Uruguay, Argentina to Monitor Drug Flights

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The governments of Uruguay and Argentina have signed an agreement to jointly monitor drug flights to try to stem the amount of drugs brought in via illicit flights into the two countries.

Uruguay’s El Pais reports that the country’s legislature is set to ratify a treaty signed with the government of Argentina which calls for greater cooperation on monitoring flights carrying illicit drugs into the two Southern Cone countries. Under the agreement, the two will carry out joint training exercises and share intelligence related to flight monitoring. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The treaty comes at a time when both countries are reassessing their internal security strategies amid concerns about the rising influence of transnational organized crime. Argentina is increasingly finding itself to be a popular hideout for drug kingpins, as the recent capture of Henry de Jesus Lopez, alias “Mi Sangre,” illustrates. In Uruguay, the government is considering a plan to legalize the sale of marijuana as a way to focus law enforcement resources on an alarming uptick in cocaine trafficking

This agreement is a positive step for both countries. The US State Department claims that much of the cocaine brought into Uruguay is brought in via drug flights from Colombia and Bolivia. Northern Argentina also sees a fair amount of drug-laden flights, as its remote geography is ideal for hiding clandestine landing strips. In the northern province of Catamarca alone there are an estimated 1,500 hidden landing fields. 

Ultimately the efficacy of this treaty will depend on the level of technology at the governments’ disposal. Uruguay’s national radar system has been plagued with malfunctions, and while Argentina announced in mid-2011 that it would install a more sophisticated, modern radar system to monitor its borders, military officials doubt its capacity.

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