The ICE profile says El Aissami is sought for narcotrafficking. The agency says he was identified as a “specially designated narcotics trafficker” under the Kingpin Act in February 2017.
The U.S. government claims he facilitated drug shipments, “to include control over planes that left a Venezuelan air base and drug routes through the ports in Venezuela.”
El Aissami was also minister of the Interior and Justice, and governor of Aragua state, in the country’s central north region. The profile also indicates that in his previous positions, “he oversaw or partially owned narcotics shipments of more than 1,000 kilograms from Venezuela on multiple occasions.”
El Aissami was also accused in a New York federal court in early 2019 of violating the sanctions the U.S. Department of the Treasury imposed on him. He has also been sanctioned in Canada and in the European Union.
In a video El Aissami posted on Twitter, he called the U.S. authorities’ measure a “vile aggression” and a “despicable act of imperialism,” and said that Chavistas are “unstoppable” and “loyal” to Nicolás Maduro. “We’re the sons of Bolívar and Chávez! They have no chance against our moral strength! Always loyal! We will overcome!”
In addition to El Aissami, the list includes Samark López, another Venezuelan national identified as a “financial facilitator.” López was also sanctioned in February 2017 under the Kingpin Act.
His wanted profile says he provided material assistance and financial support for narcotrafficking activities or acted on behalf of El Aissami.
The Associated Press news agency (AP) published a statement by López, in which he claims his innocence and says the Treasury’s accusation against him is “false.”
“Samark López believes and trusts in the U.S. legal system and will exhaust all legal resources available to clear his name and return to his business activities with absolute normality,” he wrote.