DOJ announces criminal indictment against Socialist Venezuela leader Maduro, charged with drug trafficking

(Image: AFP News screenshot)

The U.S. Department of Justice offered $15 million for the capture of Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro as a slew of narcotics and trafficking-related charges were announced against him.

The criminal indictment against the socialist leader was unsealed by Justice Department officials on Thursday accusing Maduro and several “co-conspirators” of a conspiracy to commit narcoterrorism in efforts to smuggle drugs into the U.S. and offering a $15 million reward for information that would lead to his arrest.


(Source: CBS Miami)

“The Maduro regime is awash in corruption and criminality,” U.S. Attorney General William Barr said during a news conference shared online from Washington. “While the Venezuelan people suffer, this cabal lines their pockets with drug money, and the proceeds of their corruption. And this has to come to an end.”

The U.S. is one of more than 100 countries that do not consider Maduro a head of state, instead recognizing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela.

The DOJ alleged that Maduro conspired with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia and members of the Venezuelan military “to flood the United States with cocaine,” according to U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman, and the decades-long partnership endeavored to traffic drugs as a “weapon against America,” the Associated Press reported.

“We estimate that somewhere between 200 and 250 metric tons of cocaine are shipped out of Venezuela… Those 250 metric tons equates to 30 million lethal doses,” the DOJ announcement said.

“While holding key positions in the Maduro regime, these individuals violated the public trust by facilitating shipments of narcotics from Venezuela, including control over planes that leave from a Venezuelan air base, as well as control of drug routes through the ports in Venezuela,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

Venezuela’s Chief Justice was also accused by the Justice Department of money laundering and bribery, as charges allege the country’s leaders robbed the nation, once the wealthiest in Latin America, and destroyed the livelihood of its people.

According to the Associated Press:

The evidence against Maduro was collected over several years by investigators in Miami, New York, Houston and Washington who have brought drug trafficking, foreign bribery and money-laundering charges against several senior Venezuelan officials, members of the military and government-connected businessmen.

Much of those probes have focused on PDVSA, which is the source of practically all of Venezuela’s export revenue. The U.S. last year sanctioned PDVSA, barring Americans from doing business with the oil giant.

 

But Maduro has stayed in power even as thousands of Venezuelans flee the nation collapsing under food shortages and inflation.

President Donald Trump praised Guaidó, who was a guest at the State of the Union address in February, as “a very brave man, who carries with him the hopes, dreams and aspirations of all Venezuelans.”

There has not yet been any comment from 2020 Democratic contender Sen. Bernie Sanders who once endorsed an editorial that appeared on his website which that praised the socialist country as a place where the “American dream is more apt to be realized.”

The Sanders campaign indicated last year that the Vermont lawmaker had distanced himself from the op-ed and  disavowed the reference to Venezuela.

Frieda Powers

Senior Staff Writer
[email protected]

Originally from New York, Powers graduated from New York University and eventually made her way to sunny South Florida where she has been writing for the BizPacReview team since 2015.
Frieda Powers

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