Reward for Maduro: all about 'nebulous' Los Soles cartel, accused of 'smuggling cocaine'? from Venezuela


"Flooding the United States with cocaine and imposing on users of this country its harmful and addictive effects."

Flooding the United States with cocaine and imposing on users of this country its harmful and addictive effects. This is one of the harsh accusations made this Thursday by the United States Justice against what is called the Los Soles cartel, an alleged drug trafficking organization whose leader, according to the accusation, would be the President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.
Reward for Maduro: what is known about the "nebulous" Los Soles cartel, accused of "flooding with cocaine"? from Venezuela
This is one of the harsh accusations made this Thursday by the United States Justice against what is called the Los Soles cartel, an alleged drug trafficking organization whose leader, according to the accusation, would be the President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.
According to the document, the cartel has spent more than 20 years "facilitating the importation of cocaine into the United States." The indictment defines the cartel as a "drug trafficking organization made up of senior Venezuelan officials."
For his part, Maduro responded to what he called "a set of false accusations" saying that the Donald Trump government behaves like "racist 19th century cowboys."

Although the alleged existence of a drug trafficking cartel within the Venezuelan armed forces is long-standing, the magnitude of the accusations and the direct indication of Maduro are novel.
So far, the US authorities Above all, they pointed to Diosdado Cabello, a high position in the Chavista government in Venezuela.
"Those who accuse me of drug trafficking, present a single piece of evidence, a single one, " Cabello said in 2015, also accused this Thursday.

Maduro rejects the accusations of the United States.

"It would never cross our minds to get into something that hurts the youth of Venezuela and the world," added Cabello, noted five years ago as the leader of the Suns.
But what is known about the existence of this alleged cartel?
For starters, it is not a poster to use, despite the fact that it is called that by the United States justice and is the most used term.
"It is not a cartel, it is a group of circles or networks within the Chavista regime that facilitate, protect or participate in drug trafficking," Jeremy McDermott, co-director and co-founder of Insight Crime, an organized crime investigation center, tells BBC Mundo in Latin America and the Caribbean.
"The difference in Venezuela compared to Mexico and Colombia is that within Venezuela a good percentage of the business is managed within the state," adds McDermott, who says the label serves to describe "corrupt elements" within the state.

Insight Crime defines the cartel in some of its reports as a "nebulous" organization.
For years, even before Hugo Chávez came to power in Venezuela in 1999, this poster has been talked about. The name of the Suns is in allusion to the stars worn by generals in their Venezuelan uniforms.
The role of the army in Venezuela has grown in recent years as the country's economic crisis worsened and it has come to take control of various sectors of the economy, including the import and distribution of food.
McDermott believes that the United States' indictment has "solid" grounds.
"Venezuela is one of the main countries for the transit of cocaine not only to the United States but to Europe and Brazil. The scale of the cocaine passing through Venezuela is gigantic, " says the expert.
However, the Washington Office for Latin America (WOLA), a human rights organization, recently presented a report in which they consider "exaggerated" the role given to Venezuela in trade transnational drug.

"The claim that Maduro is deliberately flooding the United States with cocaine is absurd, " Geoff Ramsey, director of WOLA's Venezuela program, said.
"The DEA (United States Drug Enforcement Agency) data itself show that Venezuela is far from being an important transit country for cocaine destined for the United States," he adds.
"At the peak of the flow of cocaine in 2017, Venezuela saw 249 tons of cocaine pass through its borders. That same year, Colombia exported almost ten times more, or 2,478 tons, according to data from the United States government," adds Ramsey.
McDermott finds the tons figures very significant and criticizes that "resistance to drug trafficking" in Venezuela is "almost zero".

Diosdado Cabello, another of the accused, has spent years denying having ties to drug trafficking. USA offers $ 10 million for his capture.

But not only the justice of the United States points to the so-called Suns cartel.
In its 2019 report, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), an organization framed in the United Nations and in charge of monitoring the application of international drug control treaties, mentions the Soles cartel in drug trafficking.
"There are indications that criminal groups in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela have managed to infiltrate government security forces and have created an informal network known as the Cartel de los Soles to facilitate the entry and exit of illegal drugs," the statement read. in the INCB report published on February 27, 2020.
However, no evidence is provided.
According to the accusation of the United States, Clíver Alcalá was one of the leaders of the cartel sometime between 1999 and 2020 along with Maduro, Cabello and Hugo Carvajal, former head of intelligence in Venezuela and who recently escaped from justice in Spain.
Poster from the United States Drug Control Administration (DEA) offering $ 15 million in exchange for information leading to the capture of Nicolás Maduro.  Alcalá, a former general close to Chávez who later broke up with Maduro, spoke about the cartel in an interview in 2016.
Poster from the United States Drug Control Administration (DEA) offering $ 15 million in exchange for information leading to the capture of Nicolás Maduro
Poster from the United States Drug Control Administration (DEA) offering $ 15 million in exchange for information leading to the capture of Nicolás Maduro.
Alcalá, a former general close to Chávez who later broke up with Maduro, spoke about the cartel in an interview in 2016.
"There must be posters… They even named that poster for forty years, when I was a boy," said Alcalá, who this Thursday admitted to being behind an armed plan from Colombia against the Maduro government.
"They have always attributed it to those soldiers who violated their oath to the homeland. That there is a structure that allows the drug to pass into Colombia, pass through Venezuela and reach Europe and the United States, the evidence is there when the drug gets to those places," he added.
Now, Maduro would be the supposed leader.

"It is the first time that a president has been charged in this way," said McDermott, an Insight Crime expert.
The United States, however, regards Maduro as "de facto" president, according to the indictment of the New York Southern District Court.
Washington and 50 other countries recognize Juan Guaidó, opposition leader and head of the National Assembly (Parliament) as president.
"It is a change (the accusation against Maduro), because (the US) no longer speaks of certain individuals within the government, but of the government as such," McDermott analyzes.
For the expert, the moment of the accusation "is not accidental".
"It is to put even more pressure on Nicolás Maduro at a time when the country is entering an even more serious level of economic and health crisis," he says of the current coronavirus pandemic, which is also affecting the Caribbean country.
McDermott does not see that this could have the effect of the change in government that Washington wants.
Ramsey agrees.
"By bringing drug trafficking charges against Maduro and his inner circle, the United States government makes it much more difficult to negotiate with them. This will lead the regime to entrench itself, and those who have been charged will now see their fate permanently linked to that of Maduro" he said.
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