U.S., Bogota to Resume Aerial Drug Interdiction
Thursday; Page A12
BOGOTA, Colombia, Oct. 2 -- Eighteen months after an American missionary
plane was mistakenly shot down, the United States plans to resume a campaign
help Colombia track and force down drug flights, officials from both countries said today.
The program was suspended in April 2001 in Colombia and Peru after a
Peruvian warplane shot down the missionary flight over the Amazon, killing
and her infant daughter.
Colombian warplanes will intercept drug flights based on intelligence from the United States, Gen. Hector Velasco, the air force commander, said today.
Officials expect operations to resume this month.
To help prevent erroneous shoot-downs, Colombian ground and air crews
and pilots are receiving safety training in Oklahoma City, said Brig. Gen.
of the U.S. Army.
The State Department will be the lead U.S. agency handling the program.
Members of Congress had recommended that the CIA no longer manage it.
U.S. officials have said illicit drug flights from the Andes to the United States increased following the suspension of the U.S. program.
The American missionary plane was shot down after a CIA surveillance
plane spotted what it considered a suspicious aircraft and called in a
Peruvian jet to intercept
The U.S. crew later realized that the flight was innocent, but was unable to dissuade the Peruvians from firing.
© 2002 The Washington Post Company