Peru Blows Suspected Smugglers Out of the Sky, Again 7/21/00

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For the first time in three years, the Peruvian air force used jet fighters to shoot down a plane suspected of drug-running, the Associated Press reported this week. The incident took place over the Amazon rainforest near the Brazilian border about 370 miles northeast of Lima. Police were searching for the wreckage and the fate of the plane's occupants was uncertain.

The Peruvian air force said its jets used machine-gun fire to down the plane after its pilots ignored radio messages and warning shots.

During the height of Peru's coca boom in the early 1990s, Peru's authoritarian leader, Alberto Fujimori, authorized blowing suspected smugglers' planes out of the skies as part of his aggressive anti-trafficking program.

In the early 1990s, AP reported, the Peruvian air force shot down 25 planes flying along routes between airstrips in the Peruvian Amazon and Colombian cocaine refineries.

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