Venezuela says weapons cache uncovered, 4 foreigners detained in suspected terrorist cell
RACHEL JONES | Associated Press Writer
8:14 PM EDT, May 9, 2009
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan police uncovered a cache of weapons and explosives at a Caracas apartment and later detained four foreigners on suspicion of planning terrorist acts, authorities said Saturday.
While announcing the detentions, Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami accused foes of President Hugo Chavez of "looking for violence," although he did not link the case to the political opposition. Chavez has repeatedly charged that the opposition is plotting to assassinate him or spur his ouster.
El Aissami said a police raid Friday on an apartment near the capital's center found C-4 explosive, electric detonator systems, thousands of cartridges, and 14 rifles of different models, including five with telescopic sights, five with laser sights and one with a silencer. Documents and a computer found there were being studied, he said.
"This type of military arsenal is used for military actions and operations, with the precise objective of wiping out adversaries," he said.
Without giving any details, El Aissami said the discovery led to the detention of three citizens of the Dominican Republic — Luini Omar Campusano de la Cruz, 38; Edgar Floiran Sanchez, 29; and Diomedis Campusano Perez, 31 — and a Frenchman, Laurent Frederic Bocquet, whose age was not given.
El Aissami said Bocquet was believed to be a member of the military "of a European country" as well as "terrorist organization." He did not identify either.
Chavez has long talked of opposition schemes to oust him. Last October, he accused opposition leader Manuel Rosales of involvement in a purported assassination plot. Prosecutors later accused Rosales of illegal enrichment while he was governor of western Zulia state, prompting him to get political asylum in Peru last month.
On Saturday, Chavez congratulated Venezuela's police and intelligence services for the arrests and offered praise for ordinary citizens.
"Many times, these cases happen because people see strange things — people coming, people going. And they inform," he said.
Last May, Chavez decreed that Venezuelans would have to act as informants if authorities believed they had information on national security threats, setting a four-prison term for noncooperative citizens. He rescinded the law a month later after human rights groups expressed concern that it could stifle dissent.