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Venezuela Expands Fight Against Drug Trafficking

With an 11 percent increase in drug seizures from 2008 and 2009 and a new four-year comprehensive plan in place to address prevention, Venezuela continues to aggressively attack the production, trafficking and use of illegal drugs in 2010.

“Our commitment to fighting illegal drugs is unequivocal, and we have seen impressive gains from the hard work of our law-enforcement agencies,” said Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez. “Venezuela shares a long border with the world’s biggest producer of cocaine and a hemisphere with its biggest consumer, so fighting drug trafficking will always be a regional challenge. But with our sustained efforts in drug seizures, a comprehensive plan in place to address prevention and international cooperation agreements with 38 countries, we plan to keep making advances.”

In 2009, Venezuelan authorities seized 60 tons of drugs, up from 54 tons in 2008. The Venezuelan government also invested $260 million in the purchase and installation of 10 radars to track illegal drug flights, arrested close to 9,000 individuals for drug-related crimes, destroyed 26 laboratories, started using specialized incinerators to destroy seized drugs and remained internationally engaged through 50 anti-drug cooperation agreements with 38 countries. Additionally, over 100,000 “prevention advisors” were trained in communities throughout Venezuela.

Venezuela’s National Anti-Drug Office (ONA, in Spanish), along with other institutions, has continued the fight against drugs in 2010. So far, 30 planes used for drug trafficking have been seized, three high-value drug traffickers have been deported (to Colombia, France, and the U.S.) and the fifth of 10 planned drug incineration plants was opened on the island-state of Nueva Esparta. Furthermore, a National Anti-Drug Fund to help finance drug prevention, rehabilitation and social integration programs throughout Venezuela started in January. By 2013, five million prevention advisors will be active.

From 2006 to 2008, the two years following a decision by the Venezuelan government to stop working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), drug seizures in Venezuela increased by 38 percent relative to the two years – 2002 to 2004 – before the cooperation agreement between the DEA  and Venezuela ended.

“The State Department’s annual accusation that Venezuela is not cooperating in the fight against drugs is purely political,” said Ambassador Alvarez. “Venezuela is firmly committed to fighting drugs, and we believe that each country shares a distinct responsibility in that effort. We may have political disagreements with the U.S., but a report on the fight against drugs should not be the means to air those,” he added.

Ambassador Alvarez also pointed out, “It is foolish to blame Venezuela for problems that reflect not the failure of one country’s efforts, but rather the failure of the supply-side and military strategy against narcotics led by the U.S. in this hemisphere.”

“We’d be pleasantly surprised if the State Department eventually recognized our efforts in fighting drugs. In fact, it would definitely be a step in the right direction towards relations based on mutual respect.”

For more information on Venezuela’s fight against drugs, please see the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s context paper.

Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the U.S. Press and Communications Office / February 25, 2010)

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