Mérida, July 14, 2010 (venezuelanalysis.com)– On Tuesday, Venezuela extradited three suspected drug traffickers, one of whom was on the US Drug Enforcement Agency’s top ten most wanted list.
Minister for Justice and Internal Affairs Tarek El-Aissami said the deportation demonstrates the Venezuelan government’s commitment to drug enforcement, in spite of accusations by the US government that Venezuela is non-cooperative in the fight against drugs.
Venezuelan security forces have detained 22 suspected drug traffickers of distinct nationalities who were wanted by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), the US, Belgium, France, Italy, and Colombia over the past four years, according to the National Anti-Drug Office.
Alberto Rentería Mantilla, 65, was captured by Venezuelan National Guard troops on July 4 in Caracas. The suspected chief of the Colombian drug cartel Norte del Valle is on the DEA’s top ten most wanted list.
The other two suspected drug traffickers who were handed over to U.S. authorities were Luis Tello, 47, and Carlos Ojeda, 58, both on cocaine trafficking charges. Tello was arrested on June 23 in Caracas, and Ojeda was apprehended on May 27 in Anzoátegui in eastern Venezuela.
Venezuela and the DEA collaborated on anti-drug efforts until 2005, when Venezuela severed the relationship on suspicion that the DEA was spying and plotting to destabilize the country. In 2008, President Hugo Chavez met with US Ambassador Patrick Duddy and proposed re-establishing anti-drug cooperation, but the relationship remains frozen.
The US identifies Venezuela as a transit point for Colombian cocaine to the US and other parts of the world. Venezuela has increased its drug interdictions, virtually eliminated drug cultivation, and created community anti-drug education programs since Chavez was elected a decade ago.
Venezuelan officials say the U.S. uses drug-related accusations as a “political weapon” to discredit governments that desist from its hegemony, and have called on the U.S. to curb drug consumption.