HomeNewsBriefVenezuela First Lady’s Brother Implicated in International Drug Deal
BRIEF

Venezuela First Lady’s Brother Implicated in International Drug Deal

CARTEL DE LOS SOLES / 9 SEP 2016 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

The brother of Venezuela’s first lady reportedly set up an international cocaine trafficking deal that landed her nephews in US federal court, another indication that involvement in the drug trade reaches high levels of the Venezuelan government.

In a New York courtroom on September 8, US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent Sandalio Gonzalez testified that a confidential informant known as “El Sentado” received a call in October 2015 from a man named Bladimir Flores, who appears to be the brother of Venezuelan first lady Cilia Flores.

According to reports from investigative journalist Maibort Petit and the McClatchy news service, Gonzalez said Bladimir Flores told “El Sentado” that he would send Flores’ nephews Efrain Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas to meet with him to discuss a cocaine deal.

Court documents reviewed by InSight Crime describe “El Sentado,” also known as CW-1, as a well-known Honduran drug trafficker who began secretly cooperating with the DEA in May 2015 after being indicted on drug charges in the US.

Also in October 2015, presumably after receiving the call from Bladimir Flores, “El Sentado” contacted the DEA to alert the agency about the potential participation of the first lady’s nephews in a drug trafficking scheme.

The DEA then set up a sting operation that resulted in the nephews’ arrest in Haiti in November 2015. “El Sentado” was killed less than a month later in Honduras.

Both Flores and Campo have pleaded not guilty to the drug trafficking charges. The two men signed written confessions after their arrests, but their lawyers have argued that they were not properly informed of their rights. Prosecutors deny that this was the case.

In addition to Flores and Campo, the United States has also accused other high-level Venezuelan government figures of involvement in drug trafficking.

In August, for example, federal prosecutors unsealed drug charges against the former general director of Venezuela's anti-drugs agency, Nestor Luis Reverol Torres, and the former sub-director of that agency, Edylberto Jose Molina Molina. The next day, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro named Reverol to head the Interior Ministry.

InSight Crime Analysis

The previously unreported allegation that Cilia Flores’ brother put her nephews in touch with “El Sentado” revives questions about whether Campo and Flores were indeed the brains behind the trafficking operation, or whether other elements of the Venezuelan government were also involved. InSight Crime has previously raised the possibility that the nephews were serving as political cover for the Cartel of the Suns, a drug trafficking group composed of members of Venezuela’s security forces.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of the Cartel of the Suns

According to the DEA agent Gonzalez, Campo and Flores both denied that they needed to coordinate with Venezuelan government officials in order to ship drugs out of the country; they claimed they had special access to Caracas' Simón Bolívar International Airport due to their relationship with the wife of President Nicolás Maduro. However, in light of Gonzalez’s testimony, it seems increasingly implausible that Campo and Flores were the top figures in the alleged conspiracy to traffic some 800 kilograms of cocaine from Venezuela to the United States.

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

COLOMBIA / 17 MAY 2019

Juan Guaidó tried to bluff Nicólas Maduro at the Venezuelan political poker table, pretending he had the enough of the…

COLECTIVOS / 14 MAR 2016

In this second article, Venezuelan journalist Javier Mayorca examines the evolution of organized crime in Venezuela, from the first manifestations…

BRAZIL / 17 AUG 2021

João Soares Rocha, 64, has been identified by the Brazilian police as the ringleader of an international cocaine trafficking network.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…