Newsbrief: US-Peru Anti-Drug Flights Set to Resume 6/20/03

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The Bush administration is set to resume cooperation with Peru in a program that shoots suspected drug-running planes out of the sky. That program was abruptly suspended nearly two years ago when Peruvian Air Force pilots working with CIA spotters shot down a private plane carrying US missionaries. In the August 20, 2001 incident, 35-year-old Veronica Bowers (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/183.html#coca) was killed and her husband wounded.

US officials are worried coca cultivation is on the rise in Peru. "We are seeing a large increase in the number of people clearing out old coca fields, and getting back into it," an unidentified "senior US official in Peru who is familiar with antinarcotics efforts there" told Knight-Ridder News Service. The increase in Peruvian cultivation is tied to intense pressure on growers in neighboring Colombia, the failure of alternative development programs in Peru's coca-growing regions, and the inability of the Peruvian state to enforce the ban on illicit coca crops.

The US-backed air surveillance and shooting down of unidentified planes was halted abruptly after Bowers and her daughter were killed, and investigations into the incident found that the US CIA employees involved did not have sufficient Spanish fluency to communicate with their Peruvian partners. But Peruvian pilots and US anti-drug employees have received new training, including simulator training in Oklahoma City, and the flights should be back in the air before year's end.

"We have detected unregistered flights that we cannot confirm are drug flights, but many probably are," said Peruvian drug czar Nils Ericsson. [Ed: Let's hope they can figure that out before they shoot down more innocent civilians or submit more suspected airborne traffickers to extrajudicial execution.]

The killing zone also includes Brazil, which has intercepted 88 drug flights since its new Amazon regional radar system went into operation, and Colombia, which is also expected to resume shootdown flights with US cooperation before the new year.

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Issue #292, 6/20/03 DRCNet Needs Your Help | Editorial: No Drug War Exception to Good and Evil | The Gathering in Cartagena: The Global Social Forum Thematic Meeting on Democracy, Human Rights, War, and the Drug Trade | DRCNet Interview: Nancy Obregón, Sub-Secretary General of the Confederation of Peruvian Coca Growers | DRCNet Interview: Anthropologist Anthony Henman | Dozens of Students to Embark This Weekend on 50-Mile "Skate for Justice" | Newsbrief: 12 Tulia Victims Walk Out of Jail | No Rockefeller Reform This Session | Candidate Dean Bending on Medical Marijuana | Newsbrief: RAVE Act Reverberations | Newsbrief: Teachers Against Prohibition Reborn as Educators for Sensible Drug Policy | Newsbrief: Kentucky Supreme Court Tightens Law on Methamphetamine Prosecutions | Newsbrief: Thais Get Drug War Help from US | Newsbrief: US-Peru Anti-Drug Flights Set to Resume | Newsbrief: Israeli Company Receives Notice of Allowance from US Patent Office for Synthetic Marijuana Pharmaceuticals | Teen Facing 26 Years for First-Time Marijuana Offense Sentenced to Two | Marc Mauer Testimony on Comparative International Rates of Incarceration | The Reformer's Calendar
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