WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government plans to designate Venezuelan Executive Vice President Tareck El Aissami for sanctions under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act for playing a significant role in narcotics trafficking, U.S. sources said on Monday.
An El Aissami associate, named as Samark Jose Lopez Bello was also designated for providing material assistance, financial support or goods or services in support of El Aissami's activities, the sources said.
The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control will also target 13 companies owned or controlled by Lopez Bello or other parties that comprise an international network spanning the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Britain, the United States and Venezuela.
As a result of those actions, Americans are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions or otherwise dealing with individuals and entities, and any assets they have under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen.
Thirty-four Republican and Democratic members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Feb. 8 asking his administration to take administration action to sanction Venezuelan officials.
Their letter referred to El Aissami, noting that his recent appointment as executive vice president put him in line to become Venezuela's next leader. That, they said, "is extremely troubling given his alleged ties to drug trafficking and terrorist organizations."
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Julia Harte; Editing by Peter Cooney)