Peru Declares No-Fly Zone Over Cocaine Producing Regions
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Peru has declared a no-fly zone over its most active coca producing region, where a growing number of small planes transport cocaine from.
Civilian aircraft traveling over part of a group of remote jungle valleys where most of Peru’s cocaine is produced, known as VRAEM, an acronym for “Valley of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro rivers," must have prior military approval, the government announced last week.
“Any flight that is not reported to the aviation authority will be considered hostile and illegal,” said Alberto Otarola, who heads the Devida anti-drug agency. “Peru must exercise the full sovereignty and jurisdiction of its airspace.”
Peru is considered one of the world’s top producers of cocaine and coca by the U.S. and United Nations. According to a U.S. estimate, in 2013, between 150 and 180 tons of cocaine were flown from Peru via light aircraft, one of the most common ways cocaine is smuggled from the country.
This year, Peru plans to eradicate 35,000 hectares of coca. In 2014, roughly 31,200 hectares were eradicated.
In March, lawmakers are expected to approve legislation that will allow authorities to intercept unauthorized aircraft suspected of carrying drugs, according to Otarola. This would reverse a ban on the practice, which followed an incident in 2001 when the military accidentally shot down a plane carrying a U.S. missionary and her baby.