Venezuela reports increase in drug-related arrests

Venezuela says it has detained about 40 percent more people for drug-related crimes this year, compared to 2009.

The national drug enforcement agency said Monday authorities had arrested 12,376 people as of mid-December, including 371 foreigners. It said just over 8,700 had been arrested by last December.

The AVN state news agency says achievements of the security forces in action against drug trafficking show the country’s contributions in the fight against the global scourge.

The agency also says Venezuela’s drug seizures increased after it ended relations with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in 2005.

U.S. officials have strongly criticized Venezuela’s anti-drug efforts, saying the government of President Hugo Chávez has not done enough to stem the flow of cocaine.

Chávez has said he is doing everything possible to fight drug trafficking, and has blamed his country’s drug problem on a high cocaine demand among Americans.

Drug traffickers, mainly in Colombia, have been using Venezuela as a route to smuggle cocaine into the U.S., Europe and other countries.

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