ICE: Former Venezuelan VP among 10 most wanted fugitives

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FILE – In this Feb. 1, 2017 file photo, Venezuela’s then Vice President Tareck El Aissami is saluted by a Bolivarian Army officer upon his arrival for a military parade at Fort Tiuna in Caracas, Venezuela. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, has included El Aissami among its 10 most wanted fugitives. ICE posted a Twitter link Wednesday, July 31, 2019, to a “wanted” profile on El Aissami with the hashtag #MostWantedWednesday. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Wednesday added former Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami to its list of 10 most wanted fugitives.

ICE posted a Twitter link to a “wanted” profile on El Aissami with the hashtag #MostWantedWednesday. It cautions: “Do not attempt to apprehend any subject.”

El Aissami, who is now Venezuela’s minister of industry and national production, was charged earlier this year in New York federal court with violating the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act and U.S. Treasury Department sanctions by hiring U.S. companies to provide private jets.

Before the federal charges were brought in March, the U.S. government had labeled him a “specially designated narcotics trafficker” under the Kingpin Act for allegedly playing a major role in global drug trafficking. Aissami has denied that charge.

ICE’s list of 10 most wanted fugitives also includes Venezuelan businessman Samark José López Bello, who was charged in New York federal court and designated as narcotics trafficker along with El Aissami.

López told The Associated Press he is innocent and the designation issued by U.S. Treasury Department is groundless.

“Samark López trusts the U.S. justice system and will seek all available legal avenues to clean his name and resume his businessman activities with total normalcy,” he wrote in a statement.

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