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U.S. sanctions Venezuela’s Diosdado Cabello for drug trafficking

May 22, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
U.S. sanctions Venezuela’s Diosdado Cabello for drug trafficking

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The U.S. Treasury implemented sanctions on one of Venezuela’s most influential men on Friday — Diosdado Cabello, along with his family and economic adviser — charging him with drug trafficking, money laundering, and illegal mining.

The sanctions occur as Washington is increasing the heat on the South American nation only days before the presidential election.

Also identified in Friday’s report are Cabello’s brother, Jose David Cabello, the director of the tax department, and Cabello’s wife, Marleny Josefina Contreras, according to the Miami Herald.

The designation also covers three South Florida businesses tied to Rafael Alfredo Sarria, whom Treasury described as a “front man” who assisted Cabello with laundering money. The companies, all of which are registered under addresses in Boca Raton, were identified as 111420 Corp., Noor Plantation Investments, LLC, and SAI Advisors Inc.

The Treasury classification freezes the U.S. assets of the people and companies involved and forbids U.S. citizens and residents from engaging in business with them.

Diosdado Cabello is the former leader of the National Assembly and the current vice president of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, who came to power under the guidance of late President Hugo Chavez. He’s also one of the administration’s most vocal anti-Washington critics.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio — who has disagreed with Cabello in the past — reacted to the news by mocking him on Twitter.

“What size [prison] uniform do you wear these days extra large or XX-large? Just want to make sure your stay is comfortable,” he posted.

The Treasury Department indicated that Cabello was implicated in the illegal extraction and exportation of iron from state-run businesses, and was “involved in narcotics trafficking activities,” organizing drug shipments from Venezuela to Europe via the Dominican Republic.

“The Venezuelan people suffer under corrupt politicians who tighten their grip on power while lining their pockets. We are imposing costs on figures like Diosdado Cabello who exploit their positions to engage in narcotics trafficking, laundering, embezzlement of funds and other corrupt activities,” Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin revealed in a statement. “This administration is committed to holding accountable those who violate the trust of the Venezuelan people, and we will block attempts to abuse the U.S. financial system.”

The sanctions are imposed as Venezuela is barreling toward presidential elections this weekend that the U.S. and the European Union have said they will not acknowledge.

President Nicolás Maduro, who first took office in 2013, is expected to win a new six-year term even as major opposition parties are requesting a boycott.

Washington has hit over 60 current and former officials with sanctions in the past few years, including Maduro, but Cabello had been conspicuously absent from those.

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