California residents may have seen media reports indicating that senior members of the Venezuelan military may soon be facing drug trafficking charges in the United States. According to the reports, the general in command of Venezuela's National Guard and a second National Guard general who once held a senior position in the country's National Anti-Drug Office will both be charged with conspiracy to bring cocaine into the U.S.
The report states that the case is being handled by prosecutors attached to the U.S. attorney's office in New York. It is believed that full details about the charges that the two officers may face will be disclosed to the public within weeks. The drug charges are thought to be only a small part of a larger operation that could implicate additional senior members of Venezuela's government and military establishment.
Venezuelan officials did not immediately respond to news of the likely charges, but similar stories in the past have been blamed on an American conspiracy designed to discredit and destabilize the Venezuelan government. The news comes a little over a month after two of the Venezuelan first lady's nephews were taken into custody in Haiti and transported to the United States to face similar charges.
Those convicted of violating federal drug laws may face harsh mandatory sentences, but proving such charges beyond any reasonable doubt is sometimes challenging for prosecutors. These cases often hinge on the reliability of witness testimony and the legitimacy of searches that led to the discovery of illegal drugs. Law enforcement officers must conduct themselves within strict parameters established by the U.S. Constitution, and a criminal defense attorney may seek to have even compelling evidence excluded if the constitutional rights of the defendant appear to have been violated.