DOJ: Venezuela's Socialist Dictator Maduro is Wanted for Drug Trafficking in America
Attorney General Bill Barr announces charges against Venezuelan leader
Attorney General Bill Barr has announced that the U.S. Justice Department is pursuing Venezuela's socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro on several drug trafficking-related charges.
During a Thursday press conference, the DOJ unsealed a searing criminal indictment against the brutal Venezuelan regime leader along with several "co-conspirators."
Those targetted in the indictment are accused of an array of narcotics and trafficking-related crimes, including efforts to smuggle drugs into the United States.
Justice Department officials announced a slew of charges pertaining to Maduro's conspiracy to commit narco-terrorism - a crime carrying a minimum of 50 years behind bars.
The DOJ underscored that while he is currently in Venezuela, the 57-year-old is known to travel outside the country.
A $15 million reward has now been set for information that will lead to Maduro's capture.
The DOJ, emphasizing that the latest round of indictments are the result of many years of investigation, charged a number of high-ranking "co-conspirators" and offered $10 million rewards for information leading to their capture.
The department also accused the country's Chief Justice of money laundering and bribery, which resulted in thousands of Venezuelans to lose their jobs and livelihoods, and Venezuela's military head of further drug-trafficking violations.
According to U.S. officials, Venezuela has long allowed Colombians connected with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish initials, "FARC," to utilize its airspace to fly cocaine north through Central America and into North America.
Moreover, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman claimed that the illicit cooperation between the Colombians and Venezuelans had been in place for over 20 years.
This relationship represented a deliberate endeavor by Maduro and his regime to "flood the United States with cocaine," Berman added.
The announcement of the charges followed months of pressure by President Donald Trump's administration on Maduro's regime.
The United States considers Maduro's claim to leadership illegitimate following an election not deemed satisfactory by many world powers.
While the United States and more than 100 other countries no longer recognize Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela – instead, throwing their support behind opposition figure Juan Guiado – coupled with a laundry list of economic sanctions, Maduro has maintained his position at the helm in the capital Caracas, overseeing the socialist regime and commanding the security forces.
The indictment of a functioning head of state is highly unusual and is bound to ratchet up tensions between Washington and Caracas.
However, the U.S. has long accused Maduro and his government of human rights abuses, torture, corruption, and paving the way for cartels, terrorist groups and traffickers to exploit the oil-swathed nation, once the wealthiest in Latin America.