Donald Trump denies link to Venezuela armed raid by US citizens

Elias Hubbard
May 5, 2020

"The United States government is fully and completely involved in this defeated raid, " Maduro said.

Maduro held up a pair of blue US passports, reading off the names and birth dates on them in a nationwide broadcast on state television.

Maduro showed what he said were the US passports and other identification cards belonging to Airan Berry and Luke Denman, whom he said were in custody and had been working with Jordan Goudreau, an American military veteran who leads a Florida-based security company called Silvercorp USA.

He said: "They are Americans". The No. 2 official of Venezuela's Socialist Party, Diosdado Cabello, earlier on Monday tweeted a video showing one of the detained Venezuelans involved in the plot telling an unidentified official that two Americans were among those arrested.

The US also recently indicted Maduro as a drug trafficker, offering $15 million for his arrest.

Earlier on Sunday, the government of Venezuela reported that security forces had killed eight and captured two people described as "Colombian mercenaries" illegally entering the country on speed boats in an "attempt for a coup". They were among eight men captured on Monday when their small boat landed, allegedly from Colombia, on the Venezuelan coast west of Caracas - only to find Venezuelan security forces awaiting them.

For his part, self-proclaimed "Interim President" Juan Guaido had initially dismissed "Operation Gedeon" as a "false flag" perpetrated by the Maduro government on Sunday.

Saab also shared on social media a video of Goudreau, who now runs a private security firm called Silvercorp USA, in which the former soldier claims an operation against Maduro's regime is ongoing. In a statement on Monday evening, Guaido's team said: "We demand the human rights.of the people captured in recent hours be respected".

Mr Maduro's Government, however, says the United States wants to control the OPEC member nation's massive oil reserves.

Mr Maduro said the two men were part of a group of "mercenaries" whose armed incursion into Venezuela by sea had been foiled on Sunday. While Schiller soon cut off contact with Goudreau, believing he was unfit to lead any mission in Venezuela, the veteran reportedly made his own contacts with military deserters inside the country and continued to plan operations.

The government, meanwhile, said it has mobilized more than 25,000 troops to hunt for other rebel cells. Silvercorp's website describes Goudreau as a "highly decorated Special Forces Iraq and Afghanistan veteran". The other men have also been identified as Venezuelan nationals. The group was "caught by popular force, by fishermen", the anchor said.

The U.S. government "should engage and try to get these guys back", said Goudreau, who apparently did not physically participate in the operation. "But from the outset the ragtag army lacked funding and US government support, all but guaranteeing defeat against Maduro's sizable-if-demoralized military".

"In action, in a developing Civic-Military-Police operation, 8 mercenaries were captured, among whom is the head of the terrorist operation Antonio Sequea, already under orders from the authorities". The images show men lying on their stomachs, some with no shirt and others in shorts. He showed images of the fishing boats the alleged attackers rode in on and equipment like walkie-talkies and night-vision glasses collected in what Maduro called an "intense" couple of days. Neither the official television station nor the governor offered more details. The opposition leader said he had nothing to do with Sunday's raid.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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