After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Castro regime was in dire need of cash that would replace the Soviet subsidies. During this period, drug trafficking routes involving Nicaragua and Panama became prime operational areas. These drug trafficking links surfaced in the indictment against Carlos Lehder who admitted meeting with Raul Castro to coordinate drug shipments. Lehder also testified in the Southern District of Florida that Cuba controlled cocaine trafficking in Nicaragua.
The Cuba-Venezuela Drug-Trafficking Connection
In 1999, Hugo Chávez’s rise to power in Venezuela changed the Castro brother’s focus to South America. The Cuban government became not only interested in the large subsidies provided to them by Chávez’s government but also on the profitable drug trafficking routes already existent on the Colombia-Venezuela border. Cuba’s prior involvement in narcotics trafficking proved to be a valuable component in a growing partnership between Colombian and Venezuelan drug cartels
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