HomeNewsBriefMexico Destroyed 4,000 Narco-Airstrips Since 2006
BRIEF

Mexico Destroyed 4,000 Narco-Airstrips Since 2006

MEXICO / 7 NOV 2012 BY CLAIRE O NEILL MCCLESKEY EN

Mexican officials report that the country has seized over 500 illegal planes and destroyed nearly 4,000 illegal airstrips since 2006, as part of an effort to combat aerial drug trafficking that has forced traffickers to use alternative methods.

According to sources in Mexico's Defense Ministry (Sedena) consulted by Milenio, the majority of the 3,887 clandestine airstrips destroyed between December 2006 and November 2012 were built for light airplanes. During the same period, Mexico's Air Force and Army confiscated 539 aircraft.

The number of airstrips destroyed has decreased over the course of the Calderon administration, falling from a high of 880 in 2007 to 312 so far this year.

Sedena officials also said that increased pressure on aerial drug trafficking has forced smugglers to use more creative methods, like dropping cocaine shipments fitted with parachutes in the sea. Authorities have discovered these packages, which are fitted with bags of salt so that they remain submerged until the salt dissolves and traffickers can pick them up, off the coast of several coastal states.

InSight Crime Analysis

Clandestine airstrips are common in Central America, where cocaine traffickers take advantage of weak state presence in rural areas to land drug flights. According to the US State Department, nearly 80 percent of cocaine flights from South America pass through Honduras.

In contrast, in Mexico drugs are mostly transported either overland or by sea. While some traffickers do use aircraft in the country, the steady decrease in the number of airstrips discovered appears to support claims that smugglers have moved away from large scale aerial trafficking.

However, there is evidence that drug smugglers in the country have increasingly turned to ultralight aircraft to move smaller amounts of product northward. These inexpensive, motorized hang gliders are extremely difficult to detect because they are quiet and fly low enough to evade radar. In May 2011, the US Senate reported that the number of cases involving ultralight planes crossing the border had almost doubled in the last fiscal year.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

EXTORTION / 19 JUN 2013

Businesses associations in Guerrero will reportedly meet with citizen self-defense groups in order to discuss how to best combat…

HUMAN RIGHTS / 12 MAR 2015

At the end of a report that describes "disturbing" levels of impunity around torture cases in Mexico, the United Nations…

MEXICO / 10 FEB 2012

Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Sinaloa Cartel leader "Chapo" Guzman have been accused of crimes against humanity before the International…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…