By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The U.S. offered Thursday a $15 million reward for information that leads to the arrest of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro after indicting him on allegations of "narco-terrorism."
U.S. Attorney General William Barr said Maduro and his high-ranking officials have allegedly "conspired with the FARC, causing tons of cocaine to enter and devastate American communities" for over 20 years.
He was referring to the Colombian guerrilla Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
"Today’s announcement is focused on rooting out the extensive corruption within the Venezuelan government – a system constructed and controlled to enrich those at the highest levels of the government. The United States will not allow these corrupt Venezuelan officials to use the U.S. banking system to move their illicit proceeds from South America nor further their criminal schemes," Barr added.
It is rare for the U.S. to issue an indictment against a sitting head of state, but the Trump administration has long-sought Maduro's ouster in favor of opposition leader Juan Guaido who declared himself interim president in January 2019 amid an ongoing power struggle with Maduro.
In addition, the U.S. is also offering $10 million each for three other Maduro associates, and up to $5 million for information on FARC leader Marin Arango.
Maduro denounced the decision and accused Washington of seeking to “fill Venezuela with violence.”
“As the head of state I am obliged to defend the peace and stability of the entire homeland, no matter what comes our way,” he said on Twitter.