By Francisco Chirinos.
The Nicolas Maduro administration confirmed the seizure of a shipload of handguns and assault rifles in a container in the Bolivariana de Puertos, yard 4 in Puerto Cabello, Carabobo state, between Tuesday, June, 30 and Wednesday, July, 1.
General Humberto Ramirez, the vice-minister of the System of Criminal Investigation, said that the guns were to oust the Maduro government through armed struggle. The confirmation came two days after the initial reported of four containers full of weapons.
“Twenty-one Ak-47 rifles, considered weapons of war, two 9-millimeter Glock pistols, and 5,558 rounds of ammunition of different calibers were found,” said the deputy minister in Puerto Cabello. Ramirez said two people were arrested in the case, although he did not provide their names or any additional details.
The deputy minister also said the weapons seized in Puerto Cabello were in a shipment that arrived in Venezuela on the San Andres ship, from Miami, United States.
The San Andres shipment left on June, 13 and arrived in Puerto Cabello on June, 20, he said. He revealed that on June 19, Investigation Police located the first shipment in Zulia, so they began the investigation that allowed them to found the rest of the armament in a container with merchandise sent from Miami.
Ramírez added: “These weapons arrived from the United States to criminal groups, terrorist groups, to continues with the political destabilization and to attempt against the peace of the Venezuelans; the security agencies will continue to deepen the investigation to find the identification and whereabouts of all the responsible”. He said two people were arrested in the case, although he did not provide their names or any additional details.
Puerto Cabello port sources told El Pitazo that the discovery of the weapons “only could be made by the customs officials, who are the only with authorization to examine any merchandise, and who would then have notified the police”.
The stated-owned Bolipuertos managed the port, but now it has been intervened by police, and its administrator fired after the firs seizure reported.
El Pitazo learned that, contrary to what was reported by Ramírez, the Liberian-flagged San Andres, with capacity for 1,000 containers, did not touch a Florida port. The ship usually sails through Panama, Colombia, Curaçao, and Venezuela. In Colombia, it mostly lands in Cartagena, while in Venezuela, it alternates between Puerto Cabello and La Guaira.
Unofficial versions calculated four full containers, but the government quantified only 21 rifles, two pistols, 110 magazines, and more than 5,000 rounds of ammunition.
“San Andres is a small ship, which is in charge of collecting all the cargoes from the Spaces Charter and brings them to Venezuela, because the cost of the large and longer ships, those we call Post-Panama, is very high,” said a shipping agent who asked to protect his name.
The agent said, also said that large ships, the Post-Panama types, routinely avoid Venezuelan ports. “The truth is, that these large ships no longer come to Venezuela, it is not profitable for them because of the crisis in the country, so importers resort to small boats like the San Andres”.