Authorities have identified 1,400 clandestine landing strips used by smugglers to move drugs into northern Argentina, Security Secretary Sergio Berni said Monday.

All of the strips are located in the province of Santiago del Estero, he told a radio station.

"It's a job that starts with aerial relief photography taken with high-definition cameras, with which a technical intelligence study is made to determine which places have the characteristics to be used as landing strips and have no known flight plans," he said.

Even so, he expressed his opposition to Argentina passing a law allowing authorities to shoot down illegal flights, because "it is unconstitutional, because it's a death penalty without a trial, and because those who implement it can never be sure of a positive outcome."

"A plane that is shot down falls from the sky at random and no one can be sure where that aircraft will crash. Which means the collateral damage can be very significant," Berni said.

He noted that more than 4,000 drug traffickers were arrested in the country over the past year.

He also said that more than 225,000 kilos (248 tons) of marijuana and almost 20,000 kilos (22 tons) of cocaine were seized over the past 12 months.

For several weeks, certain judges have reported the presence of drug traffickers, some from Europe, on Argentina's northern border.

The Argentine government collaborates with federal judges, providing them with all the information it has available, in search of administrative ways to try to close down the illegal landing strips. EFE