Two of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s nephews have confessed to attempting to traffic 800 kilograms of cocaine into New York from Venezuela, identifying the owners of the drugs as the Marxist terrorist group FARC.
According to documents, newly introduced in the trial of Efraín Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas – related to Maduro through his wife, first lady and legislator Cilia Flores – the two men admitted they had planned to make multiple cocaine deliveries from Venezuela through Honduras to the United States on behalf of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a half-century-old guerrilla terrorist group. Many of the revelations come from conversations Campo Flores and Flores de Freitas had with undercover DEA agents before their arrests flying into the United States from Haiti in November 2015. The DEA agents were posing as Mexican drug traffickers seeking to aid the transport of the merchandise in exchange for a cut of the profits.
The FARC remains active, despite its 50-year history, currently negotiating a deal with the government of Colombia for members to reintegrate into society without having to spend time in prison for their crimes. The group has long enjoyed friendly relations with socialist Venezuela, with Hugo Chávez lending them safe haven. The group is so accepted in Venezuela that, in 2014, they hosted a 50-year anniversary celebration in Caracas.
In addition to identifying the drugs as coming from the FARC, the nephews claimed that they were shipping drugs to generate funds for their aunt’s legislative campaign. Campo Flores later admits to a DEA agent, however, that they lied about the use of the money. “Campo declared that friends in the drug business had told him to be careful not to get robbed and, to protect himself, he made his declaration regarding his aunt’s campaign,” the document notes. The declaration implies that any wrongdoing against Campo Flores would incur the wrath of the Venezuelan socialist government at large.
Campo made one other political statement to undercover agents: “We are at war with the United States.”
The Flores nephews had previously told law enforcement officials that the true owners of the cocaine were Diosdado Cabello, then the nation’s second-in-command and currently the Assembly minority Leader; and Tarek El Aissami, the socialist governor of Venezuela’s Aragua state. The FARC claim is the third such ownership claim the nephews have made.
Witnesses who have defected from Venezuela’s socialist government have identified Cabello as the drug lord behind the Cartel de los Soles, one of Latin America’s biggest drug trafficking operations, believed to be run by the Venezuelan military. Cabello sued multiple media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, for publishing reports with evidence linking him to the cartel. While Maduro himself has not been linked to drug trafficking operations, he has been accused of accepting campaign donations from drug traffickers.
Both Cabello and Maduro have accused the United States of attempting to disparage their government through the arrest of the Flores nephews. Flores herself has decreed the arrest an example of “the crime of kidnapping” and demanded their release, accusing the DEA of “violating our sovereignty and committing crimes on our land.”
In addition to members of his family actively participating in the drug trade, Maduro’s tenure as president of Venezuela has seen drug activity skyrocket.“Venezuela is the most efficient route for traffickers,” a U.S. official told the Argentine news outlet Infobae shortly after the Flores nephews’ arrests.