March 9, 2002

Venezuelan soldiers seize 2.2 tons of cocaine

                 CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Soldiers have seized 2 metric tons (2.2 tons)
                 of cocaine destined for Europe, the National Guard said Saturday.

                 National Guardsmen intercepted the shipment of cocaine from Colombia in Puerto
                 Cabello, Venezuela's busiest port, located 150 kilometers (110 miles) from Caracas,
                 in a sting operation Saturday, Cmdr. Belisario Landis said.

                 Seven people -- one Colombian and six Venezuelans -- were arrested Saturday are
                 believed to be members of an international drug trafficking gang, Landis said. The
                 cocaine was hidden inside bags of cement mix within a container in the port.

                 The shipment came from neighboring Colombia, the world's largest producer of
                 illegal drugs, and was destined for Spain and Italy, Landis said.

                  Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.