Law & the Courts

Justice Department Charges Venezuela’s Maduro with Drug Trafficking, Offers $15 Million Reward

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a news conference at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, March 12, 2020. (Manaure Quintero/Reuters)

Attorney General William Barr on Thursday announced charges against Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro and senior members of his government.

The Justice Department has charged Maduro and other officials with drug trafficking and offered a $15 million reward for information leading to Maduro’s arrest or conviction.

“While holding key positions in the Maduro regime, these individuals violated the public trust by facilitating shipments of narcotics from Venezuela, including control over planes that leave from a Venezuelan air base, as well as control of drug routes through the ports in Venezuela,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

The Justice Department alleges that the Venezuelan government has worked with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC), which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization, to traffic cocaine to the U.S.

“We estimate that somewhere between 200 and 250 metric tons of cocaine are shipped out of Venezuela. . . . Those 250 metric tons equates to 30 million lethal doses,” the Justice Department said in its announcement.

The indictment of a foreign head of state is unusual and comes during a time of increased tension between the U.S. and Venezuela. The U.S. currently recognizes Venezuelan opposition head Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate president and has accused Maduro’s government of widespread human-rights abuses including torture, extrajudicial killings, and arbitrary arrest.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is also a violist, and has served in the Israeli Defense Forces.


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