WASHINGTON, D.C. (sentinel.ht) – U.S. President Donald Trump levied sanctions against the Venezuelan Vice President, Tereck El Aissami on Monday, accusing of him of playing a major role in drug-trafficking.
The announcement of the sanctions, made by executive order, came from the Treasury Department’s website late Monday afternoon. Samark Lopez, a wealthy Venezuelan businessman believed to be El Aissami’s main front man is part of the action.
13 companies owned or controlled by Lopez, including five in Florida, will be blocked and both men will be barred from entering the United States. There was no immediate reaction from El Aissami, but he has long denied any criminal ties.
El Aissami, 42, has been the target of U.S. law enforcement investigation for years, stemming from his days as interior minister when dozens of fraudulent Venezuelan passports ended up in the hands of people from the Middle East, including alleged members of Hezbollah.
Venezuela’s top convicted drug-trafficker, Walid Makled, before being sent back from Colombia in 2011, said he paid bribes through El Aissami’s brother to officials so they could turn a blind eye to cocaine shipments that have proliferated in Venezuela during the past two decades of socialist rule.
El Aissami was named vice president last month as Maduro struggles to hold together a loose coalition of civilian leftist and military supporters whose loyalty to the revolution started by the late Hugo Chavez has frayed amid triple-digit inflation and severe food shortages. Recent polls say more than 80 percent of Venezuelans want Maduro gone.