HomeNewsBriefVenezuela Judge Turns DEA Informant
BRIEF

Venezuela Judge Turns DEA Informant

EXTRADITION / 18 APR 2012 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

A Venezuelan former Supreme Court judge is now in Washington cooperating with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and may be sharing intelligence on high-ranking military and government officials involved in the drug trade.

Former Judge Eladio Aponte, who left Venezuela for Costa Rica on April 2, was flown out of the Central American country Tuesday night on a DEA-chartered flight.

An unnamed source told El Nuevo Herald that Aponte is “providing detailed information on drug trafficking operations in Venezuela.” Aponte reportedly pointed the finger at General Henry Rangel Silva, the recently appointed defense minister whom the US Treasury says has worked with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in trafficking drugs. Aponte also reportedly said that one of President Hugo Chavez’s closest allies, Diosdado Cabello, who was recently made head of the ruling party, has links to the drug trade. Aponte also named General Cliver Alcala, another military official sanctioned by the US for allegedly establishing a drugs-for-guns trade with the FARC.

InSight Crime Analysis

One question is how reliable Aponte’s allegations are, and whether he has a political ax to grind. The judge was removed from his position on March 20, after evidence emerged that he helped Venezuelan drug trafficker Walid Makled secure official documents needed to run his businesses. Notably, Aponte was once in charge of assigning judges to Venezuelan states that border on Colombia, where many of the main cocaine-trafficking routes are found.

If Aponte is now collaborating with the DEA, this may have been the exact outcome that some Venezuelan officials wanted to avoid with Makled. After Makled’s arrest in 2011, he spoke openly about the involvement of the security forces and part of the political establishment in drug trafficking, claiming to possess compromising videos that showed members of the Chavez government involved in drug deals. When the Colombian government chose to extradite Makled to Venezuela instead of the US, where he is also wanted on drug charges, it was viewed as a political victory for those officials who wanted to avoid having Makled’s intelligence fall in US hands.

Opposition politician Julio Montoya told El Nuevo Herald that Aponte, Makled, and others in the military and political establishment created a drug cartel that rivals the power of Colombia’s Medellin Cartel. But even as Aponte has proved willing to collaborate the DEA, the challenge will be deciphering whether his charges are accurate, or whether he is playing a larger political game.

This article previously appeared on the Pan-American Post.

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 / 11 SEP 2015

The near complete closure of the Colombia-Venezuela border could spell disaster for communities reliant on the black market economy…

COLOMBIA / 9 APR 2012

Although it has relied heavily on extraditions in the past as a way to break up powerful criminal networks, the…

CYBERCRIME / 15 MAY 2015

Prosecutors in Ecuador are investigating $135 million in suspicious transactions that flowed through a shared virtual currency system with Venezuela,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…