NEW YORK – Venezuela’s national guard chief has been accused in a soon-to-be-unsealed U.S. indictment of being on the payroll of drug traffickers, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
Néstor Reverol, a former interior minister and counter-drug chief under the late Hugo Chávez, is alleged to have tipped off drug traffickers to raids and “stopped or hindered” drug investigations, a person familiar with the federal case told the Times.
Federal charges against him and Edilberto Molina, another Venezuelan official in the anti-drug unit, will be unsealed soon in the federal district court in Brooklyn, the Times said.
Reverol, a longtime head of Venezuela’s national anti-drug office, was appointed to head the Venezuelan National Guard in October 2014 under Chávez’s embattled successor, Nicolás Maduro.
News of the latest indictments targeting top Venezuelan officials comes with Maduro’s socialist government reeling from a crushing defeat in legislative elections on Dec. 6.
Earlier this year U.S. authorities were reported to be investigating National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello for alleged involvement in drug shipments to the United States.
Two nephews of Venezuelan first lady Cilia Flores were arrested in Haiti in November and taken to New York where they were charged with conspiracy to import 800 kilograms of cocaine into the United States.
In September, federal prosecutors in Miami unsealed indictments against a former Venezuelan intelligence official, Pedro Luís Martín, and a former anti-narcotics investigator, Jesús Alfredo Itriago.
A former Venezuela intelligence chief, Hugo Carvajal, was arrested in Aruba in July at the request of U.S. authorities, but sent home rather than to the United States to face drug charges.