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Monday, 13 January 2014 | MYT 1:00 AM

Guatemala nabs cocaine-laden plane from Venezuela

CARACAS/GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Guatemalan authorities have found half a tonne of cocaine on a plane from Venezuela in the latest high-profile drugs haul in the region, authorities said on Sunday.

Two people were also arrested during Saturday's capture, the Venezuelan Attorney-General's Office said in a brief statement announcing an investigation into the affair.

Guatemala's President Otto Perez said on Saturday: "We are on alert and we will be reviewing processes to make sure these planes don't enter Guatemala."

Guatemala's security ministry said it was not yet clear which cartel the delivery was supposed to reach.

Venezuela's location on South America's Caribbean and Atlantic seaboards has made it a popular point for smuggling Colombian cocaine to U.S. and European markets.

President Nicolas Maduro's government says it is catching criminals in record numbers, but critics allege military and customs authorities are often taking part in the trade.

In an embarrassing case for Venezuela, some two dozen people - including a handful of soldiers - were arrested in September in connection with the smuggling of 1.3 tonnes of cocaine on an Air France flight from Caracas to Paris.

Venezuelan authorities gave no further details about the Guatemalan case.

(Writing by Andrew Cawthorne, additional reporting by Mike McDonald in Guatemala City; Editing by Sophie Hares) nL2N0KM07L


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