Venezuela prison warden held for arms trafficking

AP News
|
Posted: Jun 28, 2011 3:04 PM
Venezuela prison warden held for arms trafficking

Venezuelan authorities have arrested a prison warden for allegedly supplying arms and explosives to inmates staging deadly riots over the past 11 days.

Warden Luis Aranguren was arrested Friday along with National Guard Capt. Gamalier Jose Camargo Gomez whose unit patrolled the Rodeo II prison, Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz said Monday. The two men were charged with corruption, criminal association and supplying arms and explosives to inmates.

Another 10 officials have also been arrested, including Ruben Jose Gonzalez Heredi, the deputy director of an adjacent prison. He was detained for allegedly facilitating arms and explosives and illegal drug trafficking. Early Tuesday, authorities also arrested an operations chief of Rodeo II and a prison guard.

Venezuelan soldiers have battled armed inmates at the prisons just outside the capital of Caracas since June 18, leaving at least one inmate and two soldiers dead and at least 20 soldiers wounded. The bodies of another five inmates have also been removed from the prison, but authorities have not provided details about their deaths.

The violence began after troops stormed adjacent Rodeo I on June 17 in a weapons hunt, sparking a furious reaction from prisoners.

Opposition legislators have demanded a congressional investigation into corruption and the trafficking of drugs and guns in the country's prisons. Legislative supporters of President Hugo Chavez have responded by pledging to investigate what they say is slanted private news media coverage of the riots.