Alex Nain Saab Moran – who is wanted by U.S. authorities for laundering hundred of millions of dollars for Venezuela Nicolas Maduro’s regime – was detained in Cabo Verde, Africa on Friday, during a scheduled refueling stop from Iran, said sources familiar with the investigation.
Saab Moran flew into the African nation on a Venezuelan government plane, the sources said. Those sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Justice Department officials have already arrived in Cabo Verde, in an effort to take Saab Moran into custody and extradite him to the United States to face pending charges.
DOJ officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
However, the situation will not be simple, they say, because Saab Moran is considered to be far more valuable than the just the money laundering charges contained in his indictment.
“In fact, he’s an enormous asset for the U.S. with information not only on the Maduro regime” but other nations connected to the regime that are considered serious adversaries of the United States, said the sources.
According to information provided to this reporter, members of Maduro’s government left early Saturday morning for Cabo Verde, Africa to fight off an extradition of Saab Moran to the United States.
Although Saab Moran was born in Columbia, he is a citizen of Venezuela, who also has extremely close ties to Cuba, Russia and Iran, said the sources.
“Saab is the biggest asset to the U.S. in the fight against Maduro’s regime, Hezbollah, Iran and Cuba,” said the source familiar with the investigation. “He absolutely must be extradited to the United States. There can be no games with this at all.”
On Saturday evening Jorge Arreaza M Tweeted that the Maduro government “denounces the arbitrary and illegal detention of Venezuelan citizen, Alex Nain Saab, on the part of Interpol, when he transited through the Republic of Cabo Verde.”
#COMUNICADO | Venezuela denuncia la detención arbitraria e ilegal del ciudadano venezolano, Alex Nain Saab, por parte de Interpol, cuando se encontraba en tránsito en la República de Cabo Verde, sumándose a las acciones de agresión, bloqueo y asedio de EEUU contra nuestro país pic.twitter.com/sgGibuVQeU
— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) June 13, 2020
Saab Moran was indicted by the Justice Department last July on federal money-laundering charges. He was accused of bribing Venezuelan officials and funneling more than $350 million to overseas accounts as part of a food program that he said was used to serve the hungry people in Venezuela.
But Saab’s money laundering schemes were far reaching and were done with the assistance of the Maduro regime, which benefited from the vast global transfers. One of the biggest schemes involved a fictitious home building company and began in 2011 with the help of an accomplice in Florida, named Alvaro Pulido Vargas. Vargas is also wanted by the Department of Justice.
“Between on or about March 12, 2012, and on or about December 1, 2014, ALEX NAIN SAAB MORAN, ALVARO PULIDO VARGAS, a/k/a German Enrique Rubio Salas, and their co-conspirators caused wire transfers totaling approximately $350,041,500 to be made from bank accounts in Venezuela owned and controlled by SAAB and PULIDO, through correspondent bank accounts in the United States, and then to overseas bank accounts owned and controlled by SAAB and PULIDO,” stated the July, 2019 indictment.
“Between on or about January 16, 2014, and on or about September 15, 2015, ALEX NAIN SAAB MORAN and AL V ARO PULIDO V ARGAS, a/k/a German Enrique Rubio Salas, distributed profits and paid expenses related to the corrupt scheme by, among other things, causing wire transfers to be made to bank accounts of Co-Conspirator 1 in the Southern District of Florida,” the indictment reads.
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More Deadly Fentanyl Has Been Seized at U.S. Borders Than Heroin For First Time in History
History has been made in the worst of ways. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data shows 2021 was the first time in American history that federal law enforcement seized more of the deadly drug fentanyl than heroin at our borders.
Data shows 11,200 pounds of fentanyl was seized in 2021 compared to 5,400 pounds of heroin. The numbers were double that of 2020’s fentanyl seizures. 319,447 pounds of marijuana, 190,861 pounds of methamphetamine, 97,638 pounds of cocaine and 10,848 pounds of ketamine were also seized in 2021.
Taking the 2022 fiscal year into account, 2,158 pounds of fentanyl has already been seized. 277 pounds of heroin have also been seized in the same time period. The Washington Examiner reports:
Not only were fentanyl seizures at the highest level ever recorded, but fentanyl overdoses within the United States also hit new highs, indicating the success that transnational criminal organizations had in pushing their deadly products to the public. A DEA investigation this fall found a direct link between criminal drug organizations in Mexico and fentanyl-related overdose deaths.
Many drug users are unaware they are taking the substance because street drugs are being laced with fentanyl, making even the most dangerous of illicit drugs deadly.
The Examiner adds, “Because just a few grains of the substance is all it takes for a user to feel its effect, its value per ounce is higher than other drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine. For example, the DEA states 2 milligrams is enough to kill someone who inhales, consumes, or injects it.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) additionally “seized 20.4 million pills that were fake versions of prescriptions and pumped full of fentanyl. The pills were enough to kill every American, according to the DEA.”
Due to small dosages of the drug being so potent, “it also makes it significantly easier for the criminals transporting it to sneak into the country.”
The Examiner also reported on the deadly drug’s connection to Wuhan, China:
Mexican cartels purchase the ingredients for fentanyl from labs in Wuhan, China . The cartels will produce the fentanyl from those ingredients and push it into the U.S. Chinese-based financiers launder the profits for the cartels out of the U.S., back to China, and on to Mexico.
The cartels are in the business of selling whatever drug brings in the most money and is easiest to produce. Through the decades, federal law enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border has seized millions of pounds of drugs — most of which was marijuana.
Over the past five years, marijuana seizures have significantly declined as U.S. states legalized recreational cannabis and legal grow operations began in the U.S. Because marijuana can only be grown in certain climates, similar to cocaine, it made drugs such as fentanyl and methamphetamines more attractive because they can be produced anywhere, any time.
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