The United States has charged Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and other high-level officials in the South American country with “narco-terrorism.”
Attorney General William Barr announced the charges at a news conference Thursday. The American AG said a $15 million reward is being offered for information leading to Maduro’s arrest.
According to the indictment, Maduro conspired with a faction of the Colombian Marxist rebel group FARC (Revolutionary Armed Force of Columbia), long-known for engaging in the illicit drug trade to fund its activities, to “flood the United States with cocaine” and “devastate American communities.”
“While the Venezuelan people suffer, this cabal … lines their pockets,” Barr added.
The head of the Justice Department claimed the Venezuelan president used drugs as a political weapon to weaken the United States. “Maduro very deliberately deployed cocaine as a weapon … to undermine the health and wellbeing of our nation,” Barr said, accusing the foreign leader of leading a “narco-terrorism partnership with the Farc for the past 20 years.”
U.S. officials also alleged that Maduro and his associates have participated in international money-laundering, running their funds through banks in Florida.
“Over the last decade, corrupt Venezuelan government officials have systematically looted Venezuela of billions of dollars,” said U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan. “Far too often, these corrupt officials and their co-conspirators have used South Florida banks and real estate to conceal and perpetuate their illegal activity. As the recent charges show, Venezuelan corruption and money laundering in South Florida extends to even the highest levels of Venezuela’s judicial system. In the last couple of years, the US Attorney’s Office in South Florida and its federal law enforcement partners have united to bring dozens of criminal charges against high-level regime officials and co-conspirators resulting in seizures of approximately $450 million dollars.”
In addition to Maduro, those named in the indictment include Diosdado Cabello Rondón, head of Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly; Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios, aka “El Pollo,” former director of military intelligence; Clíver Antonio Alcalá Cordones, former general in the Venezuelan armed forces; Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez; and even Maikel Jose Moreno Perez, chief justice of the Venezuelan Supreme Court.
Maduro and the others named in the indictment have allegedly, since at least 1999, “acted as leaders and managers” of a drug syndicate known as Cártel de Los Soles, or “Cartel of the Suns.” The name is a play on the sun insignia found on the uniforms of high-ranking Venezuelan military officers.
FARC allegedly relocated some of its operations to Venezuela at the turn of the century under the Cártel’s protection. Together, the two entities began dispatching processed cocaine from Venezuela to America by means of transshipment points in the Caribbean and Central America, including Honduras.
The State Department estimates that by 2004, 250 or more tons of cocaine were exiting Venezuela per year via go-fast vessels, fishing boats, and container ships. The Cártel de los Soles and FARC also conducted air shipments using clandestine airstrips that went through an “air bridge” connecting Venezuela and Honduras.
The indictment claims that not only did Maduro negotiate cocaine shipments, but also directed the Cártel de Los Soles to arm FARC with military-grade weapons, coordinated affairs with Honduras and other countries to enable drug trafficking, and employed the assistance of FARC leadership in training an unsanctioned militia group that served as a private army for the Cártel.
“These indictments expose the devastating systemic corruption at the highest levels of Nicolas Maduro’s regime,” said DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon. “These officials repeatedly and knowingly betrayed the people of Venezuela…. Today’s actions send a clear message to corrupt officials everywhere that no one is above the law or beyond the reach of U.S. law enforcement.”
The socialist Maduro narrowly won a presidential election in April 2013 following the death of his mentor, Hugo Chavez. He was reelected in May 2018 in what some international observers saw as a “fixed” election.
Venezuela’s socialist program has led to a severe economic crisis, with an inflation rate of 800,000 percent last year and 4.8 million people fleeing the country. Venezuelans are plagued by power outages and long lines to buy scarce essential items like toilet paper.
The United States has recognized opposition leader Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president, though Maduro remains in power with support from the military and from the nations of Russia, Cuba, and China.
Luis Miguel is a writer whose journalistic endeavors shed light on the Deep State, the immigration crisis, and the enemies of freedom. Follow his exploits on Facebook, Twitter, Bitchute, and at luisantoniomiguel.com.
Image of Nicolas Maduro: Screeshot of video by CBS Miami