Venezuela is one of the principal drug-transit countries in the Western Hemisphere. A permissive and corrupt environment in Venezuela, coupled with increased drug interdiction efforts in the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico, have made Venezuela one of the preferred routes for trafficking illicit narcotics out of South America. Inconsistent international counternarcotics cooperation has further enabled a growing illicit drug transshipment industry.
Venezuela continues limited bilateral counternarcotics cooperation with the United States, particularly in the areas of information exchange and maritime interdiction. Venezuela’s Minister of Interior announced in July 2009 that police receiving training abroad without the Ministry’s approval would be banned from law enforcement and that foreign law enforcement experts giving talks in Venezuela without authorization would face arrest. This announcement has discouraged some professional law enforcement personnel from participating in U.S. government-sponsored programs.
However, the decision by the United States and the GOV to exchange ambassadors in July 2009, following the September 2008 expulsion of the U.S. Ambassador from Venezuela, presents an opportunity to improve bilateral cooperation on counternarcotics.
The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) supports the U.S. Mission’s public diplomacy efforts, primarily through funding community demand reduction projects. The USG also works with private Venezuelan companies via the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Business Alliance for Secure Commerce (BASC) program. The BASC program seeks to deter smuggling, including illicit drugs, in commercial cargo shipments by enhancing private sector security programs.