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Alba Iulia
Thursday, April 9, 2020

Trump administration targets top Venezuelans

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It is not known what specific crimes they are accused of, but sources said they were linked to the country’s vast drug-trafficking efforts.

CNN initially said the State Department would also designate Venezuela as a sponsor state of terrorism, according to five sources familiar with the situation. However, the State Department, which would officially designate the terrorist, said Thursday it would not do this.

Attorney General William Barr is expected to announce the charges at a press conference Thursday morning. A Justice Ministry spokeswoman declined to comment.

The official designation will come months after a period of historic turmoil in Venezuela which saw Maduro’s leadership challenged following an election condemned by international authorities and massive street protests. The United States and a host of other countries and international organizations have instead recognized the President of the National Assembly of Venezuela, Juan Guaid√≥, as the country’s leader, and the Trump administration has led a aggressive economic punishment campaign which aimed to force Maduro out of power.

The United States has accused the Maduro regime of widespread human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests and the detention of Venezuelan citizens.

Regime members have also been accused in the past of facilitating drug trafficking operations in the country, in part to fuel a crumbling economy marred by rampant government corruption.

Colombian officials told CNN Last year, drug trafficking in Venezuela recently involved the leftist Colombian guerrilla group ELN, considered a terrorist organization by the United States, working with the army of Maduro.
US officials also said that Venezuela host and work with Iran-backed Hezbollah and the reappearing Colombian insurgent group FARC, both of which are U.S.-designated terrorist organizations.

CORRECTION: This title and story has been updated to remove an assertion that the Trump administration planned to designate Venezuela as a sponsor state of terrorism. A State Department official, who makes the designation, said it was false.

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