HomeNewsBriefVenezuela Trying to Block Extradition of ‘Cartel Operative’: Report
BRIEF

Venezuela Trying to Block Extradition of 'Cartel Operative': Report

CARTEL DE LOS SOLES / 7 JUL 2016 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro has reportedly asked his Colombian counterpart not to extradite to the United States an alleged Cartel of the Suns member, who may hold key information on the clandestine workings of Venezuelan military officials involved in cocaine trafficking. 

According to anonymous sources consulted by el Nuevo Herald, Maduro told Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos he needed a favor while the two heads of state were in Havana, Cuba at the end of June for the signing of a bilateral ceasefire agreement between the Colombian government and rebel group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC).

But it wasn't until the following week that Maduro allegedly communicated to Colombian Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas that he wanted the Colombian government to do "everything possible" to prevent the extradition of Venezuelan Capt. Yazenky Antonio Lamas Rondón to the United States. Colombian authorities arrested Lamas Rondón last month following a request from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The armed forces captain is allegedly an important member of the Cartel of the Suns, a term used to describe the covert networks of Venezuelan military personnel involved in cocaine trafficking. 

"He was tightly connected to some of the highest ranking officers in the Venezuelan armed forces, and operated directly with some of the key players in the cartel," one of the sources told el Nuevo Herald.

Lamas Rondón previously served as the pilot for First Lady Cilia Flores, according to el Nuevo Herald. Two of Flores' nephews were arrested on drug trafficking charges in November 2015 and are now in US custody.

InSight Crime Analysis

If el Nuevo Herald's report is accurate, it would seem to confirm what InSight Crime said following Lamas Rondón's arrest in June: he may possess information highly valuable to US authorities investigating the secretive Cartel of the Suns.

Extradition to the United States could turn Lamas Rondón into yet another informant in US custody providing intelligence on the cartel's leaders and modus operandi. In May of last year, the Wall Street Journal reported US prosecutors were investigating Maduro's number two official, Diosdado Cabello, as well as several other high-ranking officials for their involvement in drug trafficking and money laundering. Information provided by former drug traffickers and defectors from the Venezuelan military has reportedly been key to US investigations. 

SEE ALSO: Cartel of the Suns News and Profile

Adding to the Venezuelan government's concerns is the country's precarious political situation. The opposition is collecting signatures calling for a recall referendum to unseat Maduro from power, whose popularity ratings have fallen sharply amid a severe economic crisis. Maduro's ouster could make corrupt government officials long protected by the Chavista regime much more vulnerable to arrest and prosecution.    

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

SECURITY POLICY / 23 NOV 2018

Two sweeping investigations into police units serving along Venezuela’s border were ordered after the arrest of 15 officers, several of…

COLOMBIA / 17 NOV 2016

Colombian kingpin "Mi Sangre" has been extradited from Argentina to the United States, closing a chapter in one of the…

COLOMBIA / 10 SEP 2013

A former top army commander in Colombia has been sentenced to 19 years and six months in prison for ties…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.

THE ORGANIZATION

Combating Environmental Crime in Colombia

15 JUN 2021

InSight Crime presented findings from an investigation into the main criminal activities fueling environmental destruction in Colombia.