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US Mercenaries Captured After Failed Coup to Be Charged as Terrorists by Venezuela Govt - US Govt Wants Them Back


The two US ex-special forces turn mercenary soldiers captured by Venezuela Monday as they tried to lead a small anti-Maduro invasion force into the country appeared in a Venezuelan court on Friday, alongside some dozen other alleged conspirators and detained mercenaries. 

Luke Alexander Denman, 34, and Airan Berry, 41 have been charged with "terrorism and conspiracy" for the failed raid, which new details say included a total of 17 people coming ashore on fishing boats from a staging ground in neighboring Colombia.

Venezuelan media also claims that eight among the mercenary force - reportedly mostly made up of Venezuelan defectors - were gunned down when they tried to enter the country.

Denman and Berry have specifically been charged with "terrorism, conspiracy, illicit trafficking of weapons of war and (criminal) association." 

Captured mercenaries after botched 'Bay of Pigs-style' raid into Venezuelan territory. Image source: Defense Ministry of Venezuela/Al Jazeera.

There's officially no death penalty in the Venezuelan legal code, with the charges faced by the Americans bringing a max 25-30 years in prison.

Maduro and Caracas officials have ultimately blamed the plot on President Trump, something which the US president and admin officials were quick to deny, with Trump noting he would never have used "a small little group". 

“If I wanted to go into Venezuela, I wouldn’t make a secret about it. I wouldn’t send a small little group, it’d be called an Army,” Trump told FOX on Friday.

Meanwhile Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab has issued an Interpol arrest warrant for ex-Green Beret and head of the Florida-based security firm Silvercorp Jordan Goudreau. 

Goudreau had initially been boasting of being behind the failed coup attempt and giving media interviews from Florida, and he's now under investigation by US authorities.

Washington appears to have been embarrassed by the whole "rogue" operation, for which Silvercorp has also come under widespread mockery online.

The US army has since confirmed the men formerly served as members of the Green Berets and had been deployed to Iraq. Venezuelan state officials have claimed the group was going to be paid $212 million to orchestrate the overthrow of Maduro on behalf of opposition leader Juan Guaido and his US and Colombian backers.

While distancing itself from the fiasco, the State Department has pledged to "use every tool that we have available to try to get them back," according to recent statements by Mike Pompeo.

Originally appeared at: Zero Hedge