Venezuela arrests 21 cops for Mexican narco escape

CARACAS, (Reuters) – Venezuelan authorities yesterday arrested 21 police officers they accused of helping  two alleged Mexican drug traffickers escape from prison, the  attorney general’s office said.

In a statement, investigators said the two escapees,  Roberto Avila and Carlos Izabal Martinez, belonged to northern  Mexico’s Juarez cartel, which is engaged in a brutal turf war  that has claimed thousands of lives near the U.S. border.

They fled a jail in Cojedes in central Venezuela.

“When the night-time count was carried out on July 6, the  absence of the two suspected drug traffickers of the Juarez  cartel was discovered,” the statement said.

Avila and Izabal were arrested last year in central  Venezuela after landing a plane at a clandestine runway.

The 21 accused police officers were detained in the same  jail they allegedly helped the two men flee.

Over the past decade, Mexico’s drug gangs have replaced  Colombian cartels as the backbone of the cocaine trade,  smuggling the drug from the Andean region to the United States  and Europe.

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