CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has named as interior minister a general the United States indicted the day before on drug-trafficking charges.
Maduro said Tuesday that he was promoting Nestor Reverol to show support for the general amid an attack from U.S. imperialists angry about his good work cracking down on the drug trade in Venezuela. U.S. prosecutors on Monday announced the indictment of Reverol, who once led Venezuela’s anti-drug agency and National Guard.
“He is a brave man who is not afraid of anything or anyone,” Maduro said. “As interior minister he broke the record for arrests of drug kingpins. The DEA and all the United States drug trafficking mafias want to make him pay, because the drug trafficking mafia runs the Untied States.”
Venezuela’s interior minister functions as the country’s top cop.
The indictment unsealed in federal court this week accuses Reverol of taking bribes in exchange for helping cocaine traffickers by tipping them off about raids. It also alleges that from January 2008 to December 2010, he deliberately allowed cocaine shipments to leave Venezuela and returned seized drug money to traffickers.
The U.S. has indicted and sanctioned several other Venezuelan officials, including a former defense minister and head of military intelligence. The Venezuelan government has regularly accused the U.S. of using drug cases to destabilize the socialist administration.
Reverol, 51, has denied using his positions to facilitate the trafficking of cocaine.
Maduro on Tuesday also removed economic czar Miguel Perez, who was appointed six months ago. Perez had been seen as a relatively moderate voice in the Cabinet.