MIAMI (AP) — Colombia’s police chief is calling on a former U.S. Green Beret behind a plot to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to “answer for his crimes” in the South American country.
Gen. Oscar Atehortúa made the announcement a day after police arrested four Venezuelans tied to clandestine camps where he said American war veteran Jordan Goudreau helped arm and train a small cadre of volunteers to carry out the cross-border incursion.
“They were planning from Colombia territory, destabilizing actions with the goal of undermining our institutions,” Atehortúa said at a news conference alongside President Iván Duque. He said the FBI and U.S. National Security Council assisted in the five-month investigation.
The Associated Press on May 1 revealed the existence of the secret camps and Goudreau’s involvement in the bizarre plot. Two days later, despite being exposed, a small contingent went ahead anyway and were quickly stopped by Maduro’s security forces, which claims to have killed eight of the “mercenaries” and arrested dozens of others, including two of Goudreau’s special forces buddies, Luke Denman and Airan Berry.
Goudreau in interviews the day of the raid from Florida took responsibility for the battlefield defeat but blamed Venezuela’s opposition, which he said recruited him to spur regime change and then got cold feet. Maduro, in a propaganda coup, blamed the Trump administration, which has denied playing any role in the endeavor.
Of the four arrested Wednesday, two are brothers of Capt. Antonio Sequea, who commanded the failed beach raid and is now imprisoned in Venezuela. Also detained in Colombia is Rayder Ruso, a civilian whom Maduro has implicated in a 2018 assassination attempt at a military parade using a explosives-laden drone.
But Atehortúa saved his harshest words for the fourth suspect, Yacsy Álvarez, who he said worked with Goudreau and retired Venezuelan Gen. Cliver Álcala to procure weapons using illicit funds from abroad and instructing the volunteers in close quarter combat techniques. He said a cache of assault rifles, sniper telescopes and night vision goggles seized by police on March 23 was destined for the camps along Colombia’s Caribbean coast.
Three days later, a New York federal court indicted Álcala on unrelated narcotics charges. Before surrendering, he claimed ownership of the weapons, saying they belonged to the “Venezuelan people.”
Joshua Goodman on Twitter: @APJoshGoodman