A clandestine airstrip was destroyed today by the Special Assignment Group, a unit of the Belize Defence Force. Located inside the Shipstern Nature Reserve in the Corozal district, the illegal airstrip was, according to BDF experts, in the final stages of preparation for the landing of an aircraft, possibly in a couple of days. But tonight, whoever was planning on landing a plane there will have to make other arrangements as the facility was blown up by the BDF. According to demolitions expert Lieutenant Colonel David Jones, over fifteen thousand dollars worth of explosives were used today to blow huge craters in the over three quarters of a mile long runway.

Lt. Col. David Jones – Demolition Expert

“We were tasked to come and destroy it. The guys came in last week, did the reconnaissance. On] the reconnaissance they drove all the way up until the airstrip. Today when we got here, we had an obstacle about 500 meters prior to the airstrip, intentionally put across the road so we could not drive in so it delayed our task somewhat. We were still were able to achieve our mission. When we came in we noticed these leaves on the actual airstrip, it is probably to camouflage it from the air so we would not be able to notice. It is a clear indication that this airstrip was going to be used shortly.”

Patrick Jones - Reporter

You said that this airstrip, indications are that it was going to be used shortly, having that intelligence why not just take it out and wait for the plane to come down?

Lt. Col. David Jones - Demolition Expert

"Unfortunately there are quite a number of airstrips here. Normally once we are in the area, since we passed through the village of Maskall and the other houses that we passed, whenever we do that when we come to the area and do a covert observation and patrol they do not come in here again. The villagers saw us on the way in so that is a clear indication that they know what is going on. This is the modus operandi since we have been doing this for 15 years, this is the same thing we have results, when we try and wait if villagers have seen us. Since we were here and we were seen we decided to go ahead with the mission.”

Jones says that there a many other clandestine airstrips in the area that are just like this one that was destroyed today. And while he believes that blowing holes in the runway won’t deter determined drug smugglers, at least for now, there is one less illegal landing area to worry about. The BDF will continue to carry out aerial reconnaissance to make sure the damaged airstrip is not being repaired.

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