Updated 11:25 AM EDT, Sun, Sep 20, 2020

Venezuela News: National Assembly Speaker Cabello Accuses U.S. of Kidnapping First Lady's Nephews

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Venezuelan National Assembly Speaker Diosdado Cabello dubs the U.S. arrest of two of First Lady Cilia Flores's nephews as an act of abduction.

Cabello, a powerful lawmaker and a President Nicolas Maduro's second-in-command made the strong comments as cited by AFP.

The first lady's nephews, Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas and Efrain Antonio Campo Flores were arrested on drug charges Thursday last week for reportedly getting involved in smuggling 800 kilograms of cocaine into the U.S.

According to the indictment, the two Venezuelan men participated in meetings to conjure up a plan to bring the illegal substance into the country through the Honduras.

However, the Caracas speaker thinks that the arrest is not actually a case of authorities apprehending suspects of a crime but is instead a crime in itself.

"I don't see it as an arrest. A plane went to Haiti with six people and they kidnapped two people," he told the private TV channel Globovision on Monday.

He further noted that the actions taken by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is "very irregular."

"It's very irregular what the DEA has done in this case. It's the DEA's normal procedure to kidnap people in a lot of places," he added.

A report from ABC News revealed that the duo's case would be arraigned on Tuesday, about three weeks ahead of the legislative elections in the Latin American country.

Cabello's comments about the incident come in the midst of political tension between the two countries particularly since American prosecutors are targeting top Venezuelan officials in the armed forces, the police and the government which includes the Caracas speaker.

This, says the outlet, is "likely to exacerbate already tense relations between the U.S. and Venezuela" especially since it occurred in the wake of earlier U.S. accusations of drug trafficking "at the highest levels" during President Manduro's administration.

When asked about the political implications of the incident, Cabello declared that necessary legal actions would be taken, adding that all is "going to be clarified."

According to Cabello, "at least one" of the men is not related to the influential first lady and had denied reports claiming that Campo Flores was raised by the Venezuelan president and his wife as a stepson.

"I can assure you that's a lie, but it's not my place to say so," Cabello explained, adding that the first couple is only delaying their comments on the matter because they are still waiting for results of their own investigation.

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