- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Two retired Venezuelan military officers sought on drug trafficking charges have been arrested, authorities announced.

An anti-narcotics task force arrested former National Guard Capt. Vassyly Villarroel Ramirez on Monday, according to a statement released by the Interior Ministry. Ramirez has long been a wanted man. He was named in an Interpol alert and was classified as a drug kingpin in 2013 by the U.S. Treasury Department. U.S. officials say he has ties to Mexican and Colombian cartels and has been involved with cocaine trafficking.

The task force also arrested former National Guard Lt. Robert Alexander Pinto Gil on Monday. The ministry accuses him of leading local drug trafficking gangs. He previously escaped from prison.

National Guard commander Nestor Reverol said Tuesday that the two will be brought before the courts soon.

The arrests come amid reports that U.S. prosecutors are investigating the head of Venezuela’s congress for possible ties to cocaine trafficking and money laundering. National Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello has emphatically denied that he heads a drug cartel composed of senior government and military officials. He has promised to sue the local and international outlets that have published reports related to the investigation.

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