HomeNewsBriefGuatemala to Install Anti-Drug Flight Radar
BRIEF

Guatemala to Install Anti-Drug Flight Radar

GUATEMALA / 3 FEB 2015 BY ARRON DAUGHERTY EN

Guatemala's plans to install anti-drug flight radar could further increase drug traffickers' heavy reliance on maritime routes.

Following the approval of a $36 million loan, Guatemala's Defense and Civil Aviation ministries bought three Spanish-made radar units. The units will expand Guatemala's 15-year old civil radar system, allowing authorities to identify clandestine aircraft and block drug trafficking air routes, Defense Minister Manuel Lopez Ambrosio told Prensa Libre.

The two ministries have begun testing the first radar unit and expects all three to be operational in July. Guatemalan authorities are likely hoping to replicate reported success in Honduras, where security forces claim to have eliminated drug flights, through the use of radar.

InSight Crime Analysis

Guatemalan policy makers are probably eager to highlight any possible advances they might make against transnational drug trafficking -- especially given the general elections that will be held this September. However, rather than having a significant impact on the amount of drugs flowing through Guatemala, it's likely the radar will only encourage traffickers to move more drug shipments by sea.

Latin American criminal groups rely heavily on maritime trafficking routes, and there are already a few examples of traffickers switching to sea routes in the face of increased air security. Guatemala is a key transit point for drugs being smuggled northward, and already has some of the region's most sophisticated trafficking organizations operating there, including the Zetas and Sinaloa Cartel. These groups will undoubtedly find a way to overcome any challenges posed by increased air monitoring and keep the product flowing.

SEE ALSO: Honduras News and Profiles

Interdiction is another issue worth considering. A new radar system may better allow Guatemala's authorities to identify suspicious aircraft -- however, authorities must then successfully track that aircraft, and, should it refuse calls to land and cross a border into another country, Guatemala must have the necessary relationships in place with neighboring security forces, in order to continue following the plane. The technological ability to detect the plane in the first place is really only the first step in halting aerial drug trafficking.

Currently, Guatemala has a no "shoot-down" law in place, which would allow security forces to shoot down suspected drug flights. These have proven controversial across the region -- last year, the US suspended sharing intelligence from its radars with Honduras, when the Central American country approved a shoot-down law.

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

GUATEMALA / 18 OCT 2013

Police arrested two drug traffickers in northeastern Guatemala, but apparently subsequently lost both suspects, in an embarrassing case for Guatemalan…

GUATEMALA / 24 SEP 2014

Former MS13 members in Guatemala have provided a breakdown of the rankings and pay scales within the gang's hierarchy, which…

ELITES AND CRIME / 13 FEB 2018

The arrest in Guatemala of former President Álvaro Colom adds to the list of former heads of states facing corruption…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

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.