According to the Miami Herald, a massive leak of confidential Colombian records adds to the mounting evidence that Venezuela’s military and government elite, not content with plundering the nation’s oil wealth, are now increasingly focused on milking a different profit center: Cocaine.
(Miami Herald).- The role of the military in relation to the drug trade has shifted from looking the other way in exchange for taking bribes to one of active player, according to leaked documents obtained by the Herald and its reporting partners, bolstered by interviews with former members of the Caracas regime, U.S. officials and others.
“They are the ones that are in charge now, directly involved in the transportation of cocaine, the distribution of cocaine, not only to the United States, but also to Europe,” Mike Vigil, former chief of International Operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said of the Venezuelan military.
This reality is part of the backdrop to what could conceivably be a thaw in frigid relations between the United States and Venezuela.
In hopes of fostering stability in Venezuela, the Biden administration this past month offered an easing of sanctions contingent on President Nicolás Maduro holding free and fair elections, which for him would be a first. The initiative comes after a year in which Venezuelans, driven by social and economic upheaval, have poured into the United States, seeking asylum after making a long trek over land and across the Rio Grande. The influx has strained immigration and social services.
Biden’s move has outraged some Republicans, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who called it “granting legitimacy to a criminal dictatorship.”
This article is being published in conjunction with the “NarcoFiles: The New Criminal Order,” a transnational journalistic investigation into global organized crime, its innovations, its tentacles, and those who fight it.