The Venezuelan Air Force shot down an alleged drug-carrying US-registered aircraft on Tuesday, the third such incident this year.
The South American country’s Interior Minister, Nestor Reverol tweeted stating that the incident took place Tuesday, when the aircraft illegally entering Venezuelan airspace in the province of Zulia near the border with Colombia.
He did not mention about the fate of the pilot and other occupants if any. Nor were there reports of crew parachuting our of the aircraft or any injured or dead bodies recovered from the wreckage. He also did not give an account of drugs recovered form the downed aircraft.
“After the illegal air unit was detected by the radars of the Comprehensive Aerospace Defense Command, the National Bolivarian Armed Forces activated all protocols established in the Control Law for the Comprehensive Defense of Airspace,” Reverol tweeted, referring to a 2013 law authorizing the destruction of any suspected cartel plane operating in Venezuelan airspace.
“We remain on permanent alert, monitoring our airspace to prevent it from being used for illicit drug trafficking from Colombia, which is the largest producer of cocaine in the world,” Reverol added. He revealed that that the downing of the aircraft happened near a secret airfield in the Machiques de Perijá municipality.
Tuesday’s incident was the second since July 8, when another plane with a US registration number was destroyed by fighter jets while intruding into Venezuelan airspace. In June, another drug-laden private aircraft was destroyed by the military.
Not much is known about the flight path of the downed aircraft and if any overflying requests were made to authorities in Colombia and Venezuela.
The United States has accused top Venezuelan officials of colluding with drug cartels, a charge dismissed by the Maduro government as “preposterous.”