Venezuela turns Colombian traffickers over to US

The Venezuelan government on July 13 handed over three accused Colombian drug traffickers to agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Interior Minister Tarek El Aissami said that handing over the suspects was further evidence of the “undeniable results” in the war on drugs achieved by the government of President Hugo Chávez—efforts Washington labels insufficient. “In accordance with international agreements, we are deporting three Colombian citizens wanted by Interpol for drug trafficking and other crimes,” El Aissami said at Caracas’ Maiquetia International Airport.

The three Colombians, placed aboard a DEA aircraft under strong police guard, were identified as Carlos Rentería, Luis Tello and Carlos Ojeda. El Aissami said that Rentería, arrested July 4 at a luxury residence in Caracas, is “one of the 10 most wanted drug traffickers in the world” as head of Colombia’s Norte del Valle cartel. The US government had offered a $5 million reward for the capture of Rentería, 65, who is also accused of kidnapping and murder.

Tello, accused of belonging to the Mexico’s Los Zetas network, and Ojeda, known as the “engineer of the sea,” were arrested June 24. Tello and Ojeda shouted insults at El Aissami as they were being taken to the DEA aircraft.

El Aissami stated that 12 drug traffickers have now been arrested in Venezuela so far in 2010, which “ratifies the commitment of the government of President Hugo Chávez” to the war on drugs. “We have struck as never before at these associations engaged in drug trafficking and crimes against humanity,” he said, adding that drug consumption is a “vice typical of the capitalist model” and contrary to the values promoted by Venezuela’s “socialist revolution.” (EFE, July 13)

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