HomeNewsBriefVenezuela Military Officials Piloted Drug Plane
BRIEF

Venezuela Military Officials Piloted Drug Plane

CARTEL OF THE SUNS / 20 NOV 2015 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

The latest developments in a drug trafficking case embroiling relatives of President Nicolas Maduro suggest that the military is actively involved in transporting cocaine to Haiti, inching investigations ever closer to the heart of the socialist regime, only weeks before elections.

New updates show that the recently arrested nephews of Venezuela's first lady Cilia Flores flew out of Simon Bolivar International Airport from a terminal reserved for government officials on a plane loaded with 800 kg of cocaine, reported Infobae and Fox News Latino.

Piloting the Cessna Citation Jet were members of the presidential security and transportation unit -- the Casa Militar -- Pedro Miguel Rodriguez, an active lieutenant colonel in the Venezuelan Air Force, and military official Pablo Urbano Perez.

SEE ALSO:  Cartel de los Soles News and Profile

El Nacional reports that after arresting the presidential couple's relatives Efrain Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas, US DEA agents searched the jet and allowed it to return to Venezuela. According to ABC, New York authorities did not have time to produce official charges against the four other people flying to Haiti and they were not arrested, despite their presumed involvement in the scheme.

The informant that led to the arrest of Flores' nephews -- who are currently on trial in New York -- claims that the two regularly flew drugs out of Terminal 4 of Simon Bolivar airport, according to sources consulted by ABC. He also disclosed that both helped fund Maduro's 2013 presidential campaign using illicit funds.

InSight Crime Analysis

The noose is seemingly tightening around President Maduro, who will face legislative elections on December 6 plagued by yet more allegations of official involvement in drug trafficking accusations that have dogged his presidency.

Venezuela's ruling socialist party (PSUV), which has been hanging on to a dwindling support base since the death of President Hugo Chavez in 2013, is currently facing a barrage of international accusations of drug-related crimes and human rights abuses. Among those being investigated for drug trafficking are the first lady's son and Caracas judge Walter Jacobo Gavidia; Venezuela's number two, National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, and Aragua State Governor Tarek El Aissami, reported El Nuevo Herald.

SEE ALSO:  Venezuela News and Profiles

This case not only implicates high-level government officials, it also draws attention to the direct collaboration of Venezuelan authorities and presidential security units in drug trafficking operations. As was the case with the Air France bust of 2013 -- in which an unprecedented 1.3 tons of cocaine were seized on a commercial flight that landed in Paris -- the movement of such heavy drug loads through Venezuela's main airport is impossible without the complicity of the National Guard (GNB).

The exposure of these different levels of connivance is bad news for Maduro's government, which is currently dragging behind the opposition with only 28 percent of voter support. And these tensions could reach breaking point over the coming weeks, with Maduro threatening to "take to the streets" militarily should he lose the upcoming elections for the National Assembly.

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 / 3 OCT 2022

A panel hosted by InSight Crime discussed the implications of the ELN and ex-FARC Mafia becoming binational guerrillas.

VENEZUELA / 2 MAY 2022

The arrests of three people in Venezuela for Facebook Marketplace posts in which they allegedly offered kidneys for sale have…

COLOMBIA / 14 JUN 2021

A former FARC leader and veteran drug trafficker has sided with ex-commander Iván Márquez, a move that could prove crucial…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…