Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuelan general on drugs charges named justice minister

Nestor Reverol, General Commander of the Venezuelan National Guard, attends the annual state of the nation address by President Nicolas Maduro at the National Assembly in Caracas January 15, 2016 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption General Nestor Reverol is Venezuela's new interior and justice minister

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has named General Nestor Reverol, 51, as his new interior and justice minister.

The nomination came just a day after Gen Reverol was indicted by a US court on charges of abetting cocaine trafficking.

He served as interior minister once before, under the late President Hugo Chavez, and more recently headed the National Guard.

Mr Maduro dismissed the charges against Gen Reverol as a "US conspiracy".

'World record'

The president said Gen Reverol "broke the world record for capturing traffickers" when he was the head of Venezuela's anti-narcotics agency.

Prosecutors in New York announced on Monday that Gen Reverol and his former deputy at the anti-narcotics agency, Gen Edilberto Jose Molina, are suspected of receiving payments from drug traffickers in exchange for information about raids.

The prosecutors also alleged that the two men allowed shipments of narcotics to leave the country and let suspects go free.

Any assets they have in the US will now be seized.

Gen Molina, 53, is currently serving as Venezuela's military attache in Germany.

The outgoing Interior and Justice Minister Gen Gustavo Gonzalez will continue to head Venezuela's intelligence service.

Gen Gonzalez's relationship with the US was little better than that of Gen Reverol.

He was one of seven Venezuelan officials who in March 2015 was banned from entering the US as part of a US executive decree which also declared Venezuela "an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States".

Relations between the United States and Venezuela have been tense for years with Venezuelan officials regularly accusing the US government of trying to topple President Maduro and the US criticising Venezuela for its human rights record.

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