Venezuela says two US ‘mercenaries’ captured in raid

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Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Monday said that two U.S. citizens have been detained as part of a group of “mercenaries” authorities captured in a raid. 

Maduro said during a state television address that 13 “terrorists” were arrested by Venezuelan authorities for allegedly being involved in a plot Maduro claimed was coordinated with Washington to oust him from power, according to Reuters

Maduro held up a pair of blue U.S. passports, reading the names and birth dates on them as part of his state address, The Associated Press reports

The Trump administration has denied involvement, according to the reports. 

The Pentagon declined to comment when contacted by The Hill. 

“The United States government is fully and completely involved in this defeated raid,” Maduro said in the address, according to AP. 

Maduro identified the U.S. citizens allegedly involved in the plot as Airan Berry and Luke Denman. He said they had been working with Jordan Goudreau, an American military veteran who leads a Florida-based security company called Silvercorp USA, according to the newswires. 

“They were playing Rambo. They were playing hero,” Maduro said of the alleged Americans. 

He said that Veunezuelan authorities found out about the plot before it was executed. 

Goudreau identified himself as an organizer of the invasion on Sunday and told Reuters that Berry and Denman were also involved, telling the newswire “those are my guys.”

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who is supported by President Trump, insisted that Maduro is trying to use this to distract from other problems in recent days, Reuters reports. 

Guaidó’s communications team also denied reports that the leader had hired Silvercorp to remove Maduro by force, according to Reuters. 

His team told the newswire that Guaidó and his allies “have no relationship with or responsibility for the actions of the company Silvercorp,” and added in a statement that they “demand the human rights … of the people captured in recent hours be respected.”

–Updated at 10:05 a.m.

Tags captured Americans Donald Trump Nicolas Maduro raid Venezuela Venezuelan presidential crisis

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