Page last updated at 10:27 GMT, Thursday, 10 September 2009 11:27 UK

Venezuela 'tackling drugs trade'

Venezuelan drug officials open bags of cocaine (file image)
Seizures of drugs had increased, Col Reverol said

Venezuela's top anti-drugs official has roundly rejected recent US criticism that his country is failing to tackle international drug trafficking.

Col Nestor Reverol's comments come weeks after a US report said Venezuela was one of the major drug transit nations in the Western Hemisphere.

He said Venezuela was co-operating internationally in the drugs fight.

The US figures about the quantity of Colombian drugs passing through Venezuela were simply wrong, he said.

Col Reverol, who heads Venezuela's national anti-drugs office (ONA), said land and air routes from Colombia via the Pacific were the main source of cocaine traffic to the US, not ones through Venezuela.

"Venezuela doesn't have a Pacific coastline," he said.

Map of Venezuela

Col Reverol said the government of President Hugo Chavez had made significant inroads into tackling the drug supply from Colombia since it ended official co-operation with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) some four years ago, accusing DEA agents of spying.

He said figures showed that more than 44 tonnes of drugs had been seized so far this year.

The government had succeeded in dismantling 19 cocaine factories in Venezuela, he added.

A July report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which is an arm of the US Congress, said there was a "permissive environment" towards trafficking in Venezuela.

The GAO report said corruption in the Venezuelan government and military was allowing the transport of drugs from Colombia through Venezuela to the US to flourish.

But Col Reverol said that Venezuela was co-operating with a wide range of countries.

He said that Venezuela maintained a "working co-operation" with the US which still had two DEA agents working out of the US embassy.

Col Reverol also rejected suggestions that any of his top officials were involved with drug gangs.

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