HomeNewsBriefVenezuela to Adopt 'Shoot-Down' Policy for Suspected Drug Flights
BRIEF

Venezuela to Adopt 'Shoot-Down' Policy for Suspected Drug Flights

VENEZUELA / 23 MAY 2012 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

Venezuela’s Congress has approved legislation which will allow the use of force against aircraft suspected of carrying shipments of illegal drugs.

On May 23 the National Assembly, Venezuela’s unicameral legislative body, unanimously approved a law which allows the Bolivarian National Air Force to “intercept, dissuade and disable” aircraft violating Venezuela air space regulations.

The passage of the law is a victory for President Hugo Chavez, who has been one of its major proponents. In October the Venezuelan leader addressed the issue in a televised speech, saying that the new law was necessary in order to crack down on drug trafficking in the country. According to Chavez, when air force planes intercept planes suspected of carrying drugs, the pilots often ignore orders to land, leaving the military unable to stop them.

InSight Crime Analysis

Venezuela has become a major transit nation for Colombian drugs, and United Nations anti-drug officials claim it is the principal source of cocaine bound for the European market. It is also believed to be a significant launching point for air traffic bringing the drug to Central America and the Caribbean. Honduras, which an estimated 88 percent of US-bound drugs pass through, has become the favorite destination of Venezuelan pilots carrying drug shipments.

A recent drug operation in Honduras, for instance, which caused controversy over claims that US agents were involved in the death of four innocent people, was made possible by Colombian and US radar equipment picking up a suspicious flight leaving Venezuela. Because of Chavez’s historically chilly relationship with both countries, Venezuela does not share intelligence on drug flights with them, limiting its capacity to track drug flights. The Chavez government has·purchased long-range JYL-1 radars from the Chinese government, but Venezuela is not expected to acheive full radar coverage of its airspace until 2013.

The new law is also troubling from a human rights perspective, as a policy advocating the use of force against civilian aircraft carries risk. Although a similar strategy is credited with vastly reducing drug flights from Peru, the program was suspended in 2001 after the military mistakenly shot down a plane carrying US missionaries, killing a 7-month-old girl and her mother.

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

COLOMBIA / 18 AUG 2021

Seizures of coltan in Colombia have shown the complex networks used by armed groups to smuggle the valuable mineral from…

KIDNAPPING / 22 SEP 2021

The Venezuelan police have stepped in amid a spate of violent crimes caused by gang members pretending to sell cars…

MEGABANDAS / 27 JAN 2023

The Carlos Capa gang is one of the oldest surviving criminal gangs in Valles del Tuy, south of Caracas in…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…