USA charges Venezuelan president with drug crimes — Nicolas Maduro

Elias Hubbard
March 26, 2020

The US also offered a $15m (£12.5m) reward for any information leading to Mr Maduro's arrest. After failing to unseat Maduro a year ago, the USA is now accusing him of narco-terrorism.

A Justice Department spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec, declined to comment ahead of the news conference.

USA 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. Together, the officials are accused of "facilitating shipments of narcotics from Venezuela" by air and sea.

Attorney General Bill Barr announced Thursday that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro with narco-terrorism. "This cabal lines their pockets with drug money, and this has to come to an end".

The indictment of a functioning head of state is highly unusual and is bound to ratchet up tensions between Washington and Caracas.

Washington backs opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who previous year declared himself interim president. But Maduro has remained in power, backed by the country's military and by Russia, China and Cuba.

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". Barr said that Maduro's regime gives the FARC, as the group is known, authority to fly drug-filled planes over Venezuelan airspace and safely manufacture cocaine on its territory.

The indictment against Maduro, a sitting head of state, would be the first since the U.S. issued charges against former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega. As with Maduro, Washington did not recognize Noriega as Panama's legitimate leader at the time.

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