Santa Elena, July 22nd, 2015. (venezuelanalysis.com)- On Monday, two former members of the Venezuelan armed forces (FANB) were arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking. The pair are accused by local and international courts of working with drug cartels to ship cocaine to Mexico and the United States.
Vassyly Villarroel Ramirez, 43, and Robert Alexander Pinto Gil, 32, were detained by Venezuelan police at a road block in Caracas.
Villarroel has been accused by the US of using his military authority from 2004-09 to provide “protection” for large shipments of cocaine arriving from Colombia to Caracas’s international airport, Maiquetia. From there, the cocaine would be shipped to Mexico and eventually distributed in the United States.
According to Venezuelan interior minister Gustavo Gonzalez, the former captain is a leader of the infamous Forties Cartel, as well as a “financier and protector of the illicit capital of the Sinaloa Cartel,” which was headed by the recently escaped kingpin Chapo Guzman.
Pinto, a former lieutenant, was detained in 2010 after being captured with 336 kilos of cocaine, though he escaped from prison two months later.
The United States government and private media have repeatedly accused the Venezuelan socialist government of abetting drug traffic regionally, partly due to the country’s refusal to accept DEA mandates within their borders.
In May, a US justice department spokesperson accused Venezuelan National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello Diosdado and five other top officials of drug trafficking, while providing no supporting evidence aside from a former bodyguard’s testimony.
Monday’s arrest was conducted through an operation led by the National Anti-Drugs Command, developed under the ongoing Operation Liberation and Protection of the People (OLP), spearheaded by the Maduro administration.