Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Venezuela a cocaine portal...perhaps thats why Sean Penn and Oliver Stone love the country so much.

WASHINGTON — Senior Venezuelan officials are under investigation by the American authorities as part of a wide-ranging inquiry into the distribution of cocaine in the Western Hemisphere, American law enforcement officials said on Tuesday.
The investigation, which involves allegations of money laundering and trafficking, is being led by the Drug Enforcement Administration and is focused on one of Venezuela’s most powerful politicians, Diosdado Cabello, the National Assembly president, according to the officials, who insisted on anonymity to discuss an active case.
It is not clear what United States prosecutors plan to do with any evidence they may have collected on Mr. Cabello and others. The United States and Venezuela have long had strained relations, making it unlikely that the authorities in Caracas would hand over high-profile leaders if they were charged.
The prosecutors, however, could make it hard for anyone implicated to travel, and assets held abroad could be frozen. A spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration declined to comment.
News of the investigation was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Monday.
“Those who accuse me today of drug trafficking, let them present one piece of evidence — just one, just one,” Mr. Cabello said on Venezuelan television on Tuesday, while surrounded by other legislators in the National Assembly.
“Our whole lives, we have been fighters for the new man and the new woman, and it would never occur to us to get involved in anything that could hurt the young people of Venezuela or the world,” Mr. Cabello said.
Mr. Cabello recently filed a defamation lawsuit in Venezuela against two newspapers and a website that ran articles about an aide’s cooperation with American investigators. United States officials have long charged that there are links between the Venezuelan military and drug traffickers. Those ties, according to the officials, include a close relationship with the largest guerrilla group in neighboring Colombia, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which relies on narcotics trafficking, particularly of cocaine, for much of its income.
The rebels, as well as traffickers, move easily across the border with Venezuela, greasing their way with bribes or, according to some investigators, through partnerships with the Venezuelan military.
A large portion of the cocaine that travels north toward the United States goes through Venezuela, according to American officials, often in small planes that load up and take off from hidden airstrips in the western Venezuelan state of Apure.
President Hugo Chávez cut off cooperation with the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2005, accusing it of spying, and the movement of drugs through the country increased after that.
The Treasury Department has accused military officers and government officials of working with traffickers, allegations that Venezuela has rejected as false.
Last July, a former Venezuelan intelligence director, Hugo Carvajal, was arrested in Aruba at the request of American officials. Indictments in the United States accused him of taking money from a Colombian drug trafficker and of having a hand in cocaine shipments to America. Mr. Carvajal, who had been designated consul general to Aruba, was ultimately allowed to return to Venezuela. The government of Mr. Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro, denied the accusations against him.

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