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Friday, March 11, 2011

Down the tunnel of drug trafficking? Welcome to Veneconomy

Down the tunnel of drug trafficking? The number of warnings of alleged ties between the Hugo Chávez administration and drug trafficking networks grows constantly, as does the number of accusations against Venezuelan Government officials for protecting and covering up Venezuelan nationals and foreigners involved in drug trafficking and terrorism.
One of those accusations came from Walid Makled, a businessman who, for some years, had ties with the Chávez administration and today is in prison in Colombia charged with drug trafficking and is also wanted by the FBI and the DEA for the same reason.
At the end of 2010, during an interview on the Colombian television news channel NTN24, Makled dropped this bombshell: “they are accusing me of loading an aircraft at Maiquetía. If they’re going to put me in prison for that, then they should also extradite the director of the DIM (Military Intelligence Agency) at that time, Hugo Carvajal; General Henry Rangel Silva, who in 2006, was responsible for the airport; and (Luis Alfredo) Mota Domínguez.”
Rangel Silva, the Chief of the National Armed Force’s Strategic Operations Command; Carvajal Barrios, the director of the DIM; and former Homeland Affairs and Justice Minister Ramón Rodríguez Chacín have apparently been imputed by the US Government for allegedly having committed offenses involving money laundering, cooperating with drug trafficking, and supplying the FARC with weapons.
This week, the Department of State published its annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Reportin which it states that: 1) Venezuela is a point of departure for routes either directly to the United States or via Honduras and Haiti before continuing to Mexico; 2) some “250 tons of cocaine a year, equivalent to more than 40% of world cocaine production” apparently passes through Venezuela; 3) “illegal Colombian armed groups –including two international terrorist organizations, the FARC and the ELN- have ties with the most aggressive and successful organizations that traffic drugs through Venezuela”; 4) the Hugo Chávez administration “does not take action against military and government officials who are known for their relations with the FARC”; and 5) corruption inside the Venezuelan Government and its “weak and politicized” judicial system contributed to cocaine trafficking going up from 50 mt in 2004 to 143 mt in 2009.
If the government has nothing to hide, it should allow the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) to send a mission to verify the situation in Venezuela.
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