Detained American claims he plotted Maduro's capture
A former U.S. soldier captured in Venezuela said that he had been contracted by a Florida security firm to seize control of Caracas’ airport and bring in a plane to fly President Nicolas Maduro to the United States.
Venezuelan authorities on Monday arrested the man, Luke Denman, along with fellow U.S. citizen Airan Berry and 11 others, in what Maduro has called a failed plot coordinated with Washington to oust him.
During questioning broadcast on state television, Denman said the firm, Silvercorp USA, had signed a contract with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to seek Maduro’s removal. A Guaido advisor told CNN hat he had signed an exploratory agreement, but it had never been finalized and the opposition did not support the attempted incursion.
Denman said his mission was to secure the airport and establish outer security. He did not give details on how his group planned to get Maduro on a plane.
“I was helping Venezuelans take back control of their country,” Denman, a former special operations forces member, said in the video.
Denman said he and Berry were contracted by Jordan Goudreau, a U.S. military veteran who leads Silvercorp, to train 50 to 60 Venezuelans in Colombia in January for the operation. Goudreau supplied the group with equipment, Denman said.
Goudreau confirmed his role as organizer of the operation in media interviews on Sunday and told Reuters on Monday that Denman and Berry were “my guys.”
Venezuelan authorities said they arrested the group by the isolated coastal town of Chuao, about 60 kilometers west of Caracas’ airport, after locals raised suspicions.
Authorities published photos of what they said was the group’s boat, loaded with ammunition, weapons and communication equipment.
Eight people involved in the same operation were killed on Sunday in La Guaira state, near Caracas, Maduro’s government said.