- Title: VENEZUELA: Deports three Colombians on drug trafficking and murder charges
- Date: 28th May 2013
- Summary: SLATE INFORMATION
- Embargoed: 12th June 2013 13:00
- Location: Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
- Country: Venezuela
- Reuters ID: LVA6KODK5CZ5E62PKRYJSPM7X64E
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- Story Text: Venezuela deported three accused drug traffickers to neighbouring Colombia on Monday (May 27) in the latest sign of cross-border cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking between the South American countries.
The three Colombian men had separate Interpol notices and were sought for crimes including involvement in the international narcotics trade and murder.
Giraldo Escalante Villegas, Rigoberto Arias and Juan Carlos Pena Silva were all recently arrested in Venezuela and have been accused of running drug trafficking operations on the border regions of both countries.
Venezuela, which shares a long, largely unpoliced border with Colombia, has become a trans-shipment point for Colombian cocaine on its way to consumer nations.
Under late President Hugo Chavez the OPEC nation halted cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2005 after accusing its agents of spying.
But Venezuela touts its record of extraditions to both Colombia and the United States as evidence of its efforts in fighting narcotics.
"Since 2006 and up until today, including these three citizens, 100 people who were wanted nationally and internationally for drug trafficking have been captured by this country's [Venezuela's] different security forces and delivered to the countries where they were wanted," Venezuelan Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez said.
Venezuelan authorities handed the men over to Colombian officials who escorted them out of the country and back to Colombia where they are expected to be tried for the crimes.
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