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Venezuelan authorities seized 4,370 pounds of cocaine and arrested three suspects in central Miranda state on Saturday. In a separate case, 1,830 pounds of marijuana were seized in the western state of Trujillo. Anti-drug officials in Venezuela hailed the seizures as a symbol of “the Venezuelan state’s commitment in the head-on fight against drug trafficking.”
Back in April, President Hugo Chávez dispatched federal agents and security forces to take over major seaports and airstrips in four Venezuelan states. Experts offered disparate interpretations for the move; some saw it as an effort to crack down on opposition leaders in three of those states, others as an attempt to placate critics in the US, Russia and Iran.
U.S. officials have expressed concern over the drug trade in Venezuela since Chávez suspended cooperation with the United States Drug Enforcement Agency in 2005. In the interim, cocaine exports have grown more than fivefold. If Chávez continues his visible commitment to anti-drug enforcement, it is a potential point of cooperation and reconciliation between the Chávez and Obama administrations, each of which has voiced a desire to mend U.S.-Venezuelan relations.
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