Drug trafficking to and from Venezuela increased by more than 50 percent under Nicolás Maduro, said the U.S. military leader for Caribbean, South and Central American affairs on November 14, when denouncing Maduro’s ties to organized crime.
U.S. Navy Admiral Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, said Maduro, in power since 2013, has helped narcotraffickers and criminals’ activities, and given refuge to “terrorist groups,” which he accused of “destabilizing” the region.
“We’re seeing an increase in drug trafficking placed out of Venezuela that is aided and abetted by the illegitimate Maduro regime,” said Adm. Faller at the opening of the Caribbean Nations Security Conference in Miami.
“In fact, the Maduro regime has a negative impact on every single security aspect in this hemisphere. All the challenges are made worse by the Venezuelan crisis,” he added.
In his statements to the press, Adm. Faller said the Maduro government, whose authority the United States doesn’t recognize, is getting rich through drug trafficking.
“There’s over a 50 percent increase of narcotrafficking in and through Venezuela, and Maduro and his cronies are lining their pockets, in cahoots with the illicit narcotrafficking,” he said, not specifying a time period for this increase.
Adm. Faller said “terrorist groups” like the National Liberation Army (ELN, in Spanish) Colombian guerrilla and dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, in Spanish), who didn’t agree to the 2016 peace process in Colombia, “have safe haven in Venezuela.”
He said, “they can operate to threaten and destabilize the region, threatening good neighbors and democracies like Colombia.”
The U.S. Treasury has imposed sanctions on 27 entities and 22 people for drug trafficking linked to Venezuela. They include former Vice-President Tareck el Aissami, former chief of financial intelligence Pedro Luis Martín, and businessman Walid Makled.