Johan Obdola is an international consultant specializing in the field of global security; he has forged his career in Venezuela, Canada, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and widely in Europe. After spending over 35 years working across continents, he founded a not-for-profit organization, the Global Organization for Security and Intelligence (IOSI).

At present, Johan is a guest lecturer, conference speaker, and an advisor to global corporations and governments. He has worked closely with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (EUROPOL), and the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB); at the same time, Johan is a frequent negotiator for the Organization of American States (OAS) regarding conflict resolution on human rights’ issues. As an altruist, he serves as a member of advisory boards such as with the Global Diplomatic Forum (GDF) in London, and the Autism Trust Foundation (ATF) in Dubai.

The practicing Buddhist identifies as a peacemaker, and continues to be inspired by the human spirit; he remains humble, and connected to his indigenous roots from Venezuela.

Growing Up in Venezuela: The Early Years

Born in Venezuela, in a region home to the Waraos people, Johan Obdola recognized the value of compassion and environmentalism from an early age; such upbringing shaped what it would be his future life path. His mother, a distinctly caring and spiritual person, spent much of her time teaching him about arts, history and literature. Meanwhile, his father, a known journalist in his town, instilled the value of integrity and compassion for individuals and society at large. At the age of 12, Johan had already taken a leap into adulthood given that he would recurrently accompany his father to identify victims of the Venezuelan drug cartel in his region.

Simultaneously, Johan’s uncle, a member of the Freemasons’ organization, was teaching his nephew about the complexities of the world – not to mention the importance of morality, charity, and justice. Born in an environment of love and care, it should come as no surprise that Johan lived his life as a modern-day hero.

Launching a Career in Security and Intelligence

Johan launched his career in security and intelligence when he met his mentor, Colonel Leopoldo Flores Rada. He found a professional niche where he could apply the integrity that defined him.

He first began to work as a Police Officer, and then an Intelligence Officer. Throughout such time he received capacity-building training from Venezuelan police agencies, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the U.S. Navy Seals – Special Forces. Subsequently, he worked as Director of the Counter-Narcotics division of the Venezuelan police force. Johan received training in chemical control and money laundering prevention from Canadian, American, and European military forces.

The efforts made in countering narco-terrorism, countering narcotics, and crime operations proved to be vital to his career. Johan could readily identify players in the national crime scene; such skills allowed him to conduct a determined fight against narco-terrorism, government corruption, nepotism, and clientelism throughout his career. He spent a great deal of his time in the Venezuelan jungle, where he cultivated meaningful relationships with indigenous tribes. Since then, Johan made a self-commitment to protect indigenous peoples from government abandonment, negligence and crime; furthermore, he promised himself to bring assistance regarding healthcare, amongst other social initiatives.

Deeply committed to his endeavours, Johan worked tirelessly to make Venezuela a better, and safer place to live. Indeed, he never failed to embody his passion throughout his career, and to bring justice when exercising his duty.

However, maintaining a firm and integral stance against narco-terrorism and transnational crime came at a cost. Thereby, Johan faced several assassination attempts, and grappled with life threats against his loved ones; last but not least, Johan lost some of his colleagues in the police and military forces in response to the accomplished success he had in preventing drug movements and crimes.

Certainly, Johan was leading and succeeding in this fight since the early beginnings. To further this matter, Johan had the courage to serve as a witness at the National Assembly in Venezuela (back then the Congress) to call out each of the ministers, governors, high-ranked police officials, and other military leaders that had been involved with narcotrafficking networks and operations in the country. Such statement implicated that Johan had to disclose evidence, not only names. Despite some bureaucratic challenges to bring forth legal action, Johan decided to take matters even further so as to confront “El Cartel de los Soles” (The Cartel of the Suns) directly. Nowadays, “El Cartel de los Soles” is considered a government-run organization, making Venezuela the first official narco-state in modern history.

Leaving Venezuela and Taking the International Stage

With his life in jeopardy, Johan left Venezuela in 1997. He was the first refugee to arrive in Canada for reasons involving the war on drugs; not only that, but he became the first official Venezuelan refugee in modern history.

Though he lived in North America, Johan continued working towards justice, peace, and democracy for Venezuela; the only change was that it was from a safer environment. Nevertheless, as an immigrant, Johan struggled to establish himself as an expert in the field of security and intelligence. He admitted that “at the beginning, I could sense the stigma because I was an outsider, I was Latino”.

By focusing on previous milestones and the strength of his spirit, Johan persevered and continued building his reputation as an international security expert. Johan has been across regions doing the unimaginable: ranging from working with the Afghani security forces to conducting on-site evaluations, intel, and special operations in Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa.

For instance, Johan has provided advisory to indigenous governments in Canada such as the Westbank First Nation, and the Vernon First Nation in the area of security, diplomacy and international relations. Similarly, he has advised the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in the area of counter-narcotics, the Government of Colombia in the area of border security, and the opposition-led National Assembly in Venezuela in regards to narco-terrorism. Regarding counter-narcotics, he has been an Advisor to the Royal Oman Police, to the Dubai Police, and to the Armed Forces of Venezuela (previous to the Chavista Revolution) to counter the power struggle within criminal factions in the country.

In addition, Johan is a Special Advisor at the National Academy of Security and Defense Planning of Romania, an Advisory Board Member of the Global Diplomatic Forum (GDF) in the United Kingdom, and a Board Member of the Autism Trust Foundation (ATF) in the United Arab Emirates. Never failing to deliver on his promise to protect indigenous groups, Johan also acts as a Security Advisor to Kape-Kape; this indigenous not-for-profit organization assists the Waraos and Yanomami people in Venezuela.

Johan has advised enterprises such as Bombardier, Pemex and the Al Ghurair Group amongst others. Last but not least, Johan has advised the Queen’s Privy Council of Canada in regards to security issues in Latin America, and their implications in such country. During his time in Venezuela, Johan developed a close connection with the Embassy of Canada when given the opportunity and responsibility to act as a Warden for some Canadian families.

His early experience in the field of security and intelligence earned Johan the respect of the French journalist, Alain Labrousse, with whom he collaborated for the publication of his book: “The World Geopolitics of Drugs, 1998/1999”. Consequently, Johan acted as the Senior Correspondent for the Observatoire Geopolitique des Drougues in France; later on, he acted as the Chief of the Latin America Bureau at the International Organization of Airport and Seaport Police (INTEPORT) in the United States.

Henceforth, Johan has spoken at top military and security conferences around the world. He has not only met with praised government officials from different countries and institutions as an advisor, but he has acted as a mentor for students and young professionals that have reached out for guidance. For Johan, authenticity is the key for any approach with people, just as he explains:

“The main characteristic I see in people is their willingness to care. Life has shown me that the worst kind of people are the ones that pretend to do so. I realize that there is so much to learn and share with people that show commitment regardless of the reward.”

Building the International Organization for Security and Intelligence (IOSI)

Before founding the Global Organization for Security and Intelligence (IOSI), Johan served on the board of various law enforcement and security organizations in the United States, and other nations. Between the years 2010 to 2013, Johan was involved with tasks that supported INTERPOL with narco-terrorism mapping.

Given such experience, Johan began to brainstorm about ideas to strengthen public safety programs. Hence, the Global Organization for Security and Intelligence (IOSI) was born in Canada. After the arduous work of formatting and developing the structure, IOSI was finally formed and launched in 2014.  Through IOSI, Johan has continued to work towards strengthening global security, democracy and human rights. The organization has spanned across continents and its members have ample opportunities to learn, exchange ideas, experiences, and overall make significant contributions to global security.

In 2016, the National Assembly in Venezuela appointed the Global Organization for Security and Intelligence (IOSI) to investigate genocidal, narco-terrorist, and other criminal activities that the Venezuelan regime conducted on a global scale. Accordingly, through IOSI, Johan presented a formal accusation to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague. By such action, IOSI became an organization with one of the strongest stances as well as voices to have formally accused the systematic crimes against humanity that the Chavista regime has committed – even before the United Nations (UN) presented a formal accusation.

Johan has shared some of his reflections:

“In an era of human dependency on technology (specifically on the Internet, as well as on other platforms such as social media, A.I., and Robotics), humanity keeps facing constant challenges to survive. It is necessary to rapidly create a paradigm shift where we continue to explore technology, but through which we genuinely focus on the interaction between humanity and the environment. Such a paradigm shall be profound enough in order not to break the fibers of society and the meaning of our human existence; at the same time, it shall allow us to progress in a technologically viable path.”

Having this in mind, Johan will continue to explore and consider emerging ideas so that the solutions can prolong our existence on planet Earth.

Advocating for Human Rights in the Digital Era

Johan firmly believes that humans have the responsibility to encourage each other to generate positive changes, and specially given such ease of communication in the digital era. Despite an increase of cyber threats, attacks, and the prevalence (as well as tendency) of populism, Johan is confident that humanity can overcome the veil of ignorance with an open mind. For such undertaking, skilled people from all backgrounds must come together to fuel the collective consciousness that binds us as humans. 

Global organizations like the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), the International Criminal Court (ICC), the World Economic Forum (WEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank (WB), and the Organization of American States (OAS) among others, face the urgent need of recomposing their approach. They shall address the right questions that concern our existence on Earth given that such have implications for our survival as humanity. They must shift gears, and make thoughtful changes to meet peoples’ needs in the digital world as well.

For such challenges, this is where Johan comes in. He has made the commitment to assist the global community to which he is a part of – helping governments, businesses and individuals alike as an experienced advisor.

Johan also understands the frustrations of those employed in the security and intelligence sector. He knows what it is like to be underpaid, and underappreciated—to work in a high-risk and tremendously stressful environment where one’s life is constantly defied. Consequently, Johan’s message is clear: “We are part of the community too.”

He continues, “Behind the uniform, behind the gun, and behind the badge—we are people too.”

It seems intuitive, but it is important to stress that people in the community of security and intelligence must navigate through a sea of information; it is a quite the task to dissect and discern reality from misinformation. For this reason, Johan believes that we shall listen to the inspirational leaders and people of our time; along the same lines, being critical as to how we can improve modern society rather than criticizing or radicalizing the world in which we live. Thus, the digital environment becomes our playground, and it is important to come together to create appropriate manners for harmonious co-existence. After all, Tech plays a crucial role in global education and human activity.

Ultimately, the digital world, by nature, presents enormous global security risks. Today, we are facing an exponential rise in cybercrime—from hybrid warfare to fake news and populist scripts – Johan’s advisory is nothing but necessary to navigate muddy waters. 

He believes that such issues can be addressed if caring leaders and individuals join forces. After building a solid career of over 35 years in security and intelligence, Johan has learnt that mistakes bring learning opportunities; however, if such mistakes are not timely addressed, they can become definite failures and missed opportunities.

Despite all challenges to continue to make the world a safer place, Johan preserves the spirit and the passion to help out. Alongside with a driven and fantastic team of experts, Johan is willing and ready to discuss as well as to offer solutions in the fields of security, diplomacy and international relations.