Justice and Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami accused on Monday a former Supreme Court magistrate of receiving money from drug traffickers. El Aissami made the accusation against ex-Magistrate Eladio Aponte, who charged in a television interview shown last week that government and military officials have manipulated court cases.
Venezuelan authorities on Friday put out an international request for Aponte’s capture. “He fled because he was dismissed in order to be brought before justice,” El Aissami said at a news conference.
Aponte was dismissed from his post by Venezuela’s National Assembly on March 20 over accusations that he had ties to drug kingpin Walid Makled. Aponte was accused of providing Makled, who is now jailed in Venezuela, with an official identification card.
Aponte later traveled to Costa Rica, where he was then flown to the United States last week aboard a US Drug Enforcement Administration plane.
El Aissami criticized the DEA’s handling of the affair and said Venezuelan officials plan to present evidence that Aponte received money from drug trafficking. Makled, currently on trial in Venezuela, alleged on Wednesday that he paid Aponte 300 million bolivars monthly (approx. $70,000) for his loyalty and services.
In his television interview, Aponte denied receiving drug money but acknowledged that he had participated in manipulating cases at what he said was the request of government and military officials. El Aissami denied accusations by Aponte that some military officials, including the chief of the national anti-drug office, have ties to drug traffickers.
The justice minister said Aponte had made false claims because Gen. Nestor Reverol, the head of the anti-drug office, “had been following his steps”.
Aponte didn’t provide evidence to back his claims during the interview.