U.S. indicts top Venezuelan officials

A federal grand jury in Brooklyn, New York, has indicted two top Venezuela officials on being part of a cocaine conspiracy. The men are Nestor Luis Reverol Torres, the former general director of Venezuela’s Oficina Nacional Antidrogas and former commander of Venezuela’s National Guard, and Edylberto Jose Molina Molina, the former sub-director of the drug agency and currently Venezuela’s military attaché to Germany.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro responded Tuesday by naming Reverol the nation’s interior minister, the leading law enforcement figure.

The U.S. Justice Department said that the indictment was returned under seal by the federal grand jury Jan. 21 and relates to Reverol’s and Molina’s alleged activities from January 2008 to December 2010, when they served as the top officials for the government agency charged with combating narcotics trafficking.

According to court documents, from January 2008 to December 2010, in their then official capacities, Reverol and Molina received payments from drug traffickers in exchange for assisting the drug traffickers in distributing cocaine for ultimate importation into the United States.

They also took steps to stop or hinder ongoing narcotics investigations to allow cocaine-laden vehicles to leave Venezuela and arranged for the release of individuals arrested for narcotics violations and the release of narcotics and narcotics-related currency that had been seized by law enforcement, it said.  Reverol and Molina also prevented the arrest or deportation of individuals targeted by foreign countries, the indictment added.

The indictment is the second indictment unsealed in the Eastern District of New York against alleged corrupt high-level officials in Venezuela who allegedly assisted narcotics traffickers in importing cocaine into the United States.

On March 20, 2013, a third superseding indictment was unsealed charging Vassyly Kotosky Villaroel Ramírez, a captain in the Venezuelan Guardia Nacional, and Rafael Antonio Villasana Fernández, an officer in the Venezuelan Guardia Nacional, with participating in an international cocaine distribution conspiracy between Jan. 1, 2004, and Dec. 1, 2009.

Both Reverol and Molina would seem to have immunity from prosecution while they continue to hold Venezuelan government jobs.

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