Retired Venezuelan general who defied Maduro gets over 21 years in US prison

Apr 8, 2024, 1:40 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — A retired three-star Venezuelan army general who twice tried to mount coups against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was sentenced Monday to over 21 years in prison after he admitted providing weapons to drug-funded rebels.

Cliver Alcalá, 62, of Caracas, Venezuela, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein in Manhattan after pleading guilty last year to charges that he supported a terrorist group and gave weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC — considered by the U.S. to be a foreign terrorist organization.

Prosecutors had sought a 30-year prison sentence, saying he’d accepted millions of dollars in cocaine-fueled bribes. His lawyers had requested a six-year sentence. Hellerstein ordered him to spend 21 years and eight months in prison.

In a release after the sentencing, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said Alcalá and his co-conspirators tried to weaponize cocaine by helping the FARC with weapons as tons of drugs were shipped to the United States.

He said Alcalá “corrupted the vital institutions of his own country as he helped the FARC flood this country with cocaine — but no longer. Instead, he will now spend more than two decades in a United States prison.”

Prosecutors said Alcalá started in 2006 to take advantage of his position in the Venezuelan military, where he commanded thousands of heavily armed military officers, to support the FARC’s distribution of tons of U.S. bound cocaine.

Alcalá surrendered in Colombia in 2020 to face an indictment in New York that accused him, Maduro and a dozen other military and political leaders with a sprawling conspiracy to use Venezuela as a launchpad to flood the U.S. with cocaine.

His lawyers argued in court papers that for years before his arrest their client lived modestly in Colombia in a small rented apartment, an older model car and barely $3,000 in his bank account.

In an interview last month with The Associated Press, Alcalá said he has read more than 200 books behind bars and has reflected on his choices, missteps and regrets while staying in shape with a daily five-mile treadmill run.

National News

Janet Jarrett shows a photo of her sister, Pamela Jarrett, she keeps on her phone at the home they ...

Associated Press

Heat-related Texas deaths climb after Beryl left millions without power for days or longer

SPRING, Texas (AP) — As the temperature soared in the Houston-area home Janet Jarrett shared with her sister after losing electricity in Hurricane Beryl, she did everything she could to keep her 64-year-old sibling cool. But on their fourth day without power, she awoke to hear Pamela Jarrett, who used a wheelchair and relied on […]

2 hours ago

Melissa Shepard, left, directing attorney of Immigrant Defenders Law Center, explains the Biden adm...

Associated Press

Behind Biden’s asylum halt: Migrants must say if they fear deportation, not wait to be asked

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Posters inside a complex of giant, white tents tell migrants in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Hindi they should tell an officer if they fear being deported and “your claim will be heard.” On a side wall where migrants are seated in a processing area, a video conveys the same message on […]

3 hours ago

FILE - People walk past the Fiserv Forum ahead of the 2024 Republican National Convention, Thursday...

Associated Press

With GOP convention over, Milwaukee weighs the benefits of hosting political rivals

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Downtown Milwaukee turned red last week as thousands of Republican National Convention delegates and other party stalwarts gathered in Wisconsin’s largest Democratic stronghold to formally rally behind Donald Trump as their candidate for president in the pivotal swing state. Outside the security zone where the convention took place, residents grumbled, ignored or […]

3 hours ago

A second-floor balcony at the Hemingway Home & Museum in Key West, Florida, on Wednesday, July 17, ...

Associated Press

Ernest Hemingway fans celebrate the author’s 125th birthday in his beloved Key West

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — Ernest Hemingway spent the 1930s in Key West, Florida, and more than six decades after his death, fans, scholars and relatives continue to congregate on the island city to celebrate the author’s award-winning novels and adventure-filled life. Hemingway Days started in 1981 with a short-story competition and a look-alike contest. […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Salt Lake City wildfire prompts mandatory evacuations as more than 100 firefighters fight blaze

Salt Lake City officials have ordered residents to evacuate some areas ahead of a wildfire as more than 100 firefighters work to contain the blaze. Helicopters and airplanes were dropping buckets over the flames Saturday as ground crews tried to contain the fire on Ensign Peak. The first fire crew was dispatched around 4:30 p.m. […]

4 hours ago

Democratic Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi speaks at the North Carolina Democratic Unity Dinner fundra...

Associated Press

Pelosi delivers speech to NC Democrats with notable absence — Biden’s future as nominee

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — In a state expected to help decide the presidency, House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi did little to quell speculation on President Joe Biden’s path forward as the Democratic nominee to a room full of North Carolina Democrats on Saturday. Pelosi addressed more than 900 people at the North Carolina Democratic Party […]

5 hours ago

Retired Venezuelan general who defied Maduro gets over 21 years in US prison