21 Air (2I, Greensboro) says it has suspended flights to Venezuela after one of its aircraft was linked to the shipment of arms to the troubled South American state.

The Venezuelan government had claimed last week that B767-200(F) N881YV (msn 23803) had delivered a crate of assault weapons to Valencia Arturo Michelena Int'l on February 3 for use in "terrorist actions" against Nicolás Maduro's regime.

Bolivarian National Guard general, Endes Palencia Ortiz, who is also the country's Vice Minister of Citizen Security, said in a statement that customs officials had found 19 assault rifles, 118 cartridges, four rifle holders, two telescopic sights, 90 military-calibre radio antennas, and six cell phones in the shipment.

Ortiz said that the arms were destined for criminal groups and terrorist actions in the country, financed by the "extreme fascist right" and the government of the United States.

The North Carolina-based company subsequently stated that the flight was a charter for "an indirect air carrier" which also has a US Transportation Security Administration-approved (TSA) security program "and had full control of all cargo on board".

"Since our founding, 21 Air has always complied with the rules, regulations and security protocols outlined by TSA, and this incident is no different," it said. "The company has also successfully fulfilled the requirements of cargo screening as stated in the Venezuelan issued landing permit and has not received any formal notification from the Venezuelan government regarding any irregular shipments to the country."

It added that, as a preventive measure, it had taken the decision to discontinue all flights into Venezuela until the situation has been clarified to ensure the safety and security of its crews and assets.

"The company is open to collaborating with all national and international authorities to come to a resolution," it said.

Last month, Maduro's socialist government severed diplomatic ties with the United States after Washington and numerous allied states across Europe, Central and South America recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela's legitimate president.