HomeNewsBriefWitness Killings Deepen Mystery in Venezuela 'Narco Nephews' Case
BRIEF

Witness Killings Deepen Mystery in Venezuela 'Narco Nephews' Case

CARTEL DE LOS SOLES / 29 JUL 2016 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

At least two witnesses in a politically-charged drug case involving relatives of Venezuela's president have reportedly been murdered, raising questions about whether the so-called "narco nephews" were part of a larger trafficking operation.

According to court documents reviewed by InSight Crime, a confidential witness referred to as CW-1 informed the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in October 2015 about an alleged cocaine trafficking conspiracy involving Efrain Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas -- nephews of the wife of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

Campo and Flores currently face charges in US federal court of plotting to ship hundreds of kilograms of cocaine obtained from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) from Venezuela to Honduras and ultimately to the United States.

The nephews were arrested in a November 10, 2015, sting operation in Haiti. CW-1 was killed less than a month later in Honduras.

The court documents describe CW-1 as a "Honduras-based drug trafficker" who began cooperating with the DEA shortly after he was indicted in May 2015 on drug charges in the United States. CW-1 was also known as "El Sentado" (The Seated One) because he was confined to a wheelchair as a result of an accident.

Flores and Campo met El Sentado through a Venezuelan contact referred to as "Hamudi," who introduced the two to El Sentado's employee "El Flaco," also known as "El Negrito." El Flaco eventually introduced Flores and Campo to a confidential source known as CS-1, or "The Mexican," who provided evidence against the nephews to the DEA. 

According to the court documents, Hamudi was murdered just 15 days before Maduro's nephews were arrested.

The Miami Herald, citing anonymous sources "familiar with the situation," reported on July 28 that two DEA informants involved with the Flores and Campo case have been killed "by the drug suppliers of the Venezuelan nephews."

The Herald identified one of the victims as CW-1, or El Sentado. But the newspaper did not specifically identify the other victim, instead referring to that person as someone who was in Venezuela and "was part of the covert operation which led to the arrest of Maduro's nephews." It is possible, but not confirmed, that this refers to Hamudi.

Like the second victim, the murderers' identities remain unclear, as do their motives. It is interesting to note, however, that much of the most damning evidence against Campo and Flores comes from the two men themselves in the form of video and audio recordings of their meetings with alleged drug traffickers as well as signed, written confessions provided to DEA agents soon after their arrest.

Both Flores and Campo have pleaded not guilty to the drug trafficking charges.

InSight Crime Analysis

The murder of witnesses in the Campo and Flores case adds another level of mystery to an already curious case. InSight Crime has previously raised the possibility that the president's nephews may not have been "the brains" behind the trafficking operation. Rather, they may have been serving as political cover for the Cartel of the Suns -- the drug trafficking group composed of members of Venezuela's security forces.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of the Cartel of the Suns

If this is the case, it is possible that the witnesses were murdered as revenge for their participation in the investigation, or to prevent them from revealing the identities of others who may have been involved in the trafficking scheme. Such an action would entail significant risk, however; retaliating against a witness is considered a serious federal offense in the United States, punishable by death or life in prison.

SEE ALSO: Venezuela News and Profiles

It is also worth mentioning that an unidentified benefactor has been paying the nephews' legal costs. This suggests that there are parties interested in ensuring that neither Campo nor Flores end up striking a plea bargain that could require them to provide information on other suspects in exchange for legal benefits. Who exactly that might be remains unclear, but a number of top Venezuelan officials have previously been accused of involvement in drug trafficking.

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 / 25 MAY 2011

Venezuela authorities seized 330 kilos of cocaine and arrested two people, one a Colombian national, in two separate operations in…

EL SALVADOR / 15 SEP 2016

El Salvador’s attorney general announced the creation of a new anti-impunity unit in the prosecutor's office that will work on…

CACHIROS / 9 OCT 2019

As Honduras remains riveted on the trial of Tony Hernández, a document from the case file reveals details of another…

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…