Efrain Campo and Francisco Flores, nephews of Venezuela’s first lady Cilia Flores, confessed attempting to smuggle 1,763 pounds of cocaine into the U.S., according to court filings Friday. Campo and Flores were arrested last November in Haiti during a sting operation by the U.S. Drugs Enforcement Administration.
The court documents filed in a Manhattan federal court include photos allegedly taken from a video that, according to prosecutors, are of 29-year-old Campo holding a brick of cocaine with 30-year-old Flores looking on. The documents were filed to contest a bid by the defendants’ attorneys to suppress their post-arrest statements to DEA agents on the ground that they were not informed of their rights and were pressured after being taken into custody by armed masked men, who they first thought were kidnappers.
Campo and Flores have been held without bail since November. In the filings, Campo initially indicated to DEA agents that the cocaine deal was to fund the congressional campaign of Cilia, wife of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
“I know I said that but in reality it was for me,” a court document reportedly quoted Campo as telling a DEA agent.
“Campo stated that friends in the drug business had told him to be careful not to get robbed so he made the statement regarding his Mom's campaign for protection,” the DEA agent wrote in his post-arrest report.
When Flores was asked why he got involved in the deal, he said: “To make money.”
According to the records, Flores expected the first stack to make $5 million, earning him $560,000. Prosecutors said he and Campo hoped a series of drug consignments they would be involved in would garner them $20 million.
The recorded conversations involving the two suggested that they lived lavishly in Venezuela.
Campo also allegedly boasted during the deal meetings that he owned Ferraris, and that “ever since we started making money we've been flashy.” However, he told the DEA he did not have even $10,000 and earned $800 weekly through taxis he owned in Panama, the court records showed.
Flores and Campo’s case is one of a series of enforcement actions and investigations by U.S. authorities who have linked people connected to the Venezuelan government with drug trafficking.