Merchant of Death
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Blood from Stones

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The Further Narco-Terrorist Ties of the Chávez Government
The August arrest of major drug kingpin Walid Makled a Venezuelan financial stalwart of the Chávez government in Venezuela has not drawn a great deal of attention here. But it goes to the heart of the criminal-terrorist nexus and its deep corruption that has permeated the Chávez government.

Makled was no small fish. He was designated a major drug kingpin by the Obama administration in 2009. But perhaps more importantly he and his brothers, owners of an airline and a major port, had saved the Chávez government in 2002, when the state oil company PDVSA went on strike.

After his arrest by Colombian police and DEA, Makled, who the Chávez government had suddenly turned on, decided to go public. In a series of TV interviews broadcast in Colombia Makled discussed his corrupt relationships with senior generals, the minister of interior (security) and other major figures in Chávez's inner circle. And, he had kept the evidence, including deposit slips in the banks, video recordings, audio recordings, etc. etc. For those of you who read Spanish, Teodoro Petkoff's TalCual summary here is very good.

According to the DEA's request for extradition, From approximately 2006 through August 2010 Walid Makled-Garcia operated and controlled several airstrips in Venezuela. These airstrips were used by different drug trafficking organizations in order to fly airplanes loaded with multi-thousand kilogram quantities of cocaine out of Venezuela to locations in Central America.

The supplier of the cocaine was the FARC in Colombia, according to Colombian police. Venezuelan sources say Makled was also the a key tie in the corruption and drugs world to the Shiite Muslim communities in Isla Margarita and the Guajira, groups that have a strong financial relationship with Hezbollah.

Chávez, not known for his concern for fellow citizens arrested abroad, became very interested in the Makled case. He raised it personally with Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, and said Makled's extradition to Venezuela was a precondition to improving relations with his neighbor. He has regularly denounced Makled as a tool of "the empire" and part of a U.S.-led campaign to discredit his government. Makled himself warned that by the time he finished testifying, the United States would have enough evidence against the Chávez government to "intervene immediately." Chávez seems to think the same thing.

The United States, for its part, understands the importance both in terms of drug trafficking and the role of the Venezuelan state in sponsoring the criminal activity in conjunction with terrorist actors. It is requesting the extradition of Makled, in the hopes of cutting a deal to get the documentation they need to unravel the cocaine network in the Venezuelan government.

Chávez and the FARC have been at the drug game for years. Now, in desperation, Chávez is turning on his one-time supporters who he views as dangerous, while expropriating a record number of private businesses and having his military commander declare that, if the opposition won the next elections, the military would stage a coup.

(See for even OAS Secretary General's indignant response, to the statements. Chávez immediately promoted Gen. Henry Rangel Silva for his comments. It is worth remembering that Rangel Silva is the main sponsor of the FARC within the Venezuelan armed forces.

Colombia has not said what it will do. Desperate for better ties with Chávez, the Santos government also has led (very successful) fight against the FARC and has been a staunch U.S. ally. If Makled goes back to Venezuela, he and his evidence will vanish forever. If he has a chance to tell his story and be judged on the evidence, Chávez will be significantly weakened internationally.
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