Venezuela's Chavez worked with Marxist guerrillas to inundate US with cocaine

The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in the mid-2000s attempted to coordinate with Colombian guerrillas to flood the United States with cocaine, according to federal prosecutors' documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

According to the documents, former Venezuelan Supreme Court Magistrate Eladio Aponte took part in a meeting where Chávez in 2005 convened his closest advisers to draw up plans to ship cocaine to the United States with the help of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

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Aponte defected to the United States in 2012 after being removed from office by the Chávez-controlled National Assembly for "infringing against public ethics and administrative morals" and alleged links to drug trafficker Walid Makled.

“During the meeting, Chávez urged the group, in substance and in part, to promote his policy objectives, including to combat the United States by ‘flooding’ the country with cocaine,” read an affidavit prepared by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) based at least in part on Aponte's testimony.

The documents were filed in Spanish court by U.S. officials seeking the extradition of former General Hugo Carvajal, who once led the Venezuelan government's military intelligence agency.

Carvajal was arrested in Spain in April after being indicted on drug trafficking charges in a U.S. federal court in Manhattan.

The documents shine a light on longstanding accusations that Venezuela's government is at least in part funded by the drug trade, and that it has attempted to weaponize the drug trade against the United States.

According to the affidavit, a deal dividing drug profits and providing weapons to FARC was discussed in the negotiations with Colombia's leftist guerrillas.

One FARC leader, Luciano Marín, is prominently featured in the documents as talking directly with Chávez at a ranch in 2008 to discuss arms shipments for the guerrillas and payments through PDVSA, the Venezuelan state-owned oil company.

According to the report, Chávez ordered Carvajal to provide Marín with the weapons he was requesting.

Colombia and the FARC signed a peace deal in 2016, putting an end to a five-decade civil war. The stability of that process has recently come under threat as a small group of FARC members — among them Marín — released a video last month pledging to take up arms against the Colombian state once again, a threat to the top U.S. ally in the region.

Colombian President Iván Duque — a critic of the peace process he inherited from his predecessor — set a $100,000 reward for the arrest of the people in the video and accused Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro of giving them refuge.

Maduro's government, an offshoot of Chávez's, is manned by many of the top lieutenants that took part in the original alliance, including Diosdado Cabello and Tareck El Aissami.

According to the affidavit, both Cabello and El Aissami were in meetings with Carvajal, discussing coordination with FARC and logistics for drug shipments to the United States, reported the Journal.