San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Venezuelan judge linked to drug trafficker flown to U.S. on DEA plane

Eladio Aponte, a former judge of Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal of Justice and who was removed by the National Assembly on March 20 for alleged links to Venezuelan drug lord Walid Makled, left Costa Rica on Tuesday for the United States, with support from U.S. officials, the Venezuelan daily El Universal reported.

Mauricio Boraschi, Costa Rica’s vice minister of the Presidency and head of the country’s Department of Intelligence and Security, told local media that the former Venezuelan judge boarded a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency plane bound for Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.

Boraschi added that Aponte travelled to the U.S. after he received a letter from U.S. officials allowing him to enter the country. The former Venezuelan judge held direct negotiations with the DEA in the past few days.

An alleged drug dealer and businessman, Makled was extradited to the U.S. from Colombia in May 2011.

Aponte is being investigated for allegedly giving Makled a government credential as his assistant when he served as head of the Venezuelan Military Prosecutor’s Office.

The daily La Nación reported that after being removed as a judge for alleged ties to a drug trafficker, Aponte traveled to Costa Rica on April 2 on a tourist visa. He is now believed to be cooperating with DEA officials. The Venezuelan government initiated a criminal investigation into Aponte’s alleged links to drug traffickers on April 9.

The U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica would not comment on the Aponte case.

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