Venezuela blasts US Maduro indictment as ‘coup’

CARACAS/WASHINGTON, March 27 (NNN-AGENCIES) — Venezuela’s foreign minister accused Washington of a coup attempt Thursday after the US Justice Department indicted President Nicolas Maduro for “narco-terrorism.”

Jorge Arreaza charged that President Donald Trump was “once more attacking the Venezuelan people and its democratic institutions, using a new form of coup d’etat based on miserable, vulgar and unfounded accusations.”

In an extremely rare criminal case against a foreign head of state, the Justice Department indicted Maduro and several of his top ministers after accusing him of leading a cocaine-trafficking group called “The Cartel of the Suns “and offered $15 million for information leading to his capture.

Investigators say the organisation worked hand-in-hand with the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which the United States has labelled a “terrorist organization,” to export hundreds of tonnes of drugs a year.

Maduro, Venezuela’s president since 2013, and other top regime officials are alleged to have used cocaine as a “weapon” to flood the US over the past two decades.

The State Department announced 18 indictments of Maduro and 14 other current and former officials, saying it was targeting broad corruption at the top of a government it blames for the South American country’s desperate poverty.

“For more than 20 years, Maduro and a number of high-ranking colleagues allegedly conspired with the FARC, causing tons of cocaine to enter and devastate American communities,” said Attorney General Bill Barr.

“It’s time to call out this regime for what it is,” he added. “The Maduro regime is awash in corruption and criminality.” — NNN-AGENCIES