Florida Rep. Connie Mack asked the U.S. State Department last Friday to come out swinging in the fight to extradite a Venezuelan drug lord who has threatened to expose high-level government corruption in his homeland.
Walid Makled-Garcia, who has been in a Colombian jail since August, says he paid Venezuelan officials millions of dollars for access to airports he used to ship cocaine to Central America on its way to the United States.
Makled-Garcia, who was indicted in New York federal court last week, is being sought by authorities here. But Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has also asked for his extradition, saying the United States would use him as a propaganda tool to discredit his administration.
In an interview with The Miami Herald, Mack, a Republican from Port Charlotte, said he had reason to believe that the U.S. State Department wasn't being proactive and forceful enough in securing Makled-Garcia.
``It appears that the [Obama] administration's posture with Chávez is to give into Chávez, and make some attempt to reach our hand out to Chávez like that will get us somewhere,'' said Mack, the ranking member of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere and a frequent Obama critic. ``If we could get Makled here, I think he could provide a lot of evidence about the Venezuelan government's involvement in narco-trafficking.''
A State Department spokeswoman reached late Friday said there wouldn't be anyone available to respond until next week, but she said extradition requests were under the purview of the Department of Justice.
According to a Sept. 30 affidavit by Drug Enforcement Special Agent Gregory Ball, Makled-Garcia, also known as ``The Turk'' or ``The Arab,'' sent ``multi-thousand kilogram quantities of cocaine out of Venezuela'' from 2006-2010.
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/11/15/v-print/1927450/mack-stand-up-to-chavez.html#ixzz15RgQ6px3