[Ed. – Emphasis added.]
Within the span of a year, Venezuela illegally issued at least 10,000 passports and other documents to citizens of Syria, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries in a scheme spearheaded by current Vice President Tareck El Aissami, according to a former high-ranking immigration official.
Colonel Vladimir Medrano Rengifo, former director of Venezuela’s Office of Identification and Migration, said that during his 17 months in the post, most passports and visas were granted in the Venezuelan Consulate in Damascus, Syria’s capital.
“Today we don’t know where these people are, nor what they are doing,” said Medrano, who was fired by El Aissami and now lives in South Florida. “They could be anywhere in the world, traveling with Venezuelan documentation.”
El Aissami, a powerhouse in Venezuela, has long been investigated in the United States for his alleged links to drug trafficking and to the Islamist militant group Hezbollah.