The United States has indicted Venezuelas socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro and other top regime officials in a narco-terrorism and drug trafficking conspiracy that aimed to “flood the United States with cocaine,” the Justice Department announced.
The department unsealed a criminal indictment against Maduro, accusing him of facilitating efforts in conjunction with a violent terrorist organization—the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC)—to smuggle cocaine into the United States. The socialist leader has been charged with participating in narco-terrorism conspiracy—which carries a 20-year minimum sentence, conspiring to import cocaine into the United States, and related criminal offenses to support the drug smuggling effort.
Attorney General William Barr announced the charges during a press conference on Thursday, adding that the conspiracy involved many current and former top Venezuelan regime officials who allegedly profited from the corruption. The DOJ also indicted more than a dozen of these high ranking officials for their involvement in the conspiracy including the head of Venezuelas National Constituent Assembly, intelligence officials, and military members. Moreover, two FARC leaders have also been charged.
“The Venezuelan regime, once led by Nicolás Maduro Moros, remains plagued by criminality and corruption,” Barr said. “For more than 20 years, Maduro and a number of high-ranking colleagues allegedly conspired with the FARC, causing tons of cocaine to enter and devastate American communities.”
“Todays announcement is focused on rooting out the extensive corruption within the Venezuelan government—a system constructed and controlled to enrich those at the highest levels of the government. The United States will not allow these corrupt Venezuelan officials to use the U.S. banking system to move their illicit proceeds from South America nor further their criminal schemes,” he added.
The DOJ highlighted that although Maduro is currently in Venezuela, the socialist leader may travel outside of the country and that it was offering a $15 million reward for information that would lead to his capture and conviction.
“We do expect eventually to gain custody of these defendants and were going to explore all options for getting custody,” Barr said during the press conference.
Responding in a Twitter post, Maduro condemned the charges, accusing the United States and Columbia of conspiring to “fill Venezuela with violence.”
The indictment accuses Maduro and his co-defendants of acting as leaders and managers of a drug trafficking organization called the “Cartel of the Suns,” since 1999. The cartel sought to not only allow its members to profit but also “flood” the United States with cocaine and “inflict the drugs harmful and addictive effects on users in the United States,” the court filings alleged.
The indictment said that Maduro, who was a leader of the cartel, negotiated multi-ton shipments of cocaine produced by FARC, directed that the cartel provide military-grade weapons to the FARC, and coordinaRead More – Source