The Venezuelan government said that 4.5 tons of cocaine and coca paste were seized in an operation carried out by the National Guard at some 200 meters (655 feet) from the Colombian border.
Interior Minister Tarek El Aissami said that 6,000 kilos (13,200 pounds) of chemical substances for processing drugs were also confiscated in Thursday’s operation.
“This has been one of the biggest operations in recent years and shows the effectiveness of the policies the government has implemented in the war on drugs,” the official said.
The interior minister said that two people escaped into nearby Colombian territory when Venezuelan forces approached the place where there were eight laboratories for processing the drug stash that was seized.
El Aissami said that the drug came from Colombia and said it belonged to “criminal groups” from that country.
The minister at first reported the seizure of “almost 3,000 kilos (3.3 tons) of cocaine” discovered in the border state of Zulia.
Venezuela seized 66.3 tons of illegal drugs last year, or seven tons more than in 2008, the government said last December.
A recent U.S. government report, however, criticized the South American country for seizing far fewer drugs in recent years, noting that Venezuela confiscated 152 tons of drugs in 2005.
President Hugo Chavez’s administration said last month that it “categorically” rejected the report’s conclusions.
Washington included Venezuela on the list of countries that are not cooperating in the war on drugs.
April 22, 2010
Latin American Herald Tribune