Venezuelan dope dealer fingers Chavez and his cronies

Sunday Telegraph:
Ever since he swept to power on a Left-wing, "anti-imperialist" ticket, it has been one of the bitterest points of contention between Hugo Chavez and his Norteamericano foes.
Claims that Venezuela has deliberately turned a blind eye to the trafficking of vast quantities of US-bound cocaine have been furiously denied by the country's president, who insists it is just another Washington plot to discredit him.
Now, though, backing for the US version of events has come from an unlikely, if arguably well-informed source - an alleged Venezuelan drug lord who claims that dozens of "top level" figures in the Chavez government, including ministers, generals and judges, were on his payroll.
Walid "The Turk" Makled, a portly Venezuelan of Syrian descent described as "the king of kingpins" by US officials, went on trial in Venezuelan earlier this month, where he faces indictment over a $1.4 billion (£1 billion) drug empire that he claims was built with help from Chavez officials.
A part-owner in a Venezuelan airline, "Aeropostal", Mr Makled, 48, is said to have pioneered the use of passenger airliners to export cocaine out of Latin America, a bigger, faster shipping method than the small private jets and boats traditionally used by smugglers.
One of his planes, a DC-9 nicknamed "Cocaine One" by drug enforcement officials, had nearly six tonnes of the drug on board when it was searched by police in Mexico; the drug was stashed in 120 suitcases scattered across the 90 passenger seats, according to a separate indictment brought in New York.
Mr Makled, whom the US says is one of the world's top three drug barons, is said to have exported up to ten tonnes of "product" out of Latin America every month, some of it heading across the Atlantic to lawless west Africa, which serves as a "transit warehouse" for the market in Britain and Europe.
But as he sits in a high-security court in the steamy Venezuelan capital, Caracas, attention is focused not so much on how he formed the drug world's equivalent of a budget carrier, as on those who assisted him in doing so.
Much of the trial is being held behind closed doors, but to the embarrassment of the Venezuelan authorities, Mr Makled has already given several jail cell interviews in neighbouring Colombia, where he was initially arrested, saying he paid millions of dollars in monthly bribes to high-ranking Venezuelan civilian and military officials, as well as a relative of a government minister.
He claims to have paid $5 million alone to a serving naval commander to get a concession to run a warehouse at Venezuela's main port of Puerto Cabello, which is known as a drug smuggling centre.
"If I'm a drug trafficker, everyone in the Chavez government is drug trafficker," said Mr Makled, who also faces charges of money laundering and murder. Asked how he had recruited the 40 generals, colonels and majors on his books, he smiled: "It was more like they recruited me.""
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There is much more.

It is too bad Colombia sent this guy to Venezuela instead of the US.   He has some valuable information on how Venezuela facilitates the drug smuggling business into North America, Africa and Europe.  Since Chavez came to power Venezuela has become the main conduit for the dope trade, primarily dealing with FARC in Colombia.

It is too bad that Chavez will probably die from cancer before he can be brought to justice.  But his dope ring is spinning out of control.  A Venezuelan judge has escaped to the US with information on the those within the government who control the trade.  Hopefully, we will get enough information to indict Chavez and his cronies.  It is not clear to me that the Obama administration will have the courage to deal with the information.
 

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