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Venezuelan Officials Say They Intercepted Arms and Ammo Delivered by US-Based Plane

The country's vice minister of citizen security said weapons shipment was "financed by the fascist extreme right and the government of the United States."

Venezuelan government officials display weapons they say were delivered by a cargo plane from Miami. (Photo: Venezuela Ministry of Interior/Twitter)

With tensions still dangerously high in Venezuela after the U.S. and major European nations recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as "interim president"—a move that was quickly condemned as illegitimate interference in the nation's political affairs—Venezuelan authorities said they discovered weapons and ammunition in a "crate" that was delivered to a Valencia airport this week by an American plane.

"An air freight company, 21 Air LLC, based in Greensboro, [North Carolina], operates the Boeing 767 aircraft that the Venezuelans allege was used in the arms transfer," McClatchy reported on Thursday. "The Boeing 767 has made dozens of flights between Miami International Airport and destinations in Colombia and Venezuela since Jan. 11, a flight tracking service shows, often returning to Miami for only a few hours before flying again to South America."

Bolivarian National Guard Gen. Endes Palencia Ortiz said the shipment—which reportedly included 19 assault weapons, 118 ammunition cartridges, and 90 military-grade radio antennas—was "destined for criminal groups and terrorist actions in the country, financed by the fascist extreme right and the government of the United States."

The weapons were reportedly found on Tuesday following a routine inspection.

As McClatchy notes, if the U.S. is attempting to arm the Venezuelan opposition, "it would be taking a familiar page from the history books."

"The CIA operated a dummy airline, known as Air America, from the early 1950s until the mid 1970s for air operations in Southeast Asia, including air-dropping weapons to friendly forces," the outlet observed. "More than a decade later, Sandinista soldiers shot down a cargo plane taking weapons to the U.S.-backed contra rebels fighting the Nicaraguan government. A U.S. Marine veteran, Eugene Hasenfus, survived the 1986 crash, and later told reporters that he was working for the CIA."

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