Santa Elena, Venezuela (VA) – After two Venezuelan citizens, alleged nephews of First Lady Cilia Flores, were arrested last week by US officials in Haiti on drug trafficking charges, Haitian government sources alerted media of numerous irregularities in the capture, prompting Venezuelan official Diosdado Cabello to label the arrest a “kidnapping” by DEA agents.
The case was made public on Wednesday after an anonymous US law enforcement official told reporters that the suspects, Francisco Flores de Freitas, 30, and Efrain Campo Flores, 29, were attempting to transport 800 kilograms [over 1700 pounds] of cocaine in a deal with undercover US agents.
However, according to similarly anonymous reports made by Haitian government insiders, the DEA agents burst into the airport to detain the two men, who arrived from Venezuela in a private plane along with two other passengers, Marcos Tulio Uzcategui and Jesfran Moreno.
The US agents proceeded to search the plane while taking the pilot, copilot and the two additional travelers into custody.
On Wednesday the four men were released and the aircraft was sent back to Venezuela, but Flores de Freitas and Campo Flores were indicted and transported for trial at a New York Federal Court.
On Monday, Venezuelan National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello questioned why the DEA would release the plane if any drugs had indeed been found on board.
“I do not see it as a detention, really, a plane went to Haiti, it was traveling with six people and two people were kidnapped, this is what I understand, because the process was totally irregular,” Cabello said during an interview with Globovision on Monday.
Additionally, the Assembly President denied that one of the suspects had been raised by president Nicolas Maduro, as Venezuelan media had suggested.
“No link has been proven between the detained citizens” and First Lady Cilia Flores, Cabello added, despite their sharing the same surname.
White House spokesperson Josh Earnest also noted last week that no definitive evidence has been uncovered to tie the suspects to Venezuela’s first family.
Cabello accused the White House of being behind the “kidnapping” in a bid to discredit the Maduro government in the face of the upcoming Dec 6 Parliamentary elections.
As of today, no member of the Venezuelan presidential family has made a public statement.
The two men must appear again in court on Wednesday, after their initial hearing last Thursday. The prosecution is being handled by the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Department of Justice.