Paraguay seizing drug planes at Brazilian border

The head of Paraguay's anti-drugs agency warned that the country is a major supplier of planes used by drug traffickers from neighboring countries.

Luis Rojas, the director of Paraguay’s anti-drug agency, SENAD, told a local radio station that the country is a key supplier of planes that are used in transnational narcotics trafficking, ABC reported.

One of the reasons for this, Rojas stated, is that the country has a large fleet of older airplanes which do not meet modern regulations, making them an inexpensive buy for drug dealers from neighboring countries.

He did not give details on how traffickers acquired the planes.

Rojas suggested that Paraguay’s Air Force should be better equipped to deal with these drug flights, through having a better radar system to track irregular flights.

InSight Crime Analysis

Paraguay, Latin America’s largest producer of marijuana, plays many roles in the region’s cross-border drug trade. The country is commonly used as a transit point for narcotics, due to high levels of corruption in its police and armed forces, and has also become a hideout for Brazilian criminals looking to flee pressure from the authorities in their home country.

The announcement from the SENAD comes a little over one month after Paraguayan officials broke up an international trafficking operation at their airplane hub along the country’s border with Brazil. Paraguay is on one of the most popular routes used for aerial drug trafficking, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), with criminals choosing the country thanks to its poor control over its own airspace, as Rojas stated.

In Colombia an average of 14 airplanes are reportedly stolen every year and used to smuggle narcotics to Central America.