Venezuelan Officials Tied To Colombian Drug Traffickers

By Shawn Dwyer 07/29/14

A former top intelligence officer was among those indicted for helping Colombian traffickers run drugs into the United States.

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Seized cocaine from Colombia. Wiki Commons

According to an article published this week in the New York Times, top military and police officials have been accused of having ties with Colombian cocaine traffickers. The news came after three federal indictments were unsealed last week.

Prosecutors in Miami and New York alleged that Venezuela's former military intelligence chief, Hugo Carvajal, was on the payroll of a Colombian drug lord while also investing his own money in drug trafficking and personally coordinating the shipment of thousands of kilos of cocaine.

Carvajal was arrested in Aruba last week, but has since been released and sent back to Venezuela, upsetting officials in the U.S. State Department. Venezuelan officials denounced the arrest as a kidnapping while Carvajal's attorney said that his client "categorically" denied the trafficking charges before a judge.

Filed in 2011 in New York, the indictment stated that Carvajal "coordinated the transportation of approximately 5,600 kilograms of cocaine from Venezuela to Mexico" in April 2006 with a group of traffickers known as the Cartel of the Suns. Meanwhile, the Miami indictment, which was filed in May of last year, alleged ties between Caravajal and Colombian drug lord Wilber Varela.

According to a 2012 affidavit by D.E.A. Agent Cesar Salaya, agents “have been interviewing drug traffickers who have admitted bribing high-level Venezuelan military and law enforcement officials in order to distribute cocaine and avoid arrest and extradition to the United States.” That led to another Venezuelan official, Rodolfo McTurk, who directed the country's relations with Interpol, to be indicted for conspiring to ship cocaine to the United States with known Colombian drug trafficker, Alberto Marín.

Though Marín pled guilty to drug charges in October 2011, McTurk has yet to be arrested.

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.