Suspected drug-smugglers’ plane lands, burns on Yucatan Peninsula highway

Video grab shows a plane that was reportedly set alight after allegedly being intercepted by soldiers on Federal Highway 184 in Quintana Roo. It was allegedly carrying drugs. Photo: Sipse
Video grab shows a plane that was reportedly set alight after allegedly being intercepted by soldiers on Federal Highway 184 in Quintana Roo. It was allegedly carrying drugs. Photo: Sipse

Military officials found a drug-smugglers’ plane ablaze on a jungle road after it made an illegal landing when military aircraft started following it.

The twin-engine jet, which is suspected of carrying hundreds of kilos of drugs, was discovered on the Carrillo-Mérida road in Quintana Roo.

The Defense Department said the plane had arrived from South America and had been tracked since it entered Mexican airspace. 

Two air force planes were dispatched to trail the jet and troops were flown to the landing site, said military officials.

Local media reported that because the aircraft had been detected by the armed forces in mid-flight, the crew would have landed and burned the plane to escape. Local authorities have not confirmed that report. Reports of a gunfire exchange also were not verified.

It is unclear if the plane made the emergency landing and then burst into flames or if the traffickers purposely set it on fire. 

Further down the highway, headed toward Yucatan, troops found a pickup truck loaded with 13 sacks of cocaine weighing a total of about 850 pounds. 

With an estimated value of more than US$4.9 million, the loss would have a ‘significant’ impact on criminal organizations, said a statement from the Mexican military.

Milenio, which showed footage of the twin-engine jet half burned out on a Quintana Roo highway surrounded by dense vegetation, reported that the plane had arrived from Maracaibo, Venezuela.

A reporter from Reuters could not verify the information and the Venezuelan government did not immediately reply to a request for comment.