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How to Become a Bounty Hunter

GAO Report Says Strain Between Venezuela and U.S. Has Caused Alarming Surge in Cocaine Trafficking

One thing the U.S. has to do is try harder to mend the strained relationship between the U.S. and Venezuela. It shouldn’t be hard to improve upon the relationship the Bush administration had.

President Chavez

President Chavez

By Chris Kraul
Los Angeles Times
CARACAS, Venezuela — A breakdown in anti-drug cooperation between Venezuela and the United States has contributed to an alarming surge in cocaine trafficking from Venezuela, according to a report issued Monday by the U.S. General Accounting Office.

The volume of drugs passing through Venezuela more than quadrupled from 66 tons in 2004 to 287 tons in 2007, the GAO said. U.S.-Venezuelan counter-narcotics cooperation ended in 2005, as friction intensified between the Bush administration and leftist President Hugo Chavez.

Although Venezuela was already a major corridor for Colombian cocaine before Chavez took office in 1999, the volume has increased to the point that in 2007, one-quarter of all Colombian cocaine produced passed through Venezuela, according to estimates.

The GAO said trafficking has increased in part because of Chavez’s alleged tolerance of Colombian rebels in Venezuelan territory and because of widespread corruption in his military and police ranks.

“Venezuela is caught between the world’s largest producer of cocaine, Colombia, and largest consumer, the United States,” the report concludes.

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