July 15, 2020.- Transcript of the press conference of the Minister of Internal Affairs of Venezuela, Néstor Reverol, on July 11, 2020, in which he responded to the President of the United States, Donald Trump, and other members of his government, who in recent statements from the state of Florida, framed in his campaign for presidential reelection, made accusations against Venezuela, claiming that it is the route for drug trafficking from Colombia to the United States. Minister Reverol presented a long report, partly based on reports from the United Nations, showing the successes in Venezuela’s fight against drug trafficking.
Very good afternoon to all the people of Venezuela. Following instructions from the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro Moros, we wanted, today Saturday, to brief the entire international community and the entire people of Venezuela.
With your permission, I am going to take off my mask to speak more clearly about the work that has been done, and about the correct policies and strategies in the frontal fight against illicit drug trafficking here in Venezuela; and before the attacks made yesterday by the President of the United States, Donald Trump, on his visit to the state of Florida and within his electoral carnival, taking proselytizing to military barracks, together with Admiral Craig Faller of the Southern Command, and always seeking a way to continue his spiral of destabilization, always looking for what we have titled on the screen: the unlimited cynicism of the American empire, double standards, as always, and always creating the conditions in the face of the permanent threat of destabilization against our homeland, and using a multifaceted war.
We invited to this informational briefing the general commander of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB), M / G Favio Zavarce; the head of the GNB National Anti-Drug Command, Major General José Castillo; to the head of the National Anti-Drug Office (ONA) -the governing body of these policies-, the head of the post of COAI (Command for Comprehensive Aerospace Defense); the head of the Bolivarian National Police, and the director general of the CICPC, within the state security agencies that are in charge of combating illicit drug trafficking in Venezuela.
There is no possibility that drugs transit through Venezuela, other than from the Republic of Colombia, but the US empire with its double standards and cynicism, wants to indicate that Venezuela is permissive to drug trafficking, of course, fabricating the conditions of an outlaw state, a narco-state, to promote military intervention in Venezuela. That is not new, it is a format that has always been applied in other countries, which is on their agenda, they did it in Libya, Iraq and in other countries over the years. And that it intends to disqualify Venezuela, make it appear that it is a narco-state, accuse the President of the Republic and senior government officials as drug traffickers, in order to promote military intervention.
This was also applied against Supreme Commander Hugo Chávez in 2007. The results have been overwhelming and fortunately for us we have demonstrated to the world that our anti-drug policies have been successful, correct in Revolution, even more so when Supreme Commander Hugo Chávez took the wise decision to expel the DEA from Venezuelan territory and suspend the 14 cooperation agreements with the United States. From there a new stage began, a new one of independence and sovereignty.
The people of Venezuela have to know the truth, because here the DEA, when it was in Venezuela, was doing drug trafficking operations, controlled deliveries, negotiations with traffickers and they were creating conditions to carry out a coup against the Supreme Commander Hugo Chávez.
When there was the 2002 coup d’état and we detected US planes flying over the airspace, they were detected by the same radar, three Westinghouse brand radar stations, which were on loan here in Venezuela, which were from the United States government and then they controlled them themselves, we will also talk about that later.
The US government has dedicated itself to promoting the death of Venezuelans, limiting food, medicine, a brutal, persistent, and systematic blockade. But, next to the largest producer of cocaine in the world, which is Colombia, and against the largest consumer of cocaine in the world, which is the United States, we, our homeland of Bolívar, are “responsible”.
But the US does not review how drug trafficking is developing in its territory. We have brought some aspects of the World Drug Report prepared by the UN every year, on the occasion of the International Day to Combat Illicit Trafficking and Drug Use. Well, the report – look for the report online – 70,237 overdose deaths last year alone, 21.7 deaths per 100,000 residents, and 67% from heroin use – which I’ll explain later – and Donald Trump and the head of the Southern command say that they want to help Venezuela, and where are the families of those 70,000 killed by drug overdoses in the US?
Or is it that those of us who know the subject know that the world drug problem is a problem of human society, as well as the coronavirus, because 273 million human beings are drug users, that is, 6% of the population. Or is President Donald Trump, instead of being aware of Venezuela, why he is not aware of the 3,288,000 infected with coronavirus or more than 136,000 deaths in the US?
Marijuana crops have increased in the national parks of the United States: For example, in the state of California, Oregon, Colorado, in all counties, in national parks. Go to the California National Park, which is called “Sequoia”, to see acres and acres of marijuana crops, and not only that, but it has put the scientific method at the command of controlled marijuana crops, and they have increased the concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) five times, which is the psychoactive substance that the marijuana plant has, and have generated new drugs such as K2, where the THC concentration is higher and causes more damage to the central nervous system.
Oh, but they don’t spray it with glyphosate either. Because the glyphosate is sent to Colombia, so that they do aerial spraying there and all the animals die. That is the truth of the United States.
Or an aircraft cemetery that remains in Arizona, in the Nevada desert, of thousands and thousands of aircraft that are deposited there, and anyone can come with a bag of dollars to buy an aircraft for drug trafficking. Who controls that?
Ah, so they want to point to us saying that aircrafts leave from Venezuela to Central America or other countries, we are going to explain to you how many aircraft we have neutralized in recent years. That aircraft graveyard has no control and all those aircraft arrive there and are sold to drug traffickers, without control.
The United States is a financial center for the legitimization of capital, the United States only investigates the money that comes out, not the money that comes in, and they know it and we also know it, so the international community and the people of Venezuela have to know the truth of why this systematic aggression against Venezuela is to create the conditions to intervene militarily in our territory.
The UN report says 35,000 methamphetamine laboratories were dismantled in 31 countries. Well, 31,500 were operating in the United States, that is to say 90%, that is to say that the United States is one of the largest producers of methamphetamines in the world, so they set up a paraphernalia with an operation they carried out in the Caribbean since April 1 and President Trump is going there to celebrate 120 tons seized, and how many tons have they seized within their own territory? Where is the dismantling of organized crime organizations that are in charge of distributing drugs within the US territory? Or where are they? The US bosses?
So, they want to create a media war and they want to make a scene in the best Hollywood style, in the middle of an electoral carnival. They have created emerging drugs: K2, Spice, captagon – which were used by ISIS terrorists.
In the last 10 years, heroin trafficking within the United States and methamphetamine have increased, so they intend to point to Venezuela. This is not what I say, it is said in the UN World Drug Report, the last one released on June 26.
If we look towards Colombia, we turn our gaze towards Colombia, 2,219 kilometers of border (we have with them), Colombia is responsible for 70% of the world production of cocaine. In the previous year alone, that country produced 1,120 tons of cocaine. Colombia currently has more than 169 thousand hectares in coca cultivation.
Not only that, but the volume of harvest has increased, that is to say, it has also applied the scientific method to take advantage of the hectare, the harvest, and they have come to produce up to 6 tons per hectare of coca leaf and have come to produce up to 7 kilograms of high purity cocaine per hectare.
Take a look at this map that I am going to show you here of Colombia, with information extracted from the UN World Drug Report. As I using the UN world report as a source, I am sure that next year they will not publish it.
Take a good look at where the 9 US military bases are in Colombia, where the largest coca cultivation centers are, and yet, the President of Colombia, Iván Duque, authorizes, in 2019, 247 licenses for the cultivation of marijuana: 60% were authorized in departments where there is no coca cultivation and 40% where there is. The largest center of coca cultivation is in the south of Colombia: Nariño, Cauca …
And the UN report establishes that 84% of those 1,120 tons leave through the Pacific. Now I ask Mr. Faller, why don’t they do operations in the Pacific? Only in the Caribbean. Why don’t they do operations in the Pacific where passes 84% of the direct cocaine that the US uses in semi-submersibles that fit 10 tons? Ah, they point to us as drug traffickers, because they got a plane in one or the other country, or because of some circumstance coming from Venezuela. Venezuela is a country of transit of illicit drugs from Colombia
There are three conditions: Producer, transit and consumer, according to world parameters.
We have a shared but differentiated responsibility, in the areas of consumption and production. This concentration of coca crops is chosen in these states in southern Colombia to facilitate the drug trafficking route that is the Pacific, and the other percentage is in the Western Caribbean, where coca crops are also located.
Out of the 32 departments that Colombia has, listen up people of Venezuela, 22 have coca crops. Our policy has been directed to minimize the illicit transit of drugs from Colombia, there is no other possibility that the drugs that pass through Venezuela do not come from Colombia. 90% or more of the drug seized in the US, of cocaine, comes from Colombia. 80% of cocaine in Asia and Europe comes from Colombia. Ah, but we are responsible, because we decide to be free, sovereign and independent.
We have designed a policy, taking into consideration the world cocaine route, because it is what affects us, the transit of cocaine from Colombia, on the 2,219 kilometer border. Ah, but our policy is aimed at avoiding this transit, this cocaine route, that seeks other routes, but the route that Venezuela seeks, our duty is to neutralize it, and we have demonstrated this.
Notice the difference in seizures when the DEA was here and after the DEA was expelled from Venezuela: 773 metric tons of drugs we have seized in recent years, when the DEA was here, seizures do not compare. You can see how seizures are increasing and all the operational deployment we are doing after Commander Hugo Chávez wisely expelled the DEA from the territory. Here are the numbers, these are real events, we are not saying or mounting a media show, here are the statistics and real events.
The UN report establishes that Venezuela is the fourth country in the world with the largest seizure of cocaine, says the UN world report, we do not say so, there are the results.
In recent years, we have captured 158 international drug trafficking leaders, what they call drug lords, and not just any drug lord, important drug lords. And the US and Colombia know it. The UN world report highlights that Venezuela is the fourth country in seizure and dismantling of laboratories.
Venezuela has captured 158 drug lords, of which: 21 surrendered to the US, 21 DEA planes came here 21 times to look for 21 lords, who are the ones who accuse us and that many of them – also we know – they are free and we are looking for them again. And 38 were delivered to Colombia, 38 planes of the Colombian National Police came here, to Venezuela, to Maiquetía, and that must be known by the people of Venezuela, what happens is that they suffer from partial amnesia, that’s why there is to remember the DEA agents who came here and the Colombian officers who came here 38 times. The rest were delivered to other countries, and some were processed in Venezuela.
Colombian officers came here to make joint captures of capos, among them: “El Loco Barrera”, or “Diego Rastrojo” in Barinas, joint operations with Colombian and Venezuelan officers, because that is well understood international cooperation, shared responsibility, but differentiated. And capos who were requested by the United States, later, from Colombia went to the United States to serve their sentences.
Also seizures and immobilization, neutralizing aircrafts. President Nicolás Maduro has promoted since 2013 a law for the protection of Venezuelan airspace and, through the Comprehensive Aerospace Defense Command, the conditions have been created to monitor our Venezuelan airspace, because before we had 3 Westinghouse radar units, borrowed from US authorities, controlled by them and after the coup against Commander Hugo Chávez, they did not send him any more spare parts, and Commander Hugo Chávez had to make the firm decision to buy 10 long-range Chinese radar units, and three more by our President Nicolás Maduro for the surveillance and protection of our Venezuelan airspace, and that allows us to detect any suspicious aircraft and establish a 24-hour control system, ground-to-air, to locate the aircraft, detect them, and command them according to international standards to land, to be checked. This has allowed us to disable 200 aircraft in recent years, with the last one being neutralized this week, on July 7, to be more precise, with the serial number of US planes, coincidentally the last one a North American aircraft trafficking drugs, but (according to them) we are responsible.
2 aircraft have been seized and recovered from these international drug trafficking crime organizations, to cut logistics.
Not only that, but on the border with Colombia, they create improvised runways and the FANB, thanks to permanent surveillance and thanks to the actions of the GNB, in particular, 368 illegal runways have been detected and destroyed. It is part of our policy.
The UN world report establishes that Venezuela is the fourth country in the world in the dismantling of drug camps, a few meters from the border with Colombia, thanks to the FANB and ONA, with timely information, 368 laboratories have been dismantled, destroyed camps with laboratories for the processing of cocaine.
Since the DEA left, 14 years have passed without illicit crops, next to 169 thousand hectares of coca bushes. Venezuela is free of illicit cultivation, thanks to the permanent vigilance action in our border areas.
In those 2,219 kilometers of border with Colombia, of the 32 departments, 22 have coca crops, and 32 of marijuana. And of course, our drug policy and strategy leads us to work in three fundamental areas:
The first has to do with illicit drug trafficking, the frontal fight against drugs from Colombia, there is no other, it comes from Colombia, by land, sea and air.
The second aspect is comprehensive social prevention and the national public treatment system in Venezuela, as we always say: share the anguish with the Venezuelan population: First anguish, what to do to prevent our family members from consuming drugs; Second anguish, what to do as State policy when a family member falls into drug use.
There are serious policies and strategies and we set an example. We have reviewed the legislation from time to time to adapt it to the new times. We have created an organic drug law and right now a reform is in process
We have created the ONA, we have created a center for advanced studies on drugs, we have trained thousands of officials, we have created a Venezuelan anti-drug fund, to have a financial system that supports public policies, we have created a National Anti-drug Plan 2019- 2025, approved in the Official Gazette. Our policies are serious, correct policies that lead us to this type of results.
The third aspect is international cooperation. Take this particular case: In February, Aruban authorities, together with the Colombian authorities, seized a ship named “Aressa”, with the flag of Cameroon, with 5,000 kilos of cocaine that allegedly left Venezuela. The international cooperation demanded by the fight against drugs is that the countries have a shared responsibility to dismantle the organizations. It was not possible to obtain information from the authorities of Aruba or Colombia about that boat, in which they say they seized 5 tons. We are struck by the fact that after they put on a tremendous media show, they released the boat and released the crew in March.
However, we initiated a “notitia criminis” investigation, and dismantled an organization that was engaged, in concert with the DEA, to show that Venezuela is an outlaw state and create the conditions for military intervention, dismantle an international trafficking organization of drugs in Carabobo and Falcón, where the leader Raúl Ricardo del Gallego is detained and all the collaborators who were dedicated to legitimizing capital, drug trafficking, disguised as scrap metal traders. More than 80 raids were carried out and a complete organization dedicated to illicit drug trafficking was dismantled.
This citizen is requested with a red interpol notice, in the operation Golfo Romero, as we call him, he is a DEA undercover agent, owner of the ship “Aressa”, he is wanted under several aliases, (…) of Lithuanian nationality, undercover agent of the DEA
This allowed the entire criminal organization led by Raúl Ricardo del Gallego Sala, head of the cartel, to be dismantled. We also have Tomás Salvador Mesilla de Ambrosio, Jesús Antonio Blanco Goitia, Cali Dali Mazol, Robert José Lugo Ortiz, Orlando José Silva Moreno, that is, 10 citizens detained, 3 wanted, 27 buildings secured / seized, 44 front companies for 92 vehicles, dealers in the Carabobo state, machinery, transportation, customs agencies, warehousing, all the logistical platform to dedicate to the legitimation of capital and drug trafficking were used for drug trafficking operations, capital legitimization, 92 vehicles.
We would have been more effective if the international authorities – call them Colombian, Aruban, North American – had provided us with more information. However, our officers, experts in this matter, have done a commendable job and here we give them a public recognition for dismantling of this criminal organization dedicated to illicit drug trafficking.
But we also went further and continued investigating. Later, that operation led us to another one we called Operation Carlos Sierra, which was carried out in the state of Falcón and an organization led by a citizen who was a fugitive named Emilio Enrique Martínez, alias Chiche Smith, was also part of an alliance with the DEA, to show that Venezuela is a permissive country for drug trafficking, and a network with the whole family, there is a family clan, like in the movies: the brother, the grandchildren, the nephews, the children of the grandchildren, a family network, they created a foundation to legitimize capital, to buy companies, justify money laundering and it has been dismantled, and the operation continues.
More than 160 raids have been carried out, 16 citizens arrested and we have 7 wanted, among them the ringleader whom we are looking for. And we are also drawing up a red notice for Interpol, so that Interpol can approve it, please. 7 requested, 13 insured properties, 33 raided and insured companies, farms, machinery, 15 boats, 2 shipyards, one in Margarita and another in Cumaná, which were dedicated to doing boat operations and also in alliance with the DEA.
We are working on that investigation and other arrests are not ruled out, this shows that Venezuela has carried out a frontal fight against drug trafficking in times of revolution, even when within the systematic campaign and destabilization they accuse us, sanction us, and point at us. No one will be able to sanction and accuse our conscience, our heart and the love of the homeland.
Venezuela will continue to carry out a frontal fight against illicit drug trafficking, wherever it comes from. And those who deviate and fall into the temptation of drug trafficking, will bear the full weight of the law, whoever falls, whoever it may be.
We have decided to be free, sovereign, and independent, and we will continue our drug policies, and we are confident that we will overcome the threat that we have received from the American empire.
Thank you very much and good afternoon
Featured image: File photo by Carlos Ramirez. Courtesy Venezuelanalysis.com