Nicolas Maduro, the controversial leader of Venezuela, now has a price on his head. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a bounty of $15 million if he is apprehended and turned over to authorities after being charged with running drug-trafficking and terrorism schemes in Venezuela. Maduro, as well as his cohorts, allegedly facilitated large sales and shipments of cocaine and other drugs, using digital currencies as the currency of choice in order to cover their tracks and to hide money from sanctions.
In a DOJ statement, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman asserts, “Today we announce criminal charges against Nicolas Maduro for running, together with his top lieutenants, a narco-terrorism partnership with the FARC for the past 20 years. The scope and magnitude of the drug trafficking alleged was made possible only because Maduro and others corrupted the institutions of Venezuela and provided political and military protection for the rampant narco-terrorism crimes described in our charges. As alleged, Maduro and the other defendants expressly intended to flood the United States with cocaine in order to undermine the health and wellbeing of our nation. Maduro very deliberately deployed cocaine as a weapon. While Maduro and other cartel members held lofty titles in Venezuela’s political and military leadership, the conduct described in the Indictment wasn’t statecraft or service to the Venezuelan people. As alleged, the defendants betrayed the Venezuelan people and corrupted Venezuelan institutions to line their pockets with drug money.”
Maduro and his associates are said to be behind the Cártel de Los Soles (Cartel of the Suns), an international network of drug-smuggling operations. Maduro is also being tied to FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces Of Colombia, in supporting terrorist and drug activities in that country and elsewhere.
William Barr, the U.S. Attorney General, adds in the statement, “The Venezuelan regime, once led by Nicolás Maduro Moros, remains plagued by criminality and corruption. 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. Today’s 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.”
Given the price tag put on Maduro, and the amount of suffering occurring in Venezuela, it probably won’t take long for someone to look to capitalize on the DOJ’s bounty. With Maduro out of the way, perhaps Venezuela will be able to return to some normal standard of living.
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