The United States (US) has indicted Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro with narco-terrorism and offered $15m for his arrest, private military contractor, Edward disclosed on twitter.
According to the Independent, Attorney General William Barr gave details of the narcoterrorism charges at a news conference on Thursday morning, at which a $15m reward for information leading to Maduro’s arrest or conviction was also announced.
The State Department is offering up to a total of $55m in cash rewards for Maduro and his associates, including Vice President Diosdado Cabello.
Members of the government have long been accused of participating in the international drug trade to shore up the crumbling Venezuelan economy. Separate charges were also filed against the defence minister and the head of the supreme court.
Barr described the regime as “awash in corruption and criminality,” and went on to say that while the Venezuelan people suffer, “this cabal lines their pockets with drug money and the proceeds of corruption.”
The drug trafficking charges involve the Maduro regime allowing Colombia’s FARC terrorist group the ability to fly planes filled with drugs over Venezuelan airspace and for the manufacture of cocaine in Venezuelan territory. Mr Barr said that they estimate some 200 to 250 metric tonnes of cocaine is shipped out of the country in this way to flood the US with the drug.
In 2018, Maduro’s leadership was challenged following a widely condemned election that led to massive protests across the country. The US and 60 other countries have recognised Juan Guaido, the leader of the national assembly, as the country’s rightful leader and pushed economic sanctions to try and force Maduro from power.
US law and international norms generally dictate that sitting foreign leaders are immune from prosecution. However, given that so many countries no longer recognise him as head of state, this does not appear to be a factor.
The Maduro regime is accused of human rights abuses including the torture, detention and murder of Venezuelan citizens.
CNN reported earlier that the State Department would also be designating Venezuela a state sponsor of terrorism, according to five sources familiar with the situation. However the State Department has now said that it would not be doing that.