The United States Department of Justice will formally indict several high level Venezuelan government officials, including the head of the National Guard and former Drug Czar, for drug trafficking crimes, Reuters and The New York Times reported.
Reuters, citing “people familiar with the case,” said it was unclear what exactly was on the indictment against National Guard Commander Nestor Reverol, which will be filed in a Brooklyn federal court in the coming days, except to say that it involved drug trafficking. US officials and the Venezuelan National Guard did not offer comment.
The New York Times, citing a “person familiar with the case,” said another official, Edilberto Molina, was going to be mentioned in the same indictment. Molina was also a former top official in counterdrug operations in the government, the news organization said.
“Mr. Reverol spent more than a decade on the payroll of the criminal organizations he was supposed to be pursuing,” the Times wrote, citing the same source.
InSight Crime Analysis
The indictment is the latest to hit high level Venezuelan officials for accusations of drug trafficking. It is undoubtedly related to an increase in the number of suspects and cooperators the US Justice System has under its purview.
The US has received or captured several high level Venezuelan military and government officials. Some of them have “flipped,” as it is popularly known, and are providing US prosecutors with information that have reached the doorstep of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and possibly the second most powerful man in the country, Diosdado Cabello, the Speaker of the National Assembly.
Last month, nephews of First Lady Cilia Flores were arrested upon arrival in Haiti. Military officials were piloting the plane.
The more high level officials that face accusations, formal indictments and possible extradition, the harder powerful elements of the Maduro regime are likely to fight to hold on to power, especially as the opposition assumes control of congress following this month’s elections.
The elections, and the accusations from the US, are going to ensure a bitter political battle amongst Venezuela’s power brokers in 2016.