The United States Department of Justice announced today that it had indicted Maduro and several other high-ranking regime officials with cocaine trafficking charges, directly accusing the country’s political leadership of being active members of a drug cartel.
Speaking during a morning press conference, US Attorney General William Barr accused Maduro of being the leader of the Cartel de los Soles (Cartel of the Suns), an organization that has long been rumoured to operate out of the highest echelons of the Venezuelan military. Barr said that Maduro oversaw the cartel’s close cooperation with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) to weaponize cocaine by flooding the United States with the drug.
Furthermore, the district attorney for the Southern District of Florida said that Supreme Court Chief Maikel Moreno was being indicted for money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering in the state. The district attorney said that Moreno demanded bribes in “dozens of cases” in Venezuela, and that he spent the proceeds of his crimes shopping in “luxury shops” and buying “high end watches [and] clothing” in Miami.
PSUV vice president Diosdado Cabello, Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino Lopez and vice president of the economy Tarek El Aissami were also indicted, each accused of playing a role in the Cartel de los Soles.
Barr also announced that as a result of the indictments, the Department of Justice was placing bounties on the following officials for their capture:
- Nicolas Maduro: $15 million
- Diosdado Cabello: $10 million
- Hugo Carvajal: $10 million
- Cliver Alcala: $10 million
- Tarek El Aissami: $10 million
You can read all of today’s indictments here.
In Video Message, Alcala Implicates Guaido in Coup d’Etat Attempt
Shortly after he was indited for drug trafficking charges, Cliver Alcala emerged from hiding in Colombia and gave a bizarre radio interview to Colombia’s W Radio during which he directly implicated Juan Guaido and other opposition figures in a plot to remove Maduro from power by force.
During the interview, Alcala took responsibility for a shipment of weapons that was intercepted by Colombian authorities on their way to Venezuela earlier this week. Rangel said that Guaido personally signed-off on the shipment of these weapons, and that there was an unspecified number of “North American assessors” involved in teh plot.
At one point during the interview, Alcala told his interviewer that he had to step away from the phone for a minute to take a call from his North American handler. When he came back on the air, Alcala told the interviewer that the handler told him “not to worry”.
Alcala also released a set of four videos on his Twitter account. I’ve translated them below:
[Video 1] Alcala: I’m doing this to clarify what’s going on. My name is Major General Cliver Alcala Cordones. Today the Venezuelan government has in its hands a campaign of destruction [sic] and it’s a very uncomfortable situation due to the moves from the North American [sic] government.
First of all, the weapons that were seized in Colombia belong to the people of Venezuela due to a pact, an agreement that was signed by president Guaido, Mr. J.J. Rendon, Mr. Vergaraa and North American handlers. We’ve been working since many months ago to make a unit to liberate Venezuela. We’ve had lots of shortcomings — (video cuts off)
[Video 2]— with the intermediaries from the government, who are the same as the intermediaries from the opposition like Cesar Omaya. [Ivan] Simonovis knows about this really well. And other people–Leopoldo Lopez knows all about this.
I was sent to the meeting with the North American handlers by Mr. Juan Guaido. And there, we agreed with Venezuelan soldiers to make a military unit, which was made with the idea of liberating the country and surgically removing the criminal drug trafficking elements that have generated a disaster in our country. I accept my responsibility in this.
[Video 3] I accept my responsibility in this. I’m at home. 48 hours ago I told the Colombian government–which isn’t connected to our activities, which we Venezuelans were doing alongside our North American handlers–I told them that those weapons belong to the Venezuelan people because they were purchased as part of a contract that was established by the interim president, signed by JJ Rendon, Mr. Vergara, and the North American handlers. Mr. Guaido also signed this contract.
We had everything ready, but circumstances that have been developing during the course of this whole struggle, [and there were] leaks from inside the heart of the opposition, which wants to continue to coexist with the Maduro government…
[Video 4] [and this faction of the opposition] doesn’t want anything to change in Venezuela. It wanted to substitute vice, not eliminate it. Well, this coalition was going to eliminate vice. It was going to make a call to the best Venezuelans to join a coalition to rebuild the country from the ashes. For the dreams of 30 million Venezuelans, we lost the possibility to–and the whims of a minority, like the tyranny and the interim government, so this couldn’t happen.
I told the Colombian government this 48 hours ago. I’m in my home. I’m not fleeing. I was told of the possibility of a false positive [i.e., that the authorities would kill him claiming that he was trying to escape]. So, this is evidence that I’m not running away, and that I have no reason to run away, because my defense is that I was doing this for the Venezuelan people.
Alcala currently resides in Colombia, and he claims to be living in Barranquilla.
Alcala was a loyal follower of Hugo Chavez, and joined him in the 1992 failed coup d’etat attempt against the government of the time. Following Chavez’s death in 2013, Alcala had a public breakup from the ruling PSUV party, accusing Maduro of leading it away from Chavez’s ideals and bringing “anarchy” to Venezuela.
The Maduro regime has accused of Alcala of directing anti-government forces from Colombia.
Following Alcala Interview, AG Saab Announces Investigation into Guaido
Shortly after the airing of Alcala’s radio interview, attorney general Tarek William Saab announced that had ordered a formal investigation into both Alcala and Guaido for their alleged involvement in a coup attempt against the Maduro government.
Saab said that he had assigned two prosecutors to the case, which he said involved Guaido and others “attempting to bathe Venezuela in blood”.
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