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Friday, 19 July, 2002, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
Massive security at Colombia's airports
Bags being X-rayed by airport security
Bags were X-rayed before even checking in

On the face of it, smuggling weapons onto international flights at Bogota airport should not be easy.

In February I flew from Bogota to London on a scheduled British Airways flight.

Bogota airport security
Before check-in:
1. Police with dogs conduct random spot searches
2. Security specialists question passengers
3. All luggage is X-rayed and hand searched

After check-in:
1. Luggage X-rayed
2. After passport control passengers pass metal detector
3. Police hand search bags
4. Passengers are submitted to pat-down search

At gate:
1. Hand luggage X-rayed
2. Passports checked again
3. Police with dogs make visual checks
All of our luggage was passed through an x-ray machine even before we were allowed to check in.

After passport control, there was the usual x-ray machine for the hand luggage, but then there was a group of policemen checking bags at random and giving everyone a body search.

And it did not end there. At the gate there was another bag search, body search with metal detectors and an ID match of passport to boarding pass before we were allowed to board the plane.

Security at Colombian airports has been tightened over the last decade due to the increased threat from guerrilla organisations, drugs mafias and other organised criminal gangs.

However, international airports are used to export large quantities of illegal drugs and therefore the level of corruption among airport staff is believed to be high.


At the gate there was another bag search, body search with metal detectors and an ID match of passport to boarding pass before we were allowed to board the plane

In 1989 Carlos Pizarro, a presidential candidate, was assassinated while he sat on a plane due to take off on an internal flight.

His bodyguards then killed the assassin on the airplane.

That same year, at the height of a terrorist campaign waged by the Medellin drugs cartel, a bomb exploded in mid-air on a flight of the Colombian carrier, Avianca, killing everyone on board.

See also:

19 Jul 02 | Europe
09 Jul 02 | Talking Point
21 Sep 01 | UK
11 Jul 02 | England
31 Jan 01 | Americas
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