CARACAS, Venezuela, Aug. 18 (UPI) — Venezuelan Interior and Justice Minister Gen. Nestor Reverol, recently indicted in the U.S. on cocaine trafficking charges, helped destroy nearly 2,000 firearms in Caracas as part of a national disarmament plan.
In total, 1,939 firearms were destroyed Wednesday. Venezuela’s Ministry of Popular Power of Interior, Justice and Peace in a statement said a large portion of the destroyed firearms were handed over voluntarily.
Pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns, homemade firearms and automatic weapons seized from the Venezuelan states of Anzoategui, Aragua, Barinas, Carabobo, Guarico, Miranda, Vargas and the capital, Caracas, were destroyed.
During a ceremony, Reverol said more than 17,000 weapons have been “taken out of circulation” so far this year as part of the Law for Disarmament and Arms and Munitions Control. Venezuela in 2012 banned the commercial sale of firearms and ammunition to citizens while the country had one of the worst homicide rates in the world. Only the army, police and certain groups such as security companies can buy weapons.
The ministry said more efforts will be made to get Venezuelans to voluntarily hand in their weapons through several programs.
Meanwhile, U.S. prosecutors accused Reverol and one of his deputies of warning drug traffickers of upcoming raids and of giving them the location of law enforcement officers in exchange for bribes.The pair are also accused of obstructing drug investigations to allow U.S.-bound drugs to leave Venezuela and working to free people arrested in drug cases.
Reverol, 51, previously served as interior minister under former late President Hugo Chavez and also recently served as the head of the Bolivarian National Guard.