From the testimony of the same title by Roger F. Noriega, U.S. diplomat and policy maker specializing in Western Hemisphere Affairs, and visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute:
- A sobering fact is that transnational organized crime commands annual revenue of $2.2 trillion—about the gross domestic product of the nation of Mexico.
- US policymakers also to have to confront the dangerous new reality of state-sponsored crime. In this regard, the narcostate that US diplomats are tangling with in Venezuela is only the most obvious offender. Cuba, Russia, Iran, and even China have circled the wagons around Venezuela, making them willing conspirators, as the toxic narcostate churns out corruption, cocaine, violence, and refugees on America’s doorstep.
- The global transnational organized crime network grows more powerful ever day as it optimizes the supply chain of illicit drugs to the US market. On the other hand, the anti-drug alliance that once existed between the United States and responsible governments in Latin America has been lost. Leftist regimes provided an ideological pretext for destroying democracy and the rule of law, leaving countries bereft of effective criminal justice systems, independent judiciaries, and professional police forces.
- Populist authoritarians (like Chavez, Maduro) take advantage of these weak institutions to hold on to political power and surrender their territory to organized crime. It’s not an ideological case of right versus left, but right versus wrong.
- Each facet of the drug threat is aggravated by the narcostate in Venezuela, which fuels criminal networks and corrodes anti-drug efforts in production and transit zones. The narcostate in Venezuela is led by a troika of gangsters masquerading as the leaders of a leftist revolution. Who are these gangsters? See below.
From Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP): “Instead of sidelining those accused of drug trafficking, Maduro has promoted them to the highest offices, perhaps calculating that they have the most to lose if his regime falls and will therefore fight the hardest to preserve it,” Insight Crime said. Generals in the Venezuelan National Guard wear golden stars on their epaulets and the term “Cartel of the Suns” was first used in 1993 when two national guards, including an anti-drugs chief, were investigated for human trafficking.
US authorities are currently investigating Vice President Tareck El Aissami for drug trafficking. Maduro appointed him in 2017 for “the fight against criminals, the fight to clean up the national and regional police force, and the fight against the terrorists in the extreme right wing,” according to the Associated Press. Opposition parties have accused El Aissami of being “the narco of Aragua,” the state he used to govern, and in 2015, anonymous sources told El Nuevo Herald that El Aissami was a potential accomplice when the nephews of First Lady Cilia Flores were found guilty by New York Federal Court of conspiracy to produce and import cocaine.
Interior Minister Major General Nestor Reverol, former head of the national guard, has been indicted in the US for warning drug traffickers, blocking investigations, releasing narcos, and returning their seized drugs back to them. National Assembly member Diosdado Caballo, is said to be one of the most powerful men behind Maduro. An anonymous source in the US Justice Department told InSight Crime that he is “up to his neck in all sorts of illegal activity in Venezuela and we are building a case against him.”
From Foreignpolicy.com: Further, Venezuela’s embassy in Iraq was allegedly selling Venezuelan passports and identity documents to Middle Eastern nationals — raising the disturbing prospect that Caracas is facilitating the entry of Islamist militants to Latin America. From 2013 that the Venezuelan embassy in Syria was issuing passports to terrorists under the direction of Ghazi Atef Nassereddine, a Treasury-sanctioned, FBI-wanted Venezuelan diplomat who happens to be a key Hezbollah operative. A rabidly anti-American failed state appears to be incubating the convergence of narco-trafficking and jihadism in America’s own backyard. Venezuela has increasingly become a center for Iran’s revolutionary agitation in the Western Hemisphere.
Are we ready to wake up yet? Many of the “unaccompanied minors” who show up at our border have been forcibly separated from their parents by the narcoterrorist connection, and sent north with infectious diseases, counting on our compassion to bring them in. That’s the character of our enemies.