Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami, whose side job according to the U.S. is as an international narco kingpin, has taken out a full page ad in the New York Times (NYT) to defend himself. The ad which is estimated to have cost over $100,000 is impressive for a man that is making less than $40,000 per year as VP – and that the U.S. says is the problem with El Aissami. It is alleged he has untold millions in the U.S. and elsewhere which is not in keeping with the salary of a public servant. Let alone a public servant of a teetering economy.
Earlier this month the U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control slapped the VP with the label of international drug trafficker resulting in sanctions that include freezing his U.S. assets and forbidding anyone from doing business with him. Since his alleged partners are Mexico’s Los Zetas cartel and the terrorist organization Hezbollah no one believes El Aissami will be put out of business anytime soon.
In his lengthy NYT letter addressed to current Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, El Aissami feels his human rights have been violated and great “dishonor” has been put on him by the narco label. But this isn’t the first time El Aissami has heard that his is a no bueno hombre. Prior to be selected in January as VP by current President Nicolas Maduro he was governor of Aragua where he was often referred to as “Narco de Aragua”. Then there was the time (2008-2011) when he was minister of interior and justice when the country’s crime soared and has never returned to stable levels.
The 42-year-old El Aissami who is of Syrian and Lebanese descent has often been tainted, accused and/or rumored to be any or all of the following things:
· Sending drugs to U.S. and Mexico
· Controlling fleet of planes used to send drugs out of Venezuela
· Turning blind eye to cocaine shipments arriving in Venezuela
· Partnering with Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas
· Befriending country’s biggest drug lord Walid Makled Garcia
· Linked by CNN investigation to fake passports sold in some cases to Hezbollah
· Controlling directly or through associates $3 billion in now-frozen U.S. assets
· Recruiter for Hezbollah, often enlisting young Venezuelan Arabs
The U.S. has not formally charged El Aissami with any crimes therefore Aissami and his boss view this as political retribution by the “imperialist” U.S. The U.S. in turns says they have been investigating El Aissami long before he was named VP. The real concern is that Maduro’s VP is already exercising some presidential powers that include heading up the feared anti-coup command unit – and worse he is heir apparent. He is expected to officially seek the presidency later this year; elections will be held in 2018.
El Aissami now joins the rank of other high profile Venezuelans involved in the drug trade business. The current interior minister, Nestor Reverol, is facing U.S. charges of aiding and abetting drug traffickers. Then there’s the Flores boys - Efrain and Franqui – nephews of Venezuela’s first lady Cilia Flores – recently convicted in New York of “conspiring to transport more than 1,700 pounds of coke to the U.S” with more charges to come.
HSN Staff Writers
HSN staff writers are a group of enthusiastic and talented creative-types that generate great story lines and write about current events with a distinctively Latino voice always respecting the audience it writes for.
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