Several relatives of Maduro (pictured) have been accused of drug trafficking

A string of recent drug trafficking allegations against top figures in Venezuela's ruling political party could have a serious impact on the country's pivotal upcoming elections.

According to El Nuevo Herald, US authorities are investigating Walter Jacobo Gavidia, a Caracas Metropolitan Area judge and son of Venezuelan First-Lady Cilia Flores, for suspected drug trafficking.

The report follows closely the arrest of two of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's relatives in Haiti, and their subsequent extradition to the United States on drug trafficking charges.

After their arrest, Efrain Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas spoke extensively with authorities, El Nuevo Herald reported, citing sources close to the case. The two allegedly gave information on their drug trafficking network, as well as details on the group's money laundering operations. They also purportedly mentioned the head of Venezuela's National Assembly Diosdado Cabello and Aragua state governor Tarek El Aissami as accomplices, the sources stated. 

US investigators already suspect Cabello and El Aissami as major players within Venezuela's drug trafficking underworld, El Nuevo Herald added. 

Cabello has also recently been accused of money laundering by Panama's former ambassador to the Organization of American States Guillermo Cochez, who was set to file a formal criminal complaint with Panama's Attorney General on November 18, reported EFE.

According to El Nuevo Herald's sources, US investigators have sealed indictments for a number of other Venezuelans, but are still withholding names. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Drug trafficking allegations against those close to Venezuela's President Maduro, as well as other members of the ruling socialist party (PSUV), occur in the context of Venezuela's upcoming December 6 parliamentary elections. The PSUV is anticipated to do poorly, with a recent poll showing 63 percent of voters favoring the opposition, and only 32 percent the PSUV.  

SEE ALSO: Venezuela News and Profiles

Allegations against high-ranking PSUV officials, and their associates, may tip this balance further. Already, surveys suggest a growing percentage of Venezuelans believe government agencies are involved in drug trafficking and organized crime. As such, continued suggestions of official corruption may feed into popular frustrations over the country's economic issues and rampant crime, turning voters against Maduro's party on election day.

A loss at the polls would be of serious concern for PSUV officials implicated in criminal activity, especially if the US does possess sealed indictments, which could open the possibility of fates similar to Campo Flores and Flores de Frietas. Moreover, these two men reportedly face up to 30 years in prison, and may be feeling the pressure to provide names and other valuable information to the US Drug Enforcement Administration in a bid for leniency.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
Prev Next

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

In May 2011, a 26-year-old prison gang leader held 4,000 members of the Venezuelan security forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, at bay for weeks. Humiliated nationally and internationally, it pushed President Hugo Chávez into a different and disastrous approach to the prison system.

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.