The PJ Tatler

WaPo weighs in: Why is Obama administration missing the chance to prosecute one of the world's most prolific drug traffickers?

Jackson Diehl hits the story the Tatler has previously covered, perfectly. Colombia has captured Walid Makled, a drug kingpin who may among other things be a nexus between the Venezuelan government — or figures within — and the drug trade, and in turn between that government, the drug trade, and Hezbollah. Makled is also responsible for shipping some 10 tons of cocaine into the US every month, putting him in Pablo Escobar territory. Captured by our allies, the Colombians, on outstanding US warrants, he has said he will talk if he ends up in the US.

Makled says he has videotapes and other evidence documenting his transactions with the generals and with other senior government officials — provincial governors, members of Congress, cabinet secretaries. He says he has information about Venezuela’s help for Hezbollah and other Middle Eastern terrorist groups.

All this, he said repeatedly in an interview with the Univision network, “I will tell to the prosecutor” in New York, where Makled has been indicted on drug charges. That could give the Justice Department the evidence to indict, and the Treasury Department the grounds to sanction, scores of Venezuela’s top leaders.

Makled’s arrest presents a huge opportunity to get to the bottom of so much that threatens Americans. But the Obama administration was slow off the mark in responding when he was arrested, and now Colombia says it will extradite him to Venezuela.  Where, in all likelihood, the world will never hear from him again. Hearing from him is important, to say the least.

It could also lead, as Carl Meacham of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff told me, to “a massive turning point in how people look at the Chavez regime.” A self-styled socialist regarded as the successor to Fidel Castro would be reborn as the heir of Manuel Noriega — ruler not of a revolution but of a narco-state.

Read the WaPo piece, it’s significant both in the information it presents and in the fact that a major mainstream media organization is raising questions about the Makled case.