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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Alleged drug leader caught in Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP)- Venezuelan authorities said Tuesday they had captured the alleged head of an international drug trafficking group that was involved in a major cocaine smuggling operation earlier this year in France.

Elias Verde, believed to be the leader of a drug ring in Venezuela and Europe, was detained Monday in Caracas, the Public Ministry said in a statement.

Verde is being investigated for alleged links to 22 Venezuelans who were detained March 21 at a Paris airport.

About 45 pounds of cocaine destined for Amsterdam was seized from the group.

Venezuelan authorities last week detained a suspected Colombian drug trafficker and paramilitary fighter, Libardo de Jesus Parra Gonzalez, 43, and later deported him to Colombia. Gonzalez was wanted in Colombia and the United States for alleged crimes including drug trafficking, kidnapping and extortion.

Venezuela is a major transit point for drugs — primarily cocaine — being smuggled out of Colombia headed for the United States and Europe.
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