He is not the first to accuse Cabello of running the Cartel de los Soles, one of the largest drug smuggling organizations in the Americas. Former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs under George W. Bush, Roger Noriega, accused Cabello of using money from the Cartel de los Soles to fund Maduro’s re-election campaign in 2014. Again, Noriega claimed Maduro was willfully ignorant of these activities and had no major role in drug trafficking.
Leamsy Salazar, a former bodyguard to late dictator Hugo Chávez, accused Cabello of running the Cartel de los Soles upon defecting to the United States last year. Francisco Flores de Freitas and Efrain Antonio Campo Flores, President Maduro’s nephews, claimed they were attempting to sell 800 kilograms of cocaine in Haiti on Cabello’s behalf upon being arrested last year. They later claimed the drugs belonged to former Minister of the Interior Tarek El Aissami.
Cardona’s accusation is the first that links the Venezuelan government to Sunni radical Islamism. Maduro’s government has well-documented ties to Alawite Shiite Bashar al-Assad in Syria and enjoys warm relations with the terror state of Iran. Multiple sources have accused the Venezuelan government of aiding Hezbollah. A former diplomat at the Venezuelan embassy in Baghdad claimed he was forced to forge Venezuelan documents in the names of Hezbollah operatives, allowing them to travel freely in the West. Another report claimed the Cuban government was manufacturing Venezuelan passports for the use of non-Venezuelan citizens tied to Hezbollah. Spanish reporter Emili J. Blasco claimed in his book, Boomerang Chávez, that Maduro met with senior Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and agreed to issue hundreds of passports to Hezbollah operatives in 2007.
The Islamic State has been documented to use drugs liberally to keep its young jihadis in battle. A report this week claimed Islamic State leaders regularly used a banned substance called fenethylline, or Captagon, to help terrorists with sleep deprivation and depression in Mosul, Iraq. “ISIS is using special tablets, the fighters take the drug and they don’t know where they are or what they are doing. They are just shooting and fighting,” one report claimed.
Last year, captured Islamic State terrorists admitted to using Xanax in battle, which would make them think “tanks are birds that you could annihilate with your sword.” Law enforcement have also found cocaine in the homes of captured or killed Islamic State leaders.