Colombia’s government has taken offense at the declaration of Venezuela’s Minister of the Interior and Justice, who called Colombian intelligence agency DAS “a drug cartel”.
Minister Tarek El Aissami said Saturday that the DAS (Administrative Department of Security) and the United States’ DEA, have become “major drug cartels.”
Al Aissami based his statements on recent revelations by a former DAS official that the DAS had been actively involved in drug trafficking to the U.S. under former director Jorge Noguera, the recent indictment of a fomer top DEA official, who is accused of having destroyed criminal records of Medellin cartel boss Pablo Escobar and recent drug finds in Venezuela.
In an interview with Venezuelan state television channel VTV, El Assaimi announced the seizure of 1,450 kilos of marijuana originating from Colombia.
“Colombian authorities are not cooperating in the fight against the trafficking of illegal drugs,” the minister said. “[This marijuana] comes from Colombian territory with impunity (…). These seizures show that there is a clear [government] complicity, andfurthermore, the DAS and the DEA have become major drug cartels,” he said.
Venezuela ceased cooperating with the DEA in 2006.
A statement issued by the Presidency of the Republic rejected El Assaimi’s statements as “unacceptable”, finding that his remarks “constitute interference in the internal affairs of Colombia” and that they were “an affront to Colombian institutions.”
Colombian-Venezuelan diplomatic relations have been frozen since July 28, in protest over President Alvaro Uribe’s agreement with the United States to allow American troops access to seven Colombian military bases in order to combat terrorism and narcotrafficking.
The United States considers Chavez’ government an obstacle in the ‘war on drugs’ and say his country is increasingly becoming a hub for the trafficking of cocaine.