Miami Herald: Venezuela demands return of controversial judge

May 15, 2012 10:36 am0 commentsViews:

Venezuela demanded the United States make good on its international obligations and arrest a former judge thought to be helping U.S. authorities build a drug-trafficking case against the Hugo Chávez administration.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro on Monday said the United States “has no other option” but to detain former Venezuelan Magistrate Eliado Aponte after Interpol issued a “red alert” for his arrest last week.

Venezuela has turned over 22 drug traffickers to the United States wanted on red alerts, he said. If the U.S. doesn’t reciprocate “they become direct accomplices of these drug-trafficking mafias,” Maduro added.

Aponte was fired last month after he was accused of providing fake documents to alleged drug trafficker Walid Makled, who is on trial in Venezuela. Aponte fled the country and gave an interview to a Miami-based television station accusing Chávez allies of having ties with drug traffickers and Colombian guerrillas.

Last week, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson confirmed that Aponte is talking to U.S. authorities and said his testimony might result in government action. In 2008, the United States designated Venezuela’s Defense Minister Henry Rangel a narcotics “kingpin” for his ties to drug traffickers.

Maduro said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency had helped Aponte flee. “In this case, the DEA has shown its face as a protector of criminals,” he said. “Politically, the organization works to destroy the changes taking place in Venezuela and other revolutionary processes in Latin America.”

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