The latest developments in a drug trafficking case embroiling relatives of President Nicolas Maduro suggest that the military is actively involved in transporting cocaine to Haiti, inching investigations ever closer to the heart of the socialist regime, only weeks before elections.

New updates show that the recently arrested nephews of Venezuela's first lady Cilia Flores flew out of Simon Bolivar International Airport from a terminal reserved for government officials on a plane loaded with 800 kg of cocaine, reported Infobae and Fox News Latino.

Piloting the Cessna Citation Jet were members of the presidential security and transportation unit -- the Casa Militar -- Pedro Miguel Rodriguez, an active lieutenant colonel in the Venezuelan Air Force, and military official Pablo Urbano Perez.

SEE ALSO:  Cartel de los Soles News and Profile

El Nacional reports that after arresting the presidential couple's relatives Efrain Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas, US DEA agents searched the jet and allowed it to return to Venezuela. According to ABC, New York authorities did not have time to produce official charges against the four other people flying to Haiti and they were not arrested, despite their presumed involvement in the scheme.

The informant that led to the arrest of Flores' nephews -- who are currently on trial in New York -- claims that the two regularly flew drugs out of Terminal 4 of Simon Bolivar airport, according to sources consulted by ABC. He also disclosed that both helped fund Maduro's 2013 presidential campaign using illicit funds.

InSight Crime Analysis

The noose is seemingly tightening around President Maduro, who will face legislative elections on December 6 plagued by yet more allegations of official involvement in drug trafficking accusations that have dogged his presidency.

Venezuela's ruling socialist party (PSUV), which has been hanging on to a dwindling support base since the death of President Hugo Chavez in 2013, is currently facing a barrage of international accusations of drug-related crimes and human rights abuses. Among those being investigated for drug trafficking are the first lady's son and Caracas judge Walter Jacobo Gavidia; Venezuela's number two, National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, and Aragua State Governor Tarek El Aissami, reported El Nuevo Herald.

SEE ALSO:  Venezuela News and Profiles

This case not only implicates high-level government officials, it also draws attention to the direct collaboration of Venezuelan authorities and presidential security units in drug trafficking operations. As was the case with the Air France bust of 2013 -- in which an unprecedented 1.3 tons of cocaine were seized on a commercial flight that landed in Paris -- the movement of such heavy drug loads through Venezuela's main airport is impossible without the complicity of the National Guard (GNB).

The exposure of these different levels of connivance is bad news for Maduro's government, which is currently dragging behind the opposition with only 28 percent of voter support. And these tensions could reach breaking point over the coming weeks, with Maduro threatening to "take to the streets" militarily should he lose the upcoming elections for the National Assembly.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

As Guatemala's Congress gears up to select new Supreme Court Justices and appellate court judges, InSight Crime is investigating how organized crime influences the selection process. This story details the interests of one particular political bloc vying for control over the courts and what's at stake: millions of ...

The Victory of the Urabeños - The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime

The Victory of the Urabeños - The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime

The mad scramble for criminal power in the aftermath of the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is over. The Urabeños, or as they prefer to call themselves, the "Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia," have won.

50 years of the FARC: War, Drugs and Revolution

50 years of the FARC: War, Drugs and Revolution

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is in sight. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, for themselves and especially for their children, the enemies of the peace negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the ...

Mexico’s Security Dilemma: Michoacan’s Militias

 Mexico’s Security Dilemma: Michoacan’s Militias

Well-armed vigilantes in Mexico's Michoacan state have helped authorities dismantle a powerful criminal organization, but now the government may have a more difficult task: keeping Michoacan safe from the vigilantes and rival criminal groups.

Uruguay, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

Uruguay, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

After the lower house passed the controversial marijuana bill July 31, Uruguay is poised to become the first country on the planet to regulate the production, sale, and distribution of the drug, and provide a model for countries looking for alternatives to the world’s dominant drug policy paradigm. ...

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

After the capture of Zetas boss "Z40," Nuevo Laredo is bracing itself for the worst. This investigation breaks down what makes the city such an important trafficking corridor, and what it will take for the Zetas to maintain their grip on the city.

El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives And Negatives

El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives And Negatives

Whether it is sustainable or not, the truce -- which the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Barrio 18 put into place March 2012 -- has changed the conventional thinking about who the gangs are and what is the best way to handle the most difficult law and order ...

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is in sight. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, for themselves and especially for their children, the enemies of the peace negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the ...

Corruption in El Salvador: Politicians, Police and Transportistas

Corruption in El Salvador: Politicians, Police and Transportistas

Since the end of El Salvador's civil war, the country's police has become a key player in the underworld. This series of five articles explore the dark ties between criminal organizations and the government's foremost crime fighting institution.

Juarez after the War

Juarez after the War

As a bitter war between rival cartels grinds to an end, Ciudad Juarez has lost the title of world murder capital, and is moving towards something more like normality. InSight Crime looks at the role politicians, police, and for-hire street gangs played in the fighting -- asking who ...