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Venezuelan First Lady’s Nephews Implicate Government in Drug Trafficking

By: Sabrina Martín - @SabrinaMartinR - Nov 17, 2016, 4:33 pm
Franqui Francisco Flores controls the presidential hangar in the Simón Bolívar de Maiquetía airport. (Notihoy)
Franqui Francisco Flores admits to controlling the presidential hangar in the Simón Bolívar de Maiquetía airport. (Notihoy)

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Venezuelan First Lady’s nephews implicate government in drug trafficking. The trial against the drug dealing nephews of the Venezuelan presidential family has reached its final stage, as the prosecution builds evidence demonstrating the responsibility of the accused.

On Wednesday, the US Attorney’s Office released an explosive recording in which Franqui Francisco Flores admitted that he has control of the presidential hangar at the Simón Bolívar airport in Maiquetía.

“I have control and I can take off in the plane whenever I want,” the audio was heard in the courtroom before the incredulity of Flores’s defense lawyers.

Flores was referring to the departure of the aircraft from the presidential hangar that is in the Venezuelan airport with the alleged drug load destined for the Honduran island of Roatan.

In another audio, Flores de Freitas also confesses that his aunt (Cilia Flores) wanted to be deputy and later to be governor of a state.

From the stand, air traffic controller Carlos Gonzalez, who became a key witness for the prosecution after the jury heard his testimony yesterday, said he had helped design the plan for drugs to arrive in Honduras before they were transported to the US.

Gonzalez said that he and another worker at the Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport on the island of Roatan on the north coast of Honduras had arranged a plan on November 5 to receive the cargo that would be sent by the defendants, ten days later.

The drugs, Gonzalez said, would be unloaded and carried in a high-speed boat that was already hired to take the cargo to the Honduran coast. From there he would go to Mexico and then to the US.

Juan Gómez, another confidential DEA informant, described the recordings of a meeting on November 6 in which he was present and talked to Franqui Flores.

Gómez admitted to having helped more than 50 planes to land at Roatan airport. “I usually get paid about USD $10,000 per plane,” he said.

The recordings served to obtain precise details about the drug trafficking network’s operations.

He said that a meeting was held about a drug trafficking logistics, which explained the schedules for the shipments. Gomez also suggested that the gang bring four people aboard in the guise of tourists or businessmen, so as to avoid suspicion.

Diosdado Cabello, again …

At the hearing on Wednesday, the name of Venezuelan deputy, Diosdado Cabello, was raised for the second time. This time, his name came up in a conversation that took place between DEA informant Juan Gómez (CS-3), César Daza Cardona, Roberto de Jesús Soto, and Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas.

In one audio Flores states that Diosdado Cabello controls the Armed Forces of Venezuela, and doubts that the Chavista deputy is the alleged head of the “Cartel de los Soles” (Cartel of the Suns), an organization which allegedly involves high-ranking members of the Venezuelan government.

Co-accused and mentioned in the trial

US District Court Judge Paul Crotty has instructed jurors to maintain their objectivity, and focus on the facts.

Crotty informed jurors that the case of Campo Flores and Flores de Freitas involves other people (co-accused) who will not be present in the hearings.  Among these other people are associates of the accused and people who participated in the operation.

The following list of individuals was mentioned by Judge Crotty as associates of the alleged conspiracy:

Roberto de Jesús Soto García (Currently detained in Honduras pending deportation to the US)
Cilia Flores (First Lady of Venezuela)
Pablo Rafael Urbano Pérez
Pedro Miguel Rodríguez González
Marco Tulio Uzcategui Contreras
Jesfran Josnel Moreno Sojo
César Orlando Daza Cardona
Ruben Walls C
Ruben Lugo
Mohhamed Abulzazza
Mohamad Khalil
Abdul Razzak Yanez

And the following were referred to by their criminal aliases:
Chicho, Gordo, El Flaco, Pepero.

According to the opinion of the law firms defending the interests of the drug dealing nephews, the prosecution has not proven the existence of a crime. They assert that the government must prove the defendant’s actual knowledge or intent beyond a reasonable doubt in the commission of a crime.

Today, Friday, November 17, the process of jury deliberation is expected to begin. However, it has been rumored that the defense will be holding an emergency meeting between all parties. The purpose of the meeting is unknown.

Sources: Maibort Petit; El Pitazo

Sabrina Martín Sabrina Martín

Sabrina Martín is a Venezuelan journalist, commentator, and editor based in Valencia with experience in corporate communication. Follow @SabrinaMartinR.