Venezuela and DEA Close to Agreement to Re-Start Cooperation

Venezuela's top anti-drug officer says that Venezuela and the U.S. might be close to reaching an agreement that would allow the re-strating of cooperation between Venezuela and the DEA.

Caracas, Venezuela, September 2, 2005 —Venezuela’s top drug enforcement official, Luis Correa, of the National Commission Against the Illicit Use of Drugs (Conacuid), told the press yesterday that his agency and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are close to reaching an agreement so that cooperation between the two agencies can continue. Part of the new agreement would be that the DEA is not allowed to participate in any police actions.

“The new pact, which is currently being reviewed by both governments, excludes the DEA’s activity in Venezuela, that is, that armed officers of the DEA take part in police procedures,” said Correa.

Venezuela cut off all ties with the DEA a month and a half ago, alleging that the DEA was violating Venezuelan sovereignty by carrying out actions without the supervision or approval of Venezuelan authorities and that it suspected it was also engaged in espionage and drug smuggling. Venezuela also removed the diplomatic immunity of DEA agents, saying that these agents were abusing their privileges. Armed DEA officers currently do not operate in Venezuela, said Correa.

Correa stressed, though, that Venezuela is interested in collaborating not just with the DEA, but with any anti-drug agency in the world, as long as they act within Venezuelan law and sovereignty.

During the past month, while cooperation with the DEA was suspended, Conacuid intercepted about ten tons of drugs.

Venezuela’s suspension of cooperation with the DEA provoked strong criticisms from the Bush administration, which said that Venezuela’s cooperation on drug interdiction had

Venezuelan Legislator Calls US Anti-Drug Czar’s Comments “Cynical”

U.S. Anti-Drug Zar John Walters, said on Wednesday that cooperation between the U.S. and Venezuela had “seriously deteriorated” and that this was to the “detriment of the Western hemisphere.” Walters also said, “The problem of working with President Chavez is serious and permanent,” adding, “The problem is not the DEA.”

Deputy Saul Ortega, the chair of the foreign relations commission of Venezuela’s National Assembly, responded to Walters’ comments, saying that Walter’s comments were “inconsiderate” and “cynical.” “We have always maintained cooperation with all international police bodies that fight against drug trafficking,” said Ortega.