Why Are Venezuelan Drug Traffickers Burning Planes?

April 26, 2019 Updated: April 26, 2019


Recent reporting has revealed that Venezuela has become deeply involved in narcotics trafficking.

As a socialist regime, Venezuela is quite comfortable trafficking cocaine, to begin with. They feel justified in doing so because of the sanctions imposed, which hurt their ability to get their hands on hard currency, and as a way to strike back at the United States.

This concept comes directly from one of the main tenets pushed on Venezuelans by the founder of the socialist regime, Hugo Chavez, and that is asymmetrical warfare.

Chavez viewed the United States as the great enemy to be destroyed, but recognized it could not be done through direct confrontation. They settled on the concept of asymmetrical warfare as a way to indirectly chip away at the power of the United States—helping to transport cocaine and other drugs to the United States exactly fits the bill. It destroys a segment of our youth and absorbs huge amounts of resources in treatment, law enforcement, and even jail space.

Cuban Precedent

Venezuela is not the first nearby socialist country to become involved in narcotrafficking. Back in the 1980s, in the cocaine cowboy days of Pablo Escobar and the Medellin, Colombia, cartel, Cuba made exactly the same decision. They became involved in narcotrafficking to obtain hard currency and bypass U.S. sanctions, just as the Venezuelans have done in today’s world.

There were many photographs taken from the air that showed speedboats moving cocaine through isolated Cuban beaches. Forward-looking infrared (FLIR) photographs showed airplanes moving cocaine from Colombia to Cuba for onward transportation.

All of this was made public and it created particular problems for the Cuban socialist strongman Fidel Castro, who often traveled internationally, including to the United Nations in New York.

Castro was in the process of being indicted as a narcotrafficker, and would have become even more deeply isolated, as he would not have been able to leave his island stronghold. He came up with a cold-hearted but practical solution. On July 13, 1989, he executed by firing squad Gen. Arnaldo Ochoa, Ministry of Interior Col. Antonio de la Guardia, and their closest aides, Capt. Jorge Martinez and Maj. Amado Padrón, respectively, for narcotrafficking.

Not only could Castro then claim the guilty were punished and, therefore, he was in the clear, but Ochoa was a popular figure in Cuba and was considered a war hero who was well respected among the troops. Ochoa’s execution neatly eliminated a potential rival for Castro, who only ever had one strategy in Cuba, which was to maintain his absolute power.

The liberal left here in the United States argued that Castro was not involved or aware of Cuba’s involvement, but it’s completely ludicrous to suggest that millions of dollars of difficult-to-come-by hard currency could be pumped into the economy without anyone noticing on a small island of only 10 million inhabitants that’s tightly controlled by an unquestioned dictator.

Anyone coming to a conclusion of this nature would “require the willing suspension of disbelief,” as Hillary Clinton once said.

It’s worth noting that asymmetrical warfare is precisely the concept that Russia is using so successfully against the United States at this very moment. Russian intelligence is using the willing dupes in the Democratic Party to sow discord and chaos by fraudulently claiming the election of President Donald Trump was in some way illegitimate.

There’s one aspect of Venezuelan involvement in narcotrafficking that is particularly interesting and has yet to be properly explained.

Destroyed Planes

As noted, twin-engine aircraft and other small aircraft have been used for many decades to move cocaine to different locations and countries so it can then be smuggled into the United States. What’s new is that Venezuelan cocaine smugglers burn or otherwise destroy the planes after only a single use of moving cocaine to Honduras on its way to the United States.

The explanation suggested by the media is that the cocaine trade is so lucrative that that’s how the cocaine business is now done. However, that’s just simply not the case.

Cocaine has always been such an enormous money maker that narcotraffickers could have easily afforded to destroy the small planes after a single use, but it’s never been done before through the decades.

There’s nothing to gain by doing so. According to a CNN report, Venezuela has greatly increased its involvement and is now making nearly daily flights to deliver cocaine and growing. Any suggestion that Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro is unaware or uninvolved in narcotrafficking is either ill-informed or is covering for the socialist regime.

This is made abundantly clear just by the fact that perhaps more than 300 aircraft are being used out of Venezuela and then destroyed in Honduras. Those aircraft have to be flown in from somewhere outside of Venezuela and it’s just plain stupid to suggest hundreds of small planes are being flown into Venezuela without the military dictatorship in power being aware.

The United States is fully aware of the problem and has accused various Venezuelan officials of drug trafficking, including Maduro’s second-in-command Diosdado Cabello.

The interesting question remains: Why are the Venezuelan’s burning or destroying the aircraft used to transport cocaine and where are the replacement aircraft coming from?

As everyone is aware, the Venezuelan socialist regime has held onto power against the will of their people with the help and support of Cuba, Iran, China, and Russia. At this point, we need to ask the question: Are the aircraft being destroyed to disguise Venezuelan government involvement and the aircrafts’ point of origin, and are Cuba, Iran, China, and Russia involved in supplying them?

Brad Johnson is a retired CIA senior operations officer and a former chief of station. He is president of Americans for Intelligence Reform.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.