HomeNewsBriefProsecutors Say Venezuela's 'Narco Nephews' Liaised with FARC
BRIEF

Prosecutors Say Venezuela's 'Narco Nephews' Liaised with FARC

CARTEL OF THE SUNS / 25 JUL 2016 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

Court documents allege two nephews of Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro's wife who face drug trafficking charges in New York planned to receive cocaine from Colombia's FARC guerrillas in a case that raises questions about who may have been the brains behind the drug operation.

On July 22, prosecutors in the case against Efraín Antonio Campo Flores and Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas -- charged in New York's Southern District Court of conspiring to smuggle 800 kilograms of cocaine from Venezuela to the United States via Honduras -- filed court documents claiming the defendants intended to source the cocaine from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC).

Campos and Flores -- nephews of Venezuelan first lady Cilia Flores -- were arrested in Haiti on November 10 and transferred to the United States. They are still awaiting trial and have pleaded not guilty. 

Prosecutors filed the documents to counter demands by defense lawyers to suppress alleged confessions made by the pair as they flew from Haiti to New York on a US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) plane. The defense claims (pdf) the two were unaware of their rights under US law, believed they were being kidnapped, and were "coerced" into making the statements.

According to prosecutors, the pair admitted to being in contact with a dealer known as "El Gocho," who handled drugs for the FARC and was to provide the 800 kilograms.

After his arrest, Campo also allegedly told US agents that, given his reputation and status in Venezuela, he did not need assistance from Venezuelan government, police, or military officials to smuggle drugs out of Caracas' Simón Bolívar International Airport.

The newly filed documents also include photographs apparently showing Campo handling a brick of cocaine while Flores observes. (See below) The nephews allegedly brought the cocaine to a meeting with confidential DEA sources in Caracas to demonstrate the purity of drugs they could obtain.

16-07-25-Venezuela-Nephews2

Flores anticipated the first cocaine shipment to earn $5 million -- with his share being $560,000 -- while subsequent drug runs to the United States could have earned $20 million in profits, prosecutors claim. 

During a post-arrest interview with US agents (pdf), Campo retracted a statement that money earned from the drug shipment would be used to help finance the congressional campaign of his aunt, Cilia Flores. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Despite the release of further details of the prosecution's case against Campo and Flores, a number of questions remain unanswered. Chief among these is whether high-level Venezuelan officials were knowledgeable or complicit in the nephews' alleged drug activities.

Recent research conducted by InSight Crime in Venezuela suggested that Campo and Flores might not be the brains behind the drug ring. They may have merely served as political cover for the operation.

There has been speculation the Cartel of the Suns, which consists of Venezuelan military and police personnel, had a hand in the trafficking operations. Military officials, including an active officer of the Venezuelan Air Force, served as pilot and crew of the private jet that flew Campo and Flores to Haiti.

SEE ALSO: Cartel de los Soles News and Profile 

An added layer to the case is that the cocaine in question was to be provided by Colombia's FARC -- a plausible accusation. The FARC are rumored to have been ramping up drug trafficking activities to boost group finances before a final peace deal with the Colombian government is signed. The deal will include the group disavowing involvement in the drug trade.

Moreover, the FARC control up to 70 percent of coca crops in Colombia. The department of Norte de Santander, which borders Venezuela, has seen a boom in coca cultivation over the past several years. Previous estimates suggest 200 tons of cocaine are smuggled from Colombia to international drug markets via Venezuela every year.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ECUADOR / 13 OCT 2022

US dollars have been flooding into Venezuela and Ecuador, with authorities unaware of how widespread their use has become…

EL SALVADOR / 30 DEC 2021

The United States, under the Biden administration, was supposed to help curb corruption, but for corrupt officials in Central America,…

COLOMBIA / 2 SEP 2021

The Urabeños, one of Colombia's dominant drug groups, are seemingly ramping up operations along the Colombia-Venezuela border – a gambit…

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…