The Venezuelan world of drugs: Chavez and the military, (Part I)

 Gustavo Coronel / Washington DC
A recent book by former Venezuelan drug Czar Mildred Camero throws much light on the Venezuelan world of drugs, one that started to grow seriously during the last 15 years, due to the political alignment of Deceased autocrat Hugo Chavez with the Venezuelan military and with the Colombian terrorist group, FARC. The book is titled: “Chavismo, Narcotráfico y Militares”, published in May of this year and is based on a long interview conducted by journalist Hector Landaeta with Mrs. Camero.
I recently bought the book (Amazon) and feel that disseminating some of the information it contains will help Venezuelan and international observers of the Venezuelan scene to get a rare glimpse of the inner workings of the Venezuelan  drug world. What I will do is to summarize the salient points of Mrs. Camero narrative as I read. It will probably take several posts, as the book is rich with data.
Here I go:
1.    The business of drug trafficking has infiltrated the Venezuelan political and military regime to the extent that high ranking members of the Nicolas Maduro government are deeply involved,
2.    The business is not managed by civilians but by members of the Venezuelan armed forces, high-ranking government bureaucrats  and members of the police forces,
3.    The period of time during which this business  flourished most rapidly in Venezuela was the 14 year span of Hugo Chavez’s presidencies,
4.    The two defining moments that made drug trafficking a big Venezuelan business were  the arrival of Hugo Chavez in power and the application of Plan Colombia, that caused a displacement of drug related activities from Colombia to Venezuela,
5.    The leftist ideology of Hugo Chavez and his links with FARC were the main motors that allowed drug trafficking to become  big business in Venezuela
6.    From the start there was almost total impunity to the extreme that no drug trafficker, except one or two, have been put in prison or sentenced in a court of law,
7.    Before Chavez there were already cases of drug trafficking but Venezuelans were secondary actors to Colombians.  Police, such as the old Policia Tecnica Judicial, PTJ, and the military limited themselves to collect dollars for their supporting role. There were already narco-judges, who protected and facilitated the work for narco traffickers.,
8.    The presidency of Hugo Chavez added a new ingredient, by giving all the Armed forces a stake in the investigation on drugs, something previously reserved to the National Guard.  After this decision all military components competed for a share of the business. Not only the National Guard developed a narco-group but also the military who accompanied Chavez in his1992 coup d’état started to participate through the creation of  the so-called “Army or Revolutionary cartel”,
9.     The kick off of the business in great scale came with the arrival of Walid Makled to the drug scene and with the efforts made by then Venezuelan Vice-president Jose Vicente Rangel to hamper the anti-drug activities of Mrs. Camero, especially her links with the DEA, the U.S. anti-drug organization and the British anti-drug organization,
10.                       Before Chavez there were some cases of military involvement with drug trafficking. General Ramon Guillen Davila was sent to prison for his involvement in one case but President Perez set him free. The same happened to General Orlando Hernandez Villegas,
11.                       Walid Makled rapidly obtained control of drug trafficking in Central Venezuela, helped by his close links with General Luis Acosta Carles, Governor of the state of Carabobo. The British organization has photos, videos, documents, recordings, about Makled’s connections with the National guard and police organizations,
12.                       Makled was a friend of Acosta Carles, the Ameliach brothers (one of them is the current Governor of the state) and with deputies from the state’s legislature. Acosta Carles had already been involved with the disappearance of some 500 kilograms of cocaine, kept in a deposit, the key of which was in Acosta’s hands,
13.                         In 2004 Makled momentarily lost 4 tons of cocaine at the hands of the local Valencia police but the drug was returned to him by Commissar Jesus Itriago, thanks to a bribe of one million dollars. An investigation into this event was aborted by five members of the government party in the Carabobo state  legislature who were bribed by Makled,
14.                       Makled carried  a document issued by corrupt General Alexis Maneiro, identifying him as a special agent of the National Guard. Makled also established connections with general Frank Morgado, with Colonel Eladio Aponte Aponte, with general Wilson Maury Leal, head of the Air Force base in Caracas and, of course, with general Luis Acosta Carles,
15.                       Makled also had links with civilians: Possibly with Policeman Wilmer Flores (cousin of Cilia Flores, current First Lady), more surely with  Policemen Norman Puerta and Jesus Itriago. Flores was not directly involved in trafficking but obtaining kickbacks from policemen who kept portions of drugs for themselves (“Tumbes”),
16.                       Makled financed the political campaigns of Hugo Chavez and Luis Acosta Carles,
17.                       Makled lost favor because he tried to have his brother elected as Mayor of the city of Valencia, going against a candidate of the regime. A war between Makled and the political sector started,
18.                       The military decided to take over the drug business from the hands of Makled. General Cliver Alcala Cordones arrived in Valencia from western Venezuela, already denounced in that region as a drug trafficker and linked with FARC. He started an open war with Makled,
To be continued:  The war against Makled is waged by the “Army Cartel”, in order to take over control of the drug business in Central Venezuela…

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