BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:45 A.M.) – Two ex-U.S. soldiers said they were on a mission to secure a Venezuelan airfield in order to kidnap President Nicolas Maduro and topple his government.
According to Venezuelan state TV, the two former U.S. Green Berets were working for the Silvercorp security firm before they were arrested by the Venezuelan authorities.
U.S. national and former Green Beret, Luke Denman, told an interrogator that Jordan Goudreau, a US.. special forces veteran and founder of private security firm Silvercorp USA, had proposed that he take part in removing Maduro from power between late November and early December of 2019.
Denman did not sign any papers, but during a “casual conversation,” Goudreau provided him with “some vague mission guidelines” about training armed opposition fighters and “putting Maduro on a plane.”
We were, for all intents and purposes, invading a country, taking military and police targets, and capturing the sitting president.
Denman explained that he was tasked with training Venezuelans in neighboring Colombia and, after they had “secured their targets,” with securing an airfield to “put Maduro on a plane.” From there on, Denman was going to stay on the airfield to receive “incoming humanitarian aid” and await further instructions, he said.
During the interrogation, Denman also revealed that the code word ‘jackpot’ was used in the group’s notes to “talk about the person we’re after – either a hostage or a high-value target.”
When asked why the operation had started from an area dominated by drug trafficking, another detained American, Airen Berry, claimed that the group “didn’t understand or know that we would be travelling through this narco area.” He said that the route was known by renegade Venezuelan Army captains Antonio Sequea and Victor Pimenta (who joined in the planned coup and were then also detained) and “possibly” by US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Sequea previously told interrogators that Goudreau informed him that he had met Guaido at the White House during Guaido’s trip to the US.
Goudreau acknowledged to Reuters that Denman and Berry are “working” with him. US President Donald Trump, Colombia’s Foreign Ministry, and Guaido have all separately denied having any ties with the plot against Maduro.
The US openly supports Guaido, who was elected by the opposition-controlled parliament as ‘interim president’ of Venezuela in January 2019. Maduro has repeatedly slammed Guaido’s actions as illegal and has accused the US of plotting to oust him from power.
In March, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted Maduro and several other former and current Venezuelan officials for corruption and “narco-terrorism” – the intention to “flood” the US with cocaine. The DOJ offered up to $15 million for information leading to Maduro’s arrest or conviction.