An excerpt from DW:
Alexandre Schmidt, spokesman for the Vienna-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) told journalists in November the mysterious flight had originated in Venezuela, fuelling allegations that Venezuela supports terrorism and drugs trafficking. Venezuelan officials question the assertion. But critics of President Hugo Chavez, pointing to his support of the FARC, charge that widespread corruption reaching into the highest echelons of government facilitates Venezuelan involvement in drugs trafficking. "Chavez may not be involved, but he certainly looks the other way. None of his aides have been removed from office," Ariel Segal, a Lima-based expert on Venezuela, told Deutsche Welle.
The arrest in of the three operatives of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the al Qaeda affiliate in West Africa, further heightens concern about the Islamists’ links to Latin American traffickers. The three Mali nationals arrived in New York on December 18 after being arrested by authorities in Ghana as a result of a four-month long sting operation in which two paid DEA informants posed as FARC representatives. The three men appeared in court on the day of their arrival to be charged with narco-terrorism conspiracy and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.
They are the first al Qaeda operatives to have been captured by the US in a drug trafficking plot in Africa. They told the undercover DEA informants, according to court documents, that they could protect major Latin American shipments of cocaine in the Sahel and transport the drugs by truck through the desert and finally to Spain. They said they would charge up to 7,000 euros ($10,000) per kilogram.
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