Thu, Oct 09, 2003
"We're Trying To Prevent These Airstrips From Ever Being Used
Brazil has taken to aerial attacks
to prevent drug smugglers from basing in the Amazon jungle. It's a
pilot project, so to speak, aimed at curing the use of remote
airfields deep in the Amazon Basin.
For a long time, when Brazilian federal police spotted a
suspected drug-smuggling strip, they marched into the jungle, wired
it with explosives and blew it up. But drug traffickers would then
round up laborers, march them into the jungle and repair the
damage. The joint operation between federal police and the
Brazilian Air Force is aimed at making the airstrips
The strikes began this year with an attack on a landing strip
near Brazil's border with Suriname. An attack planned for later
this month will be the first in the northwest region of Brazil's
Amazon known as "the dog's head", police said.
As part of joint operations between the federal police and air
force, Brazil last month began surveillance of the dog's head using
its airborne Amazon Vigilance System. The system gives police
information to locate landing strips and track planes transporting
Colombian drugs across Brazil into Guyana, Suriname and French
Guiana on the way to markets in Europe and the United States.
At least a week ahead of the airborne assaults, police will raid
the landing strip areas with sufficient force to outnumber any
forces protecting the jungle air strips, police said. Agents then
secure the strips and also work with local Indians to ensure they
stay away from the area targeted for airstrikes. Then they act as
FACs (Forward Air Controllers) to guide the airstrikes.
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