HomeNewsBriefTop Venezuela Govt Official Accused of Drug Trafficking
BRIEF

Top Venezuela Govt Official Accused of Drug Trafficking

CARTEL OF THE SUNS / 27 JAN 2015 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

A former Venezuelan presidential security chief has accused the nation's National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello of drug trafficking, in just the latest event to heap pressure on President Nicolas Maduro.

Leamsy Salazar arrived in Washington DC on January 26 as part of a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation into links between drug traffickers and Venezuelan officials. Up until December he had served as Cabello's security chief, having previously spent almost ten years protecting former President Hugo Chavez, who died in March 2013.

During his tenure, Salazar claims to have observed several high-ranking government officials' involvement with drug trafficking, reported Spanish newspaper ABC, citing sources close to the DEA investigation.

Salazar has reportedly accused Cabello of being the leader of drug trafficking group “Cartel de los Soles” (Cartel of the Suns) and claims to have personally witnessed the official giving launch orders for boat shipments of cocaine. Salazar also accused the official’s brother, Jose David Cabello, of overseeing the group’s finances. According to the claims, Cuba facilitated some of the group's illegal activities and Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA's airplanes were sometimes used to transport drugs, with proceeds laundered through the company. 

According to ABC, the testimony provided by Salazar corroborates that given by former Venezuelan supreme court chief Eladio Aponte, who fled to the United States in 2012 and also became a protected DEA witness. Based on that evidence, the DEA will reportedly seek to put together a legal case against Cabello and his cohorts.

InSight Crime Analysis

This is not the first time Cabello has been linked to criminality and corruption in Venezuela, with accusations of involvement in theft from state agencies emerging in 2013. He has also been mentioned in US cables released by Wikileaks, including one in which a political economist is quoted labelling him "one of the three major poles of corruption close to or within the government."

Though it may be true that Cabello is a powerful figure within the Cartel de los Soles, the organization is thought to be a decentralized collection of corrupt military cells, without a linear command structure, so the accusations may be somewhat overblown.

SEE ALSO: Cartel de los Soles News and Profile

They will nevertheless pile yet more pressure on President Nicolas Maduro at a time when his approval ratings continue to tumble amid widespread shortages of basic goods and the suffering inflicted upon Venezuela’s hydrocarbon-dependent economy by the recent oil price collapse. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 22 AUG 2017

Colombia's EPL guerrillas have reportedly taken over territory across the border with Venezuela, driving out the Venezuelan military and confronting…

CHILE / 21 OCT 2021

Authorities in Chile are on high alert due to reports that a Venezuelan gang known as Tren de Aragua is…

PRISONS / 11 JAN 2012

The taking of at least eight police hostage in a jail in western Venezuela is the sixth incident in which…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…