Venezuelan Authorities Arrest 18 in Alleged International Drug Bust

The eighteen arrested were allegedly involved in trafficking cocaine from Caracas to Europe and the Middle East.

By Paul Dobson
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Venezuela's attorney general, Tarek William Saab, accused his predecessor to turning a blind eye to the drug ring
Venezuela's attorney general, Tarek William Saab, accused his predecessor to turning a blind eye to the drug ring. (Twitter/ @MinpublicoVE)

Merida, March 1, 2018 ( – Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab announced Wednesday that eighteen people are behind bars as authorities claim to have dismantled an international drug-running network which allegedly trafficked cocaine and marijuana to Europe and the Middle East.

Fourteen of those accused were arrested in Venezuela and four outside of the country.

At least nine of those detained in Venezuela belonged to the security detail at Caracas’ Simon Bolivar International Airport, Saab said in a press conference at the Attorney General’s office Wednesday. He also specified that there are arrest warrants out for four more suspects.

“It is the will of the Venezuelan state to combat drug-trafficking in all of its forms,” the top prosecutor stated.

According to Saab, both of the alleged kingpins of the network have been detained. Mohammad Nasser Fares, of Lebanese nationality, was arrested in the Venezuelan state of Falcon, and Ozer Murat, of Venezuelan-Turkish nationality, was arrested in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan, following a Venezuela-issued Interpol red alert for his capture.

“We are processing the request for [Ozer Murat’s] extradition to Venezuela,” Saab added.

Venezuelan media outlet AVN named some of the other citizens arrested as part of this operation, including Ramona Avalo in Zulia State, Eduard Cordero and Tomas Concha in Lara State, and airport security official Carlos Hernandez in Caracas. 

Saab additionally alleged that the latest arrests are connected with a string of drug busts going back a year, including that of Jorge Navas in Paris Charles de Gaulle airport with seven kilos of cocaine (January 6 2017); Fabiola Urquila with 30 kilos of cocaine in Beirut airport, Lebanon (May 11 2017); Albertina Martinez in Beirut with 31.4 grams of cocaine (December 2017); Yolenny Anais Santiago Camacho and Juan Pablo Díaz Colina in Caracas airport with 32.7 kilos of cocaine boarding a flight to Istanbul (January 18 2018); and Erkan Omer and Emine Dilek Karadeniz, both of Turkish nationality, who were arrested in Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris with 21.9 grams of cocaine (February 5 2018).

Saab claimed that the arrests prove to the world that Venezuelan authorities are responsibly acting against drug trafficking and other transnational criminal activities.

“[These busts] internationally dismantle all of the false maneuvers which try to present our country as some sort of failed, anti-democratic state and a dictatorship,” he continued.

Saab also accused his predecessor, Luisa Ortega Diaz, who is currently a fugitive of the Venezuelan justice system, of turning a blind eye to the alleged Nasser Fares-Murat drug-running network.

“Despite there being enough evidence for the arrest of Ozer Murat, [Ortega Diaz] didn’t issue an arrest warrant against him,” Saab claimed.

Since taking the post last August, the chief prosecutor has repeatedly denounced Ortega Diaz for allegedly promoting a climate of impunity towards corruption and other illicit activities during her decade-long tenure.