Venezuela Anti-Drug Czar Denies Arrested Kingpin's Corruption Allegations

The head of Venezuela’s narcotics agency, Nestor Reverol, today denied allegations made by one of the world’s top drug traffickers that he had stolen his money and used some of it to buy a $2 million home.

Walid Makled, arrested in Colombia in August, alleged in two TV interviews that Reverol took over his businesses worth as much as $70 million annually after he fled Venezuela, where he is wanted on charges of drug trafficking and murder.

Reverol said Makled, who in 2009 was named by U.S. President Barack Obama as one of four “significant foreign narcotics traffickers,” should come to Venezuela and show proof of his accusations.

“That man alleges that I have a $2 million home in Cabimas,” Reverol said in comments on state television, referring to a city in western Venezuela. “Anyone who knows Cabimas knows that it would be impossible to build a $2 million house there.”

Makled’s arrest has sparked a tug-of-war between Venezuela and the U.S., both of whom want him extradited to be tried in their countries. The legal dispute will be an early test of the renewed relationship between Colombia and Venezuela, who only recently restored diplomatic ties after quarrels over claims by Colombia that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is harboring guerrillas along their shared border.

Chavez said that Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos has assured him Makled will be sent to Venezuela.

$1.2 Billion Fortune

Makled told Colombian RCN that he amassed a fortune of $1.2 billion by paying army generals, admirals and the brother of the Interior and Justice Minister up to $1 million a month in order to be granted the concessions to Venezuela’s largest port. Makled also alleged he had paid $2 million dollars toward Chavez’s campaign for a recall referendum in 2004.

Reverol said Makled’s assets such as boats and vehicles had been handed over to the Venezuelan government for public use while his homes had been assigned to organizations that work with young people with disabilities. Some of Makled’s cars were being used by senior officials and by the police, Reverol said.

Makled told RCN that before fleeing Venezuela he had retrieved videos, receipts and other evidence to back up his allegations.

Reverol said police had discovered 400 kilograms of cocaine at a farm belonging to Makled. He is also wanted for the murder of two journalists and a witness.

To contact the reporter on this story: Charlie Devereux in Caracas at cdevereux3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

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