Venezuela holding US ship, captain - National And World

Venezuela holding US ship, captain

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Posted: Saturday, September 8, 2012 8:00 am

The crew of a detained U.S.-flagged ship was informed Friday their scheduled depositions to Venezuelan investigators in connection with an arms trafficking accusation were postponed to Monday.

The crew had expected to give the depositions on Friday, said a crew member on the ship who asked to remain anonymous because of security concerns.

Venezuelan authorities have detained the captain of the shipping vessel, Ocean Atlas, since Wednesday. The skipper is supposed to return to the cargo vessel today, crew members said.

The crew is detained on the ship, and authorities are holding the captain elsewhere.

The captain was identified as Jeffrey Michael Raider, 45, of Texas.

An official at the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela said Raider and his crew — the official put the number at 15 — had been held in Maracaibo.

A crew member who asked to remain anonymous said the ship had been detained for nine days.

A few hours after the ship arrived, it was boarded by officials from Interpol, Venezuelan police officers and narcotics investigators who said they had received a tip the vessel was smuggling drugs, a crew member said.

The captain made a court appearance during the day Wednesday, and returned to the ship. That night, soldiers demanded to be let aboard and left with the captain.

CNN News Service

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