The president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, was charged in the United States on Thursday with federal drug trafficking crimes after an investigation by federal authorities in Washington, New York and Florida, people briefed on the matter said.
The charges were expected to be announced Thursday morning at a livestreamed video news briefing by the head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Criminal Division in Washington and the top federal prosecutors in New York and Miami, according to a news advisory.
In addition to Maduro, charges are also expected to be announced against nearly a dozen others, including Venezuelan government and intelligence officials and members of the largest rebel group in Colombia, the Revolutionary Armed Forces, known as FARC, which has long drawn its financing from the cocaine trade.
Few details of the charges were available early Thursday, but the charges included narco-terrorism conspiracy and conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States.
The charges comes a month after President Donald Trump, in his State of the Union address, called the Venezuelan head of state “an illegitimate ruler, a tyrant who brutalizes his people,” and vowed that “Maduro’s grip on tyranny will be smashed and broken.”