Nicolás Maduro always did right for Nestor Reverol, appointing him his Interior Minister, the longest-serving member of his cabinet, even after the US accused the National Guard general of drug trafficking.
But, as of Sunday, it seems that those days are over. The once almighty Reverol is now minister for electrical energy. He was replacing only 48 hours after the escape of Leopoldo Lopez was first announced Friday night. Maduro once used him to challenge the US.
Nestor Luis Reverol Torres is a major general in the National Guard. His passage through public office began on October 13, 2012, when he was appointed Minister of the Interior and Justice, a position he held for seven months.
His first stint was brief, bridging the Chavez and Maduro regimes. Before and after that designation, he held the offices of Deputy Minister of Prevention and Citizen Security, Director of the National Anti-Drug Office (ONA), Deputy Director of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Sebin), and as General Commander of the GN.
However, on August 2, 2016, he returned to the Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace, in a trademark defiant move by Maduro in the face of an accusation by the American justice system against Reverol for his alleged involvement in drug trafficking. After four years and two months, Reverol leaves that portfolio to assume the Ministry of Electric Energy. In his place will be Carmen Melendez, elected governor of Lara state in 2017.
Fight against drugs and links with drug-trafficking
In 2009, Reverol was designated as director of the National Anti-Drug Office (ONA). According to the official source, during his administration, he seized drugs shipment, destroyed airstrips used in drug trafficking, and drug-traffickers were captured, including the leader of Los Urabeños Colombian gang and paramilitary chief, Giraldo de Jesus Escalante.
However, also in Colombia, somebody was naming names: Reverol appears in the statements of Walid Makled, an accused drug trafficker now in jail.
“I also want to denounce General Nestor Reverol (…) These companies (Makled drug fronts) have generated 140 million dollars in that time (23 months). Those 140 million would have to be deposited in a court, and they are not there,” Makled said in an interview with Caracas newspaper El Nacional.
New York drug indictment
On August 1, 2016, the Attorney General for the Eastern District of New York charged Reverol and Edylberto Jose Molina Molina with drug trafficking, arguing that both Venezuelans had received payments from traffickers in exchange for distributing cocaine in the United States from 2008 to 2010.
According to information from the New York Prosecutor office, Reverol and Molina provided the drug traffickers with the location of Venezuelan police operations for two years, allowing them to switch the place where they stored the shipments or alter their transportation routes.
The defendants, the prosecution argued, also took care of stopping any investigations that might arise, thus allowing the transport of drugs to leave Venezuela for the United States without any inconvenience. Other charges point out that they prevented arrests or deportations of those involved in drug trafficking in other countries.
“Nothing can be more damaging to the efforts to stop drug trafficking than corrupt officials who break the trust of citizens by helping traffickers to carry out their crimes,” said Robert Capers, attorney general for the Eastern District of New York, in a press release.
The reaction from Nicolas Maduro’s administration did not take long. The next day, again appointed Nestor Reverol as Minister of the Interior and Justice. Reverol took on his new, old position gladly, harassing and arresting opposition politicians and overseeing political repression in a period during which, according to the United Nations, he together with Maduro and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, carried out and planned crimes against humanity.
Additional Reporting by Carlos Camacho.