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A confidential memo has revealed a long-running undercover operation by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Venezuela aimed at building drug-trafficking cases against the country’s leadership, including President Nicolás Maduro.

The 2018 document outlines “Operation Money Badger,” which deployed operatives to secretly record and gather evidence against numerous Venezuelan officials, acknowledging potential violations of international law from the outset.

Jla Maduro

The DEA’s strategy included embedding undercover informants to document the alleged transformation of Venezuela into a narco-state, a mission that necessitated bypassing Venezuelan and international legal boundaries. This initiative was part of the broader “maximum pressure” campaign during President Donald Trump’s administration, aimed at ousting Maduro following his controversial re-election in 2018.

The plan to infiltrate Venezuelan leadership circles with informants for covert recordings required the sanction of the Sensitive Activity Review Committee (SARC), reserved for the DEA’s most legally challenging cases. The operation, which began in 2013, targeted around 100 insiders, employing tactics like illicit wire transfers through US-based entities to reveal drug trafficking and money laundering activities connected to Maduro’s regime.

Despite the operation’s extensive reach, the DEA and the Justice Department have remained silent on specifics, including the frequency of unilateral operations or the approval process for such sensitive undertakings. Meanwhile, Maduro has publicly denounced the CIA and DEA as imperialist entities undermining Venezuelan stability.


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