Venezuelan Regime Lines Its Pockets With Drug Money

Venezuelan Regime Lines Its Pockets With Drug Money

By Julieta Pelcastre / Diálogo
April 20, 2020

For years, Venezuela has been strengthening narcotrafficking. The leader of the illegitimate National Constituent Assembly, Diosdado Cabello Rondón, plays a decisive role in the process, not only because he is the second most powerful man in the regime, but also because he provides political and military protection to narco-terrorist crimes, alleged the U.S. Department of Justice.

On March 26, U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr announced the indictment of Nicolás Maduro and Cabello (as well as 13 other high-ranking Venezuelan officials). The United States offered $10 million for the capture of Cabello.

“The charges will lead the regime to entrench itself and those who were formally accused to see their destiny permanently linked to that of Maduro,” Geoff Ramsey, a researcher with the human rights nongovernmental organization Washington Office for Latin America, said to BBC Mundo. “Cabello, like Maduro, has not left Venezuela since the United States began to sanction them, which makes their capture difficult.”

In addition to denouncing that the regime is awash in corruption and crime, the U.S. prosecutor said that the accused betrayed the Venezuelan people and corrupted the country’s institutions when they lined their pockets with drug money.

A report from Spanish newspaper ABC indicates that Cabello leads a smuggling network of drugs, minerals, and fuel, in which he is the main beneficiary. Through this structure, “Cabello receives around half a million dollars a month, which each of the commanders of the 24 Venezuelan states deliver to him by hand, in an envelope,” says ABC.

“This figure should be multiplied by at least three,” said Daniel Pou, associate researcher at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in the Dominican Republic, to Diálogo. “Cabello is not only the czar of narcotrafficking, but of human and arms trafficking and money laundering.”

Pou said Cabello is the man who handles all intelligence apparatuses, both military and civilian. “Although he doesn’t have direct command over the Venezuelan Armed Forces, he placed all his interests on them.”

In its 2019 report, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which works closely with the United Nations, revealed that criminal groups infiltrated the Venezuelan security forces and created a network known as the Cartel of the Suns, which facilitates the entry and exit of illegal drugs. “The Bolivarian Armed Forces control the country’s economy,” says INCB.

The U.S. Department of Justice believes that evidence of collusion that dates back 20 years exists between the Cartel of the Suns, led by Maduro, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to send tons of cocaine to the United States. Cabello, the Department of Justice contends, personally participated in the delivery of machine guns, ammunition, and rocket launchers to the FARC at a Venezuelan military base.

“Venezuela became a great governmental criminal organization,” Jorge Serrano, a scholar at the Center for Higher National Studies in Peru, told Diálogo. “In addition to the Cartel of the Suns, run by Cabello for the last five years, there are three more organizations that are part of the regime and that are involved in the shady business conducted by Venezuelan service members.”

“First, the so-called leadership, coordinated within a perfect and macabre division of labor, directed by Maduro with Cuban advice; second, the Syrian corporation steered by Tareck El Aissami, one of the politicians closest to Maduro and one of the United States’ 10 most wanted drug lords; and third, the Diosdado Cabello family corporation, the most loyal accomplices of the criminal structure, who know how this system works because they have been handling it from the beginning,” added Serrano.

Cabello is the most dangerous of the entire organization. He keeps the fortunes of other top leaders and then has them extradited or murdered, according to independent newspaper Venezuela Libre.

“When this dictatorship is dismantled and the accused begin to confess, we will know about the great fortunes that they’ve managed to amass over 20 years of ‘revolution.’ Meanwhile, Cabello and Maduro will continue to be entrenched in their own homes, controlling the country’s economy with the help of the military forces,” concluded Pou.