Latin American drug traffickers no longer have unfettered access to aviation routes for funneling illegal drugs into the United States, thanks in part to 14 Air National Guardsmen participating in a bilateral drug-fighting program with the Colombian military. Operating out of Miami, Fla., under the auspices of the National Guard’s Host Nation Rider Program, the bi-lingual airmen serve aboard E-3 AWACs aircraft and others used in the counterdrug mission, sharing intelligence with their Colombian counterparts. Known as Host Nation Rider Escorts, the airmen provide mission support to US Southern Command. They call themselves the “Rough Riders.” Lt. Col. Roberto Vasquez, director of the Host Nation Rider program, noted that the six year old air bridge denial program has “basically shut down” illegal drug trafficking by air, forcing traffickers to rely on more costly ground transportation venues.