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The extradition to the US of a key piece of the Cartel de los Soles, worries the Venezuelan regime

Carlos Orense Azocar was extradited from Italy to New York and faces drug charges that carry a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison. As detailed in an investigation by El Nuevo Herald, he is one of the main logistics operators of the Cartel de Los Soles and had a direct relationship with the top leadership of the criminal organization.

The narco group is commanded by the Venezuelan military and high-ranking officials of the Chavista regime. Diosdado Cabello, number two of the PSUV, the party at the head of the Venezuelan dictatorship, is the main figure of the cartel according to the in-depth investigations of the US State Department.

Orense worked with the also accused Venezuelans Pedro Luis Martín Olivares and Hugo “El Pollo Carvajal” and if a cooperation agreement was reached with the prosecution, he could provide new details about the control he exercises over the Cabello organization.

“He is the man who manages the logistics of the cartel, the one who moves the drug, for the sector that Cabello leads,” sources familiar with the group’s operations told the Nuevo Herald. And it details that Orense, who participated in drug trafficking operations since 2003, managed about 40% of the 40 tons that the cartel sends monthly.

“This man is more dangerous to Diosdado than Leamsy Salazar,” the source added, referring to the star witness in the case. It is that Salazar, who was part of Hugo Chávez’s first security ring and was an assistant to Diosdado Cabello, collaborates as a “protected witness” for the DEA.

Known as “El Gordo”, Orense was arrested in Italy in May 2021 at a pension in Casalvieri (Frosinone, Lazio). He was requested for extradition shortly after by the United States, where he was transferred in the second week of June. Before a federal judge in the Southern District of New York, he pleaded not guilty to charges filed June 23.

According to US prosecutors, Orense participated in a criminal enterprise from 2003 to 2021, in Venezuela, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Mexico along with other conspirators who violated US laws against drug trafficking.

Sources cited by El Nuevo Herald revealed that Orense worked as a customs inspector at the Maiquetía International Airport before beginning to work with Martín, a former director of the counterintelligence unit of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service, who faces drug trafficking charges before the Miami prosecutor’s office since 2015. “He has between 15 and 20 years in drug trafficking,” confirmed a former Venezuelan police officer. Among the responsibilities that he had within the cartel, Orense “was the one who coordinated the shipments, was in charge of the logistics of the money, was in charge of the logistics of sending the drug packages abroad,” he said.

US authorities have spent years investigating the operations of the Cartel de Los Soles, an organization made up of military personnel and high-ranking officials of the Nicolás Maduro regime that controls drug operations in the oil country.

According to Insight Crimes, a platform dedicated to criminal investigation, the term “Cartel de los Soles” was first used in 1993 when two National Guard generals, the head of the anti-narcotics unit Ramón Guillén Dávila and his successor Orlando Hernández Villegas, were investigated for drug trafficking and other related crimes. As brigade commanders, each wore a sun insignia on their epaulettes, giving rise to the name “Cartel del Sol.” Later, when reports of the participation in drug trafficking of the division commanders —who had double soles due to their rank— became known, the term was changed to be called the “Cartel de los Soles.”

The investigations, based on the testimonies of multiple former Venezuelan officials, suggest that it was Chávez himself who orchestrated the creation of the cartel, intending to use drug shipments supplied by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia as a weapon against the United States.

The long history of accusations of official participation in drug trafficking reached its peak in March 2020, when the United States Department of Justice charged Nicolás Maduro, several officials of his administration and former officials, as well as members of the leadership of the FARC, for “narcoterrorism charges.”

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José Martí
José Martí
Nacionalista cubano, poeta, filósofo, ensayista, periodista, traductor, profesor y editor.

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