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Feb. 13, 2017, 6:33 p.m. EST

U.S. sanctions Venezuela’s vice president for alleged drug, terror ties

Tareck El Aissami’s U.S. assets frozen

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By Kejal Vyas and Anatoly Kurmanaev

Venezuela's Vice President Tareck El Aissami is seen in Caracas, Venezuela, on Jan. 31, 2017.

CARACAS, Venezuela — Vice President Tareck El Aissami has been put on a sanctions list by the U.S. Treasury Department for allegedly aiding drug traffickers and Middle Eastern terrorists.

The move freezes any of El Aissami’s assets in the U.S. It was announced by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The action is likely to heighten tensions between Venezuela’s increasingly authoritarian government and the administration of President Donald Trump, who had promised to defend Venezuelans against “oppression” during his presidential campaign.

El Aissami, 42, has been under investigation by U.S. prosecutors for allegedly aiding drug shipments from Venezuela, The Wall Street Journal reported in 2015. In less than two decades, he rose from a provincial student organizer to the second most powerful man in the country under President Nicolás Maduro, with sweeping powers to allocate foreign currency, expropriate companies and jail his foes. El Aissami also allegedly used his control of Venezuela’s immigration agency to sell passports and visas to citizens of the Middle Eastern countries with ties to terrorism, the people say.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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