The United States Department of the Treasury announced today that it was sanctioning Diosdado Cabello, two members of his family and a businessman over their alleged involvement in drug trafficking operations and illicit financial activities.

Aside from Cabello–who is the vice president of the ruling PSUV party–the sanctions target his brother, Jose David Cabello, his wife, Marleny Contreras, and a businessman named Rafael Alfredo Diaz, whom Washington claims is a front man for Cabellos’ illegal activities.

Jose David Cabello is currently the head of the SENIAT, Venezuela’s tax agency, while Marleny Contreras is the Minister of Tourism.

The press release announcing the sanctions is packed with information on each of the four individuals, and contains the following commentary from Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin:

The Venezuelan people suffer under corrupt politicians who tighten their grip on power while lining their own pockets.  We are imposing costs on figures like Diosdado Cabello who exploit their official positions to engage in narcotics trafficking, money laundering, embezzlement of state funds, and other corrupt activities. This Administration is committed to holding those accountable who violate the trust of the Venezuelan people, and we will continue to block attempts to abuse the U.S. financial system.

The press release claims that Cabello is actively involved in drug trafficking operations to this day, and that he splits proceeds of his drug business with Maduro and other high-ranking PSUV officials. According to the release:

In addition to money laundering and illegal mineral exports, Cabello is also directly involved in narcotics trafficking activities.  Working with current Venezuelan Executive Vice President Tareck El Aissami (El Aissami), whom OFAC designated pursuant to the Kingpin Act on February 13, 2017, Cabello organizes drug shipments being moved from Venezuela through the Dominican Republic, and onwards to Europe.  Cabello also directs Pedro Luis Martin Olivares, who was designated pursuant to the Kingpin Act on May 7, 2018, in illicit activities.  In late 2016, Cabello and Martin worked together to move illicit money to Panama, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas.  As of March 2017, Cabello seized drug loads from small-scale drug traffickers, and combined and exported them through a Venezuelan government-owned airport.  Cabello, along with President Maduro and others, divided proceeds from these narcotics shipments.

The sanctions seize all assets belonging to the named individuals in the United States, prohibits all U.S. persons from conducting business with them, and bars their entry into the country.

In total, the United States government has sanctioned 71 Venezuelan officials since 2008 over their alleged involvement in activities like drug trafficking and human rights violations.

Former AG Ortega Diaz Calls for Voter Abstention 

Former attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz released a video today in which she called on Venezuelans to not vote on Sunday’s presidential election, calling the vote “a farce”. For Ortega Diaz, the vote cannot do anything but serve to legitimate the Maduro dictatorship, since she claims that “there is no democracy” in Venezuela today.

In the video posted on her Twitter account, Ortega Diaz said that “the world’s democratic countries” would not recognize the result of Sunday’s vote, and that she was confident that Venezuela “would soon be free”.

Ortega Diaz served as attorney general from 2007 until August of last year, when she was forced to flee the country after she began to speak out against the human rights violations carried out by the Maduro regime.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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