HomeNewsBrief24-Hour Turnaround to Rebuild Peru's Narco-Airstrips
BRIEF

24-Hour Turnaround to Rebuild Peru's Narco-Airstrips

PERU / 14 OCT 2014 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

With the help of locals, drug trafficking groups in Peru's VRAEM have rebuilt more than a quarter of the clandestine airstrips destroyed by security forces in 2014, indicating that new strategies are needed to combat drug flights from the remote region.

According to police, 49 of the 185 clandestine airstrips in the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro River Valleys (VRAEM) that the authorities dismantled between January 1 and September 23 have been rebuilt by locals employed by drug trafficking groups, reported La Republica.

Vicente Romero, the head of Peru's anti-drug police force (Dirandro), said that traffickers pay locals up to $100 per day to reconstruct the landing strips, which are generally 300-500 meters long and 10 meters wide, and can be completed in as little as one night. The official stated that some landing strips have been rebuilt as many as four times this year, reported La Republica.

According to Peruvian Vice Defense Minister Ivan Vega, the Shining Path guerrilla group -- which is active in the VRAEM -- charges fees to allow drug planes to take off and land in the remote region. 

InSight Crime Analysis

This report calls into question the efficacy of destroying landing strips in an effort to combat drug flights. The demolition of narco airstrips can be only a temporary solution to a long-term problem, and more comprehensive measures are needed in order to reduce aerial drug trafficking from the VRAEM region.

It also demonstrates the ties that bind local communities in the VRAEM to drug traffickers, who can afford to pay large sums of money relative to incomes in the region.

SEE ALSO: Peru News and Profiles 

Despite the fact that human intelligence sources estimate eight to 10 drug flights leave Peru daily, the country does not have radars to monitor the movement of drug planes. In September, Defense Minister Pedro Cateriano announced that the country was in the process of acquiring radars and military planes to be used in the VRAEM, but that it would take some time.

As the largest cocaine producer in the world, Peru's inability to control aerial drug trafficking from the VRAEM has major consequences for the regional fight against the illegal drug trade. Peruvian security expert Ruben Vargas estimates that 90 percent of the estimated 200 tons of cocaine produced annually in the VRAEM is trafficked to neighboring countries by plane, often passing through Bolivia on the way to Brazil.

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.

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

BRAZIL / 22 APR 2020

Thefts of tests, ventilators and personal protective equipment have shot up across Latin America amid the coronavirus pandemic, threatening lives…

ELITES AND CRIME / 7 JAN 2014

Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo stands accused of money laundering and conspiracy, the third Peruvian president in recent history to…

COLOMBIA / 2 MAY 2016

Colombian authorities have detained and deported one of Peru's most sought-after criminal suspects, signaling a potential shake-up in the Peruvian…

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.