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In photos: the planes, pilots and clandestine infrastructure of narco-aviation

The Cessna is the most popular model for drug flights. Traffickers defy the authorities by using landing strips and make-shift control towers in the middle of the jungle. A video obtained by Univision Investiga, shows step by step a drug trafficking operation from the moment a small plane lands on a clandestine dirt landing strip until it takes off with the cargo seven minutes later, on a round-trip to and from Bolivia. Now take this unprecedented journey into narco-aviation in Latin America: the routes, the traps, the costs and the often tragic consequences of the trade that transports drugs from the jungles of Peru to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Publicado: 20 Nov | 03:01 PM EST
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The single-engine Cessna is the most commonly used airplane for drug trafficking. Foto: Univision Investiga | Univision
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Luis Andrés Mojica, one of the pilots who disappeared in Peru on a suspected drug flight. Foto: Univision Investiga | Univision
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Vanessa Herrera, mother of two missing pilots. She received what she was told were the charred remains of one of her sons, Luis Andrés, in a box. But she has not lost all hope of finding him alive. Luis Andrés may have died while flying a drug mission in the Peruvian jungle that went wrong. Juan Pablo went missing while attempting to search for him. Foto: Univision Investiga | Univision
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Néstor Clavijo shows a photo with his son disappeared in the Peruvian ju...
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Néstor Clavijo shows a photo with his son disappeared in the Peruvian jungle. Foto: Univision Investiga | Univision
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Oferta de cursos de pilotos en Santa Cruz de Bolivia.
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Flying schools abound in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Students pay $25,000 to complete the course. Pilots in Bolivia pick up drugs in the Peruvian jungle to be shipped north for the U.S. market, or to Brazil. Some also makes it to Europe via Venezuela.
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A drug plane landing in Peru to pick up a cargo of cocaine.
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A drug plane landing in Peru to pick up a cargo of cocaine. Foto: Univision Investiga | Univision
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A clandestine landing strip in eastern Honduras which is a popular re-fueling point for small planes carrying drugs that leave Colombia and Venezuela bound for Mexico. Foto: Univision Investiga | Univision
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A makeshift control tower discovered by the Honduran police near Brus Laguna in the remote region of the Mosquito coast of eastern of Honduras. Foto: Univision Investiga | Univision
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Venezuelan licensed plane crashed in Honduras loaded with drugs. Planes stop to refuel in Honduras on their way from South America to mexico. Foto: Univision Investiga | Univision
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The traffickers remove the seats of the airplane to pack it with drugs. Foto: Univision Investiga | Univision
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A counter-narcotics operation in Honduras. Foto: Univision Investiga | Univision
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A counter-narcotics unit in Honduras. Foto: Univision Investiga | Univision
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Heavy machinery seized in the Honduras jungle used to make clandestine airstrips. Foto: Univision Investiga | Univision
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An ex-captain of the Honduran army denounced that this helicopter was linked to the brother of the President of the Republic, Juan Orlando Hernández. He was later accused of corruption by the U.S. embassy. Foto: Univision Investiga | Univision
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Fuel drums for drug flights seized in Honduras. Foto: Univision Investiga | Univision
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Marijuana seized in Mexico. Drug planes cary the finished product north to the U.S. border. Foto: Univision Investiga | Univision
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In Mexico's Golden Triangle, during marijuana harvest season, up to three flights can depart daily for the U.S. border. Foto: Univision Investiga | Univision