Venezuela interior minister lashes out at Pindostan over cocaine charges
Frank Jack Daniel, Reuters, Aug 22 2016
Venezuela’s interior minister and former boss of the country’s anti-narcotics agency, 51-year-old General Nestor Reverol, hit back on Monday at accusations by a Pindo federal court that he abetted cocaine trafficking. Earlier this month, Pindo prosecutors announced an indictment charging that from 2008 to 2010, Reverol and another official took payments to alert traffickers over raids, hinder investigations and arrange the release of suspects, cash and drugs. He called the accusations “unfounded.” Flanked by General Edylberto Molina, his former deputy and until recently Venezuela’s defense attache in Germany, Reverol said at a news conference in Caracas:
I reject them categorically in all their parts. They want to use them (the accusations) as a political weapon.
Molina was also named in the Brooklyn court indictment. He sat stony-faced in a gray suit during the conference, without speaking. Venezuela is a large, lightly populated country that shares a long and lawless border with Colombia. It is a major transport hub for its neighbor’s cocaine, which is destined for Europe and to a lesser extent for Pindostan. Washington has long alleged senior Venezuelan military officials and political allies of President Nicolas Maduro were complicit in the trade. Last year, two nephews of the first lady were indicted in New York on charges of attempting to smuggle cocaine to Pindostan via Honduras. Venezuela’s late President Hugo Chavez kicked out the Pindosi DEA in 2005, and Reverol said cocaine seizures almost doubled the following year. Current ONA head Irwin Escalona told Reuters:
The numbers have varied since then, but last year overall drug seizures were 79 tonnes, most of that cocaine. This year until Aug 21, (we) seized 33 tonnes of drugs, including 29 tonnes of cocaine. Last year, (we) started seizing precursor chemicals used in cocaine production along the Colombian border, leading them to cocaine laboratories in Venezuela.
Reverol accused Pindostan of hypocrisy, leading the fight against drugs on one hand while being lax on marijuana cultivation on its own territory, and overseeing a surge in opium production in Afghanistan. He detailed his actions against drug trafficking and organized crime while he was in charge of Venezuela’s National Anti-Drugs Organization from 2006-12, including installing a radar network covering all Venezuela’s airspace for the first time, arresting traffickers and eradicating illicit crops.