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Venezuelan insurgents regroup after internal leak compromises operations

Nicolas Maduro. (Pedro Rances Mattey/DPA/Abaca Press/TNS)

Military insurgents who landed in Venezuela over the weekend in an attempt to capture top leaders of the Nicolas Maduro regime pulled back to regroup on Tuesday after an internal information leak compromised operations and led to the capture of 13 of its members, including two Americans, leaders of the movement said.

The move, however, doesn’t mean they are pulling out of the country, the leaders said. It’s only a temporary halt in operations to redesign the future objectives of its units, made up mostly of exiled Venezuelan military personnel aided by former U.S. soldiers

“The operations will be halted given that a number of errors were made,” said former Venezuelan National Guard captain Javier Nieto, one of the leaders of “:Operation Gideon.”

“Definitely, the regime managed to infiltrate people [inside the group] and now we have to reorganize”.

According to the movement’s leaders, as many as 200 men, mostly exiled Venezuelan military personnel, are involved in the operation, although they are not revealing how many of them are actually back in the South American country.

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The insurgent group seeks to capture the leaders of the regime, including Maduro, who are accused by U.S. prosecutors of heading the Los Soles drug cartel and have bounties worth millions for information leading to their capture.

Maduro, who has been calling the attacks a mercenary invasion orchestrated by Washington and Bogota, said Tuesday afternoon that there were two U.S. citizens among the 13 “terrorists” that had been captured in the failed plot to depose him.

Nieto confirmed that the captured Americans are Airan Berry and Luke Denman, both former U.S. soldiers linked to former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, the owner of the Melbourne, Florida, based security firm Silvercorp USA, which trained the members of the exiled group.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday denied his administration was somehow involved.

“I just got information. Nothing to do with our government but I just got information on that. We’ll find out, we just heard about it. Whatever it is we’ll let you know, but it has nothing to do with our government,” he said.

The Venezuelan government said Sunday that it had killed eight “mercenaries” and captured another two, all belong to a group trying to land in the beach town of Macuto, 30 kilometers north of Caracas, and on Monday it announced that it had captured another eight on the coast of the western state of Aragua.

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© 2020 Miami Herald