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

VENEZUELA / 20 JUL 2015

Heavily armed "mega-gangs" are terrorizing swathes of Venezuela, say experts, in the latest indication the country's criminal chaos may be…

COLOMBIA / 21 MAR 2013

Extradited Colombian paramilitary and drug trafficker Juan Carlos Sierra Ramirez, alias "El Tuso," has been released early for collaborating with…

POLICE REFORM / 15 JUL 2014

Authorities in Venezuela say the country's "Intelligent Patrolling" policing program has led to a nearly 18 percent drop in crime,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.