Venezuelan military bombs 36 airstrips
Southern plains targeted to help shut down air routes used by drug smugglers.
CARACAS, Venezuela, Wednesday June 06, 2012 — Venezuela’s military bombed three dozen clandestine airstrips in the country’s southern plains region last month as part of a broader government effort to eliminate air routes used by drug smugglers, a top government official disclosed.
Venezuelan state television aired footage of two explosions at covert airstrips targeted in the air strikes that propelled debris through the air.
According to Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami, drug smuggling flights into Venezuelan airspace have been reduced 50 percent since the beginning of the year as the government of President Hugo Chavez seeks to combat trafficking.
“We are meeting our obligation of fighting and confronting these criminal organizations like never before,” the justice minister said on state television, speaking from the southern state of Apure, which borders Colombia, the world’s biggest producer of cocaine.
El Aissami did not reveal how many drug smuggling flights had been detected so far this year.
U.S. counter-drug officials have described Venezuela as a key conduit for Colombian cocaine.
El Aissami also said that two suspected drug smugglers wanted in Colombia and the United States, Miguel Camacho and Luis Alberto Ramirez, would soon be handed over to Colombian authorities following their arrest in Venezuela last month.