LATIN AMERICA

Ex-Venezuelan judge cooperates with DEA in Washington

Eladio Aponto negotiated with US to provide information on drug-trafficking activites of members of President Hugo Chávez's administration

Venezuelan Defense Minister Henry Rangel Silva, who has been implicated in a major drug-trafficking operation.
Venezuelan Defense Minister Henry Rangel Silva, who has been implicated in a major drug-trafficking operation.JOHN VIZCAINO / REUTERS

A former Venezuela Supreme Court justice who was kicked off the bench last month for his alleged connections to a notorious drug trafficker arrived Tuesday in Washington, where he was said to be cooperating with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Eladio Aponte turned up earlier this week in Costa Rica, where he negotiated an agreement with the DEA to provide information on alleged drug trafficking activities by members of President Hugo Chávez's administration. "We accompanied him on several meetings and he was given a letter to enter the United States. He couldn't travel on his own because he didn't have a visa," said Mauricio Boraschi, head of Costa Rica's DIS intelligence agency. Speaking to the San Jose daily La Nación, Borashci said Aponte left the country on a DEA plane early Tuesday.

Quoting a source, El Nuevo Herald of Miami reported that Aponte has implicated National Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello, Defense Minister Henry Rangel Silva, and the army general, Cliver Alcalá, as heads of the major trafficking operations in Venezuela. Rangel Silva and Alcalá were listed last year by the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control for alleged links to drug traffickers and terrorists.

Aponte disappeared after he was thrown off the bench on March 20 over his ties to Walid Makled, an alleged major trafficker extradited from Colombia last year, who is currently on trial behind closed doors in Caracas. The United States, which also wants Makled, described him as one of the biggest traffickers in the world.