Thursday, January 16, 2014

Venezuelan military downs suspected smuggling plane

Venezuela's armed forces reported Tuesday that it intercepted a Cessna 210 aircraft arriving from Central America after its crew ignored orders to land. 

 The incident occurred over the coast of the western Venezuelan state of Zulia that borders on Colombia, the head of the Strategic Operational Command, Gen. Vladimir Padrino Lopez said on Twitter.

He posted a photo of the plane after it had been brought down, with half its fuselage sunk in Lake Maracaibo and surrounded by security forces.

No information has yet been released about the fate of the Cessna's crew or about it cargo.

The Venezuelan congress passed in May 2012 a measure that allows "the interception, persuasion and putting out of action" of aircraft or other objects that infringe air traffic regulations.

President Nicolas Maduro said last weekend that since the law went into effect, 30 aircraft suspected of ties to drug trafficking have been shot down.

One of the most recent incidents took place on Christmas Day, when the armed forces "immobilized" a light plane that entered Venezuelan air space in the state of Apure on the border with Colombia.

Venezuela is not a drug-producing nation, but neighboring Colombia is one of the world's leading sources of cocaine. 


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