Pair of U.S. mercenaries have been sentenced to more than two decades in prison by a Venezuelan court for a failed coup attempt to oust President Nicolas Maduro
Former Green Berets Luke Denman, 34, and Airan Berry, 41, were sentenced on Friday
Tarek Saab, Venezuela’s attorney general, announced the sentence of 20 years and 9 days for each man
Saab said the two Americans had admitted their role in the failed May coup
After the pair were arrested on May 4, along with two dozen Venezuelans, they were charged with terrorism and conspiracy
The captured coup plotter claimed President Trump gave orders to mercenaries
However another former Green Beret, Jordan Goudreau, has identified himself as the person behind the plot, in a video posted to social media
In this tweet Saab, Venezuela’s attorney general, claimed that the pair had admitted their role in the coup to overthrow president Maduro
Luke Denman, [left] and Airan Berry, Saab said had been sentenced to 20 months and 9 days in prison
Others caught in the snare include two captains in the Venezuelan National Guard, Antonio José Sequea and Víctor Pimienta, were among the Venezuelans arrested in the foiled raid.
They had participated in a previous uprising against Maduro and are believed to have been among those leading the Venezuelans in the coup.
The former governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, flew to Venezuela last month to urge Maduro to free several jailed Americans as a goodwill gesture aimed at easing tensions with the U.S.
US Special Forces operative, Airan Berry served as a Sergeant First Class in the U.S. military from 1996 and 2013. He is listed as having attended school in Texas.
Announcing the arrest of Luke Denman, in Caracas on May 4, along with Airan Berry, President Maduro flashed the IDs of the two Americans
The Richardson Center, which seeks freedom for Americans held by hostile foreign governments and criminal organizations, would not confirm who he was lobbying for.
Denman and Berry were likely on the list, along with six oil executives from Citgo — five Venezuelan-Americans and one a permanent U.S. resident — who were lured to Caracas for a meeting in late 2017 at the offices of the Houston-based company’s parent, state-run oil giant PDVSA, when masked security agents swarmed a boardroom and hauled them away.
Richardson also worked behind the scenes to bring home another American jailed in Caracas, former Mormon missionary Joshua Holt, who won his freedom in 2018.
Authorities were said to be lying in wait for the mercenaries after showing ringleader Jordan Goudreau’s face on state TV and naming the Americans a month before the plot even began.
The former soldiers said they flew to Colombia on January 16 and, after training, they accompanied the troops by boat to Venezuela.
The plan was to capture Maduro, secure an airport and then fly the Venezuelan leader to the United States.
Goudreau, Denman and Berry had served together in Iraq and Afghanistan and Goudreau offered them the job in Venezuela through his Florida-based company Silvercorp USA.
Luke Denman seen [left] with alleged co-conspirator Airan Berry [right] said ‘jackpot’ was the codename for President Nicolás Maduro among plotters. According to a taped confession he had taken the job offer from former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau because he believed it was working to free the Venezuelan people from Maduro.
Alleged Us mercenaries Luke Denman [left] and Airan Berry [right] are seen as the were paraded along with two dozen Venezuelans after their arrest on May 4 Luke Denman [left] said ‘jackpot’ was the codename for President Nicolás Maduro among plotters. Asked
In March, the U.S. announced a $15 million reward for information that let to Maduro’s arrest or conviction.
Goudreau is currently under federal investigation in the U.S. for arms smuggling after identifying himself as the person behind the plot, in a video posted to social media, claiming that he had provided the coup members with training and equipment.
He claims to have signed a $212 million contract with Guaidó, which the opposition leader has denied.
Maduro has presented the alleged signed contract during press conferences as proof that Guaidó was involved in the plot to overthrow him.
Former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau [center] is currently under federal investigation in the U.S. for arms smuggling after he claimed responsibility for the failed coup in Venezuela
In a previous video broadcast on Venezuelan state TV on May 7, Denman claimed he was first approached about the job by Goudreau in early December but was given limited details about what was involved.
In the interrogation video, Denman also stated that he had taken the job offer from Goudreau because he believed it was working to free the Venezuelan people from Maduro.
He was questioned about the leadership of the plot and, when asked who commanded Goudreau, he claimed it was Donald Trump.
President Trump and the U.S. government have denied any ‘direct’ involvement in the botched raid and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that ‘every tool’ will be used to secure the release of the Americans involved.
The U.S. broke diplomatic ties with Maduro and closed its embassy in Caracas last year.