Federal prosecutors in NY will announce drug charges Thursday against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and other government officials, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.
A Justice Department spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec, declined to comment ahead of the news conference.
Maduro is unlikely to be arrested and tried in the United States, but Berman observed that the State Department has offered a $15 million reward for his capture. Together, the officials are accused of "facilitating shipments of narcotics from Venezuela" by air and sea.More news: Feds launch mandatory 14-day quarantine for all returning travellers
Attorney General William Barr announced the charges at the Justice Department in Washington with some officials in attendance and others connected via teleconference - precautions taken amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The indictments - filed against a sitting head of state - are a bold move.
The indictments against Maduro, a sitting head of state who isn't recognized by the US and dozens of other nations, would be the first since the USA issued charges against former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega.More news: Million People File Jobless Claims, Smashing Previous Record Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
Maduro, however, kept the loyalty of his police and military, and remains in power in Caracas. Barr said that Maduro's regime gives the FARC, as the group is known, authority to fly drug-filled planes over Venezuelan airspace and safely manufacture cocaine on its territory.
Prosecutors allege that Maduro and the other Venezuelan officials named in the indictment "participated in a corrupt and violent narco-terrorism conspiracy" between the Venezuelan "Cartel of The Suns" and Colombia's Revolutionary Armed Forces group FARC, which is designated by the U.S.as a terrorist organization.
The indictment against Maduro, a sitting head of state, would be the first since the USA issued charges against former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega.More news: Joe Biden Cool To Idea Of Another Debate With Bernie Sanders