KEY POINTS

  • Two American veterans were arrested in an attempt to “liberate” Venezuela
  • A Florida-based US veteran claimed responsibility for “Operation Gideon”
  • Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro blamed the U.S. and Colombia for the incident

In a live statement on state television, President Nicolás Maduro said Venezuelan authorities have arrested two Americans and 11 others in a failed attempt to unseat him.

Adrian Berry and Luke Denman, whose passports and personal details Maduro displayed during the broadcast, were arrested after “invading” Venezuela from Colombia using speedboats.

Berry and Denman are employed by Silvercorp USA, a private security firm based in Florida and operated by former U.S. Army special forces member and Iraq veteran Jordan Goudreau.

Goudreau claimed he sent Berry and Denman as part of a mission to “liberate” Venezuela under a project he called “Operation Gideon.” He also said both men were “ex-Green Berets.” He also claimed to be working with retired Venezuelan military officers allegedly training military defectors at secret camps across Colombia.

Maduro said that this was the latest attempt by the U.S. to overthrow him. The U.S. has publicly called for his resignation and recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state.

A video posted on Maduro’s English Twitter account shows several people with their hands up on a boat as a helicopter flew above. The men were later shown lined up onshore as captives of Venezuelan security forces.

The group was arrested in a town 21 miles north of Caracas, the capital of Venezuela.

Maduro called the attempt a “terrorist incursion” and said, “They were playing Rambo, they were playing hero.”

Venezuelan authorities are claiming that the operation was planned by the U.S. with support from Colombia. Colombia has denied involvement.

Maduro is known for his televised announcements, frequently accusing the US and Colombia of plotting to either kill him or jeopardize the “revolution.”

A report by the Associated Press said one of the retired army generals Goudreau was cooperating with is facing drug charges in the US and that the operation involving around 60 personnel lacked support from the US government.

A statement by Guaidó’s press team denied accusations that he orchestrated the plot and said he had no agreements with any private security force. In 2019, he failed to unseat Maduro in a coup after failing to gain support from the nation’s powerful military.