125 guns seized inside Venezuelan prison

By Fabiola Sanchez, AP

CARACAS, Venezuela — Authorities seized about 125 guns stashed inside a prison following a standoff between armed inmates and troops that ended more than two weeks ago, Venezuela’s prisons chief said Sunday.

Officials are carrying out an exhaustive search of La Planta prison in Caracas and they have found some guns by destroying floors and walls where the weapons had been hidden, said Iris Varela, the government’s minister for prisons. She said about 40 percent of the vast prison has not yet been fully searched.

Varela said at a news conference that the weaponry recovered included handguns, shotguns, one submachine gun, one telescopic sight, 27 explosive devices and more than 64,000 rounds of ammunition.

The three-week confrontation at the prison ended on May 17 when officials reached a deal with leaders of the inmates, who agreed to be moved to other prisons. The last of more than 1,600 inmates came out the following day. The prisoners had been holed up inside resisting authorities, and gunfire had erupted repeatedly during the standoff.

One man who lived near the prison was hit by a stray bullet and died. Varela said five other people were wounded during the shootouts, including two National Guard soldiers and three inmates.

The government shut down the prison, which had long been overcrowded, once the violence ended and the last of the inmates were moved out.

Speaking with reporters at the empty prison, Varela said officials also found 6 kilograms (13 pounds) of various types of drugs and hundreds of contraband cellphones