A U.S. government investigation has found evidence of a massive drug smuggling operation out of Venezuela, linking a powerful trafficker who is accused of supplying arms to Colombian guerrillas with a fugitive Venezuelan businessman, El Nuevo Herald has learned.
At the center of the investigation is Walid Makled, whose family controlled Venezuela's leading airline, Aeropostal, and operated one of the largest cargo facilities at Puerto Cabello, the second largest port in Venezuela.
Makled is a fugitive, accused of drug trafficking by Venezuelan authorities. Federal agents say officials in the Venezuelan military and the government were complicit in Makled's operation with Colombian trafficker José María Corredor Ibagué, according to the document filed by the Drug Enforcement Agency in court in Puerto Rico.
Based on information culled from intelligence sources, Venezuelan officials, witness testimony and U.S. DEA agents, the report states hat Makled smuggled an average of 10 tons of cocaine per month into the United States from Venezuela. It does not say over what period of time.
Makled allegedly partnered with Corredor, who is described by the U.S. government as "the most prolific arms-for-drugs trader" working with the Colombian rebel group FARC, according to the Office for Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Corredor was incarcerated in Venezuela but escaped in 2005. He was later arrested in Colombia and then extradited to the United States where he awaits trial in charges of providing support to a terrorist organization.
In the document, the DEA details how Makled purchased seven tons of cocaine from Venezuelan military and government officials that they had stolen from traffickers.
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