The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Thursday that Venezuela's socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro, along with 14 other high-ranking Venezuelan officials, have been on indicted on charges of narco-terrorism, corruption, drug trafficking, and other related criminal offense.
The defendants include Maduro; Venezuela's vice president for the economy; Venezuela's Minister of Defense; and Venezuela's Chief Supreme Court Justice. According to the indictment documents unveiled by the DOJ, the current and former Venezuelan government officials, along with members of the Colombian terrorist cartel (FARC), will face charges in New York City; Washington, DC; and Miami.
Charges of narco-terrorism
"The Venezuelan regime, once led by Nicolás Maduro Moros, remains plagued by criminality and corruption," said Attorney General Barr in a press release.
"For more than 20 years, Maduro and a number of high-ranking colleagues allegedly conspired with the FARC, causing tons of cocaine to enter and devastate American communities. Today's announcement is focused on rooting out the extensive corruption within the Venezuelan government – a system constructed and controlled to enrich those at the highest levels of the government. The United States will not allow these corrupt Venezuelan officials to use the U.S. banking system to move their illicit proceeds from South America nor further their criminal schemes."
Geoffrey S. Berman, a United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, declared: "Today we announce criminal charges against Nicolás Maduro Moros for running, together with his top lieutenants, a narco-terrorism partnership with the FARC for the past 20 years."
A $15 million reward
Maduro and the the other officials face four criminal charges that, if convicted, can land them in prison 50-year prison sentences:
(1) participating in a narco-terrorism conspiracy, which carries a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence and a maximum of life in prison; (2) conspiring to import cocaine into the United States, which carries a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence and a maximum of life in prison; (3) using and carrying machine guns and destructive devices during and in relation to, and possessing machine guns and destructive devices in furtherance of, the narco-terrorism and cocaine-importation conspiracies, which carries a 30-year mandatory minimum sentence and a maximum of life in prison; and (4) conspiring to use and carry machine guns and destructive devices during and in relation to, and to possess machine guns and destructive devices in furtherance of, the narco-terrorism and cocaine-importation conspiracies, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The U.S. government is offering rewards of up to $15 million for any information leading to Maduro's arrest and / or conviction.
A previous version of this story stated, based on CNN's reporting, that the Trump administration was considering designating Venezuela as a state-sponsor of terrorism. However, an official from the State Department, which makes the designation, told the network that this was incorrect.