Venezuela claims capture of ‘American spy’ near major oil refining complex

Paraguaná Refinery ComplexThe President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, announced on Friday the arrest of an alleged “American spy”, who was reportedly arrested near the largest oil refinery complex in the country. The alleged spy, who has not been named, was reportedly in the vicinity of the Paraguaná Refinery Complex, which is known as the third largest refinery complex in the world. It combines the Amuay, Bajo Grande and Cardón refineries, which together produce nearly a third of Venezuela’s daily oil output.

During a live address on Venezuelan national television, Maduro said an American citizen had been arrested on Thursday in Falcon State, in Venezuela’s northeast. Falcon is the site of the Amuay and Cardón oil refineries and much of the local population is employed in the state-owned oil industry. The Venezuelan president said the alleged spy is “a marine” who was “serving on [Central Intelligence Agency] bases in Iraq” prior to arriving in Venezuela. He added that the alleged spy was “captured with large amounts of cash, large quantities of dollars and other items”. He did not elaborate further, but said the detainee was in the process of “giving a statement in custody”.

Maduro also said that Venezuelan security forces had foiled a separate plot to bomb El Palito, which is another oil refinery, located in Carabobo State. He then urged workers in oil refineries to “be on alert” in case more attacks are planned. Venezuela’s oil production has fallen to nearly a third of its peak output in 2009, when the country was producing 3.2 million barrels per day. The government blames the oil shortage on acts of sabotage from domestic and foreign enemies of President Maduro, but opposition parties claim that mismanagement and corruption are behind the demise of the Venezuelan oil industry.

Earlier this year, a Venezuelan court sentenced two American former servicemen to 20 years in prison for their role in what the Venezuelan media refer to as “enfrentamiento en El Junquito” (“El Junquito raid”), or “Operación GEDEÓN”. GEDEÓN refers to a failed coup plot carried out on May 3 and 4, 2020, by a group of up to 60 armed men. It is alleged that the coup was masterminded by Major General Clíver Alcalá Cordones, a retired member of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Army, with the support of Silvercorp USA, a private security group led by Jordan Goudreau, a Canadian-born former sergeant in the US Green Berets. The United States government has denied involvement in the coup plot.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 14 September 2020 | Permalink

Venezuelan television airs US ex-soldier’s confession of role in alleged coup

Luke DenmanVenezuelan state television aired on Wednesday an interview with one of two Americans facing charges of having participated in a failed armed plot to overthrow the government of President Nicolás Maduro. Venezuelan media have been referring to the failed plot as “enfrentamiento en El Junquito” (“El Junquito raid”), or “Operación GEDEÓN”.

GEDEÓN refers to a failed coup plot that was carried out on May 3 and 4 by a group of up to 60 armed men. It is alleged that the coup was masterminded by Major General Clíver Alcalá Cordones a retired member of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Army. Alcalá, who is wanted in the United States for drug trafficking, has been living in Colombia since at least 2019. It is also alleged that the coup was launched from Colombia with the support of Silvercorp USA, a private security group led by Jordan Goudreau, a Canadian-born former sergeant in the US Green Berets.

On May 3, several alleged coup plotters sailed on speed boats from Colombia, heading for the coast of La Guaira, 20 miles north of Venezuelan capital Caracas. At least six coup plotters who participated in the first phase of the operation are believed to have been killed by the Venezuelan armed forces. Many more were arrested before being able to reach a number of safe houses that had allegedly been set up their supporters inside Venezuela. At least two of arrestees, Airan Berry and Luke Denman, are believed to be American citizens and former soldiers. Meanwhile, a number of Venezuelan opposition figures in Colombia have since claimed that several cells of coup supporters have been activated inside Venezuela. A nationwide operation to neutralize these cells is currently underway with the participation of tens of thousands of Venezuelan soldiers.

On Wednesday, Venezuelan state television aired excerpts of an interview (video) with Luke Denman, in which he appears to claim that he was part of a group of coup plotters whose mission was to take control of the Simón Bolívar International Airport. Also known as Maiquetía, the airport is located 13 miles north of the center of Caracas. Denman also appears to say in the interview that his instructions were to help transport a captured President Maduro by plane to the US.

On Tuesday, the Venezuelan government claimed that coup had been sponsored by the White House, the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Colombian government, and Juan Guaidó, President Maduro’s principal rival, who is seen by the US and most Western European countries as the rightful leader of Venezuela. But Washington and its allies have denied that they had any involvement in the alleged coup plot. On Wednesday, Daniel Hoffman, a former Central Intelligence Agency operations officer, said that the coup plot had very likely been penetrated by pro-Maduro spies during its planning stages.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 07 May 2020 | Permalink