Maduro appoints general as interior minister despite US charges | News | DW | 03.08.2016
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Maduro appoints general as interior minister despite US charges

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro named Nestor Reverol as his new interior minister only days after the US indicted the official for helping drug dealers. Maduro slammed the charges as an attack from "the US empire."

The newly appointed minister is a military general and previously served as interior minister under late President Hugo Chavez. Reverol also led Venezuela's anti-narcotic agency.

"As interior minister, he broke the world record for capturing traffickers; that is why they want to make him pay - the DEA and all the US drug mafias," Maduro said on Thursday, referring to allegations against Reverol.

"That's why I have named this brave, combative, experienced man."

Earlier this week, US prosecutors announced an indictment against the 51-year-old general, claiming he took bribes and helped cocaine traffickers distribute drugs in the US between 2008 and 2010.

Reverol allegedly leaked information on raids and locations of anti-drug officers, hindered searches of drug-smuggling vehicles and arranged for suspects to be released.

New 'mission' for Perez

President Maduro, however, dismissed the claims as international conspiracy against Reverol, adding that his promotion would boost security in the troubled country.

"I offer all my personal support ... to him and his family after he has been attacked by the US empire," he said.

In a surprise move, Maduro also removed vice-president for economy and industry Miguel Perez, who was seen as a potential reformer within the cabinet.

"I told him to rest for five or six days. I have given him a new mission - we will announce it soon," Maduro said of Perez.

Combating coke dealers

Drug-related crimes remain a serious problem in South America as the continent prepares for the Rio Olympic Games.

Officials in Peru, the second-largest cocaine producer in the world, said it had captured almost 100 drug mules who carried packs of cocaine in their stomachs this year. Smugglers hope to cash in on the expected spike in demand.

The authorities noticed a similar spike before the Brazil World Cup in 2014.

On Tuesday, Bolivia intercepted a shipment of 7.5 tons of cocaine in a record breaking bust. Only hours later, Colombian anti-narcotic police said they had destroyed 104 cocaine laboratories across the country's remote southeast.

The labs were capable of producing 100 tons of cocaine per year, officials said.

dj/rs (Reuters, EFE)

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