“They were playing Rambo,” Maduro said. “They were playing hero.”
Venezuelan security forces arrested at least eight people, including two Americans, after a failed coup aimed at capturing socialist President Nicolas Maduro. This failed coup was allegedly approved by the U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido, an allegation that he has denied.
Jordan Goudreau, an ex-Green Beret and the CEO of a Florida-based Silvercorp Corp., said the two Americans, Luke Denman and Aaron Berry, were part of “Operation Gideon” aimed at “liberating Venezuela” by arresting President Nicolas Maduro. The two had served alongside him in Iraq and Afghanistan. The two men were former members of the 10th Special Forces Group. Berry was also a Combat Diver instructor at the Special Forces Underwater Operations (SFUWO).
One of the arrested men is a Venezuelan identified as Josnars Adolfo Baduel, the son of former Defence Minister Raul Isaias Baduel, who is currently jailed on corruption charges.
The coup members attempted to infiltrate by sea at the port city of La Guaira outside of Caracas. The coup attempt was thwarted before the plotters even reached the shore. As they approached in rubber boats, Venezuelan helicopters had them in sight; Venezuelan authorities easily intercepted them. Eight coup members were killed and the rest arrested.
Venezuelan authorities then allegedly raided a house less than 100 meters off the beach and found vehicles and weapons that the plotters were supposed to link up with.
Denman and Berry were caught with U.S. passports, VA identification cards, military I.D. cards as well as a Silvercorp employee badge.
“I’ve tried to engage everybody I know at every level,” Goudreau said of his attempt to help his detained colleagues. “Nobody’s returning my calls, It’s a nightmare.” Goudreau has been quoted as saying that he had signed a contract with the U.S.-backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to overthrow Maduro. Guaido has denied that.
Among the arrested — and shown on video in handcuffs — is a former National Guard Captain, Antonio Sequea. He had participated in a barracks revolt against Maduro a year ago. Goudreau said Sequea was a commander who recently worked with him on the ground in Venezuela.
Video footage of the people detained after the raid was posted on Twitter and broadcast on Venezuela state television. In a televised address, Maduro said authorities arrested 13 “terrorists” involved in the plot.
Tarek William Saab, Venezuela’s Attorney General, said that Venezuelan troops have already arrested 114 people, for suspected connection to the attack, and they are searching for 92 others. More than 25,000 troops are engaged in the hunt for other rebels operating in the country, officials said.
The U.S. has imposed tough economic sanctions on Venezuela in an effort to oust Maduro, who is accused of rigging the 2018 elections. While the U.S. has been vocal about Maduro having to be replaced by Guaido, it did not offer support for this operation.