Attorney General William Barr on Thursday announced charges against Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro and senior members of his government.
The Justice Department has charged Maduro and other officials with drug trafficking, and put out a $15 million reward for information leading to Maduro’s arrest or conviction.
“While holding key positions in the Maduro regime, these individuals violated the public trust by facilitating shipments of narcotics from Venezuela, including control over planes that leave from a Venezuelan air base, as well as control of drug routes through the ports in Venezuela,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
The Justice Department alleges the Venezuelan government has worked with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC), which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization, to traffic cocaine to the U.S.
“We estimate that somewhere between 200 and 250 metric tons of cocaine are shipped out of Venezuela….Those 250 metric tons equates to 30 million lethal doses,” the Justice Department said in its announcement.
The indictment of a foreign head of state is unusual, and comes during a time of increased tension between the U.S. and Venezuela. The U.S. currently recognizes Venezuelan opposition head Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate president, and has accused Maduro’s government of widespread human rights abuses including torture, extrajudicial killings, and arbitrary arrest.