WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – Two senior Venezuelan officials facing U.S. drug trafficking charges are accused in an indictment of taking payments from narcotics traffickers and alerting them to drug raids, according to a person with knowledge of the case.
Nestor Reverol, the head of Venezuela’s National Guard, and Edylberto Molina, a former deputy head of the anti-narcotics agency and currently a military attache posted in Germany, are named in the indictment that prosecutors are preparing to unseal, people familiar with the case told Reuters.
In addition to tipping traffickers off about raids, the two are charged with taking other steps to hinder anti-narcotics investigations, the person told Reuters yesterday.
Reverol, the former head of Venezuela’s anti-narcotics agency, would be one of the highest-ranking Venezuelan officials to face U.S. drug charges. He could not be reached for comment.
He has previously rejected U.S. accusations that Venezuela has failed to curb illicit drug shipments and has touted the National Guard’s success in cracking down on the flow of cocaine from neighboring Colombia.
Venezuela’s embassy in Berlin did not respond to an email requesting contact information for Molina. The diplomat has been a general in the National Guard, which is the branch of the armed forces that controls Venezuela’s borders.
A National Guard official did not immediately respond to a voice mail seeking comment. An Information Ministry official said the ministry had no comment on Reverol.
The indictment pending in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, which the people said was expected to be unveiled in January, comes as the United States investigates the suspected involvement of senior Venezuelan officials in the cocaine trade.
The National Guard issued a series of Tweets in Reverol’s defense on Tuesday night using the hashtag #NestorReverolSoldierOfTheFatherland and saying he should be praised for capturing more than 100 drugs bosses.