Nephews of Venezuela's First Lady Accused Of Drug Trafficking

By McCarton Ackerman 11/13/15

The two relatives attempted to trafficking almost a ton of cocaine to New York.

Celia Flores
First Lady Cilia Flores. Photo via

In a major international drug bust, two nephews of Venezuela’s First Lady were arrested in Haiti on drug charges and have been extradited to the United States.

Efraín Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas are nephews of Cilia Flores, the wife of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. At the request of U.S. authorities, they were arrested on Tuesday in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince and then released to DEA agents. Both men were then flown to the United States and appeared on Thursday in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

They are being accused of conspiring to ship 800 kilograms (1,760 pounds) of cocaine to the United States to be sold in New York. A person with knowledge of the case told the New York Times that they approached a DEA informant last month in Honduras and discussed moving drugs through the country. They then later met that informant in Venezuela and showed them a kilogram of the cocaine they intended to move. DEA agents have audio and video recordings of at least one of the encounters.

Although Flores has remained silent on the case, Maduro has taken a defiant approach. He wrote on Twitter that “neither attacks, nor imperial ambushes, will effect the People of the Liberators, we have only one destiny...Victory...” It’s expected that the arrests will further tarnish already tense relations between the United States and Venezuela.

American investigators have long held that top officials are directly involved in the country’s drug trade. Last year, a former head of the Venezuelan intelligence apparatus, Hugo Carvajal, was arrested in Aruba and accused of being on the payroll of Colombian traffickers. Maduro denied the allegations and said they were part of a U.S. conspiracy to undermine his government.

Earlier this year, the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, was being investigated by U.S. officials on charges of drug trafficking.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.