Venezuela's militarized police on Tuesday seized 18,000 rounds of ammunition hidden in a container unloaded from a vessel that arrived from the United States, the Interior Ministry reported.

The ammunition found in the northwestern port of Maracaibo was hidden in boxes of electrical appliances imported from Miami, ministry press secretary Jorge Galindo said on Twitter.

The Venezuelan government issued a decree in February banning sales of guns and ammo as part of an effort to curb violence in a country with a murder rate of 48 per 100,000 residents.

The government confirmed that as a result of the measure between February and May authorities recovered some 805,000 bullets from private gun shops which had to close their doors or shift their activities.

About 10 million weapons are circulating illegally in Venezuela, a nation of nearly 30 million people that ended 2011 with 19,336 murders, according to the Venezuelan Observatory on Violence. EFE