Johan Obdola, from the depth of the Venezuelan Jungles to the world; a life dedicated to the fight against narco-terrorism, terrorism and transnational crime.
By: Journalist, Quadeba Djeneba.
Dec. 2001. Paris, France
Additional work of Alain Labrousse
Dec. 2003-2007. Paris, France
(Translated from French). Updated 2017
To successfully fight against illegal drugs, and narco-terrorism is the aim that Johan Obdola wants to reach. The problem of drug is not simple as it touches economic, political and social fields. It is impossible to put an end to the “cartels”, if there is no true political will and a collaboration between countries. Failing to protect our nations means living in extremely challenging and unsafe communities as we see in many nations.
“It is the story of a man, who put his life at risk, and still put it in danger in the name of his thought and the well-being of his country, and the world. He is incredible committed to this. I had been moved by his story, his quiet courage and his modesty.
Johan Obdola was born in Venezuelan, where he paid a high price from fighting drug cartels and corruption in his motherland. In 1993, he was called up by his government to be at the head of regional direction for the prevention and the enforcement of illegal drugs, coordinating and directing the programme of repression by police and army against narco-traffic. Some of his tasks was to receive and to decode the reports of the Venezuelan secret service and to coordinate the special operations, which would have to be led with the police and the army. Johan’s work was not only administrative, he got involved on the field and also led affairs. On this man’s side is really well shown in the sentence he told me : “during operations, I made sure, despite what they (drug criminals) did, that it was important to respect their rights, because after all they are still human being and citizens. so it was also part of the education to my police officers“.
In order to achieve his work, Johan trained in and out Venezuela, including with the Venezuelan military and police, with the DEA, Drug Enforcement Administration of the United States, and the American Marines (SEALS). Johan also worked closely with Scotland Yard, the Canadian Mounted Police, and with European programs of chemical control. His role was to coordinate and to lead the Venezuelan military forces and police in the Delta Amacuro and other East States, including coordinating with neighbour Caribbean nations. The other aspect of his work was to get in touch with different officials who were involved in the fight against narco-traffic. At first his work only focused on Venezuela but later on his function led him to get involved at a international level.
When Johan decided to confront the “Garcia family” who controlled the flows of cocaine from Delta Amacuro state to Trinidad and Tobago and the rest of the Caribbean, the information he was transmitting to his superiors in Caracas was immediately known to the Delta Cartel, which was part later on of the “Cartel Del Sol” or “Cartel of the Sun” controlled by top generals from the National Guard and later on from the Army. The Cartel del Sol is under control of the Venezuelan government. For this reason, Johan lost some of his friends and officers, including the journalist Mauro Marcano, killed buy the cartel, and some police officers who worked for Obdola. The drug-traffic was not only a problem of public health care, but was becoming a national security in Venezuela, as was following the same pattern as in the 80’s in Colombia, Bolivia and other South America Nations. The emerging challenges at at time was not only on the configuration of drug criminal organization (les cartels) and the foreign policy of each country, but the corruption involved with it that became part of the life os so many. So, turning your face the other way, or being part of the drug trade was the “obvious choice of those how were weak”. Johan was up-front against drug lords and corrupted national government officials, including top military and judges.
The growing influence of drug cartels can be explained with the following three reasons: Firstly, in the past, it was “quite easy” to fight against “drug cartels”, because they were territorially located. Nowadays, they are sprawling organizations, which spread their roots across Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East. For example, the narco-terrorist groups in Colombia work hand in hand with the Russian and Italian maffia, Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, and they keep expanding globally.
Now (2001) they are building a truly international network which give them more power and more different to operate against them. According to Johan Obdola, “in the past, at least, we knew where and against whom to struggle, because drug “cartels” were well known by the intelligence services and agencies. Nowadays, this geopolitical escenario is in a constant changing process. It is a real globalization of the “Narco-Terrorism“.
The other reason for the growth of global drug traffic depends on the foreign policy with latin-America. Too weak governments, still a high level of corruption and populism in the region, and the need for a more “Smart Assistance Program” from the international community which should include a more directed liability and legal responsibility to each official and agency involved in reaching international aid.The militarization in the region has proven to be more a political weapon that many nations use against its own citizens, than for national and regional security. Off course, there are exemptions.
At last the last reason and maybe the worse is that lots of political leaders are involved in regional and international drug traffics. There are big pressures on officials on who decide to fight against drug cartels and related crimes. The narco-economic is so big and complex that it can appear to be impossible to implement an effective counter-narcotic and counter narcoterrorism programs.
What Johan Obdola suggest is to create an Hemispheric Criminal Court and Prosecutors office to implement a regional legal framework that provides directions, technical support and policies to each national judiciary system. This can be extended to other crimes and terrorism related activities.After several attempts against his life in Venezuela, In 1996 Johan Obdola arrived to Canada as a refugee, only to get more committed in fighting narco-terrorism, terrorism, and transnational crime. It has not been easy, and I appreciate the difficulties an challenges that still everyday in may agenda, says Johan (2017), Since a few years ago, I have been globally involved in many projects, and agendas to address and to support governments on their requirements regarding counter-terrorism, counter narco-terrorism and other security topics. In 2011, was the first time I talked in a conference and the regional media about cocaine arriving and expanding in the Gulf Arabic Region, including Qatar, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain. At the beginning most top officials were looking at me in surprise and denial, to then acknowledging the increasing problem.
We are now expanding our work to all across Africa, Middle East, Asia including Afghanistan, and of course, Latin America and the Caribbean. Since some years ago, new actors have rapidly entered the Latin American region: Hezbollah supported by Iran, the Iranian influence in the region, ISIS, and the nexus of new and older criminal entities, terrorist and extremist groups, including from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other regions and countries arriving to Latin America. This represent an extraordinary security challenge to all nations in the hemisphere. I am committed to raise and expose this to the highest level in the international community. Johan is also dealing with another serious security threat to the Americas and the international community: the Revolution Chavista. For over 18 years, since the arrival of Hugo Chavez to power, Venezuela has become the first Narco-Terrorist State in the Americas. An oil rich nation, completely destroyed by a group of international criminals, drug dealers and terrorist supporters who totally, and by all means of terror and collective control, have the nationa kidnapped. The future of the country seems very dark and unless the international and regional community takes an extra step to capture these criminals and provide immediate humanitarian assistance to Venezuela, a civil war, with a criminal state in control of the weapon of the nation, and a population who only will take back the streets to fight not only for democracy and justice, but for survival is the the bloody near future that waits to this nation.
Johan Obdola still working seven days a week, 12 months of the year for his life’s commitment. He has become one of the most worldwide respected expert on Narco-Terrorism.
“It’s surprising to see this man talking with such a conviction of what he did he dedicated his life to the fight against illegal drugs and crime. What to add, he is just amazing for his courage and his modesty, i really want underline this character who is for me the symbol of the modern hero”.