Honduras: cocaine flights surge in wake of coup
The number of planes smuggling cocaine through Honduras has surged since the US suspended drug cooperation after the June coup d'etat, the de facto government's drug policy chief Julián Arístides González said Oct. 13. Honduras lost $16.5 million of US military aid after the coup. In the last month alone, de facto authorities say they have found 10 planes abandoned on runways and remote highways, compared with just four last year. "These are the facts, the flights have intensified," said Arístides, head of the National Directorate for the Struggle Against Narco-traffic (DNLN).
Before the coup, the US loaned helicopters to the Honduran air force and provided the navy with fuel and logistics for interception patrols. "Since the substitution of the president this has been suspended, we don't have the support that was so important given our lack of technology," Arístides said. He added that nearly all the planes found were painted with Venezuelan registrations.
On Oct. 12, Arístides took local reporters on a tour of an airstrip in Raya community of Olancho department, where he said a Venezuelan "narcoavioneta" had been discovered. Authorities are said to be searching for more airstrips in the region.
"It is the population of the United States that will suffer, because the more drugs that arrive in Honduras, the more drugs can arrive in the United States," he said. (Reuters, Oct. 13; La Tribuna, Tegucigalpa, Oct. 12)
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