US imposes sanctions on Venezuela's vice president

Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami is the most senior Venezuelan official to be targeted in President Nicolas Maduro’s government by the Trump administration.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (R) and Venezuela's Vice President Tareck ElAissami, shake hands during a meeting at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, February 2, 2017.

The US on Monday imposed sanctions on Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami.

He's been accused of playing a major role in international drug trafficking.

Blacklisting El Aissami is the the first crackdown by the Trump administration against a top official in President Nicolas Maduro's government. He is the most senior Venezuelan official ever to be targeted.

He's also accused of having ties to the Lebanon-based terror group, Hezbollah.

El Aissami denies being involved in any criminal activity

The US Department of Treasury said it designated El Aissami for sanctions under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.

His associate, Samark Jose Lopez Bello, was targeted for providing material assistance and financial support for El Aissami's activities, Treasury said.

The Venezuelan government did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Maduro frequently accuses US officials of trying to smear his administration.

TRT World's Juan Carlos Lamas reports from Caracas.

TRTWorld and agencies