Two relatives of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro have been arrested by U.S. federal authorities on large-scale cocaine trafficking charges. They tried to claim diplomatic immunity.
The two relatives charged with trafficking cocaine into the U.S. have been identified as Efrain Campos and Francisco Flores. The pair were arrested by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Haiti as they were making a large cocaine shipment towards America, the Spanish newspaper ABC reported.
Campos has been described as Maduro’s godson. He was raised by his current wife Cilia Flores. Francisco Flores is Celia’s nephew. DEA agents working an undercover operation were able to arrest the two men on drug charges filed in the Southern District of New York.
The arrest took place as the two men were landing in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, with close to a ton of cocaine. The duo claimed diplomatic immunity when they were arrested but agents denied the request.
According to ABC, information from the case points to the two presidential relatives working with Diosdado Cabello, head of the National Assembly, and Tareck el Aissami, the governor of Aragua and former interior minister.
The information points to a large scale cocaine distribution operation. The operation uses airplanes linked to Venezuela’s oil company, PDVSA, in order to get the drugs out of the country and into the U.S.
According to ABC, the arrest is not the first time Maduro’s relatives have been accused of cocaine trafficking. The Spanish newspaper quoted the witness testimony of Leamsy Salazar who served as Hugo Chavez’s chief of security. The man claimed that Walter Jacob Gavidia Flores, the first lady’s son, used state owned airplanes to move drugs along with Nicolasito Maduro, the president’s son.
In May, Venezuelan Supreme Court Justice Mirian Morandy was arrested at an international airport in Maiquietía when he attempted to leave the country with an alleged drug dealer. Reports indicate he was later cleared and released through the presidential palace.