Venezuelan authorities captured a drug-smuggling plane after the aircraft was spotted by one of the drones the Andean nation is developing in partnership with Iran, President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday.
After the drone detected “the unusual landing of a plane” Tuesday night in the southwestern state of Apure, he authorized the dispatch of helicopters equipped with night-vision capability, the president said.
“They left from here, Caracas, almost three hours in flight, and we captured a plane there on the border with Colombia that fell into a swamp,” Chavez said.
Though Venezuela is not a source of illegal drugs, it is a transit country for shipments from neighboring Colombia, a major cocaine producer.
Chavez announced the joint drone program with Tehran in June, stressing the importance of defense cooperation with Russia, China, Iran “and other allied countries.”
Venezuela’s drones will serve “exclusively for the defense of the nation,” according to the president of state arms maker Cavim, Julio Morales Prieto.
The aircraft captured in Apure has a U.S. registration, Interior Minister Tareck el Aissami said.