WASHINGTON – U.S. authorities accused a former high-ranking Venezuelan official exploited his government power to accept bribes from cocaine traffickers operating in Venezuela and Colombia to distribute in Europe and the U.S.
Pedro Luis Martin Olivares, the former chief of financial intelligence for Venezuela's national intelligence service, facilitated the movement of cocaine from and through Venezuelan airspace, according to the Trump administration.
Martin is also accused of laundering the narcotics' proceeds through planes full of U.S. dollars, couriers and contracts with third parties. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control identified 16 companies in Venezuela and four in Panama.
The Venezuelans allegedly used the businesses in private security, transportation, installation of electronics, real estate, construction, finished oil products, consulting and financial services to hide their illegal gains.
"Systemic corruption and a collapse in the rule of law are defining features of Venezuela’s government," U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement Monday.
Investigators identified Mario Antonio Rodriguez Espinoza as Martin's "right hand man" and Walter Alexander Del Nogal as Martin's partner.
Mnuchin said the U.S. government will deny the corrupt Venezuelan regime officials access to the U.S. financial system as investigators work with international partners "to support the Venezuelan people in restoration of democracy and a return to prosperity."
Martin was indicted April 24, 2015 by a grand jury in the Southern District of Florida for willfully conspiring to distribute a controlled substance into the U.S. and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance on board an aircraft registered in the U.S.
The Drug Enforcement Administration and Customs and Border Protection’s National Targeting Center were also involved in the investigation.
Authorities were asking anyone with knowledge of their financial activities in the U.S. to contact the The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control at 202-622-2000.