Syrians arrive in Venezuela to guard minister wanted by the US: Report

Venezuelan minister El Aissami is among the most wanted in the US for drug trafficking. (File photo: AFP)

A group of guards from Syria reportedly arrived in Venezuela to operate as a security team for a Venezuela politician, who is among the most wanted in the US for drug trafficking.

Tareck El Aissami currently serves as Minister of Industries and National Production under Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro. El Aissami and his family have helped sneak Lebanese Hezbollah militants into the country, gone into business with a drug lord and shielded 140 tons of chemicals believed to be used for cocaine production, according to a secret dossier reported by The New York Times.

The information about the Syrian guards was revealed by Simon Novis, Special Security Commissioner for Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido, in an interview reported by Guaido’s communications website. Guaido is recognized as Venezuela’s interim ruler by many nations including the US and UK.

"A group of Syrians arrived to take care of the first security ring of El Aissami and his family," said Novis. He said foreign security staff were brought in because El Aissami and his party do not trust the Venezuelan officials who were assigned to their security ring.

The United States blacklisted El Aissami for drug trafficking in 2017. The US Treasury said El Aissami oversaw or partially owned narcotics shipments of more than 1,000 kilograms from Venezuela on multiple occasions, including shipments to Mexico and the United States.

In an opinion article in the Wall Street Journal, editor Mary Anastasia O’Grady described El Aissami as a “master of Middle-Eastern networking” who is “a dream come true for Tehran and Havana.”

El Aissami is of Syrian and Lebanese heritage according to local reports.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:54 - GMT 06:54
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