In the wake of the State Department’s biased annual report on international efforts to fight drugs, Venezuela’s Ministry of Interior and Justice, which oversees the battle against drug trafficking, highlighted the many advances made in fighting drugs in Venezuela throughout 2009.
The ministry reported that 60 tons of drugs were seized in 2009, an 11 percent increase from 2008. Additionally, 8,000 people were arrested for drug-related offenses, notably 14 drug kingpins – four of whom were deported to the U.S. to face charges.
Venezuelan authorities destroyed 26 drug laboratories and engaged in operations targeting drug cultivations along the border with Colombia. For the fourth year in a row, the Venezuelan side of the border was declared free of illegal drug cultivations. More than 456 properties worth $116 million were seized during criminal investigations.
Different Venezuelan agencies participated in 11 maritime drug interdiction operations alongside foreign counterparts, six of them involving U.S. law enforcement agencies. Eighteen K8 aircraft were purchased to intercept illegal drug flights, and ten Chinese-made radars were installed to track those flights.
Three crime laboratories, 10 drug incineration centers and five cargo-inspection systems at airports with international service were built. A National Anti-Drug Fund was created to finance prevention programs, and more than 130,000 Venezuelans were trained as “prevention advisors.” Kits to detect illegal drugs and crime investigation equipment were provided to police departments – both of which the U.S. had refused to sell to Venezuela.
Several international agreements and commitments were ratified, including the XIX Meeting of the Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA), where the United Nations recognized Venezuela’s efforts in fighting drug trafficking.
Additionally, a report issued by the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) described Venezuela’s achievements in the fight against drug trafficking. The report, published on February 24, 2010, highlighted three achievements – the strengthening of measures to combat money laundering, the implementation of the National Anti-Drug Plan and monitoring of substances not currently under international monitoring laws.
In a press release on February 25, the Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the U.S., Bernardo Alvarez, said, “The State Department’s annual accusation that Venezuela is not cooperating in the fight against drugs is purely political.”
“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.
For more information on Venezuela’s fight against drugs, please see the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s Context Paper and Fact Sheet.
Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the U.S. Press and Communications Office / March 3, 2010