Venezuela Deports Suspected Traffickers to US, Colombia

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Days after Washington classed Venezuela as having failed to meet its obligations to fight drug trafficking, the country deported six suspected drug traffickers to Colombia and one, a U.S. citizen, to the U.S.

Of the Colombians, four have been identified as members of the neo-paramilitary organization known as the Rastrojos, and the other two are alleged to be operatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The U.S. citizen is Lionel Scott Harris, who has been wanted since 2005 on an Interpol red notice for drug trafficking.

According to Venezuelan Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami, Scott is the 15th U.S. citizen to be deported over drug trafficking charges. The move comes just days after the U.S. condemned Venezuela for “failing demonstrably” to meet its obligations to stem the flow of drugs through the country. Aissami rejected this criticism, saying that it amounted to “pure lies.”

He in turn cast the extraditions as measures of success in the country’s efforts against organized crime, saying “never before in Venezuela has there been such an effort made in the fight against illicit drug trafficking.”

“If only in the U.S. they would make a similar effort,” he added, claiming that when U.S. drug enforcement agents operated in Venezuela, they were ineffective and corrupted by criminal elements.

Venezuela is not alone in issuing counter-criticism of the United States’ drug policies this week. Yesterday Bolivian President Evo Morales (whose counter narcotics policies were similarly criticized by the U.S.) called on the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) to symbolically “decertify” the United States’ counternarcotics efforts.

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