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Vice President Of Venezuela Arrested In New York
Venezuelan Minister and Former Vice President TareckZaidan El AissamiMaddah charged with violations of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act
NEW YORK — Following an investigation by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York’s El Dorado Task Force, the former Venezuelan Vice President TareckZaidan El AissamiMaddah (“El Aissami”) and Venezuelan businessman Samark Jose Lopez Bello were charged Thursday with criminal violations of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (“Kingpin Act”) and sanctions imposed in February 2017 by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) pursuant to the Kingpin Act. HSI worked closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) for prosecution of this case.
El Aissami and Lopez Bello Violated U.S. Sanctions in connection with their use of private jets, including Feb. 23, 2019 return flight by El Aissami from Russia to Venezuela. Related charges under the Kingpin Act were also filed against Victor Mones Coro, Alejandro Miguel Leon Maal, MicholsOrsini Quintero, and Alejandro Antonio QuintavalleYrady. Mones Coro, Leon Maal, And Orsini Quintero were arrested in Florida. “TareckZaidan El AissamiMaddah has held key positions in the Government of Venezuela, including that of former Vice President and current Minister of Industry and National Production. He has used his position of power to engage in international drug trafficking, earning him the designation of Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker, along with his business partner Samark Lopez Bello. It is alleged that those arrested today, looking to fill their pockets with dirty money, aided El Aissami and Lopez Bello in circumventing sanctions and violating the Kingpin Act, an OFAC designation targeting those who pose a threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.
El Aissami and Lopez Bello allegedly used private jets to set up private meetings around the globe including Turkey and Russia,” said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI New York. “It is necessary to impose sanctions against foreign persons seeking to gain power and control by circumventing the law, and today’s indictment reflects HSI New York’s El Dorado Task Force resolve in holding those willing to violate such sanctions accountable. Both El Aissami and Lopez Bello will have to think twice before leaving Venezuela, as they are wanted to face justice here in New York.” “International sanctions restrain the activities of individuals and countries deemed to have policies and practices incompatible with the U.S. from receiving the full benefit of economic, political, humanitarian, and other support the U.S. provides globally. Former Venezuelan Vice President TareckZaidan El AissamiMaddah allegedly evaded the sanctions imposed by OFAC by employing U.S. companies to provide international transport via private jet. The enforcement of these sanctions is critical to the national security interests of the U.S., and I commend our law enforcement partners for their vigilance and assistance in bringing today’s charges,” said Geoffrey S. Berman, U.S. Attorney for SDNY.
As alleged in the indictment and superseding indictments unsealed in federal court, El Aissami became the Vice President of Venezuela in approximately January 2017. In February 2017, OFAC designated El Aissami and Lopez Bello as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers pursuant to the Kingpin Act and related regulations. As a result of OFAC’s designations, U.S. persons were prohibited from, among other things, engaging in transactions or providing services to El Aissami and Lopez Bello absent a specific authorization or license from OFAC. El Aissami and Lopez Bello nevertheless worked with, among others, U.S. citizens Mones Coro and Leon Maal, as well as Orsini Quintero and QuintavalleYrady,
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