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  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    Venezuela’s First Lady, Cilia Flores, has accused the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of “committ[ing] the crime of kidnapping” against her nephews, both charged with attempting to traffic cocaine into New York.

    “The DEA committed the crime of kidnapping which, in any case, the defense is tasked with proving,” Flores told the national news outlet Tal Cual this week. She said the Venezuelan government was collecting evidence that the DEA “was meddling here on Venezuelan territory, violating our sovereignty and committing crimes on our land.” Flores, who is also a legislator representing the state of Cojedes in the National Assembly, claimed the arrest of her nephews – Francisco Flores de Freitas y Efraín Campo Flores – was intended to disrupt the nation’s legislative elections in December (the two were arrested in November 2015). “At the time, we were going towards an electoral process with myself as a candidate, and they wanted to get us out, but they failed. I won showing my face,” she argued.

    Flores cut her comments short, arguing that “we have to respect that there is a [legal] process,” but not before accusing the United States, “the CIA, the DEA” of acting “in vengeance” against her nephews.

    These remarks were the first Flores has said of the cases since the arrest of her nephews in November. Campo Flores and Flores de Freitas were detained in Haiti for attempting to sell 800 kilograms of cocaine to a DEA agent, with the intent of distributing it in New York. They are currently under arrest in New York City.

    Campo Flores identified himself as the First Lady’s “stepson,” claiming she had raised him as a child. The two have allegedly cooperated with authorities, claiming initially that the cocaine they possessed belonged to Diosdado Cabello, the former National Assembly President, and later claiming they received it from Tarek El Aissami, Venezuela’s head of Islamic Relations.

    Cabello, who lost his position has the nation’s second in command in the National Assembly in December, is currently under investigation by American officials after a defecting former Hugo Chávez body guard signaled him as the head of the Cartel de los Soles, one of Latin America’s most lucrative cocaine smuggling outfits.

    President Nicolás Maduro has not been implicated directly in selling cocaine on the continent, though former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs under George W. Bush, Roger Noriega, has accused Maduro of funding his last presidential campaign with drug money he received from Cabello.

    This week, Maduro aide William Amaro was accused in a Nuevo Herald investigation of receiving more than $200,000 funneled into Venezuela through drug smugglers, a claim the Maduro administration is vehemently denying.

    Campo Flores and Flores de Freitas have pleaded not guilty in their New York case and await trial.

    By Francis Martel - Breibart/Jan. 13 2016
    Photos: 1-Reuters; 2-mercopress (nephews)
    Newshawk Crew

    Author Bio

    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.


  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    Venezuelan President's Nephews Found Guilty in Cocaine Smuggling Case

    [IMGL=white]https://drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=53121&stc=1&d=1479571079[/IMGL]NEW YORK-- Two nephews of Venezuela's first lady who were charged with conspiring to send drugs to the United States were convicted on Friday by a jury that found evidence of the crime even though the government's star witness came across to at least one juror as "slime."

    The Manhattan federal court jury returned its verdict against Efrain Campo, 30, and his cousin Francisco Flores, 31, after less than a day of deliberations. The nephews of Venezuelan first lady Cilia Flores were charged with conspiring last year to import more than 1,700 pounds of cocaine into the United States.

    U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Flores and Campo thought they'd make millions of dollars with the drug scheme.

    "What they ended up with is a conviction in an American court and the prospect of years in federal prison," he said.

    Lawyers for Campo and Flores argued no drugs traded hands and the men never intended to deliver any. They blamed a flawed Drug Enforcement Administration-led probe that relied on a longtime informant who was using and dealing cocaine as he helped build the case.

    "He was slime," juror Robert Lewis, a 69-year-old architect from Westchester County, said of the informant, Jose Santos-Pena.

    A defense lawyer told the jury on Thursday in closing arguments that the first lady's nephews should be acquitted because a U.S. sting operation was so deeply flawed that prosecutors had to take the rare step of notifying Santos-Pena, the star witness, they were ripping up his cooperation deal because of his lies.

    "He lied in your face!" attorney David Rody told the jurors. "You saw a rare thing, a government cooperator get ripped up in court."

    Rody said the testimony by the informant was crucial to the government's case against Flores and Campo. And he said it explains why the government didn't cut ties with him after learning in April that he had been dealing drugs for the last four years even as he was being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to work as an informant for the DEA and others.

    U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty said the defendants would not be sentenced before March, though no date was set. Defense attorneys requested time to challenge the conviction.

    Rody, representing Flores, declined to comment after the verdict.

    Attorney Randall Jackson, representing Campos, said outside court that his client was "obviously disappointed."

    "We're going to see what our next steps are," he said.

    There was no immediate comment from the Venezuelan government.

    Prosecutors had urged jurors to look at other evidence in the case including statements the defendants made to federal agents and recordings of meetings.

    Lewis said jurors did just that, relying on transcripts of conversations involving the defendants and text messages to convict.

    "Nobody was in love with the witnesses," Lewis said. "We clearly had some bad guys."

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan Quigley said the defendants "thought they were above the law."

    "They thought they could operate with impunity in Venezuela because of who they were and who they were related to," Quigley said in a closing argument Thursday. "They thought they could easily make tons of money sending drugs out of the country because, as defendant Flores said, the DEA is not here and the Americans don't come in here. But they were wrong."

    By Larry Neumeister - the Associated Press/Nov. 18, 2016
    Illustration: Elizabeth Williams, ap
    Newshawk Crew
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