Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez named a former military intelligence officer sanctioned by the U.S. for helping traffic drugs as a deputy interior minister, the second such appointment this year.
Hugo Carvajal, who in 2008 had his U.S. assets frozen after the U.S. Treasury Department said he assisted narcotics trafficking by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, will become head of the interior ministry’s criminal investigation system. Carvajal was director of Venezuela’s Military Intelligence Directorate until December 2011.
In January, Chavez named General Henry Rangel Silva as defense minister. Rangel, who in a 2010 interview with Caracas- based Ultimas Noticias said the armed forces are “married” to Chavez’s revolution, is also accused by the Treasury Department of aiding the FARC, as the Colombian rebel group is known, to smuggle cocaine.
Chavez last month also promoted Carlos Alcala Cordones to Commander General of the Army. Alcala Cordones is the brother of General Cliver Alcala Cordones, who the Treasury Department in 2011 alleged provided training and weapons to the FARC.
To contact the reporter on this story: Charlie Devereux in Caracas at email@example.com.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LIST OF VENEZUELAN KINGPINS
Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
Amilcar Jesus Figueroa Salazar (“Tino”): a member of Venezuela’s delegation to the Latin American Parliament (Parlamento Latinamericano) who has served as a primary arms dealer for the FARC, and is a main conduit for FARC leaders based in Venezuela. He has also provided training for the FARC.
Cliver Antonio Alcala Cordones: a Major General of the Fourth Armored Division of the Venezuelan Army who has used his position to establish an arms-for-drugs route with the FARC.
Freddy Alirio Bernal Rosales: a Congressman for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and former Mayor of the Libertador Municipality of Caracas who has facilitated arms sales between the Venezuelan government and the FARC.
Ramon Isidro Madriz Moreno (“Amin”): a key officer of Venezuela’s intelligence service (SEBIN) who has coordinated security for the FARC.
Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios. His assistance to the FARC includes protecting drug shipments from seizure by Venezuelan anti-narcotics authorities and providing weapons to the FARC, allowing them to maintain their stronghold of the coveted Arauca Department. Arauca, which is located on the Colombia/Venezuela border, is known for coca cultivation and cocaine production. Carvajal Barrios also provides the FARC with official Venezuelan government identification documents that allow FARC members to travel to and from Venezuela with ease.
Henry de Jesus Rangel Silva, Venezuela’s Minister of Defense, was also the Director of Venezuela’s Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services or DISIP, in charge of intelligence and counterintelligence activities for the Venezuelan government. Rangel Silva has materially assisted the narcotics trafficking activities of the FARC. He has also pushed for greater cooperation between the Venezuelan government and the FARC.
Ramon Emilio Rodriguez Chacin, who was Venezuela’s Minister of Interior and Justice until September 8, 2008, was the Venezuelan government’s main weapons contact for the FARC. The FARC uses its proceeds from narcotics sales to purchase weapons from the Venezuelan government. Rodriguez Chacin has held numerous meetings with senior FARC members, one of which occurred at the Venezuelan government’s Miraflores Palace in late 2007. Rodriguez Chacin has also assisted the FARC by trying to facilitate a $250 million dollar loan from the Venezuelan government to the FARC in late 2007.