's congress to pass a law in August that authorizes shooting down drug planes. But critics say the government lacks the will to do the job, having inexplicably scrapped plans to buy and install the necessary state-of-the-art radar.
 

Corzhens

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A drug route from Peru to Bolivia on air, huh. And 4 times a day at that? It's funny when the authorities become helpless against the criminals. Just like in Mexico where drug cartels are lording it over. Truly, the illegal drug business is getting bigger and bigger that one day we are going to wake up to see a drug-ruled earth. This is the best example that money really talks, and it talks sense.
 

Redheart

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The reason why the drug trade flourishes is because governments or some individuals in the government profit from it. I'm certain that even though it's the military which is accused of letting the planes ferry drugs from Peru, senior government officials know a thing or two about this arrangement and get a percentage of the money army officials receive from the drug traffickers.
 
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