By Demion McTair. Updated 12:19 a.m., Wednesday August 19, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – Local police say that St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ name was used as a decoy by operators of an aircraft that was intercepted in the US with weapons, cash, and ammunition.
A report by the AP News, that the aircraft was destined for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, created a stir in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), on August 18.
The Venezuelan-registered Lear jet listed as its destination the Caribbean island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a U.S. statement said, but it later emerged that the aircraft was bound for Venezuela.
A release issued by the police late Tuesday, stated that Commissioner of Police in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Mr. Colin John “asserted that CARICOM Implementation Agency For Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS) confirmed that the aircraft was not destined for St. Vincent”.
St. Vincent and Venezuela share strong diplomatic relations. But, the US is currently at a standoff with the Nicolas Maduro-led administration at the helm in the embattled South American nation, accusing it of narcotics trafficking.
The Maduro-led administration in Venezuela has denied the claims by the US.
In the release, police in St. Vincent say “St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been a bastion in the fight against illegal drugs. It will continue to do so in collaboration with our local, regional and International partners”.
U.S. customs officers intercepted a Venezuela-bound private jet in south Florida loaded with 82 firearms, including a sniper rifle, plus 63,000 rounds of ammunition, U.S. authorities said Tuesday, the Washington Post reported.
Two Venezuelan pilots — Luis Alberto Patino and Gregori Mendez — were arrested Saturday and charged with smuggling bulk cash and goods from the U.S. and illegally possessing firearms as aliens, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a news release. The plane and its cargo were seized, the statement said.
It was not clear why the weapons were purchased. But the arrest comes as tensions between the U.S. and Venezuela have escalated in recent months, including allegations that opponents of President Nicolás Maduro had been seeking the support of a former U.S. Green Beret to violently overthrow the socialist leader, the Washington Post reported.
See local police report from police in St. Vincent and the Grenadines below: