Washington Sanctions Venezuela's Cabello For Drug Trafficking, Florida Companies Hit

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The statement referred to Cabello as "the second most powerful man in Venezuela" after Maduro, accusing him of money laundering and involvement in trafficking drugs from Venezuela to Europe.

In a statement, Maduro's government called the sanctions part of "a systematic campaign of aggression" by President Donald Trump's administration and said they had no legal base. But Cabello had so far been spared, fueling all sorts of intrigue that the US was somehow protecting the outspoken power broker in order to sow distrust among Maduro's inner circle.

Javier Bertucci addresses supporters
Javier Bertucci addresses supporters

TRT World's Ediz Tiyansan reports from Caracas, Venezuela. Alert with these people, ' Maduro said last night.

With associates, Cabello is accused of illegally extracting and exporting iron from a state-run conglomerate and laundering the proceeds to Costa Rica and Russian Federation.

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Just before the incumbent president's Sunday election showdown with main challengers Henri Falcon, from the Progressive Advance party, and Javier Bertucci, who is running as an independent, Washington went so far as to directly implicate Maduro in alleged drug-trade profiteering.

The Treasury Department said that it was also imposing sanctions on Mr. Cabello's brother, José David Cabello, 49, who runs the government agency in charge of customs and taxation, and Diosdado Cabello's wife, Marleny Josefina Contreras Hernández, 57, the minister of tourism.

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Additionally, the U.S. Treasury blacklisted businessman Rafael Alfredo Sarria Diaz, and blocked his three companies in Florida, 11420 Corp, Noor Plantation Investments LLC and SAI Advisors Inc.

Venezuela's Information Ministry, which handles media requests for the government, did not respond to a request for comment.

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"What size uniform do you wear these days extra-large or XXlarge?", he wrote on Twitter with a picture inmates in orange jumpsuits.