Washington is offering $5 million for the arrest of the presiding judge of Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal of Justice, accusing Maikel Moreno of accepting bribes in criminal cases and of being a “crony” of President Nicolas Maduro.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the bounty on Tuesday, saying that Moreno “used his position of authority for personal gain” and that his designation sends a clear message that the US “stands firmly against corruption.”

Maikel Jose Moreno Perez, a Maduro crony, used his position of authority for personal gain, accepting bribes to influence the outcomes of criminal cases in Venezuela. In publicly designating him today, we are sending a clear message: the U.S. stands firmly against corruption.

Moreno has chaired the court – known by its Spanish initials TSJ – since December 2014. He had already been placed on the US sanctions list in May 2017, over the court’s ruling that allowed Maduro to disband the National Assembly. 

The $5-million bounty against Moreno is the latest move in Washington’s campaign to effect regime change in Caracas. The US also placed a $15-million bounty on Maduro in March, accusing the Venezuelan president of conspiring to “flood the United States with cocaine.”

So far, Maduro has managed to thwart every US attempt to overthrow him, including the recognition of opposition politician Juan Guaido as “interim president” in January 2019, an attempted military coup by Guaido supporters four months later, sanctions on oil exports and the seizure of Venezuelan gold and oil assets. 

Driven in part by the bounty, a group of militants led by two Americans attempted to infiltrate Venezuela in May and kidnap Maduro, but were themselves taken prisoner by Venezuelan security forces.

Like this story? Share it with a friend!