Two American citizens have been arrested by authorities in Venezuela along with a dozen others in a failed paramilitary attempt to “detain/capture/remove Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro,” which was dubbed “Operation Gideon”.
This is according to reports from the Washington Post and Al Jazeera, and statements from the Maduro administration. The two Americans, identified as Airan Berry, 41, and Luke Denman, 34, were both ex-special forces, and a third involved American who claims he masterminded the attempt on Maduro’s life, Jordan Goudreau, was a former Green Beret.
Venezuelan authorities say the May 3rd attack off the Caribbean coast left 8 people dead. According to Al Jazeera, Venezuelan Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said “the attackers tried to land on speedboats before dawn on a ‘beach at Macuto, about an hour north of Caracas, but were intercepted by the military and special police units”.
The night after the attack, Goudreau, who leads a Florida-based security company, SilverCorp USA, claimed responsibility for the incursion, saying he signed an agreement with Venezuelan opposition leader and self-styled “Interim-President” of the country, Juan Guaido.
Where the major players stand
U.S. President Donald Trump said on May 5th that his government was not involved, while Sec. of State Mike Pompeo said the State Dep. would use every measure to secure the detained Americans’ release.
Juan Guaido, who has been suffering from a plummeting of national support, but remains the recognized leader of the country by over 60 nations, denies any involvement with the coup.
The Maduro government blamed the United States primarily at first, but switched focus to Guaido after the release of a 42-page report by the Washington Post regarding the details of the operation.
Popular Will and First Justice, the political parties Guaido is affiliated with, released a statement claiming “the democratic forces do not promote or finance guerrillas, outbreaks of violence or paramilitary groups”
Along with accusing Guaido, Nicolas Maduro, in a televised address also placed blame on Ivan Duque, the President of Colombia.
An AP report claims Goudreau is in the middle of a massive gun-running conspiracy in Colombia as well, hatched in cooperation with an ex-Venezuelan army general Cliver Alcalá, to train dozens of Venezuelan military deserters in secret camps in in the jungles of Venezuela’s westerly neighbor to launch an operation against Maduro.
Goudreau’s alleged involvement in weapons smuggling dates to March 23rd when a seizure made by police in Colombia revealed a stockpile of weapons being transported in a truck. Worth around $150,000, the arsenal included night vision goggles and two-way radios which were also captured in the coup attempt on May 3rd, spotting scopes, and 26 American assault rifles with the serial numbers removed.