The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela facilitated a U.S. Coast Guard seizure of 925 kilograms of cocaine from a ship registered in Venezuela. The ship was boarded in international waters by a Coast Guard patrol after it was granted immediate authorization for the operation.
Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami told Venezolana de Televisión (VTV) that on Tuesday, April 7, U.S. authorities asked permission to search the ship that was sailing about one thousand miles off the northeast coast of Venezuela.
According to Minister El Aissami, authorization was granted “immediately”, which resulted in a search of the ship and the seizure of 37 bundles of cocaine containing 25 kilograms each, for a total of 925 kilograms.
El Aissami also noted that five sailors were arrested from the boat, which is named “Don Andrés” and is registered in Pampatar (a city in the Venezuelan island of Margarita).
“This is another example of the government’s efficient counter-narcotics policies. Coordination was made immediately, contradicting the vile campaigns that attempt to make [people] believe that Venezuela does not collaborate,” he emphasized.
Minister El Aissami indicated that the Bolivarian Coast Guard and the National Anti-Drugs Office (ONA) were involved in the coordination, and that the Attorney General was informed about subsequent legal procedures.
He said it is yet to be decided if the fishing boat will be towed to a Venezuelan port or an international port.
“We are in constant communication with the U.S. Coast Guard to continue the investigation,” El Aissami said. The Minister also explained that the ship’s port of departure will be investigated, as well as any ties the arrested men have to criminal groups operating in the area.
Venezolana de Televisión (VTV), Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Press Office / April 13, 2009