Chavez rejects US report on drug trafficking

President Hugo Chavez on Saturday rejected a US report alleging that drug trafficking is soaring in Venezuela, stepping up his criticism of President Barack Obama following the US leader's January 20 inauguration. The State Department report, which covers global anti-drug efforts in 2008, was compiled while President George W. Bush was in office but approved this month by the Obama administration. "Is there really a new government in the United States, or is Bush still in charge?" Chavez told supporters in a poor Caracas neighborhood. "Don't mess with me, Mr. Obama." The report asserts that drug trafficking soared fivefold in Venezuela from 50 metric tons of illegal drugs in 2002 to an estimated 250 metric tons in 2007 as cartels took advantage of the country's "geography, corruption, a weak judicial system, incompetent and in some cases complicit security forces and lack of international counternarcotics cooperation."