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Maduro says 2 Americans held in Venezuela for assassination plot

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is seen Monday during a meeting with members of the Armed Forces in Caracas, Venezuela. Photo by Miraflores Presidential Palace/EPA-EFE
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is seen Monday during a meeting with members of the Armed Forces in Caracas, Venezuela. Photo by Miraflores Presidential Palace/EPA-EFE

May 5 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says two American mercenaries are among 13 "terrorists' who were captured and their plans to assassinate him were foiled.

Speaking on Venezuelan television Monday night, Maduro showed videos of the captured Americans who he identified as Airan Berry and Luke Denman and said they were employees of Florida-based security company Silvercorp USA.

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Venezuelan authorities said eight of the accused "mercenaries" were arrested elsewhere on Sunday as part of the invasion.

In his address, Maduro said at least 25,000 troops have been mobilized in coastal areas to hunt for other rebels operating in Venezuela.

Silvercorp's owner, former U.S. Army Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, acknowledged that the men worked for him and were participating in "Operation Gideon." He told The Washington Post the operation included a force of about 60 men and sought an insurrection against Maduro as part of a deal with U.S.-backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Maduro said eight people were killed on a beach in the Sunday night incident, which he said was backed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the government of neighboring Colombia.

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Guaido, the DEA and Colombian officials have denied the accusations.

The U.S. Justice Department charged Maduro in March with participating in a drug smuggling organization known as the Cartel of the Suns, which it said sought to "flood the United States with cocaine and inflict the drug's harmful and addictive effects on users in this country." It offered a reward of up to $15 million for his arrest.

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