Since 2011, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI-ICE) have been investigating former Venezuelan Vice President Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah for alleged acts of money laundering in the Middle East, drug trafficking and his alleged pay off of drug kingpin Walid Makled so that drug shipments could continue to flow into Venezuela. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents were allegedly told by Walid Makled before he was extradited back to Venezuela, that El Aissami paid his brother from 2007 to 2012 to launder money obtained from the Venezuelan oil industry.

In 2017, the US Treasury Department under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act placed sanctions on Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah after he was accused of paving the way for drug shipments from Venezuela to Mexico. The US also froze millions of dollars of assets under El Aissami control.

Venezuela corruption

Last Friday, Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced unsealed charges against former Venezuelan Vice President Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah (“El Aissami”) and Venezuelan business partner Samark Jose Lopez Bello for not only criminal violations of the Kingpin Act but violating imposed sanctions place on them in 2017.

US citizens Victor Mones Coro and Alejandro Miguel Leon Maal, along with US visas holders Michols Orsini Quintero and Alejandro Antonio Quintavalle Yrady were also charged and arrested under the Kingpin Act in Florida. Except for Quintavalle Yrady who resides in Panama and was not in the US at this time.

Charged with five counts

El Aissami, now serving as Minister of Industry and National Production in Venezuela, Lopez Bello, of Venezuela, Mones Coro, 51, of Florida, and Leon Maal, 41, of Florida, have been charged in five counts related to international drug trafficking and other prohibited activities by the Kingpin Act.

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One count charges conspiring to use American Charter Services LLC and SVMI Solution, LLC owned by Leon Maal, to engage in prohibited transactions and related regulations, and to violate sanctions imposed by OFAC by using a private jet to travel to and from a global private meeting. They all face anywhere from 30 to150 years in prison if convicted.

Although the indictment and superseding indictments are merely allegations, the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty, El Aissami, Bello and Quintavalle Yrady are now on the wanted list in New York, US.

Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI New York, stated the US must target those who want to upset national security, violate foreign policy, and hurt the economy, even if they hold key positions in foreign government.

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