Venezuela Sentences Former US Green Berets to 20 Years in Jail

Venezuelan authorities have issued an arrest warrant for a third former soldier who orchestrated a failed coup attempt.

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Denman and Berry were arrested following a failed paramilitary incursion. (VTV)
Denman and Berry were arrested following a failed paramilitary incursion. (VTV)
By Manuela Solé
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Mérida, August 11, 2020 (venezuelanalysis.com) - Venezuela's Attorney General Tarek William Saab reported that US citizens Luke Denman and Airan Berry have been handed 20-year prison sentences.

The two former US green berets participated in the failed invasion attempt against Venezuela on May 3 and 4. They were arrested in the coastal town of Chuao.

¨They confessed to the conspiracy, trafficking in illegal arms and terrorism,” Saab wrote on Twitter on Friday.” He added that the trial of dozens of other Venezuelan defendants accused of participating in the incursion will continue.

In video statements released following their arrests, the two Americans declared that the so-called “Operation Gedeon” had been organized in Colombia and planned to capture several high-ranking figures, including President Nicolas Maduro.

Berry described that his mission was to train the Venezuelan soldiers who had deserted in the takeover of buildings, streets and airports in order to receive foreign aircraft.

Berry and Denman were hired for the operation by Silvercorp, a Florida-based private security firm led by former US Special Ops soldier Jordan Goudreau, who claimed responsibility for the paramilitary invasion.

Goudreau had an arrest warrant ordered by Venezuelan prosecutors and is also reportedly under investigation by US agencies for violating arms trafficking laws in connection to the botched incursion.

The former soldier claimed that opposition leader Juan Guaido had signed a contract hiring the Services of Silvercorp. Guaido denied any ties to Goudreau, despite the existence of a leaked conference call between the two. Opposition advisers J.J. Rendon and Sergio Vergara later confessed that they had hired Silvercorp and resigned from their posts.

Other prominent Venezuelan right-wing leaders were also involved in the coup attempt, including former Major General Cliver Alcala and Leopoldo Lopez, who is currently fleeing charges at the Spanish Embassy in Caracas.

Following Berry and Denman’s arrests, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would use all possible means to secure their release.

In July, former New Mexico Governor and UN Ambassador Bill Richardson met with President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas but failed to reach an agreement for the liberation of the former soldiers as well as six Citgo oil executives imprisoned since 2017 and charged with money laundering, embezzlement, racketeering and participating in organized crime.

Edited by Ricardo Vaz from Mérida.