EspañolA security official close to Diosdado Cabello, the president of Venezuela’s national assembly and vice-president of the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV), arrived in the United States on Monday to give evidence that his former colleague is involved in drug trafficking.
Leamsy Salazar arrived in the country on January 26 accompanied by agents belonging to the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The US officials had previously convinced the army lieutenant commander and former security chief under late President Hugo Chávez to give evidence before a judge in New York.
“There you have it. Does it sound like Leamsy Salazar to you? His testimony featured in NBC tomorrow.”
Salazar becomes the highest ranking military official to break with Chavismo and come under Washington’s wing, as a witness to a range of charges levelled against senior figures in the Venezuelan government.
Salazar has already testified that Cabello heads up the Soles cartel, a criminal organization that monopolized drug trafficking within the country, according to sources involved in the case.
An post shared on Twitter by Ramón Pérez-Maura, an ABC journalist covering the case, stated that Salazar’s testimony had also linked Cuba with the country’s narcotrafficking trade, “offering protection to certain routes along which drugs were brought to Venezuela from the United States.”
Pérez-Maura‘s colleague in New York Emili J. Blasco added further details that Cabello gave direct orders for the distribution of illicit substances, and that Salazar knew of locations where the accused “keeps mountains of dollar bills.”
“Salazar saw Cabello give orders for the launching of drug boats, and visited locations where Cabello keeps mountains of dollar bills.”
Salazar has apparently sought police protection in the United States as he fears for his life, but the former security chief has denied fleeing from justice, asserting that he never participated in criminal activity himself.
“This is Leamsy Salazar, security chief to Chávez and Cabello, arrived in the US as a protected witness.”
Diosdado Cabello was a close colleague of Hugo Chávez, participating in Chávez’s attempted coup d’etat in February 1992 against former President Carlos Andrés Pérez, and later coming to occupy senior posts in successive Chavista administrations.
Cabello has since been identified by the US State Department as the most influential and economically powerful individual in Venezuela, and as “one of the principal poles of corruption” in the South American country, according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.