Colombia's President Flies Into Drug Hotspot, and Bullets Fly

President Ivan Duque was visiting region where coca crop flourishes for cocaine production
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2021 7:03 AM CDT
$800K Reward After Bullets Hit Colombia President's Chopper
Bullet holes are seen on the fuselage of a Colombian Air Force helicopter.   (Cesar Carrion/Presidency of Colombia via AP)

Colombia's president flew by helicopter to a region of his country crucial to the drug trade to give a talk with a high-minded title: “Peace with Legality, the Sustainable Catatumbo chapter.” The presidential helicopter of Ivan Duque now has bullet holes as a result, reports the AP. Colombia is offering a reward of $800,000 for information that leads to the capture of whoever shot at the helicopter last week as it flew into the southern Catatumbo region, near the border with Venezuela, per Al Jazeera. The helicopter, carrying Duque and several senior government officials, landed safely. No group has claimed responsibility, but plenty of potential culprits exist.

Coca crops used in the production of cocaine are abundant in Catatumbo, as are armed groups in the drug trade, notes the New York Times. In those groups are members of the FARC military group who did not buy into the 2016 peace deal between the government and FARC leaders. Duque also accuses Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro of giving safe haven to Colombian dissidents just across the border. The president, for his part, called the shooting "cowardly" and promised to “the fight against narcotrafficking, against terrorism and against the organized crime groups that operate in the country.” (More Colombia stories.)

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