High-ranking defector from Venezuela accuses regime of narcotics trafficking

Leamsy Salazar is the highest-ranking official ever to defect from Venezuela, and he entered the United States Monday, under federal protection.  His credentials are impressive: for ten years he served as Hugo Chávez’s chief of security and personal assistant.  After Chávez’s death, he went to work for Diosdado Cabello, speakier of the National Assembly and considered by the U.S. State Department the most influential and economically powerful man in Venezuela, and “one of the principal poles of corruption” in the South American country, according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

Emili J. Blasco of Spain’s ABC network broke the story.  Interamericansecuritywatch.com has translated his story.  Some excerpts:

With the arrival yesterday in Washington, DC, of protected witness, [Venezuelan Navy] Captain Leamsy Salazar, who until December was the head of security for Diosdado Cabello, a U.S. federal prosecutor has accelerated the preparation of a formal indictment against the number two in the Venezuelan regime.

Salazar is the highest-ranking military officer to break ranks with chavismo and make formal accusations in the United States against senior government officials for their involvement in narcotrafficking. (snip)

According to sources close to the investigation, opened by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Salazar claims that [Cabello], the president of the National Assembly, is the head of the Cártel de los Soles (Cartel of the Suns) and therefore the leader of the narcostate that Venezuela became under Chávez.

The Cartel of the Suns, primarily composed of members of the military (its name comes from the insignia worn on the uniform of Venezuelan generals), has a drug trafficking monopoly in Venezuela. The drugs are produced by the Colombian FARC [Fuerzas Revolucionarias de Colombia guerrillas] and taken to their destinations in the U.S. and Europe by Mexican cartels. Recent international figures indicate that Venezuela ships five tons of narcotics on a weekly basis. Ninety percent of the drugs produced by Colombia transits Venezuela.

As an aide who constantly accompanied Cabello, Salazar witnessed events and conversations that incriminate the National Assembly president. Specifically, he saw Cabello giving direct orders for the departure of boats loaded with tons of cocaine; he has also provided photographs of places where mountains of dollars (sic) from narcotrafficking are stored, according to sources close to the investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

There may be Islamic terror network involvement in the drug trade:

In his revelations, Salazar also implicates the governor of Aragua state, Tarek el Aissami, who also has links with Islamic networks, and José David Cabello, brother of the National Assembly president, who for several years served as director of SENIAT [tax agency] and minister of industry. José David Cabello is allegedly responsible for the finances of the Cartel of the Suns. Salazar mentions that [the state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela] PDVSA is a money-laundering machine (sic). PDVSA’s former president from 2004 to 2014, Rafael Ramirez, was appointed in December as Venezuela’s ambassador before the U.N. Security Council.

There is also Cuban involvement:

In his revelations, Salazar also implicates the governor of Aragua state, Tarek el Aissami, who also has links with Islamic networks, and José David Cabello, brother of the National Assembly president, who for several years served as director of SENIAT [tax agency] and minister of industry. José David Cabello is allegedly responsible for the finances of the Cartel of the Suns. Salazar mentions that [the state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela] PDVSA is a money-laundering machine (sic). PDVSA’s former president from 2004 to 2014, Rafael Ramirez, was appointed in December as Venezuela’s ambassador before the U.N. Security Council.

Panam Post adds this:

A post shared on Twitter by Ramón Pérez-Maura, an ABC journalist covering the case, stated that Salazar’s testimony had also linked Cuba with the country’s narcotrafficking trade, “offering protection to certain routes along which drugs were brought to Venezuela from the United States.”

Pérez-Maura‘s colleague in New York Emili J. Blasco added further details that Cabello gave direct orders for the distribution of illicit substances, and that Salazar knew of locations where the accused “keeps mountains of dollar bills.”

This clearly makes Venezuela a gangster government.

Hat tip: Maggie Petito and Clarice Feldman

Leamsy Salazar is the highest-ranking official ever to defect from Venezuela, and he entered the United States Monday, under federal protection.  His credentials are impressive: for ten years he served as Hugo Chávez’s chief of security and personal assistant.  After Chávez’s death, he went to work for Diosdado Cabello, speakier of the National Assembly and considered by the U.S. State Department the most influential and economically powerful man in Venezuela, and “one of the principal poles of corruption” in the South American country, according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

Emili J. Blasco of Spain’s ABC network broke the story.  Interamericansecuritywatch.com has translated his story.  Some excerpts:

With the arrival yesterday in Washington, DC, of protected witness, [Venezuelan Navy] Captain Leamsy Salazar, who until December was the head of security for Diosdado Cabello, a U.S. federal prosecutor has accelerated the preparation of a formal indictment against the number two in the Venezuelan regime.

Salazar is the highest-ranking military officer to break ranks with chavismo and make formal accusations in the United States against senior government officials for their involvement in narcotrafficking. (snip)

According to sources close to the investigation, opened by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Salazar claims that [Cabello], the president of the National Assembly, is the head of the Cártel de los Soles (Cartel of the Suns) and therefore the leader of the narcostate that Venezuela became under Chávez.

The Cartel of the Suns, primarily composed of members of the military (its name comes from the insignia worn on the uniform of Venezuelan generals), has a drug trafficking monopoly in Venezuela. The drugs are produced by the Colombian FARC [Fuerzas Revolucionarias de Colombia guerrillas] and taken to their destinations in the U.S. and Europe by Mexican cartels. Recent international figures indicate that Venezuela ships five tons of narcotics on a weekly basis. Ninety percent of the drugs produced by Colombia transits Venezuela.

As an aide who constantly accompanied Cabello, Salazar witnessed events and conversations that incriminate the National Assembly president. Specifically, he saw Cabello giving direct orders for the departure of boats loaded with tons of cocaine; he has also provided photographs of places where mountains of dollars (sic) from narcotrafficking are stored, according to sources close to the investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

There may be Islamic terror network involvement in the drug trade:

In his revelations, Salazar also implicates the governor of Aragua state, Tarek el Aissami, who also has links with Islamic networks, and José David Cabello, brother of the National Assembly president, who for several years served as director of SENIAT [tax agency] and minister of industry. José David Cabello is allegedly responsible for the finances of the Cartel of the Suns. Salazar mentions that [the state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela] PDVSA is a money-laundering machine (sic). PDVSA’s former president from 2004 to 2014, Rafael Ramirez, was appointed in December as Venezuela’s ambassador before the U.N. Security Council.

There is also Cuban involvement:

In his revelations, Salazar also implicates the governor of Aragua state, Tarek el Aissami, who also has links with Islamic networks, and José David Cabello, brother of the National Assembly president, who for several years served as director of SENIAT [tax agency] and minister of industry. José David Cabello is allegedly responsible for the finances of the Cartel of the Suns. Salazar mentions that [the state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela] PDVSA is a money-laundering machine (sic). PDVSA’s former president from 2004 to 2014, Rafael Ramirez, was appointed in December as Venezuela’s ambassador before the U.N. Security Council.

Panam Post adds this:

A post shared on Twitter by Ramón Pérez-Maura, an ABC journalist covering the case, stated that Salazar’s testimony had also linked Cuba with the country’s narcotrafficking trade, “offering protection to certain routes along which drugs were brought to Venezuela from the United States.”

Pérez-Maura‘s colleague in New York Emili J. Blasco added further details that Cabello gave direct orders for the distribution of illicit substances, and that Salazar knew of locations where the accused “keeps mountains of dollar bills.”

This clearly makes Venezuela a gangster government.

Hat tip: Maggie Petito and Clarice Feldman