Updated 02:01 AM EDT, Tue, Sep 29, 2020

Venezula News: U.S. Politicians Say Recent Arrests of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s Nephews are Proof of His Administration’s Corruption

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Members of the U.S. Congress said that the recent arrests of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's nephews are proof of his administration's corruption.

"If reports are accurate, few who have observed the declining situation in Venezuela should be surprised by this most recent news," said Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, according to a statement issued to Fox News Latino. "The level of corruption and impunity has reached the highest circles of power there and I'm pleased it is now getting international scrutiny."

Franqui Francisco Flores-de Freitas and Efrain Antonio Campo-Flores were arrested and were flown into New York on Tuesday to face charges. Both individuals are nephews of Maduro's wife, Venezuelan First Lady Cilia Flores, Reuters reported from a source close to the Flores family.

A separate report from Fox News Latino noted that the two men's arrest on Tuesday night was a part of a sting operation organized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). They were allegedly in the middle of smuggling cocaine approximately about 1,700 lbs. into the U.S. when they were apprehended in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where their plane landed. Reuters wrote that the two are planning to sell the cocaine through Honduras.

As translated by Fox News Latino, Spanish news outlet ABC reported that the men told the DEA that their operation also involved Diosdado Cabello, speaker of the National Assembly, and Governor Tarck el Aissami, who is the former Venezuelan Minister of the Interior. The two claimed that these high-ranking officials helped the passage of the drugs.

In past Senate hearings in Venezuela, Menendez raised his concern about the suspected drug trafficking in the country's government conducted by top officials.

"For years, I have pursued legislative and administrative efforts to ensure the U.S. government takes an active role in supporting Venezuelans who want better for their country, with its decimated Rule of Law and widespread narco-trafficking," said Menendez, as quoted by Fox News Latino. "It's not only a matter of fundamental human rights for Venezuelans but also a national security threat to the United States and the hemisphere. I hope justice is served and that more is to come."

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican who is chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, seconded Menendez's statement. According to Ros-Lehtine, this is not the first time that members of Maduro's relatives have been in "legal trouble due to their close connections to the illicit drug trade," the news outlet added.

Maduro, on the other hand, denied the charges against the two and insisted that the issue is just a smear campaign against the Socialist Party, Reuters wrote.

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