Per CNBC, the Trump administration announced Thursday indictments against Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro and members of his inner circle for effectively converting Venezuela’s state into a “narco-terrorism” enterprise.
“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,” wrote U.S. Attorney General William Barr in a Department of Justice release.
The $15 million reward for Maduro’s arrest compares to a $25 million U.S. bounty offered for Osama Bin Laden following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
— Joshua Goodman (@APjoshgoodman) March 26, 2020
Earlier in March, Maduro told Venezuelans to make their own mask if necessary to try to stop the spread of coronavirus.
MiamiHerald reports in a stunning announcement amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Justice Department announced Thursday that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and several other government officials have been charged with turning Venezuela into a narco-state by collaborating with a leftist Colombian guerrilla group that exported tons of cocaine to the United States.
An indictment, unveiled at a “virtual” news conference in Washington, D.C., accuses Maduro and other top officials in his socialist regime of conspiring with the U.S.-designated terrorist group known as the FARC so that Venezuela could be used for narcotics shipments to finance a long-running civil war against the Colombian government.
Charged along with Maduro are Diosdado Cabello, a former speaker of the National Assembly who is considered the second most powerful political figure in Venezuela, and Vladimir Padrino Lopez, the country’s minister of defense. All three Venezuelan officials face allegations of narco-terrorism, drug trafficking and weapons violations in a scheme initiated in the mid-2000s that was meant to help the Colombian rebel group while enriching themselves with cocaine-tainted bribes, according to federal authorities.
Maduro’s indictment marks the second time that the U.S. government has brought criminal charges against a foreign head of state. The last time was in 1989, when federal prosecutors in Miami indicted Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega on drug-trafficking charges. and U.S. military forces seized him late that year. Noriega was convicted at trial, imprisoned in the Miami area and died in 2017.
In announcing Maduro’s indictment, Attorney General William Barr said that the U.S. government will offer a $15 million reward to anyone who provides information on when Maduro leaves Venezuela that assists in his capture.
Barr said at the virtual news conference that Maduro and several other high-ranking officials betrayed the Venezuelan people by offering a “safe haven” in their country for the “extremely violent” Colombian rebel group, so the president and his allies could profit off the drug trade and “flood the United States with cocaine.”