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Montevideo, May 23rd 2019 - 17:01 UTC

Venezuela claims Maduro's nephews held in the US on cocaine smuggling charges were 'kidnapped'

Tuesday, November 17th 2015 - 08:37 UTC
Full article 16 comments
In the first direct government comment on the case, Diosdado Cabello said it was an attempt by Washington to discredit Venezuela before the elections. In the first direct government comment on the case, Diosdado Cabello said it was an attempt by Washington to discredit Venezuela before the elections.
Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas, 30, and Efrain Antonio Campo Flores, 29, were arrested in Haiti last Tuesday and flown to New York for indictment. Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas, 30, and Efrain Antonio Campo Flores, 29, were arrested in Haiti last Tuesday and flown to New York for indictment.
Allegedly the pair had met a DEA informant in Honduras and asked for help in sending 800 kg of cocaine to US through an airport from Honduras Allegedly the pair had met a DEA informant in Honduras and asked for help in sending 800 kg of cocaine to US through an airport from Honduras
Neither Maduro nor his wife Cilia Flores have commented directly on the case, although they have appeared numerous times on state TV. Neither Maduro nor his wife Cilia Flores have commented directly on the case, although they have appeared numerous times on state TV.

Two men said to be relatives of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro who are being held in the United States on cocaine smuggling charges were “kidnapped,” a senior member of the ruling Socialist Party said on Monday.

 In the first direct comment on the case from a high-ranking Venezuelan official, National Assembly president and party No. 2 Diosdado Cabello also said it was an attempt by Washington to discredit the country's government right before a vote.

“The aim was to hurt the Bolivarian revolution in the midst of an election,” he told local broadcaster Globovision, referring to the Dec. 6 vote for a new parliament.

Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas, 30, and Efrain Antonio Campo Flores, 29, were arrested in Haiti last Tuesday and flown to New York for indictment. They plan to plead not guilty at their next court appearance on Dec. 2, according to lawyers.

A U.S. law enforcement source said Campo had admitted to authorities he was like a son to Cilia Flores, the wife of Venezuela's president.

Allegedly the pair had met a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration informant in Honduras last month and asked for help in sending 800 kg of cocaine to the United States through an airport on the Honduran island of Roatan.

According to the indictment, the men also participated that month in meetings in Venezuela regarding a shipment of cocaine that was to be sent to the United States via Honduras.

The case follows announcements earlier this year of other U.S. investigations into alleged drug and money-laundering crimes linked to Venezuelan officials and state institutions.

“I don't see it as an arrest. The truth is that a plane went to Haiti with six people, and two people were kidnapped,” Cabello said. “The procedure was illegal; there were six people and they only arrested two, what the DEA has done is very irregular.”

Cabello said he thought one of the men was not linked with the presidential family, although Venezuelan sources close to the family have said the two are nephews of Maduro's wife.

Neither Flores nor Maduro has commented directly on the case, although they have appeared numerous times on state TV. Cabello said they had no responsibility in the case.

“These are grown men who can do what they want in life,” said Cabello, who U.S. media have reported is also under investigation there for possible links to drug trafficking. “It's impossible you or I track everything our nephews are up to.”

Diosdado ('Godgiven' translated from Spanish) Cabello, is now referred to in Venezuela as “narco-given” Cabello. However he probably, as a former Army officer, wields greater power that Maduro himself.

Venezuela's opposition has cast the case as further evidence of high-level corruption and demanded an investigation.

“We are witnessing a situation that could highlight the connection between criminality and the circles of power,” said Jesus Torrealba, secretary of Venezuela's opposition coalition.

Top Comments

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  • Demantoid Garnet

    It is interesting that the National Assembly president didn't argue about the actual guilt or innocence of the two men... “These are grown men, who can do what they want in life.” and “It's impossible you or I track everything our nephews are up to.”

    I'm surprised his comments DIDN'T include the possibility of planted false evidence, or some anti-Chavanista paid informant being involved. (He may also suspect the evidence is actual video / audio recordings... and that is tough to argue against.)

    I suppose we will have to wait. The next court appearance being December 2nd should be more of a general hearing, not a trial, so we won't likely learn much until after the election.

    Later, IF these me are found guilty, the penalties are very long-term prison sentences, for drug trafficking in amounts like are alleged.

    Best wishes everyone.

    Nov 17th, 2015 - 10:26 am 0
  • LatAmBurgher

    Have you no shame, Narco-dado? These people think all of this is a game, one big joke... it is going to take years to reverse all the damage, economical and psychological, that these monsters have done.

    Nov 17th, 2015 - 12:57 pm 0
  • Conqueror

    This is funny. “it was an attempt by Washington to discredit the country's government right before a vote”. Who would need to discredit venezuela's government?

    Nov 17th, 2015 - 02:15 pm 0
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