A former police chief under Hugo Chávez in Venezuela has been arrested in Miami for allegedly sending a graphic execution video to several U.S. residents, threatening to kill them. Many of those alleging threats are open dissidents of Venezuela’s socialist regime.
The Miami Herald reports that 47-year-old Orlando Blasini Escobar Mayora, who served as a high-ranking official within Chávez’s Bolivarian National Police, was arrested almost immediately upon arriving in Miami for threatening American residents. The criminal complaint against him is based on several individuals telling authorities that they received a video depicting a “‘graphic execution’ by shotgun” through their cellular phones, along with the message “this is to scare you.” The recipients of the video were described as contacts on his cell phone.
The Herald reports that, in another incident, a man described as a Venezuelan “dissident” in Miami told Homeland Security officials that he had received various voicemail messages from Escobar threatening to hurt him “in the place where it would hurt… the most,” as well as one message stating “I swear to God, I will destroy you.”
The publication El Propio notes that Escobar will be detained for at least until March 20. NTN24, a Latin American news network that chronicles much of the struggle against violent socialism in Venezuela, notes that Homeland Security has provided a copy of the execution video and the testimony of the man alleging to have received threatening voicemail messages.
Neither the Herald nor international publications have provided much information on Escobar. Venezuelan court documents dating back to 2009 prove that an Orlando Escobar Mayora indeed served in the nation’s national police sources. He is intermittently described as “sub-commissar” and “chief inspector” in various cases.
The Venezuelan government, currently under former Vice President Nicolás Maduro, has yet to comment on the arrest. Maduro has nonetheless has increased the amount of anti-American rhetoric in his primetime speeches and television appearances. Last week, announcing new sanctions against the United States, Maduro called former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney “terrorists” and accused President Obama of running “concentration camps” on American soil.
Violence against dissidents within the country is also on the rise. Venezuelan Secret Police (Sebin) officers dragged Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma off to prison in a dramatic office raid last month for allegedly aiding a U.S.-backed coup effort, fueling protests. The protests triggered more violence. Of particular note is the case of 14-year-old Kluiverth Roa, who was shot to death at point blank range while walking home from school amid an anti-socialist protest. Witnesses state Roa yelled “stop the repression” at a national guard officer who detained him without cause. In the past year, the number of instances of Venezuelan police and national guard officers lethally injuring minors has increased 55%.