Voice of America spoke with Ariana Fajardo, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, who revealed details of the accusations against Nicolás Maduro and Venezuelan Supreme Court Chief Justice Maikel Moreno, and about Venezuela’s corruption money that enters the U.S. banking system.
On March 26, Fajardo took part in what she called a “historic” press conference, where she and the U.S. Attorney General pressed charges against Maduro and other high-ranking officials from Venezuela’s illegitimate government for drug and arms trafficking and terrorism.
Fajardo said that three U.S. jurisdictions are working on different cases involving Venezuela’s disputed government: the Southern District of Florida, the Southern District of New York, and the District of Columbia.
Maduro, she said, was indicted for drug and arms trafficking. “Those charges are associated with his role as the head of the Cartel of the Suns and his agreement with the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia],” Fajardo said.
“Maduro is accused of being the head of the Cartel of the Suns. So the people under his command are the ones who negotiate with the FARC. Those are the allegations,” the prosecutor added.
She said that the charges submitted involve two specific situations, one in 2006 and another in 2013 — when Maduro served as foreign minister — that would prove his relationship with narcotrafficking.
“Tons of cocaine that were shipped from Venezuela in 2006 went to Mexico, where Mexican authorities seized them, and Venezuela had to intervene in this situation,” the prosecutor said.
“In 2013, Nicolás Maduro was supposed to be here in the United States, at a United Nations meeting […], and he cancelled at the last minute because, just like what had happened in 2006, this time France had seized several tons of drugs from the Cartel of the Suns,” the prosecutor says.
The official adds that the accusations also include charges for allowing the FARC to enter and operate in Venezuela.
“When we say FARC, we are not referring to the FARC that made peace and the FARC that is part of the Colombian government […],” she said. “We are talking about the remnants that did not want peace, who continued in the mountains.”
She adds that they were not only given the space and money to smuggle drugs, but also weapons and protection.
Regarding Moreno, the head of the country’s highest court, the attorney says that “on the visa application that he submitted to enter the United States, he declared that he earned $12,000 a year as a judge in Venezuela. When we started investigating the situation here, he had $3 million in deposits in his bank account […], and that’s only one account.”
The prosecutor says that, in addition to these cases, in the last 18 months, since she created a special unit within the district attorney’s office, “we have indicted a dozen Venezuelans and frozen $450 million in U.S. banks.”
Despite this situation, the attorney says that this “is historic, quite frankly. We’ll see what happens — you never know — but we must have hope that freedom will come for Venezuela someday.”