The National Anti-Drug Superintendence (SUNAD) of Venezuela announced this Friday, January 28, the dismantling of a drug trafficking network that had involved some Venezuelan officials. Víctor Julio Cano Páez, of Colombian nationality, was in charge of recruiting Venezuelan elected public officials (deputies and mayors) and induct them into the network. So far, 16 people have been arrested as alleged members of that network, including a mayor, three deputies, a state legislator and an assistant working at the National Assembly.
Cano Páez was arrested on November 7, 2021 at the La Guaira Maritime Port, when the first blow was dealt to that drug trafficking network, as part of Venezuela’s Iron Hand operation. Along with him was arrested Luis Alfonso Viloria Chirinos, alternate deputy for Tachira state, who worked with deputy Luis Parra of Primero Venezuela when the latter served as president of the National Assembly in 2020. Viloria Chirinos’ father, Luis Viloria Sáez was also arrested that day in November.
#Tablazo Asesor parlamentario preso con casi 400 kilos de cocaína en Venezuela publicaba sus investigaciones jurídicas en revistas patrocinadas por la Fundación Konrad Adenauer y su más reciente libro fue presentado por el "cotizado" jurista Allan Brewer Carías (decreto Carmona). pic.twitter.com/JWLpzxMt7p
— La Tabla (@latablablog) November 10, 2021
According to La Tabla news website, Alfonso Viloria Chirinos had been arrested with approximately 400 kilograms of cocaine. His shady dealings were hidden under an academic cover. He published papers on legal research in magazines sponsored by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and his most recent book was presented by attorney Allan Brewer Carías, a participant in the “Carmona Decree” during the 2002 coup d’etat against Hugo Chávez.
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Along with these people, Robert de Jesús Montaña Viloria, the person in charge of intelligence and choosing potential collaborators for the network, was also arrested. He was “the brain of the network,” commented a source.
The others arrested in La Guaira were Samuel David Montilla Hernández, Wilmer Henrique Hernández Torres, Delwis José Paredes Monsalve, and the Colombian Cano Páez. These eight individuals went to the La Guaira port from San Cristóbal, in Táchira state, in three vans in which they transported 336 packages of cocaine.
The investigations continued, and on January 4 this year, Jeycar Pérez, an elected deputy representing the Authentic Renewal Organization (ORA), an evangelical party, was arrested in Táchira. She resigned from her post on the day of her arrest. Several vehicles that were in her possession were seized by law enforcement agents. It is presumed that her husband, Arquímedes González, is involved in the network. He has not yet been captured. Pérez had been under investigation since September 2020, an investigation that led to the arrest in La Guaira of the eight people with the 336 packages of cocaine.
Depending on information obtained from the first interrogations of former deputy Pérez, the authorities also arrested a deputy to the Legislative Council of Táchira state, Jean Carlos Silva, of Podemos party.
Information divulged by Pérez also helped the agents to arrest, on January 27, Keyrineth Fernández Epieyu, PSUV mayor of Jesús María Semprum municipality (Casigua El Cubo), Zulia state; deputy Taina González Rubio (PSUV); an official of Polizulia, Gregorio Francisco Amariz Meléndez; as well as Kelvin Epieyu Machado, Render José Villalobos Epieyu, and a man of Colombian nationality nicknamed El Compa.
These people were detained in the Sabana Alta sector, Píritu municipality, in Falcón state. At the time of the arrest, a Toyota 4Runner truck without a license plate that was escorting them, fled. The mayor and the others were traveling in two vans in which they were carrying seven panels of cocaine, three firearms and three radio transmitters.
Cano Páez, who was in charge of recruiting public officials, was in turn the representative in Venezuela of Timberland 404, a Colombian drug trafficking group that used Venezuelan territory to traffic drug caches to the United States and Europe and other regions, according to the investigation. In fact, the packages seized from the detainees in Falcón had a stamp with the name “Timberland 404” and the tagline “from Colombia to the world.”
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No mercy for drug traffickers
La Tabla and other Venezuelan outlets made public on Friday a statement by the Venezuelan anti-narcotic agency SUNAD, informing about the operation “Iron Hand” authorized by President Nicolás Maduro. The statement reveals that the investigation is in full swing, and that further arrests are not ruled out.
#CaigaQuienCaiga Autoridad antinarcóticos de Venezuela anuncia "duro golpe" a red de traficantes que operaba en Zulia y Falcón y confirma captura de tres diputados nacionales (Apure, Trujillo y Zulia) y una alcaldesa zuliana.
Comunicado @SUNADoficial reporta seis aprehendidos. pic.twitter.com/xiK9GqXfkt
— La Tabla (@latablablog) January 28, 2022
Deputy and first vice president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Diosdado Cabello, assured on Friday, January 28, that there will be no considerations for officials who commit any type of crime. He made this comment in a message posted on his Twitter account, in which he explained that the ruling party must supervise its members better.
En el PSUV no hay compromisos con delincuentes, invito a la vigilancia permanente de la gestión, del comportamiento de cualquier funcionario, debemos ser absolutamente intolerantes con los corruptos, con los burócratas, con los delincuentes, sea quien sea. Nosotros Venceremos!!
— Diosdado Cabello R (@dcabellor) January 29, 2022
“In PSUV there are no considerations for criminals,” wrote the top PSUV leader. “I call for permanent monitoring of the leadership, of the behavior of every official; we must be absolutely intolerant towards the corrupt, the bureaucrats, the criminals, whoever they are.”
Many in the Chavista base have been pointing out many such problems and deviations in PSUV authorities. This weekend, a fuel smuggling ring in Anzoátegui state was busted, that involved an elected PSUV official. It appears that this is going to be addressed very seriously by PSUV authorities in the next PSUV Congress. Analysts believe that if the ruling party fails in addressing and eradicating the bad apples within the party and government/military structures, there will be a severe risk of electoral defeats in future.
Featured image: Head of SUNAD, Major General Richard López Vargas, at a meeting with at the Coastguard Command in La Guaira state, November 29, 2021. Photo: SUNAD
(Últimas Noticias) by Eligio Rojas, with Orinoco Tribune content
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
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