According to one report, traffickers are increasingly using amphibious aircraft to smuggle drugs into Argentina, a development which may possibly be in response to the country’s efforts to combat aerial drug trafficking.
Claudio Izaguirre, head of non-governmental organization the Argentine Anti-Drugs Association, told Diario Popular that drug traffickers have started using amphibious aircraft — planes with the ability to land on and take off from water — to smuggle drugs into the country via its rivers.
Izaguirre stated that this new approach is allowing traffickers to evade radar detection and police forces. According to Izaguirre’s estimates, traffickers are now bringing drugs into Argentina on approximately three “narco-aquatic” flights per day.
Many flights are taking off from the Paraguayan city of Pilar and landing on the rivers of Parana and Uruguay in Argentina, he added. This shift away from landing on clandestine airstrips may be in response to police and Gendarmerie activity along the northern border, he said.
Criminal organizations have been known to transport drugs from Bolivia and Paraguay into Argentina by plane, landing on clandestine airstrips in several northern provinces.
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Given that Argentina had previously taken steps such as destroying airstrips and installing radar in order to combat aerial drug trafficking, it is possible that Izaguirre’s assessment is correct. Criminal organizations are more than capable of shifting their tactics in response to pushback from law enforcement, and in Argentina, aerial traffickers may have found multiple advantages to landing on rivers rather than airstrips.
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Other security officials in Argentina have not yet backed up Izaguirre’s assertions. Nevertheless, criminal groups have been known to use the Southern Cone’s network of rivers for transporting drug shipments. The governor of one of Argentina’s most violent provinces, Santa Fe, has said that one of the country’s biggest problems is drug smuggling via the Parana river. In Uruguay, authorities have also seized drugs from smugglers on the Uruguay river.