Venezuelan politician and alleged drug trafficker Diosdado Cabello lost his lawsuit against newspaper the Wall Street Journal Thursday.
Cabello, who remains a close ally of socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro and Vice President of his ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, sued the paper for defamation after they spoke of his alleged strong ties to drug trafficking.
In a 2015 article, titled “Venezuelan Officials Suspected of Turning Country into Global Cocaine Hub,” the newspaper revealed that American law enforcement officials were personally investigating Cabello over his ties to the Cartel de los Soles, one of the largest cocaine-trafficking operations in the Western Hemisphere.
“There is extensive evidence to justify that he is one of the heads, if not the head, of the cartel,” the article quoted a Justice Department official as saying.
His lawsuit, filed in May 2016, claimed that the paper had wrongly caused “enormous damage to Mr. Cabello’s reputation and good name, both personally and in his capacity as a key member of Venezuela’s national assembly.”
However, Judge Katherine B. Forrest concluded that the complainant “had not established a case for slander his claim is [therefore] rejected.”
Forrest’s decision was upheld by a panel of judges from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, who said he had failed to prove “plausible malice.”
“Regardless of whether Mr. Cabello-Rondón properly alleged falsehood, we agree with the district court that he has failed to plead plausible malice as required,” they wrote. “Such a flaw annuls the entire claim.”
Last year, Cabello lost a similar lawsuit against the Dow Jones group, which owns the Wall Street Journal. Judge Forrest stated that he had failed to disprove the “gist or substance of those statements—that he is, in fact, under investigation for his potential involvement in drug trafficking and money laundering activities.”
Cabello’s name has long been associated with drug trafficking in the United States. Prominent anti-Venezuela campaigner Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has described him as the “Pablo Escobar of Venezuela.”
He has previously served as the country’s vice president under Hugo Chávez, as well as president of the country’s National Assembly before PSUV lost control of the lawmaking body in 2015. He is currently a member of the National Constituents Assembly, a fraudulent lawmaking body created by the Maduro regime.
In February 2016, retired Colombian drug lord Javier Cardona Ramírez also claimed he had evidence linking Cabello to some of the world’s largest drug trafficking operations, while also accusing him of shipping cocaine to al-Qaeda and Islamic State jihadists in Africa.
Other senior members of the Maduro regime, including Vice President Tareck El Aissami, are currently sanctioned by the United States for involvement in drug trafficking, as well as evidence that he is a substantial contributor to Iran’s narco-terrorist proxy organization Hezbollah.