US Justice Department brings NARCO-TERRORISM charges against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro

Cheryl Sanders
March 26, 2020

The US Treasury Department on June 27, 2019 indicted two former influential figures in Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government on money laundering and corruption charges.

US officials have long accused Maduro and his associates or running a "narco-state", saying they have used drug trafficking proceeds to make up for lost revenue from a Venezuelan oil sector heavily sanctioned by the United States. Separate charges were filed against the country's defense minister and head of the supreme court. Short of arranging his kidnapping by the Venezuelan opposition, Barr only said that the U.S. authorities could strike while Maduro and his associates are traveling, itself a remote possibility amid the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The Justice Department was planning to announce charges relating to Venezuela and "narco-terrorism" in a press conference in Washington Thursday at 11 am (1500 GMT).

"We estimate that somewhere between 200 and 250 metric tons of cocaine are shipped out of Venezuela by these routes", Barr said.

The Justice Department has reportedly unsealed the charges against Maduro, a socialist leader who already faces US sanctions and has been the target of a USA pressure campaign aimed at pushing him from power.

About US$2 billion (S$2.8 billion) worth of cocaine, about a quarter of what is produced in Colombia in a year, passes through Venezuela before making its way to other countries last year, according to Jeremy McDermott, co-founder of Insight Crime, a research group that studies organized crime.

An NBC news report states that the indictment said Maduro and other cartel members, "prioritized using cocaine as a weapon against America and importing as much cocaine as possible into the United States".

Washington backs opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who previous year declared himself interim president.

Other reports by iNewsToday