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Relatives of President Maduro and First Lady Flores of Venezuela arrested on drug smuggling charges by the DEA

The two men were arrested in Port-au-Prince and flown to New York by the DEA

Olivia Blair
Thursday 12 November 2015 17:05 GMT
First Lady Flores is referred to as 'First Combatant' by President Maduro
First Lady Flores is referred to as 'First Combatant' by President Maduro (Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images)

Two relatives of the President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro have been arrested by the US Drugs Enforcement Agency over drug smuggling charges.

Efrain Campos, 30, and Francisco Flores, 39, are nephews of the Venezuelan First Lady Cilia Flores.

They were arrested at a hotel in the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince after a reported “lengthy undercover operation” Michael Vigil, a former head of International operations at the DEA told the Associated Press news agency.

The arrest is for allegedly conspiring to smuggle 800 kilograms of cocaine into the USA. The pair have now been flown to New York for arraignment.

An anonymous source said one of the suspects, Campos was the son of the highly influential First Lady Flores’ deceased sister and was “partly raised by the first lady and Maduro”.

Reuters report how President Maduro alluded to condemn the arrests on Twitter, writing afterwards: “The fatherland will follow its course… Neither attacks nor imperialist ambushes can harm the people of the liberators.”

The arrests come amidst US prosecutors seeming to crack down on Venezuela being a ‘transit zone’ for narcotics. Accordingly, more than 200 tonnes of cocaine flow through Venezuela each year.

The DEA have built cases against high-ranking Venezuelan officials, and reportedly investigated the president of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, for cocaine trafficking and money laundering earlier this year.

Mr Cabello addressed the country in a televised address following the arrests. Without specifically referring to the arrests he reportedly said the US “attack him [Maduro] everywhere and are going to continue attacking.”

The arrests come at a particularly damaging time for President Maduro as elections take place next month.

Polls are currently predicting the President’s United Socialist Party to face its biggest election defeat in 16 years.

Before marrying President Maduro, Ms Flores who Maduro refers to as ‘First Combatant’ — was a lawyer for former President Hugo Chavez while he was imprisoned in the 1990s.

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