Argentina is increasingly detecting illegal flights

An Argentine security official claims interdiction efforts against fluvial and land-based trafficking have spurred a sharp rise in drug flights. But improved radar coverage and an overall growth in drug trafficking are more likely to blame for the shift.

Argentina's Deputy Secretary for the Fight Against Drug Trafficking, Martín Verrier, told La Nación that the rising number of detected illegal flights entering the country this year "is due to the fact that there are increased controls along land and fluvial routes."  

In May 2017, Argentina's security ministry announced the detection of 200 suspected drug flights during the first four months of 2017, a threefold increase in comparison to the same period in 2016.

Meanwhile, the federation that represents Argentina's aviation clubs (Federación de Aeroclubes de Argentina - FADA) warned La Nación that the theft of planes from flying clubs is a "new phenomenon." FADA's vice president explained that certain types of small aircraft are increasingly being stolen by drug traffickers because they can be loaded with up to half a metric ton of drugs and need just 300 meters of runway to land on any of Argentina's estimated 1,500 illegal airstrips.

InSight Crime Analysis

Argentina has increased its interdiction efforts against drug trafficking since President Mauricio Macri took power in December 2015. But it is too early to assert that these changes are what is causing trafficking routes to shift.

For example, authorities launched a border security plan in May 2016 called "Border Operations" (Operativo Fronteras), which includes investment in interdiction technology and a greater involvement of the military. But by May 2017, authorities had yet to implement the first step of the $46 million plan, specifically dedicated to land border control. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Argentina

The fact that the authorities have gradually expanded their radar coverage from 6 to 24 hours a day since August 2016 is probably a better explanation for the growth in detected drug flights. By November 2016, officials were already reporting a monthly average of 40 illegal flights from Bolivia alone, while new radars installed this year have further expanded Argentina's monitoring coverage.

An increase in drug flights is also likely a reflection of growing drug trafficking activity in Argentina as a whole, evidenced by rising seizures, growing domestic consumption and expanding microtrafficking.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network. The BACRIM's roots lie in the demobilized paramilitary umbrella group the United Self-Defense...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...