March 27 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the government in Caracas have dismissed drug trafficking charges from the United States, arguing that they have actually been aggressive in fighting the narcotics trade.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced the indictment Thursday, which charge Maduro and a few other senior officials in his administration. The charges accuse them of helping "manage" and "lead" efforts to smuggling cocaine into the United States.
Maduro responded late Thursday by saying his administration has led the region in the drug war and credit its role in the Colombian peace process.
"Our spirits are high," he said. "We've had record numbers of drug busts in the past 15 years, ever since we got rid of the [U.S.] Drug Enforcement [Administration]."
Former Venezuelan Army Gen. Cliver Alcala, who now lives in Colombia and was also named in the U.S. indictment, said he's innocent but Maduro is guilty.
"The Colombian authorities know where I am," he said. "They know I'm at home, and have no plans to run away. I support the indictments against the Maduro regime but I'm a false positive. I shouldn't be included."
Venezuelan Prosecutor General Tarek William Saab said he has opened an investigation of Alcala and opposition leader Juan Guaido.
"Guaido and his North American advisers planned to bathe Venezuela in blood," Saab said.
The United States and several other Western governments recognize Guaido as Venezuela's interim leader.