Ex-Venezuela judge guilty in US cocaine case
MIAMI (AP) – A former Venezuelan judge has pleaded guilty to U.S. charges in a cocaine trafficking case that connected high-ranking officials in late President Hugo Chavez’s government to Colombian drug cartels.
Court records show Benny Palmeri-Bacchi pleaded guilty Wednesday. He has been jailed since his arrest in August at Miami International Airport on the way to a family vacation at Disney World.
A grand jury indictment charged that Palmeri-Bacchi conspired with Venezuela’s former Interpol director, Rodolfo McTurk, to assist in moving Colombian cocaine through Venezuela to the U.S. McTurk was also indicted but has remained in Venezuela.
Also charged was Hugo Carvajal, a former Venezuelan military intelligence chief close to the Chavez. Carvajal was arrested in Aruba on the U.S. warrant, but Venezuela managed in July to secure his release.