U.S. sanctions 3 Venezuelans, 20 companies for links to Colombian cocaine trafficking

Saul Bowman
May 10, 2018

Those sanctioned Monday are in addition to the dozens of current and former Venezuelan officials the US already has targeted.

Moncada also argued the US aims to "stop the May 20 elections in Venezuela", through new sanctions and diplomatic aggression, and accused the USA of committing an global crime.

The US Treasury Department announced new sanctions Monday on three Venezuelans as the US ratchets up pressure on the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who has overseen a crackdown on protesters amid an economic crisis fuelled by rapid inflation.

In addition to announcing the sanctions, Pence also condemned Venezuela's upcoming May 20 election as a "fake election, with a fake outcome".

A Pence aide said they expect the Venezuelan delegation to walk out during his speech. "Hold real elections. Give the people of Venezuela real choices - because the Venezuelan people deserve to live in democracy once again".

Pedro Luis Martin Olivares, a former top intelligence official, and his associates Walter Alexander Del Nogal Marquez and Mario Antonio Rodriguez Espinoza have been designated "narcotics kingpins" owing to their activity in the drug trade.

"Samuel Moncada accuses Mike Pence of an global crime by violating the charters of the OAS and the United Nations in light of his statements at the protocolary meeting of the OAS Permanent Council", the statement released on Monday said. Maduro asked a crowd in a rally on Tuesday in southern Amazonas state, condemning the US president and vice president for sanctions on his government.

On Monday, Pence called on OAS member state to suspend Venezuela's membership in the organization its government's disrespect for democratic principles. They are owned or controlled by the three individuals, the U.S. Treasury said in a statement on its website.

Martin is also accused of laundering the narcotics' proceeds through planes full of USA dollars, couriers and contracts with third parties.

The Treasury Department said in a statement that Martin used his government position to accept bribes from drug traffickers, and helped facilitate the movement of multi-ton loads of cocaine through Venezuelan airspace. The move could deal a further blow to the company's declining oil output and exports.

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