EspañolPeru’s Congress has given the Air Force (FAP) the go ahead to shoot down suspicious aircraft that may be smuggling drugs, arms, or explosives into the country.
The bill, passed unanimously on August 21, restores aerial interdiction and authorizes the FAP to shoot down a plane if enough evidence exists that it is involved with drug or weapons trafficking.
Peru had suspended the practice in 2001 after a a joint FAP and CIA operation killed a US missionary and her infant daughter.
Emiliano Apaza, president of Congress’s defense committee, said the law will “allow the FAP carry out operations as it should, without violating human rights, but controlling designated coca growing zones,” such as the Valley of the Apumirac and Ene River (VRAEM).
The policy states that all planes flying below 3,000 feet and within a radius of 40 nautical miles, or on off-bound air corridors not designated by aviation authorities, will be deemed hostile by the FAP.
The shoot down order will stand as a measure of last resort if the offending pilot refuses to comply with the Air Force’s orders.
Apaza said that between May and August 2015, the FAP detected 222 irregular flights within Peruvian territory, and that each plane carried 350 kilos of cocaine (770 pounds).
Congressman Carlos Tubino, who sponsored the bill, says that in the last year alone, 180 tons of drugs left the country by air, 120 by sea, and 20 by land. Furthermore, he says that 95 percent of the planes smuggling drugs come from Bolivia.
To aid in the new effort to control and monitor Peruvian airspace, Apaza hopes to divert part of the US$8.4 million Peru currently invests to destroy clandestine airstrips to other defense areas.
For Tubino, the current strategy to destroy the airstrips has failed, despite the money invested by the government, since drug traffickers can restore their routes in less than 24 hours for US$1.2 million.
The US government, which sponsors anti-drug programs in South America, remains opposed to Peru’s aerial-interdiction policy.