The head of the Venezuelan National Guard, Nestor Reverol, is set to be charged in the United States for drug trafficking. Reverol has been named in a sealed indictment in New York federal court as one of many senior Venezuelan officials who have been fueling the country’s illegal cocaine trade.
With the impending arrest, Reverol will be one of the highest-ranking Venezuelan officials to face drug charges in the United States. Reverol refused to comment on the matter. In recent years, he dismissed accusations that Venezuela has failed in preventing the shipment of illegal drugs. Instead, the border chief talked up the successes of the Venezuelan government in stopping the flow of cocaine from Colombia.
The Venezuelan National Guard is responsible for controlling the borders of the country. In response to the news, the Venezuelan National Guard released a series of tweets defending their leader. They made use of the hashtag #NestorReverolSoldierOfTheFatherland.
One tweet said, “We reject the campaign from the fascist right against our Commander General.”
The Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino tweeted, “Stop the campaign to tarnish the Bolivarian Armed Forces and their leaders. Let the truth come out!"
The indictment also named former deputy head of the anti-narcotics agency Edilberto Molina, along with at least three other officials. It is still unclear what specific charges the alleged drug traffickers will face. The United States Department of Justice declined to comment on the situation.
Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that the charges are merely an attempt to discredit socialism in Venezuela. President Maduro said that the Socialist Party has cracked down on drugs since Venezuela removed its DEA in 2005.
Leaders in Venezuela have been accused of being involved in the drug trade for years. They are widely believed to accept bribes and turn a blind eye to officers who participate in narcotics trafficking. The State Department of the United States annually names Venezuela as one of the main transportation routes for illegal drugs from South America. Up to 25% of all cocaine exported from South America in 2011 came from Venezuela.