Trump says alleged Venezuela plot 'nothing to do' with USA gov't

Elias Hubbard
May 6, 2020

Maduro said they worked for a Florida-based private security company, Silvercorp USA, founded by a former Green Beret, Jordan Goudreau.

Not much is yet known about Luke Denman, 34, and Airan Berry, 41.

The Canadian-born Goudreau, an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, is accused of training a mercenary force to invade Venezuela that disbanded after Colombian authorities seized a weapons shipment meant for the group.

The Associated Press could not independently verify that the Americans had been captured.

On Sunday, Venezuela claimed a group traveling on speedboats and embarking from Colombia tried to land before dawn in the northern coastal state of La Guaira but were intercepted by the military and special police units.

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 almost 5 million to migrate.

The United States in March indicted Maduro and more than a dozen other officials on narcoterrorism charges, offering a $15 million reward for information leading to his capture or conviction. "Nobody's returning my calls, It's a nightmare". He said: "They are Americans".

They were running out of petrol, and Mr Goudreau was trying to secure a vessel out of the island of Aruba to "extract" them, he said. The opposition leader said he had nothing to do with Sunday's raid.

Efforts to reach the families of Berry and Denman for comment were unsuccessful. They were still in their boat following an initial confrontation with the Venezuelan Navy early Sunday, he said.

The among almost 60 nations that back Guaidó as Venezuela's legitimate leader, saying Maduro clings to power despite a sham election in 2018 that banned the most popular opposition candidates from running.

Venezuelan state TV showed showed authorities handling a shirtless Sequia in handcuffs. Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab said 114 people have been arrested for participation in the attack and another 92 are being hunted.

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.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday denied United States government involvement in what Venezuela's president says was an attempted overthrow in which two Americans were arrested.

In early April, the U.S. Southern Command announced "enhanced" operations in the Caribbean, which it said were directed toward stopping narcotics shipments from Venezuela that had increased by 50 percent "in recent years".

The U.S. government "should engage and try to get these guys back", said Goudreau, who apparently did not physically participate in the operation.

Goudreau said by telephone earlier Monday that 52 other fighters had infiltrated Venezuelan territory and were in the first stage of a mission to recruit members of the security forces to join their cause.

Opposition politicians and US authorities issued statements suggesting Maduro's allies had fabricated the assault.

His whereabouts are unknown but he had previously trained the men in Colombia.

The contract, Saab said, was signed between Guaido and former U.S. special forces soldier Jordan Goudreau, who was allegedly linked to a foiled attempt to topple Maduro.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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