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Joint U.S.-Guatemalan anti-drug program jeopardized by Central American government's late payments

A joint U.S. and Guatemalan anti-narcotics aviation program is in trouble after less than a year in operation due to chronic non-payment of a key contractor by the Central American nation's government.

Helicopteros de Guatemala notified the country’s Interior Ministry in July that it would cease Guatemalan air operations used for anti-drug surveillance and interdiction.

The program’s failure raises questions about the reliability of Guatemala as a dependable partner with the United States in the war against Central American drug lords who are also deeply involved in the movement of thousands of illegal immigrants, including many unaccompanied children, to the U.S.

The Guatemalan company's U.S. partner is the Florida-based Bristow Academy. The Guatemalan government's part of the program's funding was $10 million.

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