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Island denies it was the destination of a Venezuelan plane with weapons that left Florida


A file photo of the north runway at Fort Lauderdale International Airport, Dec.23, 2019.

South Florida Sun Sentinel

The commissioner of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Police, Colin John, denied that the aircraft with two Venezuelans arrested in Fort Lauderdale, north of Miami, which was carrying an arsenal of weapons and cash, was destined for that small Caribbean territory.

John, in a press conference this Wednesday, said that the aircraft was destined for Venezuela and not Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, despite the flight plan presented to the US authorities.

The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP, in English) reported in a statement that the incident occurred last Saturday night during an inspection of a Learjet aircraft, which was preparing to travel to the Caribbean area.

CBP’s Office of Field Operations (OFO) said they found 18 assault rifles, 6 shotguns and 58 semi-automatic pistols in the aircraft.

Colin John said that the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) confirmed that the aircraft was not destined for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and that “the name was used only as lure”.

He noted that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has been a stronghold in the fight against drugs and “will continue to be in collaboration with our local, regional and international partners.”

The Police Commissioner assured that international media had indicated that federal agent Jared Rine, from the US National Security Investigations, reported that one of the detainees, after being arrested, had recognized that the final destination of the aircraft was Venezuela and not Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as initially reported.

“From my experience, I know that pilots – in this type of action – present flight plans to third countries to avoid detection at their final destinations and avoid scrutiny by police authorities,” John said.

CBP reported Tuesday that two Venezuelans who were preparing to travel from Fort Lauderdale were arrested by US authorities.

Authorities seized the aircraft, a vehicle, more than $ 20,000 in cash and more than $ 2,600 in endorsed checks.

The Venezuelans were arrested by agents of the Office of National Security Investigations (HSI, in English).

Both, who were not identified by the authorities, had planned to leave Fort Lauderdale, in southeastern Florida, bound for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, according to the official version.

The office of Air and Marine Operations (AMO) also participated in the arrest.