CICPC director Wilmer Flores Trosels said today that Interpol hasn’t officially notified him yet of the arrest in Andorra of former CICPC anti-drug director Norman Puerta on charges of laundering $1 million in alleged drug money through a bank account there. But as soon as the notification arrives the CICPC will “start investigations to seize the assets this citizen has acquired” in Venezuela, he added.
Flores Trosels has served as director general of CICPC since December 2008 when he replaced Marcos Chavez (no relation to the president). Flores Trosels is a Bolivarian police chief. His top priority is complete loyalty to the revolution (i.e. President Hugo Chavez). Being a real cop is a very distant second.
Whenever a major scandal erupts, Flores Trosels usually doesn’t know anything, at least not publicly. But he was clear today about Norman’s fate. As soon as the Interpol communique lands on Flores Trocels’ desk in Caracas, the CICPC will begin the process of locating and confiscating Norman’s assets in Venezuela. It appears the CICPC general director’s focus right now is on closing the case of Norman Puerta quickly.
The authorities in Andorra, an offshore financial haven which FYI cooperates quietly with US federal counterdrug authorities, have been on Norman’s trail for at least a year.
This would have coincided roughly with the collapse of Stanford Financial group, followed a couple of months later by news reports that between $2.5 billion and $5 billion deposited in a bunch of Andorra-jurisdiction accounts owned by prominent Bolivarian figures had been frozen as part of an investigation into money laundering associated with international drug trafficking and Islamic terrorism.
Norman Puerta isn’t just another rogue anti-narcotics cop. He served in the CICPC for 28 years, rising through the ranks until he wound up in the CICPC’s narcotics division. If Norman pleads his case intelligently, he knows where the skeletons are buried inside the CICPC and other agencies like the National Guard.
Caracas Gringo occasionally comes into contact with CICPC cops, usually in the anti-kidnapping division, but also in the agency’s forensics division (yes, CICPC has a forensics division). CICPC cops are paid s*** wages, don’t have tactical/communications resources to really battle crime, and they’re grossly overworked. For example, CICPC officially investigates every homicide in Venezuela, every vehicle robbery, every bank robbery, and every kidnapping for ransom.
The CICPC’s anti-drug division runs its own investigations and cases, and also works in tandem with the National Guard. The big dogs in counter-drugs in Venezuela always have been CICPC and the National Guard. Also, the CICPC’s anti-kidnapping division works in tandem with the National Guard’s anti-kidnapping and extortion group, which is based in the Andes region.
CICPC’s anti-drugs and anti-kidnapping divisions are where the most skeletons are buried, because that’s where fortunes are made overnight. With prior apologies to the good cops – because, surprisingly, there are a lot of good cops in CICPC – the rogue “crews” with badges run thickest in the anti-drug and anti-kidnapping divisions.
Despite periodic public “operativos” to burn some illegal drugs in furnaces, events which then are duly reported by the local news media, some of narcotics seized by CICPC always trickle back into the drug markets of Caracas and other cities. It’s been that way for decades, since long before Chavez led his failed coup in 1992.
How did Norman Puerta amass $1 million in secret cash? Perhaps he kept a few kilos of cocaine here and there over the years, or provided protection and/or information services to drug traffickers, or supplied “private” security services on the side for politicos or impresarios. It’s also possible he scrimped and saved every centavo he ever earned, honestly.
But Flores Trosels’ statement that CICPC will investigate and seize Norman’s assets as soon as Interpol’s official report arrives suggests that it’s already been decided higher-up that every legal trace of Norman Puerta in Venezuela must be buried. No paper trails, and no loose ends, including the identities of the people Norman did business with all these years.
However, burrowing deeply into Puerta’s history at CICPC might expose some surprising links between drug trafficking and kidnapping, two major criminal activities in Venezuela in which the FARC and ELN very frequently appear in partnerships with bad cops. The CICPC cops who pursue drug traffickers, kidnappers and extortionists know those criminal trades inside-out. And the line between good and rogue cop is so thin as to be, often, non-existent, especially in the CICPC’s anti-drug and anti-kidnapping divisions.
Puerta was a close associate of former CICPC director general Marcos Chavez, who we know for a fact has some major skeletons in his “lechoza” patch.
For example, there’s the still unresolved case of a nephew of Chavez that was murdered in Maracaibo last year in an apparent “ajuste de cuentas” between associates in a kidnapping and car theft ring. The murdered nephew reportesdly was associated with his uncle in some of these activities.
In the grey world of private Venezuelan security specialists who search for people who have been kidnapped, Marcos Chavez also is reputed in some quarters to be the head of a rogue crew of former (and current) CICPC cops involved in organized crime.