According to Venezuelan’s socialist President Nicolás Maduro, two U.S. citizens were arrested in Venezuela Monday among a group of ‘mercenaries’ aiming to capture and assassinate him.
Luke Denman, 34, and Airan Berry, 41, both former U.S. special forces soldiers, were identified by Maduro during a press conference a day after Venezuelan authorities said they foiled a beach raid. The president says it was an attempt to assassinate him.
Both U.S. special forces soldiers, 34-year-old Luke Denman and 41-year-old Airan Berry were identified by the socialist leader during a press conference a day after Venezuelan authorities said they foiled the men’s beach raid. Maduro said they were planning to assassinate him.
Maduro held up a pair of blue U.S. passports, reading off the names and birth dates on them in a nationwide broadcast on state television, calling the arrested men ‘terrorist mercenaries’.
During the press conference, President Maduro also showed images of the fishing boats the alleged attackers rode in on and equipment like walkie-talkies and night-vision glasses collected in what he called an ‘intense’ couple of days.
The socialist leader was quick to blame the attempted attacks on the Trump administration, as well as Venezuela’s opposition leader and neighboring Colombia, all of which have denied involvement. The State Department did not provide any immediate comment on the alleged arrests.
An ex-Green Beret named Jordan Goudreau, 43, has come forward saying it was him who led the attempted coup, saying the objective was to capture the socialist president.
‘The United States government is fully and completely involved in this defeated raid,’ Maduro said, praising members of a fishing village for cornering one group in the sweep netting the ‘professional American mercenaries.’
Speaking about the two U.S. citizens that have been captured, he said: ‘They were playing Rambo. They were playing hero,’ adding that Venezuelan authorities had caught wind of the plot before its execution.
Six other Venezuelans were arrested alongside the American citizens, CNN reports. Thirteen were arrested in total as part of the failed plot.
On Monday, Maduro accused Florida-based ex-Green Beret Goudreau of leading the incursion ‘with terrorist mercenaries trained in Colombia to assault Venezuela and try to kill me’.
Goudreau said earlier on Monday that he was working with the two men in a mission intended to detain Maduro and ‘liberate’ Venezuela. Goudreau has claimed full responsibility for the operation.
Who is Jordan Goudreau?
Jordan Goudreau is a former associate of Keith Schiller, one of Donald Trump’s bodyguards. Last May Keith Schiller reportedly accompanied Jordan Gourdreau to a meeting with representatives of Juan Guaidó, opposition leader to socialist tyrant Maduro.
Schiller says he cut contact with Goudreau a while back.
The Daily Mail reports that a shadowy group of US billionaires led by Roen Kraft, an eccentric descendant of the cheese-making family, promised to support the ‘private coup’ and also met with Keith Schiller and Jordan Goudreau.
Roen Kraft allegedly lured prospective donors with the promise of preferential access to negotiate deals in the energy and mining sectors with an eventual Guaidó government, said one of the businessmen told AP.
The businessman apparently provided a two-page, unsigned draft memorandum for a six-figure commitment he said was sent by Kraft in October in which he represents himself as the ‘prime contractor’ of Venezuela.
Before dawn on Sunday, officials say the first attack started on a beach near Venezuela’s port city of La Guaira, when security forces made the first two arrests and killed eight others attempting to make a landing by speedboats.
The two Americans arrested on Monday served in Iraq and Afghanistan with him in the U.S. military, Goudreau said, adding that they were part of this alleged mission in Venezuela called ‘Operation Gideon.’ The aim was to capture Maduro, he said.
Sunday’s raid came after an AP report on Friday that revealed how Goudreau was planning a coup by training 300 soldiers in Colombia.
However, Ephraim Mattos, a former US Navy SEAL who trained some of the would-be combatants in tactical medicine, warned it was doomed to failure.
‘You’re not going to take out Maduro with 300 hungry, untrained men,’ he said.
Venezuela has been in a deepening political and economic crisis under Maduro’s rule. Crumbling public services such as running water, electricity and medical care have driven nearly 5 million to migrate.
But Maduro still controls all levers of power despite a U.S.-led campaign to oust him. It recently indicted Maduro as a drug trafficker and offered a $15 million reward for his arrest.
Which countries are supporting the opposition to Nicolás Maduro?
Countries Supporting ‘interim’ President Juan Guaido:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- Costa Rica
- The EU 27
Countries Supporting incumbent President Nicolas Maduro:
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