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3.3 tons of cocaine seized at Venezuelan seaport

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – Security forces seized 3.3 tons of cocaine during an anti-drug operation at one of Venezuela’s main seaports Thursday, a top security official said.

Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said National Guard troops found the cocaine inside 1,680 boxes containing ceramic mix at La Guaira port. The cocaine was destined for Mexico, he said.

El Aissami told state television that two Venezuelans and a Mexican were arrested.

Venezuela has become one of South America’s most important routes for smuggling drugs to the United States and Europe due to its proximity to Colombia, where most of the world’s cocaine is produced and smuggled abroad by drug traffickers.

“We will continue battling to prevent these criminal organizations from using our territory,” El Aissami said.

In a separate bust Thursday, National Guard troops arrested a U.S. citizen, Jose Alberto Reyes, after discovering 4 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside the man’s luggage as he prepared to board a plane at La Chinita International Airport in the western city of Maracaibo, officials said. The flight was going to Madrid, Spain. Reyes’ hometown in the U.S. was not released.

U.S. officials accuse Venezuela of failing to effectively combat drug smuggling through its territory.

El Aissami has said that U.S. officials should do more to stem the flow of drugs into the United States.

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