After 140 bricks of cocaine coming from Venezuela turned up in Santo Domingo, a high-ranking socialist loyalist indicted on charges that he took bribes from drug traffickers touted the arrests of several subordinates.
Five members of the Venezuelan National Guard were facing charges Saturday after a cocaine trafficking operation was foiled in the Dominican Republic.
Gen. Néstor Reverol, commander of the Venezuelan National Guard and one of President Nicolas Maduro's top loyalists, told reporters during a news conference Friday that four sergeants and a lieutenant were trafficking cocaine out of the Simón Bolívar de Maiquetía International Airport.
Reverol said the goal was to "dismantle the entire gang until getting to the leaders, bosses, of this organization."
Four pieces of luggage with the cargo left on a Láser Airlines flight to the Dominican Republic. Authorities in Santo Domingo believe the U.S. was the intended final destination of the cocaine. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigators believe Venezuela has long served as a trafficking route for cocaine out of Colombia.
Despite accusations from the U.S. that Reverol was part of the "Cartel of the Suns" involving high-ranking members of the Venezuelan military who were protecting cocaine shipments from Colombia, Maduro promoted him last year.
The 53-year-old former head of the Venezuelan anti-drug agency is now the minister of the people's power for interior relations and justice of Venezuela.
In 2016, U.S. prosecutors unsealed a Jan. 1, 2015, indictment against Reverol on charges that he was accepting bribes to help drug traffickers. Two of his nephews -- Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas, 30, and Efraín Antonio Campo Flores, 29, -- were convicted in a conspiracy to import cocaine to the U.S. They were arrested in Haiti.