Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has asked for a public apology from the US for sanctioning its Vice-president Tareck El Aissami for allegedly trafficking drugs.

The hit back from the South American country came after the US Treasury on Monday (13 February) announced that it has put El Aissami to its sanctions list after an investigation found he was helping international drug traffickers.

El Aissami has also denied the allegations and accused US of "imperialist aggression" and "defamatory aggression."

The Venezuelan leader is accused of working with the convicted drug lord Walid Makled for protecting drug shipments from Mexico and Colombia to America.

Also, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) listed El Aissami under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, for his "significant role in international narcotics trafficking".

Under the sanctions, El Aissami's assets in the US have been frozen and he was not allowed to enter into the country.

Meanwhile, it was reported that the US has also put sanctions on a Venezuelan businessman, Samark Jose Lopez Bello, describing him as El Aissami's "frontman" and accusing him of "providing material assistance, financial support, or goods or services in support of the international narcotics trafficking activities of, and acting for or on behalf of, El Aissami".

But Lopez has also rejected the allegations and released a statement saying he had not trafficked drugs.

"The listing is unjustified in targeting a legitimate businessman, like Samark Lopez, who has played a key role in helping to support the future of Venezuela. The listing provides no factual evidence or legal justification as to why Samark Lopez should be placed on the list, other than that Samark Lopez and Tareck El Aissami are personal acquaintances," the statement from Lopez said.

It added that the imposition was politically motivated.