- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 16, 2022

This week Sen. Marco Rubio sent a letter to the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security calling for the provisional arrest of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Mr. Maduro has managed to maintain power of the state’s military and political apparatus despite the U.S. and 60 other countries recognizing National Assembly President Juan Guaidoo as the legitimate interim president of the country.   

“I write to request that you direct the U.S. National Central Bureau to immediately submit a request to Interpol’s Secretary General to publish a red notice for the provisional arrest of Nicolas Maduro Moros, the former President of Venezuela,” Mr. Rubio wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. 

“As you know, Maduro is a criminal accused of partnering with terrorist organizations to use illegal drugs as weapons against the United States. In the interest of U.S. national security and regional stability, Maduro must stand trial for his crimes against the Venezuelan people,” he added. 

Mr. Rubio’s request is reasonable considering that the Justice Department issued an indictment against the Venezuelan communist dictator and 14 other regime officials more than two years ago. 

Those charges, which include corruption, drug trafficking and narco-terrorism stem from the Justice Department’s firm belief that Mr. Maduro and his regime have intentionally flooded the U.S. with cocaine in a concerted effort to undermine the well-being of our country. The Justice Department’s indictment expressly accuses Mr. Maduro of “very deliberately deploy[ing] cocaine as a weapon.” 

When the March 2020 indictment was issued, former U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan of the Southern District of Florida also accused Maduro regime officials of having “systematically looted Venezuela of billions of dollars” and using “South Florida banks and real estate to conceal and perpetuate their illegal activity… extending to even the highest levels of Venezuela’s judicial system.”

At the time the indictment was issued, federal officials were able to recover about $450 million. The Maduro regime’s actual profit to this day is unknown but is most likely much higher. 

In addition to drug trafficking, Mr. Rubio’s letter also highlighted Mr. Maduro’s support of terrorist organizations such as the Army of National Liberation (ELN), a self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist guerrilla army with as many as 3,000 members operating throughout Colombia. 

Both the U.S. and EU have listed the ELN as Foreign Terrorist Organizations, and in 2005, the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights published a report which said the ELN carried out “a series of attacks against the civilian population, including several massacres of civilians and kidnappings.” 

Some of those attacks were coordinated with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia People’s Army (FARC-EP) paramilitary group, which the Biden administration recently designated as a terror group on Dec. 1.

Thirty-four years ago, the U.S. indicted Panamanian Gen. Manuel Noriega on similar drug-trafficking charges. The indictments were issued in Miami and Tampa on Feb. 5, 1988, and the U.S. immediately entered into unsuccessful negotiations with the Panamanian leader the following month in March. 

On Dec. 20, 1989, the U.S. used 27,684 troops and 300 military aircraft to detain Noriega and he was subsequently prosecuted and sentenced to 40 years in prison. But in Mr. Maduro’s case, such an operation seems unnecessary. 

Mr. Rubio keenly observed that Mr. Maduro has created ample opportunities for the U.S. to detain the Venezuelan dictator since he has boldly traveled abroad to get support from other authoritarian countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Just last weekend, Mr. Maduro traveled to Tehran and signed a joint cooperation agreement with Iran to circumvent U.S. sanctions. 

“The United States should pursue all options available to ensure that international fugitives, like former President Maduro, stand trial. Unlike red notice requests submitted by the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, and the Republic of Turkey, red notice requests submitted by the United States are grounded in fact and always guarantee the full right to a fair trial — we expect a red notice request for Maduro to be no different,” Rubio noted. 

Sen. Rubio could not be more right. The time for delay is over. It’s time to bring this drug-trafficking tyrant to justice. 

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