Is Venezuela Becoming Columbia’s New Cocaine Trans-Shipment Centre?
With Cliverton posting his article on the gentle gardening culture of Venezuela, I thought I would post a little something on Venezuela too. Here is a post on what is becoming a major topic of conversation whenever Caribbean pilots get together: the massive increase in the last few years of the number of drug runs going through or originating from Venezuela.
Everybody has a few stories to tell about unidentified aircraft in the night, airports in the middle of nowhere and of a dozen aircraft at a time “rushing” the border to overwhelm the watchers and responders. I met one cargo pilot last year who said that he saw two bizjets silhouetted against the Venezuela moon – flying formation so tightly that it was obvious what they were up to. According to this pilot, the trailing jet was tucked in so close to the underside of the leader that the Blue Angels would have admired the skill.
I don’t know that I could squeeze in tight enough to show one radar signature and maintain that position for two hours at night. Sure, the lead aircraft’s transponder would help to cover any sins, but Jesus! Its not worth it – especially when wallowing around in thin air.
Indications That The Chavez Government Is Complicit In Cocaine Smuggling
With so much oil revenue, why would Chavez bother with cocaine smuggling? Good question, except I don’t really know how much money oil really makes for Venezuela and I don’t know how much Chavez spends on making his new vision of paradise. Whatever the real story, the mule-planes keep on coming and everybody is noticing.
The V-Crisis website represents part of what little public voice that the opposition has left in Venezuela. The website refers to the country’s “sad evolution into a narco-state…” and documents the seizure of Howard Dean’s old DC-9 in Mexico while loaded with 5.5 Tons of apparent flapjack mix packed in 128 identical black briefcases. (Just joking! It really wasn’t flapjack mix.)
Here is what Vcrisis says about itself…
About Vcrisis And Its Editor
Vcrisis is, in short, the personal endeavour of someone whose discontentment towards the politicians of his country (Venezuela) reached such unbearable levels, that he decided to take action and provide a counterbalance to the official multimillion dollar propagandistic effort rolled out by the current administration.
Another story about the same DC-9 seizure refers to a U.S. State Department report…
U.S. and Mexican officials say that cocaine and heroin is increasingly passing from Colombia through Venezuela to Mexico where it is smuggled into the United States. While drug traffickers used planes to smuggle large quantities of drugs in the 1990s, most Mexican traffickers now use land and sea routes.
A U.S. State Department report released in March said that Venezuela has become a key transit point for drugs because of “rampant corruption at the highest levels of law enforcement and a weak judicial system.”
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez suspended cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in August, accusing its agents of spying….
… read the entire Associated Press story (link here)
A Few Weeks Ago Chavez Demanded An Apology From USA For Drug Stories
From BBC News…
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has called on the US ambassador in Caracas to retract his assertion that drug trafficking in the country is rising.
Mr Chavez said the comments were absolutely false and that a retraction would demonstrate that Washington is serious about wanting good relations.
William Brownfield said poor police collaboration was making Venezuela a preferred drug route to the Caribbean.
The comments follow recent improvements in relations between the two countries.
Mr Chavez said the US ambassador’s claims were “a lack of respect for the truth” and said they were “absolutely false”.
The president blamed US drug consumption for the problem and accused the US of turning from communism to the drug war to justify its military presence in the region… (Story continues link here)
What Is The Truth About Venezuela Being Complicit In The Cocaine Trade?
That’s beyond my simple analysis for tonight. What I do know is that if you are flying anywhere near Venezuela, you’d better have your navigation lights turned up all the way to bright so the pilots of the dark shapes whizzing by can at least avoid your aircraft – even if you can’t see them.