Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was among 15 current and former Venezuelan officials and FARC members charged with drug trafficking-related crimes.
Maduro Used Crypto to Shield Cocaine Trafficking Ring, Says DOJ
The Department of Justice has alleged that the Venezuelan President and 14 others attempted to conceal drug-related activities using cryptocurrency. The illicit activities involve a 20-year, multibillion-dollar cocaine trafficking ring aimed at undermining the United States through the weaponization of cocaine.
In a statement, the department’s Office of Public Affairs claimed:
“[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.”
The sweeping range of indictments includes allegations of narco-terrorism, corruption, drug trafficking, money laundering, and conspiracy.
Venezuela’s Ongoing Links With Crypto
The indictments did not outline which cryptocurrency the alleged drug ring used to conduct its activities. The Maduro regime infamously launched a state-backed cryptocurrency, the Petro, claimed to be pegged to a barrel of Venezuelan crude.
The Petro was intended as a US-sanction busting tool.
Earlier this year, the President pledged to revive the flagging project, which had, itself, become subject to international sanctions. Venezuela’s economy continues to suffer from extreme economic woes and inflation around 10 million percent.
It entered a period of hyperinflation in 2016 and has been unable to reign in its national currency since, despite creating a new one, the Sovereign Bolivar.