Colombia’s Makled Decision Places Regional Priorities Over U.S. Ties

Colombia’s Makled Decision Places Regional Priorities Over U.S. Ties

After a long and complicated legal battle, Colombian authorities have decided to extradite Venezuelan national Walid Makled to Venezuela to face murder and drug-trafficking charges in his native country, rather than in a U.S. court in Manhattan, where he is also wanted on drug-trafficking charges.

Though the decision to send Makled to Venezuela appears to be final, the political implications of his extradition from Colombia -- where he was arrested in August 2010 -- have just begun to ripple around the region and in Washington.

The controversy surrounding Makled, suspected of being one of the region's most powerful brokers in the drug trade, stems from what he knows: Makled claims he has information and video evidence proving that high-ranking military and civilian officials in the Chavez government are involved in drug trafficking. Venezuela has long been known to be an important transshipment route for illegal drugs bound for Central America, Mexico, the United States and Europe, and many analysts have suspected that this has been made possible by the tacit agreement of Chavez government officials.

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