Venezuela police stop $40m cocaine cargo in luxury cars T&T-bound

A co­caine ship­ment with an es­ti­mat­ed street val­ue close to TT$40 mil­lion, which was des­tined for Trinidad and To­ba­go, was in­ter­cept­ed by mem­bers of the Cuer­po de In­ves­ti­ga­ciones Ci­en­tifi­cas Pe­nales Y Crim­i­nal­is­tics (CI­CPC) in Venezuela yes­ter­day. The drugs were hid­den in se­cret com­part­ments of lux­u­ri­ous cars which were trav­el­ling in a car­a­van at the time.

CI­CPIC is Venezuela’s largest po­lice agency re­spon­si­ble for crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions and foren­sic ser­vices.

On his Twit­ter ac­count, CI­CPC di­rec­tor Dou­glas Ri­co tweet­ed the seizure of the 388 kilo­grammes of co­caine and said the sus­pects held were “part of a crim­i­nal or­gan­i­sa­tion called the Se­niors, which are en­gaged in the il­lic­it traf­fick­ing of nar­cot­ic and psy­chotrop­ic sub­stances in the na­tion­al ter­ri­to­ry and to the is­land of Trinidad and To­ba­go.”

Ri­co said he be­lieved the CI­CPC had “in­fil­trat­ed a crim­i­nal or­gan­i­sa­tion ded­i­cat­ed to traf­fick­ing co­caine to Trinidad and To­ba­go” and had smashed their op­er­a­tion. One kilo­gramme of co­caine can fetch TT$100,000 on the streets.

The bust comes just two days af­ter a Guardian Me­dia ex­clu­sive re­port which re­vealed T&T law en­force­ment in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cers were con­cerned that one no­to­ri­ous Venezue­lan gang, Evande, had in­fil­trat­ed lo­cal gangs and was in­volved in the traf­fick­ing of nar­cotics and firearms in­to this coun­try. Based on the in­for­ma­tion lo­cal law en­force­ment agen­cies ob­tained, sev­er­al hun­dred mem­bers of Evande are here and had em­bed­ded them­selves with lo­cal gangs and sought jobs in the con­struc­tion sec­tor.

A brief re­port car­ried in Venezuela’s El Na­cional, un­der the head­line “Delin­quents used lux­u­ry cars to take drugs to Trinidad and To­ba­go,” yes­ter­day in­di­cat­ed that two men were held along the Puer­to Or­daz-Ma­turin High­way by CI­CPC.

Ri­co, who is al­so quot­ed in the news­pa­per re­port, said Alexan­der José Aponte Ramírez, 48, and Jaime Ál­varo Ro­dri­go Pizarro Guer­ra, 55, were ap­pre­hend­ed in an op­er­a­tion that cov­ered the Puer­to Or­daz-Maturín High­way.

Dur­ing their sweep, two Hum­mer ve­hi­cles, two Chevro­lets, a Mer­cedes Benz SLK 230, Ford Fu­sion and jet ski were searched. In­side the ve­hi­cles, in se­cret com­part­ments, the Venezue­lan po­lice found tight­ly wrapped pack­ages of co­caine in black.

Ri­co al­so point­ed out that the hunt for the main men be­hind this op­er­a­tion, who were in charge of “trans­port­ing and dis­trib­ut­ing the mer­chan­dise to the neigh­bour­ing na­tion,” was still on­go­ing. Po­lice be­lieve the in­tend­ed route of the drug ship­ment to T&T would have en­tailed trans­port­ing it first to Ma­turin, then on­ward to Tu­cu­pi­ta in the state of Delta Amacuro — which has a riv­er net­work that leads out to the At­lantic Ocean. From there, the nec­es­sary arrange­ments would be made by wa­ter to get the ship­ment to this coun­try.

The Orinoco Riv­er is one of the four main rivers used by traf­fick­ers to smug­gle con­tra­band to the south­west­ern penin­su­la of T&T.

The sus­pects — Alexan­der José Aponte Ramírez and Jaime Ál­varo Ro­dri­go Pizarro Guer­ra — were tak­en be­fore the pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice 21 in the pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice in Mon­a­gas on charges of drug traf­fick­ing.

About two weeks ago, a co­caine ship­ment worth close to $120 mil­lion was found hid­den be­neath the Span­ish tanker His­pania Spir­it at the At­lantic Liqui­fied Nat­ur­al Gas port in Point Fortin. Po­lice have not held any­one to date for ques­tion­ing in­to this drug ship­ment.

- by Mark Bassant

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