Venezuelan air space is closed because of COVID-19, but business jets keep flying. (Part 1 of 3)
On July 12th in Caracas the Venezuelan regime announced they would be further extending by 30 days the NOTAM restricting all air traffic in the country to cargo and COVID-19 relief / repatriation flights. Despite this supposed ban, the private business jets of the well connected continue to fly daily. By examining each jet's movements individually and as a group we can infer some pretty interesting findings about what the regime and its allies are up to.
YV3019 - Cessna S550 Citation SII
Since March 12th when the first restrictions on air traffic were put in place. YV3019 has traveled extensively between Maracaibo & Caracas as well as to Panama, Jamaica and Florida. Just yesterday they flew to the Dominican Republic along with a few other jets. The timing, origin and destinations for these flights suggest it is involved in the transhipment of narcotics which are then loaded onto commercial flights headed to the U.S. & Europe.
YV3182 - Cessna 525 Citationjet CJ1
Just south of Caracas sits Óscar Machado Zuloaga International Airport. A small private field that was quietly taken over by the military on March 12th as part of the COVID-19 restrictions on air travel. It has for years been a preferred parking place for aircraft belonging to those who are "plugged in" with the regime and involved in narcotics and gold smuggling. Yesterday morning YV3182 took off from this airport and flew to Maiquetía International Airport. After about 2 hours on the ground they headed north to the Dominican Republic landing in Puerto Plata which is another departure point for commercial aircraft destined for the U.S and Europe. Just 3 hours later it takes off again retracing the same route back.
YV3490 - UNKNOWN TYPE
Before yesterday's flight to Santo Domingo this ICAO and registration number has not been seen before, suggesting it is an invalid code being used to obfuscate what plane is being used. This behaviour is consistent with the other flights to Dominican Republic yesterday that are likely transhipments of narcotics. "Cartel de los Soles" the main narcotics distributers in Venezuela are known to regularly use the friendly relationship between the Maduro regime and Gonzalo Castillo to bypass regular airport security procedures. Mr Castillo was defeated as a Presidential candidate last week, is the former Minister of Public Works and Communications in the Dominican Republic and is also the owner of Helidosa Aviation Group. His aircraft have been documented visiting Venezuela on dozens of occasions over the last year alone, often using a quick stop in the Dominican Republic to circumvent the ban on direct flights between Venezuela and the United States.
Part 2 and 3 coming soon...
written with information & images from ADSBExchange.com