Nicolás Maduro: US charges Venezuelan president with drug crimes

The US has charged Venezuela’s President, Nicolás Maduro, and other senior officials in the country with international drug trafficking.

The move, which will escalate tensions between the two nations, was announced by Attorney General William Barr.

The US also offered a $15m (£12.5m) reward for information leading to Mr Maduro’s arrest.

It has long accused him of leading a corrupt and brutal regime, a charge he has repeatedly rejected.

Washington backs opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who last year declared himself interim president.

The new charges represent an escalation in the longstanding US pressure campaign on Mr Maduro, which also includes sweeping sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry.

As well as Mr Maduro, the US indictment charged more than a dozen top Venezuelan officials. These included the country’s defence minister and the supreme court’s chief justice.

“The Venezuelan people deserve a transparent, responsible, representative government that serves the needs of the people – and that does not…. engage in illicit narcotics trafficking,” the US state department said.

What does the US indictment say?

The charges against Mr Maduro and 14 members of his inner circle include narco-terrorism, money laundering and corruption.

At a news conference announcing the indictment on Thursday, Mr Barr accused Mr Maduro of conspiring with a faction of the Colombian Farc rebel group “to flood the United States with cocaine” and “devastate…

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