Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Is Venezuela's Chavez up to his neck in drug smuggling?

That question is being raised after the arrest of a Venezuelan drug kingpin in Colombia, who's being held pending extradition to the USA. The American reports:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez should be very troubled that a man whom President Obama has branded one of the world's most significant drug kingpins, Walid Makled-Garcia, may soon be telling U.S. federal prosecutors everything he knows about senior Venezuelan officials who have abetted his cocaine smuggling operations. Makled-Garcia's devastating testimony comes on the heels of fresh evidence of Chávez's support for terrorist groups from Spain, Colombia, and the Middle East and his apparent illegal support for Iran's nuclear weapons program. Slowly but surely, Chávez is being unmasked as a mastermind of a criminal regime.

According to a federal indictment unsealed in New York last Thursday, from 2006 through August 2010, Makled-Garcia conspired with Venezuelan officials to ship tons of cocaine from airstrips in that country to Central America, Mexico, and, ultimately, the United States. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called Makled-Garcia "a king among kingpins." Indeed, the Justice Department has designated him a "priority target," as one of the most dangerous and prolific narcotics traffickers.

. . .

Based on the U.S. indictment, Colombian authorities arrested Makled-Garcia on August 18, and are currently considering a U.S. extradition request for the notorious suspect. In the meantime, in a jailhouse interview with Colombia's RCN TV last week, Makled-Garcia said he has enough evidence of high-level drug corruption—including videos and bank records—"for the U.S. to intervene and invade Venezuela, as with [Manuel Antonio] Noriega in Panama."

. . .

Of course, Chávez is desperate to get his hands on Makled-Garcia. He pleaded with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to send the Venezuelan detainee home, where he would no doubt be silenced by Chavista police and judges. Santos is unlikely to risk his country's long-standing alliance with U.S. law enforcement by sending Makled-Garcia anywhere but the United States.

. . .

In a televised interview conducted during a visit to Cuba, Chávez said Sunday that he expected the United States to use Makled-Garcia's allegations "against Venezuela and its president" as a pretext "to take Venezuela to the International Criminal Court, to include Venezuela among states that support narcotrafficking and terrorism, as part of the 'empire's' game to mount operations against the Bolivarian Revolution."

There's much more at the link. Very interesting and recommended reading.

I've never trusted President Chavez. He's always come across to me as a blustering demagogue, ready, willing and eager to accuse and condemn everything and everyone for his country's problems (most of them of his own making), but never willing to concede that he might be at fault in even the slightest way. As Shakespeare would put it, he 'doth protest too much, methinks'. I wouldn't be in the least surprised if the evidence which will (hopefully) be provided by Senor Makled-Garcia bears that out . . . but I also suspect that Senor Makled-Garcia will be very fortunate if he lives long enough to be extradited to the USA! If I were in President Chavez' shoes, I'd have every covert operative at my disposal doing everything in their power to beg, bribe or bully Colombian officials and guards in an attempt to gain access to him and silence him forever.

Watch this space. Things might be about to get very interesting in Venezuela. The question is, does President Obama have the will and the courage to do something about it, if irrefutable evidence of Chavez' guilt becomes available?



Dirk said...

A multiple-choice answer to your question:

A) No
B) You're kidding, right?
D) He won't even rattle a saber.
E) He'll just express deep disappointment, and then hand him some more money
F) All of the above.

Shrimp said...

This is nothing more than an interesting diversion to keep our attention (and the media's) focused anywhere but on our economy and the massive QE2. Never let an oppotunity go by, or words to that effect. As for what Obama will/might do, I think D or E above.