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U.S. agents arrested two relatives of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on charges they conspired to transport 800 kilograms of coc aine to the U.S., according to two people familiar with the matter, a potentially explosive incident that comes amid U.S. accusations that the top echelon of Venezuela’s government is involved in the narcotics trade.
The two men, Efraín Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas, were first arrested in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Tuesday by local police, turned over to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and flown the same day to New York in a DEA jet
The arrests come as prosecutors in New York, Washington and Miami are pursuing numerous investigations into alleged drug-trafficking and money-laundering activities of top Venezuelan military, police and government officials, according to U.S. officials.
U.S. officials have long said Venezuela is the main transit point for coc aine from next door Colombia. Caracas routinely denies allegations that it is involved in drug trafficking, characterizing them as efforts to destabilize its leftist government.
The two men contacted a DEA confidential informant in Honduras in October and asked for help in trafficking 800 kilograms of coc aine through the airport in the country’s Caribbean island of Roatán, according to one of the two people familiar with the case.
In subsequent meetings in Venezuela, this person said, the two Venezuelans brought a kilogram of coc aine to a confidential informant to show the quality of the promised drug, which was to be sold in New York. Agents filmed and taped the meetings with the Venezuelans, this person added.
The young men told authorities that they had diplomatic immunity