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  HOME | Venezuela (Click here for more Venezuela news)

VenEconomy: Drug Trafficking – The Other Pest of the Venezuelan Revolution

From the Editors of VenEconomy

Because of the harsh economic and social crisis eating away at Venezuela as a result of the failed policies of the "Socialism of the 21st century," as well as the brutal persecution and repression against citizens reluctant to embrace the Revolution’s "Plan for the Homeland," among other factors, a pest that has grown stronger for the past 15 years in the country has been practically overlooked: drug trafficking.

Venezuela has stopped being a transit country for illegal narcotics to become a territory that guarantees freedom of action and immunity to large groups of drug traffickers.

The extent of the penetration of drug trafficking in Venezuela is explained by Mildred Camero, the former head of local anti-drugs body Conacuid, in her book "Chavismo, Drug Trafficking and The Military" published in May of this year, in which she claims that the complicity of the Government with drugs has had a dramatic increase over the last 15 years due to the political bonds between the late Hugo Chávez and the Venezuelan Army and Colombia’s FARC guerrilla group.

There have been countless drug seizures by foreign countries coming in vessels, luggage and "mules" from Venezuela, as well as other "dark cases" being investigated by foreign courts. One of them are 27 suitcases containing 1,382 kilos of cocaine leaving Caracas’ Maiquetía International Airport for Paris, France, on an Air France aircraft on September 10 of 2013, a case yet to be clarified and treated as a matter of State security and with undisclosed records at the request of the Attorney General’s Office.

In the last few weeks just as a tip of an iceberg, both the national and international press have echoed some "peculiar" and illustrative cases on how drug trafficking has taken root in Venezuela.

One of the most scandalous cases has been that of former justice Benny Palmeri Bacchi, a man linked to the government of Venezuela, and who pleaded guilty to obstructing justice, money laundering and extortion in a U.S. court during the first week of November, with which he may face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Palmeri Bacchi was arrested in August of this year at the Miami International Airport when he was about to enjoy a family vacation at Disney World, in the course of an investigation of cocaine trafficking of Colombian cartels supposedly collaborating with senior officials of the government of Chávez.

More recently, on Monday, another report shocked the public opinion after the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) seized a company truck belonging to Bolivariana de Puertos, the State’s port operator, with $10 million in Pier 25 of Puerto Cabello, Carabobo state. According to unofficial reports, the seizure would have been carried out "by narcotics agents attached to the Military Headquarters No. 412 of the GNB, who proceeded to the inspection of a truck that is used for renewing streetlights." And, as also explains local daily El Universal, this shipment could have been part of an operation known as "funnel accounts," which are frequently used by drug cartels to launder money in the parallel market.

This was followed by the "grounding" (destruction) of an aircraft with a Mexican registration number by the GNB that would have violated the airspace of Venezuela "presumably for drug trafficking purposes," according to the photo caption of the aircraft that was destroyed. These "groundings" have become very common for more than a year thanks to the so-called Integral Aerospace Defense program, which has only made public pictures of shot down aircraft, without transparently reporting about the amount of seized drugs or whether the pilots are dead or alive.

It should be recalled that the U.S. government has published a list of nine senior Venezuelan officials classified as "drug kingpins," none of whom has been investigated by the Venezuelan authorities and one of them is holding public office at present.

Which means that drug trafficking is now added to the already long list of economic, social and political failures of the communist regime of Chávez.

VenEconomy has been a leading provider of consultancy on financial, political and economic data in Venezuela since 1982.

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