Mérida, September 5, 2020 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Colombian security forces announced the arrest of four Venezuelan citizens on Thursday.
Rayder Alexander Russo Marquez, Juvenal Sequea Torres and Juven Jose Sequea Torres were captured in Bogota, while Yacsy Alexandra Alvarez Mirabal was detained in Barranquilla. The operation was jointly carried out by the Colombian attorney general’s office, police, army and migration services, with assistance from the FBI.
Colombian President Ivan Duque held a press conference after the arrests, claiming that the four were “criminals” paid by the Venezuelan government to “destabilize” the country.
The comments drew a sharp rebuke from Caracas, with Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza condemning the “nerve” of the Colombian president.
“What nerve from Ivan Duque. Now it turns out that Venezuelan deserting mercenaries were going to destabilize Colombia,” he wrote ironically on Twitter. “We gave the Colombian government information about these terrorists and it chose to do nothing.”
According to Venezuelan authorities, Russo, the Sequea brothers and Alvarez participated in the “Operation Gideon” failed paramilitary incursion. On May 3 and 4, two speed boats carrying armed men were intercepted by security forces. Search operations in the following days led to over 40 arrests.
The 60-man Operation Gideon was orchestrated by former US Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, who was hired by the Juan Guaido-led Venezuelan opposition, and intended to take over strategic locations in the capital and capture several high-ranking figures, including President Nicolas Maduro.
Two other US citizens, fellow former Green Berets Airan Berry and Luke Denman, were arrested in the operation, as was a third Sequea brother, Antonio.
The Venezuelan government sustains that Russo, Juvenal and Juven Sequea took part in the Northern Colombia-based training camps where the coup attempt was prepared. The Sequea brothers took part in the April 30, 2019 failed coup attempt before deserting from the Bolivarian National Guard. Russo, aka “Teniente Pico” is accused of involvement in the August 2018 assassination attempt against Maduro.
For her part, Alvarez is said to have been behind the logistics of the operation as well as functioning as liaison between the Americans and retired Major General Cliver Alcala, another organizer behind Operation Gideon. Alcala, who had been responsible for previous armed incursion attempts featuring Venezuelan deserters, surrendered to US authorities after being indicted on drug charges.