Mexico's general attorney office, the PGR, this month lost three helicopters being used in a counterdrug operation, Montana III, initiated last February in Guerrero state.

Two Bell 206 Long Ranger IVs and a Bell 206B Jet Ranger III crashed over a four-day period, causing the death of three pilots and three law enforcement agents.

Two of the helicopters, lost on 10 March during a crop-spraying mission against marijuana and poppy plantations in Ahuacuotzingo, were gunned down, according to initial reports.

Government sources, however, are indicating that the loss of the two helicopters could have been the result of a cable trap - an increasingly frequent method of inhibiting the crop-spraying activities of PGR-operated helicopters.

Four days later, a single Bell 206 Long Ranger IV returning from a crop-spraying sortie struck a cable spread over the breadth of a valley near Los Corrales, around 50km (27 miles) north east of Zihuatanejo. As a result, the helicopter crashed and the pilot was killed.

Over the past seven years, the PGR has registered 122 gunfire attacks against its helicopters.

Cable traps are a relatively new method of curtailing flights near or around illegal plantations and the PGR has registered 37 incidents within the past 18 months.

Source: Flight International