Venezuelan authorities seized nearly two tons of cocaine and arrested three suspects in their largest drug bust in months, the country’s anti-drug chief said.
Police and soldiers discovered 4,370lbs of cocaine during a raid on a ranch in central Miranda state on Saturday, said National Anti-Drug Agency director Nestor Reverol.
A Colombian and two Venezuelans were detained.
Anti-drug initiatives under President Hugo Chavez have been a sore point between Venezuela and the US since 2005, when Mr Chavez suspended cooperation with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) after accusing its agents of espionage – an accusation the DEA denies.
US officials say Venezuela has become a major shipment point for Colombian cocaine under Mr Chavez.
Mr Reverol hailed the action as blow against smugglers using Venezuela to ship drugs to the US and Europe.
“We ratify the Venezuelan state’s commitment in the head-on fight against drug trafficking,” he said.
The smugglers planned to load the cocaine on to a vessel along the coast, he said.
In a separate case, police seized 1,830lbs of marijuana at a roadside checkpoint in the western state of Trujillo.
Mr Reverol said Venezuelan authorities had confiscated more than 18 tons of cocaine so far this year and arrested more than 2,000 drug-related suspects.
He also announced that authorities would soon arrest the owners of a small plane filled with cocaine that crashed in Honduras on Sunday.
The plane, registered in Venezuela, was carrying around 3,300lbs of cocaine when it crashed on Utila, one of the Bay Islands off the Central American country’s northern coast.