By Deisy Buitrago
CARACAS – Venezuelan authorities have detained a mayor belonging to the ruling Socialist party, two elected deputies and other individuals as part of an operation against drug trafficking, the government said, without saying if drugs were seized.
The interior ministry and anti-drugs authority apprehended Keyrineth Fernandez, a ruling PSUV party-mayor for a municipality in Venezuela’s Zulia state, which sits on the Colombian border with Venezuela.
“Investigations are continuing and new arrests have not been ruled out,” the interior ministry and anti-drug agency said in a statement late on Friday, adding new updates would be made soon.
Fernandez was elected mayor during local and regional elections last November.
As well as two elected deputies – including one belonging to PSUV and another belonging to the Primero Venezuela party – authorities also captured three other people, including a Colombian national, the statement said.
The ministry of communication and information did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Socialist party vice president Diosdado Cabello said those within the ranks of the PSUV who commit crimes will be brought to justice.
“In the PSUV there is no compromising with criminals,” he said in a message published on Twitter.
Venezuela has turned into a launch pad for trafficking drugs towards Europe, Africa and the United States, according to security analysts. The U.S. government in Washington also accuses Venezuela’s government of not doing enough to counter drug trafficking in its territory.
For its part, Venezuela’s government says detentions of drug traffickers in the country and seizures of narcotics have multiplied since it expelled the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2005.