The amount of cocaine seized earlier this week aboard a ship in the northwestern Venezuelan state of Zulia was actually 4.8 tons, not the 20 tons initially reported, Interior Minister Tareck el Aissami said.

The cocaine was packed into 91 barrels of petroleum products in four containers in "an effort to use the odor of the hydrocarbons to hide the characteristic odor of cocaine," the interior minister said.

The ship carrying the containers was bound for Mexico, El Aissami said.

Tests conducted by the National Anti-Drug Office, or ONA, concluded that only "25 percent of the gross weight" of the barrels was cocaine, totaling 4.8 tons, the interior minister said.

El Assami had announced on Tuesday that police seized 20 tons of cocaine and arrested three suspects in Zulia.

The three suspects are Venezuelan citizens Hernandez Gonzalez, 40, and Marin Gimis, 35, and Colombian national Dearmas Chili, 38, El Aissami said.

"The investigation remains open" and prosecutors are trying to "determine other links," El Aissami said.

Three of the containers were bound for the Mexican Gulf port of Veracruz and the other was going to the port city of Venustiano Carranza, the interior minister said.

"This is one of the biggest seizures we have made in the history of Venezuela, a blow to drug trafficking," El Aissami said.

Venezuelan security forces seized more than 26 tons of cocaine in 2011, the interior minister said.

While Venezuela is not a drug-producing nation, neighboring Colombia is the world's leading source of cocaine. EFE