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A 900-pound Virginia man pleaded guilty in a cocaine conspiracy case from inside an ambulance during a hearing the loading dock of a federal courthouse on Tuesday.

Kenneth Hicks, 48, from Emporia, pleaded guilty from a stretcher inside an ambulance that had been backed up to the loading zone of the U.S. Courthouse in downtown Richmond, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

During the hearing, Magistrate Judge David Novak noted how the court had gone through “some extraordinary procedures” to deal with Hicks’ health issues and to “protect his dignity.”

JURY DELIBERATES IN VERMONT WRONG-WAY CRASH THAT KILLED 5

Previously, Novak had approved an unusual plan to get Hicks to the courthouse in a way that protected his health, safety and dignity. The elaborate plan involved the possibility of cutting a hole in the wall of Hicks’ residence in order to lift him out.

Kenneth Hicks, 48, from Emporia, Va., pleaded guilty in a cocaine conspiracy case on Tuesday. The hearing had to be in the loading dock of the U.S. Courthouse in Richmond and Hicks made his plea from an ambulance that had been backed up to the loading zone.

Kenneth Hicks, 48, from Emporia, Va., pleaded guilty in a cocaine conspiracy case on Tuesday. The hearing had to be in the loading dock of the U.S. Courthouse in Richmond and Hicks made his plea from an ambulance that had been backed up to the loading zone. (iStock)

“The FBI and U.S. Marshals may determine that it is necessary to open a large hole in the wall of the structure in order to facilitate the use of a device capable of lifting the defendant’s weight,” the request, which was approved by the judge, said.

“This procedure may also require the removal of the ramp near his doorway, and trees on the property. This procedure may require the bracing of the floor, and the removal of parts of the ceiling structure as well,” the request continued. “All steps will be taken to minimize damage and protect the defendant’s property.”

135 OFFICERS ARREST 50 PEOPLE IN MASSIVE CONNECTICUT HEROIN BUST: 11 SUSPECTS ON THE RUN

Hicks — who reportedly cannot dress himself or walk — was supposed to appear in court last week, but after he was removed from his home he had to be brought to a hospital. He told the court he was being treated for injuries on his back and was receiving insulin.

During the hearing, his lawyer was in the ambulance with him, the Times-Dispatch reported, while Magistrate Judge David Novak and a prosecutor sat at a table on the loading dock.

Hicks pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute, which took place from 2013 to 2017. The conspiracy involved 18 people, according to the Times-Dispatch, who have been charged in three indictments.

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Hicks faces a minimum of five years up to a maximum of 40 years and a $5 million fine, the outlet reported. Novak scheduled Hicks’ sentencing hearing for September.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News National

In October, Fernando Alban –  the councilman of dissident Venezuelan political party Primero Justicia – spoke out against the embattled nation’s leader Nicolas Maduro at the United Nations in New York. On his return to Simon Bolivar International Airport, he was quietly seized by Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN). Three days later, Alban plunged to his death from a secretive 10th-floor building while undergoing interrogation.

The official line is suicide, but many are suspiciously pointing to his death at the hands of the country’s most formidable security and intelligence wing.

Under the rule of the Vice President of Venezuela, currently Delcy Rodriguez, the internal security auspices have indeed clocked up a thick file of human rights violations and accusations of torture of those who oppose the Maduro-helmed regime.

“The SEBIN operates across Venezuela conducting surveillance and patrolling as a political police,” Johan Obdola, former Venezuelan counter-narcotics chief and founder of the Latin America-focused Security and Intelligence firm, IOSI, told Fox News. “However, its main operations are based on physical intelligence operations across the nation and abroad, having its main objectives to neutralize political opponents of the regime. They are the most feared.”

MADURO’S ‘COLLECTIVOS’ STRIKE TERROR WHILE TRYING TO WIN BACK SUPPORT OF VENEZUELA’S MOST VULNERABLE

While the SEBIN has its headquarters in El Helicoide in Caracas – with a cryptic prison locals call the Tomb (La Tumba) five floors below the surface in one of its Caracas offices – its branches and satellite locations spawn the country. Some say agents also operate in Venezuelan diplomatic representations in various parts of the globe. In 2012, the Nuevo Herald reported that around a dozen apparent SEBIN agents operating in the diplomatic sphere in the United States were forced to leave.

SEBIN – which for decades had been called the National Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services (DISIP) until former President Hugo Chavez changed the name in 2009 – ramped up its involvement in the drug trade around 2006, well-placed sources said. The boost came just months after Chavez expelled the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) from Venezuela.

One 54-year-old Venezuela government defector, who can only be identified by the pseudonym Ras given family ties still inside the fast-deteriorating country, long served as a loyal intelligence confidante close to Hugo Chavez. He was then promoted to the top command section of the SEBIN with the position of commissioner until late 2014 when the “level of repression the agency was ordered to implement against the protesters” became too much to stomach, and in his view, the narcotics change became too entrenched in their own day-to-day missions.

The narco-trafficking ratcheted up around 2004, Ras stressed, and in 2007 leaped to a new level. He claims Chavez personally ordered covert missions to send cocaine to the United States and Europe, in coordination with the FARC rebels in neighboring Colombia, and then through the Mexican cartels that were active in cross-border enterprise.

“They also discussed the involvement of a Venezuelan drug lord, Walid Makled, who was an important drug capo in Venezuela and who received big contracts from the Venezuelan government. Later on, Walid Makled’s drug operations started bothering Chavez. So in 2008, Chavez ordered Tareck El Aissami, then Minister of Interior, to ‘sacrifice’ Walid,” Ras said. “So Tareck ordered the arrest of Walid, then Chavez ordered Tareck to take over the drug operation, as this action against the USA could not be stopped.”

Staff members of jailed councilman Fernando Alberto Alban Salazar embrace outside the Bolivarian National Security Service (SEBIN) headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018. Venezuela's Attorney General Tarek William Saab said Monday that Salazar, who was arrested on suspicion of involvement in a failed assassination attempt on President Nicolas Maduro, has died of suicide. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Staff members of jailed councilman Fernando Alberto Alban Salazar embrace outside the Bolivarian National Security Service (SEBIN) headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018. Venezuela’s Attorney General Tarek William Saab said Monday that Salazar, who was arrested on suspicion of involvement in a failed assassination attempt on President Nicolas Maduro, has died of suicide. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

In early 2017, Maduro appointed Aissami to be his Vice President, and thus relegated to the critical role of overseeing the SEBIN. Aissami – born to a Lebanese mother and Syrian father – is one of the wealthiest men in the country, and for years has been under investigation by U.S. prosecutors for having close connections to Hezbollah and financing from their drug trafficking.

Aissami remained in the second-in-command role until June of 2018, when he was shuffled to the position of Minister of Industries and National Production.

“Venezuela is not a country for internal operations of drug cartels, but a strategic hub not only for the two cartels of the Venezuelan government; but to other regional and international drugs, criminal and terrorist groups who operate with the protection and support of the regime,” Ras emphasized. “Most of these drugs reaches USA and Europe, via Mexico, Dominican Republic, Africa, Brazil. Most military personnel in Venezuela are involved in these operations at all levels across the nation.”

Ras also underscored that for years Hezbollah members – who were profiting heavily from narco safe haven in Venezuela and operating out of the notorious tri-border region – between Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil – had long been acquiring Venezuelan passports.

“Beginning around 2010, ten to fifteen men would arrive every two or three months to one particular military unit – the Special Infantry Battalion 421 – where they are fed and taken to the National Office of Identification SAIME in Aragua State where they receive Venezuelan ID including passports,” he recalled. “Then they are sent to other Latin American nations, some of them using the airline Cubana de Aviation – going to Cuba – as well as to other islands in the Caribbean.”

One Caracas-based journalist pointed out that “everyone knows this is happening, but the degree to which the drug operation has been happening is much more elaborate than anyone knew.”

DRUG TRAFFICKING KEEPING MADURO IN POWER IN VENEZUELA, ANALYSTS SAY

Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow and Latin America expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), described the SEBIN as a service that should function as Venezuela’s version of the FBI, but in practice is “a state tool of political repression used to silence dissent and terrorize opponents.”

“SEBIN remained until very recently the whip the regime used to crack dissent. In the last few days, questions have begun to arise with regard to the possible role of some senior figures in switching allegiance and seeking to remove Maduro,” he said. “It remains a formidable tool of repression.”

In this photo released by Miraflores Press Office, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, right, accompanied by his Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, waves upon his arrival to Fort Tiuna, in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, May 2, 2019.  (Jhonn Zerpa/Miraflores Press Office via AP)

In this photo released by Miraflores Press Office, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, right, accompanied by his Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, waves upon his arrival to Fort Tiuna, in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, May 2, 2019.  (Jhonn Zerpa/Miraflores Press Office via AP)

Ottolenghi concurred that the agency is very much a mastermind behind the burgeoning drug trade.

“They have given protection to at least one key drug lord and have sought to leverage their long reach to take a U.S. journalist hostage in a bid to swap her for the two nephews of President Maduro after they were detained in the U.S on drug charges,” he noted.

Maduro’s nephews, who were primarily raised by his wife Cilia Flores, were sentenced to 18 years behind bars in late 2017, two years after being extradited to the U.S. from Haiti and convicted of drug trafficking charges.

Moreover, Ras is far from surprised that, given the strength of the SEBIN and drug financing, the regime inside the once oil-rich and prosperous nation is yet to crumble.

“It is extremely difficult as there is a complicated criminal and terrorist structure supporting Maduro,” he asserted.

Venezuelan Bolivarian National guards officers form a cordon around the National Assembly building as the opposition-controlled congress met to discuss a move that could provide political cover for greater international involvement in the nation's crisis, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. Military police prevented journalists from entering the National Assembly, and some reporters were harassed by government supporters outside the building. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Venezuelan Bolivarian National guards officers form a cordon around the National Assembly building as the opposition-controlled congress met to discuss a move that could provide political cover for greater international involvement in the nation’s crisis, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. Military police prevented journalists from entering the National Assembly, and some reporters were harassed by government supporters outside the building. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Obdola echoed that since Maduro’s arrival to power in 2013, SEBIN has “radicalized its violent actions against the opposition, protestors, and the rest of the civilian population.”

“Being under the direct order of the Vice President of the country, SEBIN can even hold political prisoners after a judge has ordered a release, in exceptional cases,” he continued.

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Nonetheless, the U.S. is dangling incentives for even SEBIN operators who break rank.

Earlier this month, Gen. Manuel Cristopher Figuera – who was appointed the head of the intelligence service last October and was later placed under U.S. economic sanctions – had those sanctions removed after, having days earlier resigned from his post and jumped ship to support Juan Guaido’s opposition movement. He is the highest-ranking official so far to have turned on his former Commander-in-Chief.

Source: Fox News World

In October, Fernando Alban –  the councilman of dissident Venezuelan political party Primero Justicia – spoke out against the embattled nation’s leader Nicolas Maduro at the United Nations in New York. On his return to Simon Bolivar International Airport, he was quietly seized by Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN). Three days later, Alban plunged to his death from a secretive 10th-floor building while undergoing interrogation.

The official line is suicide, but many are suspiciously pointing to his death at the hands of the country’s most formidable security and intelligence wing.

Under the rule of the Vice President of Venezuela, currently Delcy Rodriguez, the internal security auspices have indeed clocked up a thick file of human rights violations and accusations of torture of those who oppose the Maduro-helmed regime.

“The SEBIN operates across Venezuela conducting surveillance and patrolling as a political police,” Johan Obdola, former Venezuelan counter-narcotics chief and founder of the Latin America-focused Security and Intelligence firm, IOSI, told Fox News. “However, its main operations are based on physical intelligence operations across the nation and abroad, having its main objectives to neutralize political opponents of the regime. They are the most feared.”

MADURO’S ‘COLLECTIVOS’ STRIKE TERROR WHILE TRYING TO WIN BACK SUPPORT OF VENEZUELA’S MOST VULNERABLE

While the SEBIN has its headquarters in El Helicoide in Caracas – with a cryptic prison locals call the Tomb (La Tumba) five floors below the surface in one of its Caracas offices – its branches and satellite locations spawn the country. Some say agents also operate in Venezuelan diplomatic representations in various parts of the globe. In 2012, the Nuevo Herald reported that around a dozen apparent SEBIN agents operating in the diplomatic sphere in the United States were forced to leave.

SEBIN – which for decades had been called the National Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services (DISIP) until former President Hugo Chavez changed the name in 2009 – ramped up its involvement in the drug trade around 2006, well-placed sources said. The boost came just months after Chavez expelled the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) from Venezuela.

One 54-year-old Venezuela government defector, who can only be identified by the pseudonym Ras given family ties still inside the fast-deteriorating country, long served as a loyal intelligence confidante close to Hugo Chavez. He was then promoted to the top command section of the SEBIN with the position of commissioner until late 2014 when the “level of repression the agency was ordered to implement against the protesters” became too much to stomach, and in his view, the narcotics change became too entrenched in their own day-to-day missions.

The narco-trafficking ratcheted up around 2004, Ras stressed, and in 2007 leaped to a new level. He claims Chavez personally ordered covert missions to send cocaine to the United States and Europe, in coordination with the FARC rebels in neighboring Colombia, and then through the Mexican cartels that were active in cross-border enterprise.

“They also discussed the involvement of a Venezuelan drug lord, Walid Makled, who was an important drug capo in Venezuela and who received big contracts from the Venezuelan government. Later on, Walid Makled’s drug operations started bothering Chavez. So in 2008, Chavez ordered Tareck El Aissami, then Minister of Interior, to ‘sacrifice’ Walid,” Ras said. “So Tareck ordered the arrest of Walid, then Chavez ordered Tareck to take over the drug operation, as this action against the USA could not be stopped.”

Staff members of jailed councilman Fernando Alberto Alban Salazar embrace outside the Bolivarian National Security Service (SEBIN) headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018. Venezuela's Attorney General Tarek William Saab said Monday that Salazar, who was arrested on suspicion of involvement in a failed assassination attempt on President Nicolas Maduro, has died of suicide. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Staff members of jailed councilman Fernando Alberto Alban Salazar embrace outside the Bolivarian National Security Service (SEBIN) headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018. Venezuela’s Attorney General Tarek William Saab said Monday that Salazar, who was arrested on suspicion of involvement in a failed assassination attempt on President Nicolas Maduro, has died of suicide. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

In early 2017, Maduro appointed Aissami to be his Vice President, and thus relegated to the critical role of overseeing the SEBIN. Aissami – born to a Lebanese mother and Syrian father – is one of the wealthiest men in the country, and for years has been under investigation by U.S. prosecutors for having close connections to Hezbollah and financing from their drug trafficking.

Aissami remained in the second-in-command role until June of 2018, when he was shuffled to the position of Minister of Industries and National Production.

“Venezuela is not a country for internal operations of drug cartels, but a strategic hub not only for the two cartels of the Venezuelan government; but to other regional and international drugs, criminal and terrorist groups who operate with the protection and support of the regime,” Ras emphasized. “Most of these drugs reaches USA and Europe, via Mexico, Dominican Republic, Africa, Brazil. Most military personnel in Venezuela are involved in these operations at all levels across the nation.”

Ras also underscored that for years Hezbollah members – who were profiting heavily from narco safe haven in Venezuela and operating out of the notorious tri-border region – between Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil – had long been acquiring Venezuelan passports.

“Beginning around 2010, ten to fifteen men would arrive every two or three months to one particular military unit – the Special Infantry Battalion 421 – where they are fed and taken to the National Office of Identification SAIME in Aragua State where they receive Venezuelan ID including passports,” he recalled. “Then they are sent to other Latin American nations, some of them using the airline Cubana de Aviation – going to Cuba – as well as to other islands in the Caribbean.”

One Caracas-based journalist pointed out that “everyone knows this is happening, but the degree to which the drug operation has been happening is much more elaborate than anyone knew.”

DRUG TRAFFICKING KEEPING MADURO IN POWER IN VENEZUELA, ANALYSTS SAY

Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow and Latin America expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), described the SEBIN as a service that should function as Venezuela’s version of the FBI, but in practice is “a state tool of political repression used to silence dissent and terrorize opponents.”

“SEBIN remained until very recently the whip the regime used to crack dissent. In the last few days, questions have begun to arise with regard to the possible role of some senior figures in switching allegiance and seeking to remove Maduro,” he said. “It remains a formidable tool of repression.”

In this photo released by Miraflores Press Office, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, right, accompanied by his Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, waves upon his arrival to Fort Tiuna, in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, May 2, 2019.  (Jhonn Zerpa/Miraflores Press Office via AP)

In this photo released by Miraflores Press Office, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, right, accompanied by his Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, waves upon his arrival to Fort Tiuna, in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, May 2, 2019.  (Jhonn Zerpa/Miraflores Press Office via AP)

Ottolenghi concurred that the agency is very much a mastermind behind the burgeoning drug trade.

“They have given protection to at least one key drug lord and have sought to leverage their long reach to take a U.S. journalist hostage in a bid to swap her for the two nephews of President Maduro after they were detained in the U.S on drug charges,” he noted.

Maduro’s nephews, who were primarily raised by his wife Cilia Flores, were sentenced to 18 years behind bars in late 2017, two years after being extradited to the U.S. from Haiti and convicted of drug trafficking charges.

Moreover, Ras is far from surprised that, given the strength of the SEBIN and drug financing, the regime inside the once oil-rich and prosperous nation is yet to crumble.

“It is extremely difficult as there is a complicated criminal and terrorist structure supporting Maduro,” he asserted.

Venezuelan Bolivarian National guards officers form a cordon around the National Assembly building as the opposition-controlled congress met to discuss a move that could provide political cover for greater international involvement in the nation's crisis, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. Military police prevented journalists from entering the National Assembly, and some reporters were harassed by government supporters outside the building. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Venezuelan Bolivarian National guards officers form a cordon around the National Assembly building as the opposition-controlled congress met to discuss a move that could provide political cover for greater international involvement in the nation’s crisis, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. Military police prevented journalists from entering the National Assembly, and some reporters were harassed by government supporters outside the building. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Obdola echoed that since Maduro’s arrival to power in 2013, SEBIN has “radicalized its violent actions against the opposition, protestors, and the rest of the civilian population.”

“Being under the direct order of the Vice President of the country, SEBIN can even hold political prisoners after a judge has ordered a release, in exceptional cases,” he continued.

GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Nonetheless, the U.S. is dangling incentives for even SEBIN operators who break rank.

Earlier this month, Gen. Manuel Cristopher Figuera – who was appointed the head of the intelligence service last October and was later placed under U.S. economic sanctions – had those sanctions removed after, having days earlier resigned from his post and jumped ship to support Juan Guaido’s opposition movement. He is the highest-ranking official so far to have turned on his former Commander-in-Chief.

Source: Fox News World

In October, Fernando Alban –  the councilman of dissident Venezuelan political party Primero Justicia – spoke out against the embattled nation’s leader Nicolas Maduro at the United Nations in New York. On his return to Simon Bolivar International Airport, he was quietly seized by Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN). Three days later, Alban plunged to his death from a secretive 10th-floor building while undergoing interrogation.

The official line is suicide, but many are suspiciously pointing to his death at the hands of the country’s most formidable security and intelligence wing.

Under the rule of the Vice President of Venezuela, currently Delcy Rodriguez, the internal security auspices have indeed clocked up a thick file of human rights violations and accusations of torture of those who oppose the Maduro-helmed regime.

“The SEBIN operates across Venezuela conducting surveillance and patrolling as a political police,” Johan Obdola, former Venezuelan counter-narcotics chief and founder of the Latin America-focused Security and Intelligence firm, IOSI, told Fox News. “However, its main operations are based on physical intelligence operations across the nation and abroad, having its main objectives to neutralize political opponents of the regime. They are the most feared.”

MADURO’S ‘COLLECTIVOS’ STRIKE TERROR WHILE TRYING TO WIN BACK SUPPORT OF VENEZUELA’S MOST VULNERABLE

While the SEBIN has its headquarters in El Helicoide in Caracas – with a cryptic prison locals call the Tomb (La Tumba) five floors below the surface in one of its Caracas offices – its branches and satellite locations spawn the country. Some say agents also operate in Venezuelan diplomatic representations in various parts of the globe. In 2012, the Nuevo Herald reported that around a dozen apparent SEBIN agents operating in the diplomatic sphere in the United States were forced to leave.

SEBIN – which for decades had been called the National Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services (DISIP) until former President Hugo Chavez changed the name in 2009 – ramped up its involvement in the drug trade around 2006, well-placed sources said. The boost came just months after Chavez expelled the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) from Venezuela.

One 54-year-old Venezuela government defector, who can only be identified by the pseudonym Ras given family ties still inside the fast-deteriorating country, long served as a loyal intelligence confidante close to Hugo Chavez. He was then promoted to the top command section of the SEBIN with the position of commissioner until late 2014 when the “level of repression the agency was ordered to implement against the protesters” became too much to stomach, and in his view, the narcotics change became too entrenched in their own day-to-day missions.

The narco-trafficking ratcheted up around 2004, Ras stressed, and in 2007 leaped to a new level. He claims Chavez personally ordered covert missions to send cocaine to the United States and Europe, in coordination with the FARC rebels in neighboring Colombia, and then through the Mexican cartels that were active in cross-border enterprise.

“They also discussed the involvement of a Venezuelan drug lord, Walid Makled, who was an important drug capo in Venezuela and who received big contracts from the Venezuelan government. Later on, Walid Makled’s drug operations started bothering Chavez. So in 2008, Chavez ordered Tareck El Aissami, then Minister of Interior, to ‘sacrifice’ Walid,” Ras said. “So Tareck ordered the arrest of Walid, then Chavez ordered Tareck to take over the drug operation, as this action against the USA could not be stopped.”

Staff members of jailed councilman Fernando Alberto Alban Salazar embrace outside the Bolivarian National Security Service (SEBIN) headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018. Venezuela's Attorney General Tarek William Saab said Monday that Salazar, who was arrested on suspicion of involvement in a failed assassination attempt on President Nicolas Maduro, has died of suicide. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Staff members of jailed councilman Fernando Alberto Alban Salazar embrace outside the Bolivarian National Security Service (SEBIN) headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018. Venezuela’s Attorney General Tarek William Saab said Monday that Salazar, who was arrested on suspicion of involvement in a failed assassination attempt on President Nicolas Maduro, has died of suicide. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

In early 2017, Maduro appointed Aissami to be his Vice President, and thus relegated to the critical role of overseeing the SEBIN. Aissami – born to a Lebanese mother and Syrian father – is one of the wealthiest men in the country, and for years has been under investigation by U.S. prosecutors for having close connections to Hezbollah and financing from their drug trafficking.

Aissami remained in the second-in-command role until June of 2018, when he was shuffled to the position of Minister of Industries and National Production.

“Venezuela is not a country for internal operations of drug cartels, but a strategic hub not only for the two cartels of the Venezuelan government; but to other regional and international drugs, criminal and terrorist groups who operate with the protection and support of the regime,” Ras emphasized. “Most of these drugs reaches USA and Europe, via Mexico, Dominican Republic, Africa, Brazil. Most military personnel in Venezuela are involved in these operations at all levels across the nation.”

Ras also underscored that for years Hezbollah members – who were profiting heavily from narco safe haven in Venezuela and operating out of the notorious tri-border region – between Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil – had long been acquiring Venezuelan passports.

“Beginning around 2010, ten to fifteen men would arrive every two or three months to one particular military unit – the Special Infantry Battalion 421 – where they are fed and taken to the National Office of Identification SAIME in Aragua State where they receive Venezuelan ID including passports,” he recalled. “Then they are sent to other Latin American nations, some of them using the airline Cubana de Aviation – going to Cuba – as well as to other islands in the Caribbean.”

One Caracas-based journalist pointed out that “everyone knows this is happening, but the degree to which the drug operation has been happening is much more elaborate than anyone knew.”

DRUG TRAFFICKING KEEPING MADURO IN POWER IN VENEZUELA, ANALYSTS SAY

Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow and Latin America expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), described the SEBIN as a service that should function as Venezuela’s version of the FBI, but in practice is “a state tool of political repression used to silence dissent and terrorize opponents.”

“SEBIN remained until very recently the whip the regime used to crack dissent. In the last few days, questions have begun to arise with regard to the possible role of some senior figures in switching allegiance and seeking to remove Maduro,” he said. “It remains a formidable tool of repression.”

In this photo released by Miraflores Press Office, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, right, accompanied by his Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, waves upon his arrival to Fort Tiuna, in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, May 2, 2019.  (Jhonn Zerpa/Miraflores Press Office via AP)

In this photo released by Miraflores Press Office, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, right, accompanied by his Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, waves upon his arrival to Fort Tiuna, in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, May 2, 2019.  (Jhonn Zerpa/Miraflores Press Office via AP)

Ottolenghi concurred that the agency is very much a mastermind behind the burgeoning drug trade.

“They have given protection to at least one key drug lord and have sought to leverage their long reach to take a U.S. journalist hostage in a bid to swap her for the two nephews of President Maduro after they were detained in the U.S on drug charges,” he noted.

Maduro’s nephews, who were primarily raised by his wife Cilia Flores, were sentenced to 18 years behind bars in late 2017, two years after being extradited to the U.S. from Haiti and convicted of drug trafficking charges.

Moreover, Ras is far from surprised that, given the strength of the SEBIN and drug financing, the regime inside the once oil-rich and prosperous nation is yet to crumble.

“It is extremely difficult as there is a complicated criminal and terrorist structure supporting Maduro,” he asserted.

Venezuelan Bolivarian National guards officers form a cordon around the National Assembly building as the opposition-controlled congress met to discuss a move that could provide political cover for greater international involvement in the nation's crisis, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. Military police prevented journalists from entering the National Assembly, and some reporters were harassed by government supporters outside the building. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Venezuelan Bolivarian National guards officers form a cordon around the National Assembly building as the opposition-controlled congress met to discuss a move that could provide political cover for greater international involvement in the nation’s crisis, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. Military police prevented journalists from entering the National Assembly, and some reporters were harassed by government supporters outside the building. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Obdola echoed that since Maduro’s arrival to power in 2013, SEBIN has “radicalized its violent actions against the opposition, protestors, and the rest of the civilian population.”

“Being under the direct order of the Vice President of the country, SEBIN can even hold political prisoners after a judge has ordered a release, in exceptional cases,” he continued.

GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Nonetheless, the U.S. is dangling incentives for even SEBIN operators who break rank.

Earlier this month, Gen. Manuel Cristopher Figuera – who was appointed the head of the intelligence service last October and was later placed under U.S. economic sanctions – had those sanctions removed after, having days earlier resigned from his post and jumped ship to support Juan Guaido’s opposition movement. He is the highest-ranking official so far to have turned on his former Commander-in-Chief.

Source: Fox News World

The drug abuse and homeless problems in cities like San Francisco will not be solved by government intervention because they are “moral” and “spiritual” issues, conservative radio host Larry Elder said.

Elder made the comments Monday on “Hannity.” Sean Hannity, the host, said there are tens of thousands of homeless people in San Francisco, even some a short distance from the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

He told Elder that there are issues with human feces in public places and “needles everywhere.” He said Pelosi and other wealthy San Francisco residents should “chip in” to get the affected people “counseling [and] a warm meal.”

“They’re only generous with our money, I guess,” Hannity said.

LAWRENCE JONES: NEEDLES, DRUG USE AND HUMAN WASTE ARE THE NEW NORMAL IN SAN FRANCISCO

“You hit the nail on the head when you talked about what she should do with her money,” Elder said. “Because this is not going to be solved by government. It’s a moral problem and a spiritual problem.”

Elder said that the issue is “[n]ot only a public safety and public health problem, it’s a liability problem. When and if some kid gets hurt, get stuck, contracts some disease, the taxpayers are going to be on hook for millions and millions of dollars.”

Hannity recalled how Fox News contributor Lawrence Jones traveled to San Francisco in April, to witness first-hand the city’s struggle to keep its streets clean.

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He appeared on both “Hannity” and “Fox & Friends” at the time, recalling that within a few minutes of exiting his vehicle, he came across needles strewn about the sidewalks.

Residents also told him the sight of homeless people injecting themselves with drugs in public places is common, as is dodging piles of human waste on their way to work in the mornings.

Fox News’ Anna Hopkins contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

The drug abuse and homeless problems in cities like San Francisco will not be solved by government intervention because they are “moral” and “spiritual” issues, conservative radio host Larry Elder said.

Elder made the comments Monday on “Hannity.” Sean Hannity, the host, said there are tens of thousands of homeless people in San Francisco, even some a short distance from the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

He told Elder that there are issues with human feces in public places and “needles everywhere.” He said Pelosi and other wealthy San Francisco residents should “chip in” to get the affected people “counseling [and] a warm meal.”

“They’re only generous with our money, I guess,” Hannity said.

LAWRENCE JONES: NEEDLES, DRUG USE AND HUMAN WASTE ARE THE NEW NORMAL IN SAN FRANCISCO

“You hit the nail on the head when you talked about what she should do with her money,” Elder said. “Because this is not going to be solved by government. It’s a moral problem and a spiritual problem.”

Elder said that the issue is “[n]ot only a public safety and public health problem, it’s a liability problem. When and if some kid gets hurt, get stuck, contracts some disease, the taxpayers are going to be on hook for millions and millions of dollars.”

Hannity recalled how Fox News contributor Lawrence Jones traveled to San Francisco in April, to witness first-hand the city’s struggle to keep its streets clean.

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He appeared on both “Hannity” and “Fox & Friends” at the time, recalling that within a few minutes of exiting his vehicle, he came across needles strewn about the sidewalks.

Residents also told him the sight of homeless people injecting themselves with drugs in public places is common, as is dodging piles of human waste on their way to work in the mornings.

Fox News’ Anna Hopkins contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

State and Federal law enforcement arrested 50 people in Connecticut on Friday as part of a massive undercover operation that resulted in the seizure of thousands of bags of heroin, guns and $15,000 in cash.

Police in Waterbury say the arrests were part of an investigation called “Operation Raw Deal” that began in September “in response to an increase in heroin overdoses and heroin-related deaths in the city.”

According to Fox 61, detectives issued 92 warrants for the 52 suspects, with charges ranging from the sale of narcotics, conspiracy at the sale of narcotics, firearm violations and possession in a school zone. Thirteen police teams carried out those warrants in a series of raids across the quiet Connecticut town.

CONNECTICUT MOSQUE BLAZE BEING INVESTIGATED AS ARSON, FIRE CHIEF SAYS

The arrest phase of “Operation: Raw Deal” consisted of 135 detectives, officers, agents and investigators, from the VICE and Intelligence Division, Criminal Investigation Bureau (CID), Gang Task Force (GTF), Street Crime Unit (SCU), Emergency Response Team (ERT), Patrol Division, forensic technicians and investigators from other local and federal law enforcement agencies.

Forty-one suspects from the original list of 52 were arrested for various drug-related offenses, while nine people were arrested for various drug-related offenses and other crimes.

Detectives seized 8 ounces of raw heroin, thousands of bags of heroin packaged for sale, $15,000 in cash, two cars, two handguns, bullets and a rifle.

Waterbury police say most of those arrested in the monthlong operation were mid-level heroin dealers.

Lt. David Silverio says this operation was about saving lives, not just making arrests.

“You have the people that have a medical need and may need treatment and then we have traffickers and suppliers. This kind of operation is targeting the trafficker side of the narcotics problem,” Lt. Silverio of the Waterbury Police Department told Fox 61.

FLORIDA LOTTERY WINNER OF $1M AMONG SUSPECTS ROUNDED UP IN MAJOR DRUG BUST: REPORTS

“As of May 4, there’s been 24 deaths in Waterbury this year alone and 99 overdoses. This year, the numbers hopefully will get better, but we have a problem right here in this city,” added Lt. Silverio.

In a nationwide study by the CDC, overdose deaths in 2017 are nearly four times as frequent as they were in 1999. Heroin overdoses have remained stagnant, as other forms of opioid use have increased dramatically.

Fox 61 says there are still 11 people on the run from the operation. The Waterbury Police says if you recognize one of the suspects, do not approach them and contact police immediately.

Source: Fox News National

A little more than a year ago, Karlee Harbst was the smiling winner of a $1 million prize in the Florida Lottery. She had even won a $100 prize a week earlier.

The money was coming at a great time too, because Harbst was reportedly pregnant.

But last week, the 27-year-old Port Orange woman was among more than 20 suspects apprehended by police in a major drug bust, according to reports. She was reportedly charged with solicitation to deliver heroin and unlawful use of a two-way communication device, and made her first court appearance Friday in connection with the case.

MEXICAN CARTELS USING BORDER MIGRANT CRISIS TO DISTRACT AGENTS FROM DRUG SMUGGLING, CARROLL SAYS

Her lottery winnings had marked an opportunity for Harbst to turn her life around after a criminal history that included previous arrests for drug possession, theft, contempt of court and driving with a suspended license, according to the Miami Herald.

Last May, Karlee Harbst won $1 million in the Florida Lottery's Gold Rush game, according to reports. (Florida Lottery)

Last May, Karlee Harbst won $1 million in the Florida Lottery’s Gold Rush game, according to reports. (Florida Lottery)

RYAN HAMPTON: CONGRESS SHOULD FOCUS MORE ON THE DRUG EPIDEMIC AND LESS ON ROBERT MUELLER

But instead, she allegedly got involved with the operators of an extensive drug operation that peddled in heroin, fentanyl and cocaine, according to Florida law enforcement authorities.

“These are not nice people,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood told the Daytona Beach News-Journal last week, referring to the alleged ringleaders and others who were arrested.

Authorities hope that the bust, dubbed “Operation: Smooth Criminal,” will help reduce drug traffic in an area that saw some 300 drug-related deaths between 2017 and 2018, the News-Journal reported.

Florida Lottery winner Karlee Harbst, 27, was among suspects rounded up in “Operation: Smooth Criminal,” authorities say. (Volusia County Corrections Department)

Florida Lottery winner Karlee Harbst, 27, was among suspects rounded up in “Operation: Smooth Criminal,” authorities say. (Volusia County Corrections Department)

Nine of the suspects were linked to the organization while others were nabbed in a series of raids in Volusia County, according to the paper.

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Volusia County, which includes Daytona Beach, lies on the Atlantic coast of Florida, northeast of Orlando.

Back when Harbst won the lottery, she appeared on local TV and said she bought the ticket because of its number, the Herald reported.

“When I saw the ticket was number 24, I had to get it. Twenty-four is my favorite number,” she reportedly told Orlando’s WESH-TV.

After last week’s drug bust, according to authorities, it looks like Harbst’s number may be up again.

Source: Fox News National

A little more than a year ago, Karlee Harbst was the smiling winner of a $1 million prize in the Florida Lottery. She had even won a $100 prize a week earlier.

The money was coming at a great time too, because Harbst was reportedly pregnant.

But last week, the 27-year-old Port Orange woman was among more than 20 suspects apprehended by police in a major drug bust, according to reports. She was reportedly charged with solicitation to deliver heroin and unlawful use of a two-way communication device, and made her first court appearance Friday in connection with the case.

MEXICAN CARTELS USING BORDER MIGRANT CRISIS TO DISTRACT AGENTS FROM DRUG SMUGGLING, CARROLL SAYS

Her lottery winnings had marked an opportunity for Harbst to turn her life around after a criminal history that included previous arrests for drug possession, theft, contempt of court and driving with a suspended license, according to the Miami Herald.

Last May, Karlee Harbst won $1 million in the Florida Lottery's Gold Rush game, according to reports. (Florida Lottery)

Last May, Karlee Harbst won $1 million in the Florida Lottery’s Gold Rush game, according to reports. (Florida Lottery)

RYAN HAMPTON: CONGRESS SHOULD FOCUS MORE ON THE DRUG EPIDEMIC AND LESS ON ROBERT MUELLER

But instead, she allegedly got involved with the operators of an extensive drug operation that peddled in heroin, fentanyl and cocaine, according to Florida law enforcement authorities.

“These are not nice people,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood told the Daytona Beach News-Journal last week, referring to the alleged ringleaders and others who were arrested.

Authorities hope that the bust, dubbed “Operation: Smooth Criminal,” will help reduce drug traffic in an area that saw some 300 drug-related deaths between 2017 and 2018, the News-Journal reported.

Florida Lottery winner Karlee Harbst, 27, was among suspects rounded up in “Operation: Smooth Criminal,” authorities say. (Volusia County Corrections Department)

Florida Lottery winner Karlee Harbst, 27, was among suspects rounded up in “Operation: Smooth Criminal,” authorities say. (Volusia County Corrections Department)

Nine of the suspects were linked to the organization while others were nabbed in a series of raids in Volusia County, according to the paper.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Volusia County, which includes Daytona Beach, lies on the Atlantic coast of Florida, northeast of Orlando.

Back when Harbst won the lottery, she appeared on local TV and said she bought the ticket because of its number, the Herald reported.

“When I saw the ticket was number 24, I had to get it. Twenty-four is my favorite number,” she reportedly told Orlando’s WESH-TV.

After last week’s drug bust, according to authorities, it looks like Harbst’s number may be up again.

Source: Fox News National

A Philadelphia father is under investigation this week after police say his five-year-old son brought dozens of bags of crack cocaine to his preschool.

Police responded to the Saint Cyprian Children’s Center at around 9:21 a.m. after receiving a 911 call from a school administrator that a child reportedly brought “narcotics” into the school.

The 5-year-old male student was “acting out of character” and had a visible “bulge in his pants pocket,” police said. He was asked by a teacher’s aide to remove what the aide initially believed was a large toy.

WOMAN CLAIMS SHE WAS SEPARATED FROM NEWBORN AFTER TESTING POSITIVE FOR OPIATES BECAUSE OF POPPY-SEED BAGEL

But police say that’s when the boy removed a “clear plastic baggie containing 22 purple zip lock bags of crack cocaine” from his pocket.

Saint Cyprian Children's Center in Philadelphia, Penn., where police say a 5-year-old child brought in 22 bags of crack cocaine. 

Saint Cyprian Children’s Center in Philadelphia, Penn., where police say a 5-year-old child brought in 22 bags of crack cocaine.  (Google )

Kenneth Gavin, Chief Communications Officer for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, told Fox News in a statement that police confirmed the substance in the bags to be crack cocaine and removed the narcotics from the school’s premises.

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“Staff and administration from the Children’s Center cooperated fully with police during the course of their investigative work throughout the day yesterday and will continue to do so,” Gavin said. “Information regarding this matter was communicated to all families served by the Children’s Center yesterday afternoon.”

Investigators with the Southwest Detective Division are handling the case. Police say they are looking into the boy’s father who was described as a 27-year-old male from Darby.

Source: Fox News National


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