News: Law and Justice
Venezuela Increased Drug-Related Arrests by 41.6% in 2010
Mérida, December 28th 2010 (Venezuelanalysis.com) - Venezuela’s National Anti-Drug Office (ONA) announced yesterday that government authorities arrested 12,376 people on drug-related charges in the year 2010, an increase of 41.6% compared to 2009, when 8,741 drug-related arrests were made.
Of those arrested, 12,005 were Venezuelan while 371 were foreigners, and 17 were high profile drug traffickers wanted by Interpol, according to the ONA.
Most recently, Venezuela captured Alberto Mantilla and Jaime “Beto Marín” of the Colombian drug cartel Norte del Valle and extradited both drug magnates to the United States, where they were on the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) top ten most wanted list.
Authorities also confiscated a total of 63.2 metric tons of illegal narcotics over the course of the year, the ONA reported. Cocaine confiscations decreased from 27.7 metric tons in 2009 to 24.6 metric tons in 2010, while marijuana confiscations increased from 32.6 metric tons in 2009 to 38.4 metric tons in 2010.
The Venezuelan government said the improvement in its anti-drug performance in 2010 was the result of a National Anti-Drug plan that included nearly 9,500 joint operations coordinated among the National Guard, National Police, National Intelligence Service, National Criminal, Penal, and Scientific Investigative Agency, and local police forces.
These operations included the destruction of clandestine drug laboratories, crops, and air landing strips, the establishment of drug incineration facilities, and the installation of body scanners in major airports in the capital city as well as the states of Zulia, Nueva Esparta, and Carabobo.
The national plan also included preventive measures such as community-based drug education and recreational activities funded and organized by the ONA together with local communal councils.
While Venezuela is virtually free of illicit crop production, it remains a transit point for a significant percentage of the drugs produced in Colombia. According to the United Nations’ World Drug Report 2010, Venezuela was the origin of more than half of the intercepted cocaine shipments across the Atlantic ocean between 2006 and 2008. The UN report also said 70% of the cocaine produced in Colombia was exported by way of the Pacific Ocean during that time period.
Venezuela and the DEA cooperated on anti-drug operations until 2005, when Venezuela severed the relationship on suspicion that the DEA was spying.
Since then, the US government has placed Venezuela on its list of countries that do not cooperate in the fight against drug trafficking. This is one of many fronts in the US’s diplomatic attack on the Venezuelan government, which advocates “21st Century Socialism” and opposes US-backed free trade policies.
Venezuela says its drug interdictions and arrests have increased since cooperation with the DEA ended. According to ONA statistics that compare the period 2002-2005 with the period 2006-2009, drug interdictions increased from 202.6 metric tons to 233.3 metric tons and drug-related arrests increased from 6,836 people to 22,833 people.
Also, the number of major drug traffickers wanted by Interpol who were arrested in Venezuela was zero between 2002 and 2006, while the number increased to four in 2006, five in 2007, 14 in 2008, 14 in 2009, and 17 this year, according to the ONA.
Venezuela has endorsed more than 52 anti-drug cooperation agreements with 38 countries.
Published on Dec 28th 2010 at 7.33pm