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.”
Today @NicolasMaduro will be indicted by the @TheJusticeDept & charged with narco-terrorism
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 26, 2020
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.
Today, the U.S. announced rewards to bring former Maduro regime officials responsible for international narcotics trafficking to justice. The people of #Venezuela deserve a transparent, responsible, representative government that serves the needs of the people.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) March 26, 2020
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 DOJ just placed a $15M bounty on Maduro and his Venezuelan regime’s head for narco-terrorism.
Bernie Sanders praised this regime and said that “the American dream is more apt to be realized in Venezuela where incomes are actually more equal today” than the U.S.. pic.twitter.com/ikE5LwBHRE
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) March 26, 2020
To be clear, this was an op-ed posted on Bernie Sanders’ Senate website. Since then, Sanders has distanced himself from it, given the collapse of the country.
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) March 26, 2020
The Sanders campaign indicated last year that the Vermont lawmaker had distanced himself from the op-ed and disavowed the reference to Venezuela.
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