US accuses Venezuelan President of drug trafficking using cryptocurrency

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The president of Venezuela and other senior officials organized a large drug trafficking net, believe US authorities. The illegal profit were hidden with the help of cryptocurrencies.

The US Department of Justice accused Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and another 14 Venezuelan officials of participating in a multi-billion-dollar drug distribution scheme. Cryptocurrencies were used to conceal the proceeds of illegal activities, according to US law enforcement.

“Today we announce criminal charges against Nicolás Maduro Moros for running, together with his top lieutenants, a narco-terrorism partnership with the FARC for the past 20 years,” said US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman.  “The scope and magnitude of the drug trafficking alleged was made possible only because Maduro and others corrupted the institutions of Venezuela and provided political and military protection for the rampant narco-terrorism crimes described in our charges.  As alleged, Maduro and the other defendants expressly intended to flood the United States with cocaine in order to undermine the health and wellbeing of our nation.  Maduro very deliberately deployed cocaine as a weapon.  While Maduro and other cartel members held lofty titles in Venezuela’s political and military leadership, the conduct described in the Indictment wasn’t statecraft or service to the Venezuelan people.  As alleged, the defendants betrayed the Venezuelan people and corrupted Venezuelan institutions to line their pockets with drug money.”

US authorities do not specify which cryptocurrencies were used to hide illegal profits of drug trafficking. In 2018, Venezuela launched its own digital currency called El Petro, which is backed by oil deposits near the Orinoco River.

The US Department of State, through its Narcotics Rewards Program, is offering rewards of up to $15 million for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Maduro

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