Cozumel, Q.R. — A plane that landed on the island of Cozumel for a stopover from Belize was shot down by the Bolivian Air Force Thursday. The plane was shot down in the state of Zulia along the Colombia border.
Personnel from Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana (FANB) who shot the plane down videoed it as it burned on a dirt jungle road. In a public statement, GJ. Domingo Hernández Lárez, Comandante Estratégico Operacional said “FANB immobilizes and renders unusable on the ground an invading plane from Cozumel – Mexico in the Catatumbo municipality of Zulia state.
“It is a white twin-engine Gulfstream aircraft, registration V3-GRS, which was detected by Venezuelan radars entering the national airspace with the transponder off and without permission from the Maiquetía FIR, so the defense plan was activated to destroy the hostile aircraft.
“It is presumed that it was used by transnational groups to traffic drugs and weapons on the national border.
“FANB has all the necessary technology to make our homeland impregnable and react immediately to any unauthorized entry. Venezuela is a territory of peace and the scourge of drug trafficking, terrorism and organized crime is fought daily. For us, the country comes first!”
Since the incident, Cozumel Commander of Military Air Base No. 4 Roberto González Piedras stated that, according to reports collected in the review carried out by the Mexican Army, the plane arrived on the island from Belize.
The plane, G1159 with registration number V3-GRS, is reportedly owned by Belizean company Belize Aviation Engineering Company LTD.
The aircraft first landed at the Cozumel airport on January 14 at 3:40 p.m. from Belize with an American pilot, Mexican co-pilot and no passengers.
The plane spent the night at the Cozumel airport and departed the next day at noon. According to the flight plan, the plane was destined for Granada. The plane returned to the Cozumel airport at 11:10 a.m. on January 24.
González Piedras said both times the plane was inspected, but no irregularities were found. He also said that they had the necessary documentation and had no reason to deny takeoff.
He explained that landing aircraft are inspected by Customs, the National Immigration Institute (INM) and a detachment of the National Guard that reviews planes with the support of dogs to detect illicit cargo.
González Piedras says he does not know how many people were on board the plane that was shot down Thursday several hours after departing the Cozumel International Airport.
“The activities that the crew carry out once they leave Mexico are not our responsibility. It is not our responsibility to review what they do afterwards,” he stated.