US prosecutors have indicted Venezuela's president and other senior government officials on charges of drug trafficking, claiming a "narco-terrorism conspiracy." The unusual move against Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan government, intelligence officials, and members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia stems from a federal investigation in Washington, New York, and Florida, reports the New York Times. Maduro and aides are accused of working to "flood the United States with cocaine" an indictment reads, per NBC New York. They "prioritized using cocaine as a weapon against America," the indictment continues, claiming Maduro "helped manage and ultimately lead" a criminal group dubbed the Cartel of the Suns.
Sitting foreign leaders normally enjoy immunity from prosecution under US law and international norms, per the AP. But the US is among 60 countries that no longer consider Maduro a head of state even if he does hold de facto power. They instead recognize Juan Guaidó, the head of congress, as Venezuela’s rightful leader following the socialist’s re-election in a 2018 race marred by allegations of fraud and an opposition boycott. As the indictments were unsealed, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the State Department would offer cash rewards of up to $55 million for information leading to the arrests or convictions of Maduro and his associates. It offered rewards up to $15 million for Maduro and up to $10 million each for the others. (Read more Nicolas Maduro stories.)