Venezuela Captures Colombian Drug Lord

The Venezuelan government arrested Friday a man they describe as a “big fish” in the drug world and the second most wanted narco-trafficker in Colombia.

Caracas, Venezuela, September 25, 2006—The Venezuelan government arrested Friday a man they describe as a “big fish” in the drug world and the second most wanted narco-trafficker in Colombia. Colombian Farid Feris Domínguez was tracked down in La Lagunita, a wealthy suburb of Caracas.

Minister for the Interior and Justice Jesse Chacón held a press conference at Maquetía International Airport near Caracas on Saturday where he revealed the details of the arrest, “Besides the crime of illicit association with the intention to manufacture, distribute and import cocaine to the United States, there is an extradition request from Colombia.”

However, Chacón said that given Domínguez entered Venezuela with false documentation he will be simply deported back to Colombia. This avoids the long drawn-out extradition process. He also thanked Colombia for its help in what he said was a joint operation that demonstrated that, “Venezuela doesn’t protect this type of criminal in our territory.” Domínguez reportedly tried to bribe the authorities with a payment of 2 million dollars in exchange for his freedom. An investigation is underway to reveal the network in Venezuela that was protecting him.

The arrest comes after a recently released White House report that claimed Venezuela was not doing enough to combat drug smuggling within its borders. The report said that Venezuela had, “failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to… [its] obligations under international counter-narcotics agreements.” Venezuela immediately rejected the report as “politicized” but clearly, given the importance the government in Caracas is placing on highlighting drug seizures or captures like this one, they are rattled by the accusations coming from Washington.

The US and Venezuela are currently negotiating a new agreement to cooperate on anti-drug policy. The previous one was suspended by the Chávez government in 2005 because Chávez accused the US Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) of engaging in activities that went beyond their remit.

Chávez, commenting after the Domínguez arrest, said that Venezuela had captured three times as many narco-traffickers since the pact with the US government broke down. He then went on to attack the DEA and the CIA anew, “Here we are hitting the mafia that are involved in narco-trafficking hard. After breaking the agreement with the DEA, because what they were doing here was espionage (..) The DEA is infiltrated by narco-trafficers, the CIA is infliltrated by narco-traffickers.”

At his press conference, where he was accompanied by Colombian counterparts, Jesse Chacón mentioned two other important recent arrests of alleged known narco-traffickers. Libardo de Jesús Parra González, a known member of the Atlantic Coast Cartel in Colombia, was captured in the state of Zulia which borders Colombia. He was then deported and is now in the hands of the Colombian justice system. Also, Venezuelan-Colombian Carlos Ojeda Herrera was detained over three months ago. He is wanted in the US for drugs offences. However, he remains in custody in Venezuela as the US has not applied to extradite him.

In 2004 Venezuela seized 43 metric tons of cocaine, 77 metric tons in 2005 and already in 2006 the authorities have seized 43 tons, “The figures speak for themselves,” said Chacón.