The United States on Thursday charged Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and several of his top aides with “narco-terrorism” and offered a $15 million reward for any information leading to his arrest, AFP reported. US officials have alleged that Maduro and his aides have been running a “narco-state”, saying they have used money from drug trafficking to compensate for lost revenue from a Venezuelan oil sector on which the US has imposed heavy sanctions.
The US Justice Department accused Maduro of leading a cocaine-trafficking gang that earned millions of dollars by shipping narcotics to the US over the course of two decades. The cartel also worked with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a group that has been branded a “terrorist organization” by the US.
US Attorney General William Barr, who announced the charges against Maduro, alleged that he and his aides “devastated” American communities by smuggling tons of cocaine into the country. “For more than 20 years, Maduro and a number of high-ranking colleagues allegedly conspired with the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia], causing tons of cocaine to enter and devastate American communities,” Barr said. “The Maduro regime is awash in corruption and criminality.”
Barr added that the people of Venezuela continued to suffer while Maduro and his top aides make huge amounts of money. “While the Venezuelan people suffer, this cabal…lines their pockets,” Barr said of Maduro and more than 12 top officials who have been indicted, including Venezuela’s defense minister and the chief justice of the country’s supreme court.
Maduro’s indictment, a rare action by the US against the incumbent leader of a foreign country, marks a drastic escalation against the Venezuelan president by Washington. US and several other countries recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president. However, Maduro is supported by backed Venezuela’s military and by Russia, China and Cuba and continues to remain in power.