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Venezuelan high-rank officials in US drug-trafficking watch list

Most of the sanctions from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) were imposed on Venezuelan military men and government officials

The US Department of the Treasury sanctions drug traffickers (Photo: M.Delgado)
FRANK LÓPEZ BALLESTEROS |  EL UNIVERSAL
Saturday August 31, 2013  12:00 AM
The list of active drug dealers sanctioned by the United States already includes nine high-rank Venezuelan officials, among them, a diplomat and pro-government politicians. Despite the claims, they keep striding up the stairs inside the top Government.

On August 21, the US Treasury Department fingered retired Venezuelan captain of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB), Vassyly Kotosky Villarroel Ramírez as "a drug lord" with international connections, under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.

Including Villarroel Ramírez, there are five Venezuelan military men, retired or active, who have been sanctioned by the US Government. The drug-trafficking watch list also includes an agent of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin), a diplomat and deputies and former state governors of pro-government United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), attached to the US Treasury Department, prepares the Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) List.

Back in 2008, the OFAC "black-listed" Venezuelan senior officials for the first time in history, for cooperating with Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC).

At that time, retired Navy Capitan Ramón Rodríguez Chacín, former Minister of the Interior and Justice; General Hugo Carvajal, director of the Military Intelligence Directorate; and General Henry Rangel Silva, head of the Strategic Operational Command of the Armed Forces, were sanctioned for assisting the FARC guerrilla and drug cartels.

Currently, Rodríguez Chacín is the governor of Guárico state. Retired General Hugo Carvajal was appointed general director of the Military Counterintelligence in April 2013. For his part, General Henry Rangel Silva is the governor of Trujillo state.

From 2008 to date, the OFAC watch list has given a worrisome leap, since Venezuelan government officials have been constantly linked to drugs and terrorism over a four-year period, unlike the remaining countries in the region.

Until April 10, 2012, there were 258 references to Venezuela on the OFAC list, including enterprises, banks, and individuals linked to drug trafficking and terrorism money. On August 27, the list had 317 references to Venezuela, 59 more.

In 2011, the US Treasury Department sanctioned Amílcar Figueroa, Venezuela's representative at the Latin American Parliament; Army General Cliver Alcalá Cordones; Deputy Freddy Bernal, and Sebin official Ramón Madriz for assisting the FARC and drug traffickers.

frlopez@eluniversal.com
@franchuterias

Translated by Andreína Trujillo
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