Trump Admin Indicts Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro On Drug Trafficking Charges

Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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Attorney General Bill Barr’s Justice Department indicted Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on drug trafficking charges, naming him as the leader of an international drug cartel.

“This is Maduro, the leader of the Cartel of the Suns,” a DOJ spokesman said Thursday, pointing to a picture of the dictator.

The U.S. has waged a long campaign against Maduro’s leadership in Venezuela, accusing him of holding a sham election and refusing to give up power to Juan Guaido, who the U.S. says is the rightful president. The indictment also names several other top officials in the country, and refers to Maduro as the “former president of Venezuela.” The others include Venezuela’s vice president for the economy, Venezuela’s Minister of Defense, and Venezuela’s Chief Supreme Court Justice. Maduro rejected the charges on Twitter.

“There’s a conspiracy from the United States and Colombia and they’ve given the order of filling Venezuela with violence,” he said. “As head of state I’m obliged to defend peace and stability for all the motherland, under any circumstances.” (RELATED: Germany Bans Meetings Of More Than Two People)

CARACAS, VENEZUELA - JANUARY 23: President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro (C) waves a national flag as he is escorted by (FROM L TO R) Hector Rodriguez, Governor of Miranda; Diosdado Cabello, President of National Constitutional Assembly; Cilia Flores, First Lady; Excutive Vice President Delcy Rodriguez; Major Erika Farias and Economic Vice President Tareck El Aissami at the Balcón del Pueblo of the Miraflores Government Palace on January 23, 2019 in Caracas, Venezuela. Earlier today, Venezuelan opposition leader and head of the National Assembly Juan Guaido declared self interim president as was officially accepted by presidents of many countries such as US, Brazil, Chile, Canada and Argentina. Head of Supreme Justice tribunal Juan Jose Mendoza urged general attorney to act against a constitution violation. Protests continue in Caracas. (Photo by Edilzon Gamez/Getty Images)

President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro (C) waves a national flag as he is escorted by (FROM L TO R) officials. (Photo by Edilzon Gamez/Getty Images)

Being in Venezuela, Maduro has not been taken into custody, but the DOJ has put out a $15 million reward for his capture or conviction should he travel to another country.

The U.S. has also taken the opportunity to officially designate Venezuela a terror state, according to the Miami Herald.

Venezuela has been in turmoil for months after Guaido held secret talks in early 2019 between high-ranking officials and revolutionaries within Maduro’s regime in hopes of peacefully removing him from power and installing an interim government. (RELATED: US Ambassador To UK Attacks China For Causing Global Outbreak)

When those negotiations broke down, Guaido called for mass protests, and the international community refused to recognize Maduro as the rightful president. The Venezuelan military remained loyal to Maduro, however.