29-Dec-2010 - Honduras: Mystery Shrouds Journalist Murders
On 28 December 2010, the tenth Honduran journalist this year was assassinated by unknown gunshots as he left his home in La Ceiba in the department of Atlántida. The journalist Henry Sauzo was a correspondent of HRN radio in Tegucigalpa. His murder remains unsolved.
28-Dec-2010 - Venezuela: Could Mexican cartels acquire Russian missiles from Venezuela?
Honduras is considered one of the most dangerous places for journalists in Latin America and even in the world. Almost a year after President Profirio Lobo took office there are few signs of improvement in the security of journalists. In fact, the threats and attacks against journalists continue to be one of the country’s top security issues. Honduras places 143 out of 178 countries in the 2010 Press Freedom Index Rankings, dropping from 87 in 2007.
Following the tenth murder of a journalist in Honduras this past December, international human rights agencies and organizations for the defense of freedom of the press demanded answers to the dangerous conditions for journalists in the country. In response, President Lobo requested help from the United States and other allied countries in the investigation of crimes against journalists. Currently, only three of the ten assassinations this year are confirmed as being directly related to the practice of journalism.
President Porfirio Lobo blames journalist assassinations on “criminal violence” in the country. However, an international report completed on October 2010 by the International Media Support group, the World Association of Community Radios in Latin American and the Caribbean (AMARC-LAC) and ARTICLE 19, highlights “the systematic failure of the [Honduran] authorities either by inaction or action,” in defending and protecting the freedom of the press in Honduras.
The report finds four root causes of impunity regarding attacks against freedom of expression, including inconsistent and botched investigations into murders, failure of the state to address cases of journalists at risk, failure of the state to implement precautionary measures to Inter-American Commission on Human Rights-designated radio stations, and limitations of the existing legal framework in the protection of telecommunications and broadcasting institutions.
The findings of the report were expressed at the 140th session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that took place in December 2010. Representatives of Honduras were present at the session and denied many of the findings, although failed to offer evidence to support the denial.
In 2007, gunmen murdered a journalist famed for criticizing President Zelaya, leading the United Nations and the Inter-American Press Association to warn of dangers to journalists in Honduras. During the Zelaya Presidency, most journalists killed shared in common a tendency of speaking out against the president. A year after Zelaya’s exile to the Dominican Republic, threats to journalists remain.
According to a leaked cable from February 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raised concerns to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow after Russia announced sales of advanced anti-aircraft arms to Venezuela, including the Igla-S (SA-24) MANPADS, which is believed to be Russia’s most advanced and lethal portable air-defense systems. The Igla-S missiles are capable of shooting down aircraft from 19,000 feet. The U.S. Government is particularly concerned about the possibility of Mexican drug cartels acquiring these anti-aircraft missiles through Venezuela.
23-Dec-2010 - Mexico: The youth bulge and criminals in Juarez
The leaked cable, sent on 14 February 2009, consisted of U.S. officials asking its embassy to negotiate with Russia for the holding back of the sale of anti-aircraft equipment to Venezuela. The cable cites insufficient arms security in Venezuela and the government’s alleged links to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). FARC is the leftist guerilla group suspected of having ties to various Mexican drug cartels.
“In light of Venezuela’s relationship with the FARC, corruption within the Venezuelan military, and our assessment that Venezuela’s stockpile and security management practices do not meet international standards, we are concerned there is a significant risk that these weapons could be diverted to the FARC,” the cables read.
The cable states the U.S. government’s fears that if these sophisticated systems somehow fell into the hands of the FARC, they could be sold or traded to drug organizations, such as those in Mexico, which are actively seeking to acquire powerful and highly sophisticated weapons for use against government forces.
The cable describes communications from 2005 to 2009 between American and Russian officials about U.S. concerns over the arms deal. Despite four years of U.S. efforts to obstruct the deal, the Russian News & Information Agency Novosti (RIA Novosti) reported on 19 November 2008 that Rosoboronexport—the sole state intermediary agency for Russia’s exports and imports of defense-related and dual use products, technologies and services—signed a major contract to sell Igla-S MANPADS to Venezuela. The manager of LOMO, a partner company in the production of Igla-S, confirmed that the contract would result in the delivery of several hundred Igla-S MANPADS to Venezuela.
U.N. arms control data shows that Russia delivered as many as 1,800 Igla-S anti-aircraft missiles to Venezuela in 2009.
The Secretary of Social Development (SEDESOL) Heriberto Felix Guerra recently stated that as part of the strategy “We are all Juárez: Let’s Rebuild our City” the Mexican government found children as young as 13 years old transforming into criminals and assassins in exchange for US$ 40.
16-Dec-2010 - Mexico: ATF vs. NRA on US Guns in Mexico
Human settlements are becoming more distant in the city of Juárez, even as far as 14 kilometers from the city. Moreover, while the population in Juárez doubled in the last ten years, it grew nine times its geographic size. As Mexicans begin moving farther outside the city, they face a greater lack of infrastructure in schools and hospitals. Individuals living in these new areas need to travel further and pay the associated costs to get education and healthcare services.
Transportation for a child to go to school from outside of the city costs approximately US$ 3.37 per day. Most families cannot afford this daily cost, so the majority of students do not go to school. In many cases, children stay at home and find other ways to earn money. ‘The ninis,’ children who neither study nor work, arise as a result. These children become easy recruits for organized crime.
According to Heriberto Felix Guerra, the root of this problem lies in the fact that the growth in the outskirts of the city outpaced the development of resources and infrastructure in those places. “It is a factory for creating assassins, that is what it is,” said Raul Ibanez Marquez, Deputy General Director for the office of SEDESOL.
Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas is the most violent city in Mexico due to the turf battles among several street gangs. The mothers say their houses are ugly, cramped, dirty and poor, with destroyed sidewalks, no public spaces, parks nor gardens. The corners are filled with thugs. The city’s death toll for 2010 recently exceeded 3,000. The fierce fighting and the consequent deaths of thugs and criminals has led to major recruitment efforts to attract young people to the cartels’ ranks.
In an attempt to counteract the children-turned-criminals phenomenon, SEDESOL recently began offering classes to children in community centers in an attempt to keep children off the streets.
Federal authorities at the end of 2010 said more than 60,000 U.S. guns were recovered in Mexico in the past four years, many of which contributed to 30,000 deaths in the country. Often, the surge of guns leads to situations where cartels out-gun the Mexican police and military, allowing the cartels to rack up victories that makes law-abiding citizens second guess their government’s capacity to maintain order and suppress the drug gangs.
10-Dec-2010 - Honduras: Anti-government groups train on farms in the Valley Aguán
Guns from the United States “have been feeding the violence and overwhelming firepower being unleashed by drug traffickers,” said Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico's ambassador to the United States. “We need to defang drug trafficking organizations of these high-caliber and semiautomatic and automatic weapons, and we need to do it now.”
The percentage of long guns recovered in Mexican crimes is steadily increasing, from 20 percent in 2004 to 48 percent in 2009, reports show. The Justice Department inspector general said in November 2010, “the lack of a reporting requirement of multiple sales of long guns—which have become the cartels’ weapons of choice—hinders the ATF’s ability to disrupt the flow of illegal weapons into Mexico.”
President Calderon traveled to Washington in May 2010 to urge Congress and President Obama to stop the flow of guns across the border. During this visit, President Obama assured his Mexican counterpart that the United States would assist Mexico in hindering the cartel violence there. The Justice Department made a proposal to require gun dealers to report to the ATF sales of two or more semi-automatic rifles within a five-day period in the summer of 2010. The proposal was pushed back, however, likely due to political considerations before the midterm elections.
On 14 December 2010, the ATF published an emergency proposal in the Federal Register much like the summer proposal where dealers report to the ATF anytime they make two or more sales over a 5-day period of semiautomatic rifles that have a caliber greater than .22 and a detachable magazine. The emergency proposal would be valid for six months.
Most experts and ATF officials agree that the majority of U.S. gun dealers are law-abiding. Many dealers tip off the ATF when they suspect straw purchases—in which a person buys for someone who is prohibited from owning a gun—a common practice in Mexican gunrunning cases. Many of the dealers “view themselves as the first line of defense,” said Lawrence Keane, general counsel and vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms industry trade group.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) aggressively challenges statistics that show 80 to 90 percent of the weapons seized in Mexico are first sold in the United States, calling the numbers highly inflated. “To suggest that U.S. gun laws are somehow to blame for Mexican drug cartel violence is a sad fantasy,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action.
Rather, Cox said guns are coming to Mexico from other Central American countries and from former Mexican soldiers who have U.S. weapons and are now working for the cartels. The ATF disagrees with the NRA’s rebuttal, claiming the biggest factors that allure drug cartels to acquiring U.S. guns are the high number of dealers along the border, the right price and the convenient location.
The Valley Aguán in the northern department of Colon, Honduras is home to armed groups of approximately 300 men who have taken over most of the palm oil plantations. Many of these armed men are security guards working for landowners René Morales and Miguel Facussé. Authorities believe, however, that the security guards have permitted irregular, anti-Honduran groups to use the land for military and ideological training camps.
08-Dec-2010 - Brazil: Brazil to use unmanned air surveillance
Working people and farmers dedicated to agriculture populated the extensive palm estates in Valley Aguán over a year ago. Now the guards, who control many of the farms and their access roads, have permitted the creation of training camps for groups that want to destabilize Honduras.
Police investigations found that some Nicaraguans, Cubans and Venezuelans are instructors in the irregular groups’ ideological and military training. The latest research conducted by police reveal that much training for these groups is done on farms in the area of Aguán, in addition to outside the country. Residents believe that even some Honduran military retirees are joining the militants and preparing these groups to cause clashes between private security guards and peasants.
On 23 November 2010, Honduran President Profirio Lobo confirmed that the Honduran military, police and the Security Ministry detected the formation of armed groups and suspected hidden caches of illegal AK-47 rifles in the Bajo Aguán region. He added that Honduran intelligence indicates that restricted weapons are sent through Nicaragua into Honduras, and then into the Bajo Aguán region. There are as many as 1,000 prohibited weapons including AK-47s hidden among the crops.
On 24 November 2010, Security Minister Oscar Alvarez confirmed the intelligence in a press conference to the media, stating that Nicaragua is behind the training of these irregular groups in the Lower Aguán.
In December 2010, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo announced that he will “combat” groups training to destabilize the country, and vowed to locate weapon caches and arrest those in connection with the activities. He ordered the implementation of a general disarmament, so that all those who carry illegal weapons will be seized, detained and sent to courts to receive the penalties of the law. The president’s plan seeks, among other things, to create an atmosphere of order, confidence and stability in the population.
Commissioner General Rene Maradiaga Pancham said in referring to the president’s plan, “We do not seek confrontation, what you want is to keep the peace. The President has been clear and we will fulfill the disarmament mandate to reduce the incidence of violence in the corridor.”
In the meantime, peasants and farmers in the Valley Aguán continue to work in dangerous conditions. One farmer explained that sometimes they are attacked out of nowhere by the security guards. He believes it is the way the guards show their power and control over the area. Anyone who does not submit to the armed group’s orders runs the risk of death.
The Brazilian government plans to use unmanned air surveillance planes, or VANTs, to monitor its borders with Uruguay, Paraguay, Colombia and Bolivia in an effort to detect and combat narcotics and other illegal activities. In preparation of hosting the World Cup in 2014, the Americas Cup in 2015 and the Olympic Games in 2016, Brazil has begun various operations to purge its borders and shanty towns of organized crime.
02-Dec-2010 - Chile: Pakistan-Chile network may have infiltrated embassy
Brazilian authorities are currently negotiating with their Paraguayan counterparts to layout a deal. Paraguay will authorize VANT over flights along the border areas and shared waterways, if Brazil supplies the government with all the intelligence it gathers over Paraguayan territory.
The negotiations with Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay have promise, as their governments are considering Brazil’s request to allow VANT flights over their territory. The Colombian government, on the other hand, refused the deal.
A VANT, VT-15, is already flying over the Brazilian-Paraguayan border monitoring for traffickers of drugs, weapons and other goods. The Brazilian Army Technological Center developed the VANT, which is based on Israeli technology.
The purpose of the surveillance is to detect covert marijuana farms, docks and piers along Brazilian and Paraguayan rivers’ coastlines. In addition, the VANT operations are meant to garner significant reconnaissance including detailed maps of border areas. Brazilian intelligence reports suggest that the majority of narcotics and heavy weapons used by criminal gangs make their way to Brazil vis-à-vis Paraguay and Bolivia. Officials believe the use of the VANT aircraft surveillance would enhance Brazil’s capacity to disband these gangs and traffickers.
The Brazilian government began using aircraft surveillance a year ago when it stepped up operations to eradicate criminal organizations from the cities’ shantytowns, or favelas. In December 2009, Federal Police deployed three aircraft with radars and high definition video cameras manufactured by Israel’s IAI defense industries complex to patrol the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo where drug cartels operate.
More recently, on 28 November 2010, 1,800 riot police and 800 military troops began a week-long assault on drug gangs residing in the Rio de Janeiro favelas. President Lula da Silva and president-elect Dilma Rousseff promised to maintain police and military presence in the area and secure the favelas for at least six months. Following the initial offensive, President Lula said on his weekly radio show, “Obviously, the operation isn’t finished; it’s only begun. We don’t know how many criminals escaped, how many are still inside. [Yet,] we took the first step.”
On 19 November 2010, Chilean authorities announced that the police located and dismantled a human trafficking network in Santiago and Iquique. Chilean Chief of the International Police of Investigations Raúl Zepeda reported that the network has been in operation since 1999. Authorities suspect that at least 30 Pakistanis have entered Chile illegally through the system.
26-Nov-2010 - Panama: On the trail of seized cash in Panama
Sources among the Chilean authorities reported that they first heard of the network while investigating the case of Pakistani Saif Khan in May 2009. Authorities arrested Khan for possession of explosive material. During the investigation, detectives inquired locals about Khan's immigration to Iquique, Tarapacá and received some information about a network bringing Pakistanis into Chile.
Reports indicated that the human trafficking network offered Pakistanis fake visas and jobs in the United States in exchange for large payments ranging from US$12,000 to US$15,000. After paying the full amount, the network's members provided the Pakistanis with false documents and told them that they would stop briefly in Chile before entering the United States. Once the Pakistanis arrived in Chile, they were transferred to households in Santiago and Iquique.
After gathering enough information about the network, Santiago magistrate Fernando Guzmán issued 32 arrest warrants. As the initial part of the operation, the Chilean Police of Investigations (PDI) conducted two operations simultaneously in Santiago and Iquique, Tarapacá on 18 November 2010. In Iquique, officers raided seven homes and arrested 10 suspects. In Santiago, they raided two homes and arrested 7 other suspects. Officers reported that the Pakistani immigrants were living in deplorable sanitary conditions.
Over the next few hours, police officers made several more arrests in connection with the case. Four of the detainees were members of the network. Eventually, the Chilean police transferred all of the detainees to a prison in Santiago.
Chilean courts will charge the four alleged network members with human trafficking and falsification of documents, while charging the remaining Pakistani detainees with illegal entry. Chile may deport the network's victims back to Pakistan. In the trial's initial proceedings, defender Renato González stated that they were victims of a process that involved “a passport and a visa that the Chilean state surrendered and immigration control that went wrong.”
As a part of the investigation into the trafficking network, the Chilean police searched for a Pakistani in Iquique who had traveled back to his home country frequently, surmising that such a person may have possibly created the network. Eventually, they suspected that Iquique resident Abdul Sattar was involved with the human trafficking group.
Honorary Consul Catalina Alliende of the Chilean Embassy in Pakistan stated that she received an e-from a Pakistani residing in Chile on 25 July 2009. According to the e-mail, Abdul Sattar and his wife Farhat were alleged leader Iqshpiaq Rana's main connections to Chile. At one point, Sattar boasted to local businessmen that he would bring “500 more Pakistanis” into the country.
An angle of the case also involves the Chilean Embassy in Pakistan, according to Pakistani Kashif Rehman's story, which he presented to a Chilean court. During the formalization of charges, Rehman claimed that he received official documents from the Chilean Embassy in Pakistan with Alliende's signature on them. According to some sources, Catalina Alliende's secretary may have been the link between the trafficking network and the embassy. However, all parties at the embassy have denied involvement with the group.
Although the circumstances surrounding the network are still uncertain, the network's operator may have chosen to send the immigrants to Chile because the government does not have legislation prohibiting all forms of human trafficking. In a 2010 report, the United States Embassy maintained that the Chilean government “does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking,” maintaining that Chile “is making significant efforts to do so.”
The PDI does not believe that the network has any ties to terrorist organizations. However, Chilean authorities are continuing to investigate the matter and trying to determine who forged Alliende's signature on the papers.
In the first six months of 2010, Panamanian customs officials confiscated more than US$4,000,000 undeclared money at the International Airport of Tocumen and the border zone of Paso Canoa. In the last six months of 2009, Customs collected more than US$5,000,000 worth of undeclared money. According to figures from National Ministry of the Economy and Finances (MEF) the General Customs Directorate (DGA) seized approximately US$828,000 in the first half of fiscal year 2008.
26-Nov-2010 - Mexico: Thousands of Mexican youth recruited for crime
Foreigners and nationals traveling to Panama with amounts of money exceeding US$10,000 must declare the amount to customs officials. Drug traffickers and money launderers attempting to smuggle large amounts over the border in order to deposit the money in one of Panama's banks often hide the money in false-bottomed suitcases or conceal packets of money on their person. Customs officials at Panama's Tocumen International Airport in Panama City have discovered and confiscated large sums of undeclared money during security checks, x-rays or as a result of a random inspection.
According to MEF reports, Panamanian customs officials will deduct approximately US$500 from the seized amount, which the suspect may use for personal expenses for the duration of the investigation. Investigators deposit the balance in Account 210 of the National Treasury (TN). For example, in a 2008 case, agents from the Customs Control Department (DFA) confiscated US$21,905 from Ecuadoran Kléber Alfredo Gusqui. Although the tourist's papers indicated that he only had US$1,000 in his possession, DFA officials located a large amount of hundred dollar bills in one of Gusqui's socks after an intensive search. The MEF reports indicate that authorities sent the confiscated money to the National Bank to be deposited in the National Treasury.
The National Treasury has over 6,000 accounts designated to different government ministries. As of November 2010, sources indicated that there is approximately US$200 million in Account 210, which is not designated to a specific government ministry or another institution. Currently, Panamanian politicians are campaigning to merge all accounts under a single account at the National Treasury in order to save money and facilitate payments. It is uncertain whether the creation of single account may change current customs policy.
However, customs regulations themselves have changed recently. In August 2010, Panama's Supreme Court ruled that the National Customs Authority could seize only the surplus - any amount above US$10,000 - from the total amount of undeclared money that foreigners or nationals possess when entering the country.
Although customs regulations may have slight differences across Central and South America, authorities generally place the money under the possession of the national bank or the public prosecutor. For example, in Guatemala, officials transfer the seized money to the Guatemalan Public Ministry (MP). On 5 July 2010, security officials discovered that Carlos Rodolfo Daza Ramírez hid more than US$100,000 in a false-bottomed suitcase as he went through the x-ray screening at La Aurora International Airport. After detaining Daza Ramírez, the money remained under the authority of the Public Ministry (MP).
In another case, Guatemalan police seized more than US$82,000 from two Koreans in Coatepeque in August 2010. Officers stopped a truck traveling on the Pacific route and discovered the money in two black nylon bags. After referring the Korean suspect to the corresponding court, the officers transferred the money to the Public Prosecutor's Office at the MP.
However, officials and sources generally have not accounted for the use of confiscated money once it has been transferred to the national bank or prosecutor's office. Presumably, undeclared money in an account at a national bank may be used for general purposes, while money remaining at the public ministry may be used specifically for building maintenance, programs and salaries.
Limited educational and employment opportunities in Mexico have prompted thousands of Mexican youth to join criminal organizations and drug trafficking gangs. From 2006 to 2010, gangs and criminal organizations recruited between 25,000 and 35,000 minors to join the ranks of their organizations, or 9,000 young people on average each year, according to estimates by the Network for the Rights of the Child.
25-Oct-2010 - Venezuela: Further Evidence of Alleged Corruption
In addition to recruiting more young people to crime, the average age of recruited children has dropped. A decade ago, the drug cartel’s recruitment age in Mexico was between 20 and 35. Today, drug cartels recruit children between the ages of 12 and 15.
“Mostly we’re talking between 13 and 17 years, but the age is falling,” said Nashieli Ramirez, director of the Ririki Social Intervention organization. “Today we are watching student drop out rates with concern especially in cities like Juarez, Reynosa and Matamoros […] In Ciudad Juarez, for example, age recruitment fell by five years from 14 and 16 to between 12 and 14 years, according to estimates by Juarez organizations,” Ramirez said.
A 12 year old boy, “El Ponchis,” is an example of the potential of these young recruits. El Ponchis, whose real identity is unknown, is a member of the South Pacific Cartel (CPS) in Morelos, Mexico and is believed to be a leader of one of their hit-men cells. He is a torturer and executioner, infamous for posting footage of his murders on youtube.com and other internet sites.
While some young recruits become executioners, many participate in a myriad of crimes in every aspect of gang violence. Between 2009 and 2010, the number of teenagers arrested for organized crime, weapons charges or drug crimes increased 34 percent according to treatment centers for children in Mexico City. Theft is the most common crime committed by adolescents. The Mexican Institute of Youth reported that of the criminal activities committed by adolescents, 41 percent is robbery. Homicides and kidnapping are also carried out by young criminals.
According to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 are responsible for 32.59 percent of total homicides in 2010. From 2007 to 2008, the Office of Federal District Court, reported that the number of people involved in kidnapping gangs increased 289 percent. Officials believe this increase is a direct result of the inflating numbers of young recruits to the world of crime.
Gangs are recruiting younger criminals because they can be used to participate in various crimes. Nashieli Ramirez explained that the youth are used as “cannon fodder” and are easy recruits. According to estimates by 96 civic society organizations, from 1 December 2006 to 30 October 2010 between 60,000 and 200,000 children and teenagers died in the fight against organized crime and 30,000 to 50,000 were orphaned.
The recruitment of children and adolescents is also explained, in part, because children under 14 are not held criminally responsible for their actions, and adolescents under 18 are prosecuted in a separate legal system. Currently, there is a legislative proposal in Congress that would lower the age of criminal responsibility, which would permit authorities to imprison adolescents at a younger age. Yet, there is opposition since the law would violate all international treaties on the rights of children that Mexico has signed.
Since December 2005, Article 18 of the Constitution directs Mexican states to create “a system of justice that will apply to those who participated in conduct constituting a crime under the criminal laws and aged between 12 and 18 […] Alternative forms of justice should be seen in the implementation of this system, whenever appropriate [and] will be aimed at social and family reintegration of adolescents, as well as the full development of his person and capacities.” Article 18 permits the detention of minors only over 14 years for maximum terms of five to ten years; and, only as “an extreme measure and for the shortest appropriate time, and [only if deemed] by the commission as serious antisocial behavior.” Today, Mexico’s 32 states each have laws dealing with adolescents in crime, although many of them are not fully implemented because of the lack of special facilities for the growing population of young offenders, and the limited numbers of judges, public prosecutors and public defenders who specialize in teenagers.
Factors behind the attraction of young people to crime are low economic status and low education levels, among others, according to counsel Holzhaimer Hanzel of the North Prison. Santa Cruz County Metro Drug Task Force Commander Lt. Jerry Castillo describes a common attraction: “Can you imagine a kid that has nothing and all of a sudden here’s 100 bucks or here’s a cell phone or here’s some type of reward from these guys?” Analysts note that up to seven million young people are vulnerable to organized crime, due to a lack of legitimate employment and educational opportunities. President Felipe Calderon has said, “In the most violent areas of the country, there is an unending recruitment of young people without hope, without opportunities.”
On 19 August 2010, Colombian police arrested Walid “el Turco” Makled, who last year was included in a US list of accused major drug barons, in the city of Cúcuta near the Venezuelan border. Hoping to be granted extradition to the United States on drug charges, the incarcerated Makled published an interview with the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional accusing members of the Hugo Chavez government with illegal activity. Although such accusations are not new, the documentation he claims to posses could add some validity to his story.
In the interview, Makled states that many government officials including 15 generals, ministers and deputies were on his payroll. In the phone interview with Casto Ocando, Makled accused many high ranking officials of bribery including the former Carabobo Governor Acosta Carlez. Makled reports that through cash advances to Carlez he was able to receive government concessions for his storage facility in Puerto Caballo, Venezuela. While Carlez has officially stated that he has returned the “donations” from Makled, Carlez has been seen on film with Makled on at least two separate occasions. Carlez has officially denied doing anything illegal with Makled, who asserts that it was through his relationship with the former governor that he was allowed access to other members of the Chavez government.
Responding to the drug charges brought against him, Makled adamantly denies that he was a drug trafficker, accusing Venezuelan Generals Orlando Rodriguez and Cliver Alcalá of planting drugs on the Makled family farm. “Imagine a person who is earning 6 to 8 million dollars. What need do I have to have drugs on a farm with my name? That does not make sense. The entire investigation is completely flawed. But I have all the evidence, thank God I managed to get the evidence of all the people who worked with me,” claimed Makled.
In his possession Makled reports to have vouchers, account numbers of Government officials and their relatives, including Ministers, Generals, Admirals, Colonels, and five Deputies of the National Assembly. In the interview he denounced the activities of General Nestor Reverol, who took over Makled's businesses for the Venezuelan government. Makled stated that his company income of US$ 140 million should have been deposited in an escrow account. No such deposits had yet been registered at the time of the interview.
During the time of his arrest, Makled had in his possession documentation identifying him as a “Commissar” of the Venezuelan government. When asked why he had these credentials, Makled remained silent saying that revealing his sources could not only hurt the source but Makled’s chances of amnesty.