Venezuelan Drug Trafficker is a Member of Trump’s Club
WASHINGTON, February 20, 2017—Samark Lopez Bello, a Venezuelan businessman whose assets were frozen by Trump’s Treasury Department this week for alleged ties to a drug trafficking scheme, is also a member of Donald Trump’s Doral golf club.
“This is not a White House issue,” said Helen Ferre, special assistant to the president and director of media affairs, to the Miami Herald, “the President is divested from the business.” This is, of course, untrue. Trump has not divested from his businesses and still stands to benefit financially from them.
It is unknown whether Lopez Bello, a petroleum distribution executive in his country, became a member of the club before or after Trump’s election. The club, which Trump purchased in 2012, has around 900 members and membership can cost up to $50,000.
The Treasury Department this week froze assets from at least 13 U.S. properties and companies that Lopez Bello either owns or controls, including three upscale Miami condos, alone valued at nearly $7 million.
Lopez Bello is accused of being a “frontman” for a drug trafficking operation headed by Venezuela’s vice president, Tareck El Aissami, whom Lopez Bello admits is a “personal acquaintance” but nothing more.
Lopez Bello’s name was obtained by the Miami Herald as part of a private list provided by other members.
The identity of the members of Trump’s many clubs has long been a concern for individuals and groups worried that Trump is selling access to himself through his businesses.
The New York Times reviewed Mar-A-Lago’s membership list and found “dozens of real estate developers, Wall Street financiers, energy executives and others whose businesses could be affected by Mr. Trump’s policies. At least three club members are under consideration for an ambassadorship.”
The identity of members became an even greater concern when Trump held an open-air situation room in the terrace of his Mar-A-Lago resort during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit earlier in February. Club members, including Boston businessman Richard DeAgazio, posted pictures of Trump and Abe discussing with aides as well as a selfie with the officer responsible for the “nuclear football” on social media.
As leaked tapes of Trump calling his club members “the special people” and inviting them to join him on cabinet and staff interviews, the identity of his club’s members has become increasingly significant.
The fact that an individual that Trump’s own administration considers a drug trafficker has been able to purchase access to him should give everyone pause. Trump’s clubs are still open to new members, despite a price hike in membership, and access to the president is still for sale.
Featured image: slgckgc, Flickr Creative Commons