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Trump sanctions Venezuela vice president on drug trafficking

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration slapped sanctions on Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami on Monday, accusing him of playing a major role in international drug trafficking.

The announcement was made on the Treasury Department’s website late in the day.

El Aissami has been the target of U.S. law enforcement for years over his alleged ties to Venezuela’s largest convicted drug trafficker and a Middle Eastern militant group.

As part of the action, El Aissami’s U.S. assets were frozen and he’ll be barred from entering the United States.

The U.S. government is also sanctioning Samark Lopez, a wealthy Venezuelan businessman believed to be El Aissami’s main front man.

There was no immediate reaction from El Aissami, but he has long denied any criminal ties.

The action is likely to further antagonize the United States’ already tense relations with Venezuela, its harshest critic in Latin America.

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Associated Press writer Joshua Goodman reported this story in Bogota, Colombia, and AP writer Josh Lederman reported in Washington.

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