CARACAS – Venezuelan authorities so far this year have seized 11,237 kilograms (24,751 pounds) of illegal drugs, 3,000 kilos more than during the same period in 2008, the interior minister said here Monday.
Tarek El Aissami told reporters that “thanks to the policies made by the national government, currently Venezuela is one of the pioneer countries in the fight against drug trafficking.”
He also confirmed the dismantling, on Sunday, of five cocaine laboratories “10 meters (yards) from the border with Colombia,” on one of the banks of the Tachira River, 860 kilometers (533 miles) southwest of Caracas.
According to authorities, the laboratories, where some 50 people worked refining the drug, had the capacity to produce about 1,500 kilos of cocaine per month.
They also said that they seized about 10,000 kilos of solid and liquid chemicals used in transforming coca into cocaine.
In addition, they confirmed the finding of two small planes in the far northwestern state of Zulia, bordering on Colombia, that were presumably used in drug trafficking.
That presumption, which could be confirmed after three people who were arrested, one of them a Mexican, give statements to law enforcement authorities, is based on the fact that one of the light planes had a Mexican registration number superimposed on its outer surface and authorities found the aircraft at uninhabited sites along with equipment to make improvised landing strips.
While Venezuela is not a drug-producing nation, neighboring Colombia is the world’s leading source of cocaine. EFE