The U.S. Justice Department charged Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and several other government officials of drug trafficking last week, accusing them of conspiring with Colombian insurgents to smuggle tons of cocaine to the United States. The charges were announced by U.S. Attorney General William Barr at a video press conference in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.
Maduro and the current and former government officials were indicted on charges of conspiring with the Colombian leftist rebel group FARC to use Venezuela as a base for conducting drug trafficking operations that sent cocaine to the U.S. through Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The FARC rebels then used proceeds from the drug smuggling to finance its civil war with the Colombian government.
The officials indicted more than a dozen other defendants along with Maduro. They include Diosdado Cabello, a former president of the National Assembly and the second-most powerful politician in Venezuela; Hugo Carvajal, a former director of military intelligence who is believed to be on the run in Spain; and Clíver Antonio Alcalá, a former general in the Venezuelan armed forces. Two senior FARC leaders were also charged. All of the defendants face charges of drug trafficking, narco-terrorism, and weapons violations.