CARACAS, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Wednesday his government is investigating whether the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was involved in a recent attempted multi-million dollar cocaine smuggling operation.
French officials seized 1.3 tons of cocaine from an Air France flight from Caracas to Paris on Sept. 11. The haul was estimated to have a street value of 270 million U.S. dollars
During a meeting at the headquarters of the Bolivarian National Guard in Caracas, Maduro said such an incident would not occur again.
"The people responsible are imprisoned here in Venezuela. It's something that should not have happened. Drug trafficking has great power and this incident is being used as a political weapon to label Venezuela as a 'narco-state'," said Maduro.
"We are investigating whether the DEA is behind this case," he added "Wherever the DEA is, there are drugs, and what this looks to have been is a controlled handover of drugs."
Maduro branded the DEA "a true transnational drug trafficking agency," and alleged that the mafia behind the case are "friends" of the agency. Venezuela broke relations with the DEA in 2005 after denouncing "infiltrations" by its agents in Venezuela.
Despite high-tech surveillance along its borders, the United States has been unable to stem the tide of illicit drugs entering the country, said Maduro, indicating it may be a matter of policy rather than capacity, and went on to suggest that the U.S. government is looking to pin the blame on Venezuela.
"U.S. agencies will accuse us of being a 'narco-state', but we fight drug trafficking. This is a campaign to morally attack our armed force," he said.
Maduro said he supported the country's National Guard commanders and their fight against drugs, and announced a new Law of Air Intersession.
"This important law gives me the right as Chief of State to down any airplane that illegally enters Venezuela to traffic drugs," said Maduro.
According to local media, Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez has confirmed at least 22 Venezuelans have been arrested in connection with the drugs found on the flight.