California residents might have heard that the head of Venezuela's National Guard is one of the country's high-ranking officials who will face drug-related charges. While officials in Venezuela have claimed that the investigations are efforts to destabilize the government, federal investigators say that people in the armed forces and high in the government are also involved in trafficking cocaine.
In November, nephews of the country's first lady were detained in Cuba and transported to the United States on charges of planning to transport almost 1,800 pounds of cocaine. Those two men plan to plead not guilty.
A former official from the country's anti-drug office and general in the national guard is also expected to be charged. Venezuelan officials did not respond to calls about the newest developments.
Charges that involve drug trafficking or drug possession may lead to serious penalties. However, individuals may have a number of options for defense. For example, they might wish to plea bargain. This involves pleading guilty, often to lesser charges in return for less severe penalties. However, the person might not be guilty and might want to plead innocent. For example, if several people in a vehicle are taken into custody on charges of drug possession, one of the people may simply have been in the vehicle but not in possession of the drugs. Another possibility is that an aspect of the investigation might be conducted illegally. For example, a wiretap might not have been approved correctly, or a search may have been done without a warrant. A criminal defense attorney can use these types of matters as part of a strategy to be employed before or at trial.
Source: Fox News, "U.S. to charge Venezuelan military officials with cocaine trafficking," Dec. 16, 2015