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Number of Suspects Detained in Botched Mercenary Invasion of Venezuela Tops 40

© REUTERS / Handout .Screens are seen as Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro holds a virtual news conference in Caracas, Venezuela May 6, 2020.
Screens are seen as Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro holds a virtual news conference in Caracas, Venezuela May 6, 2020.  - Sputnik International
Venezuelan security forces and fishermen doubling as Bolivarian militia arrested several dozen mercenaries in the wake of a botched naval invasion earlier this month. A US national allegedly involved in the plot has said that the operation was aimed at kidnapping President Nicolas Maduro and taking him back to the United States for prosecution.

More than 40 suspects have now been arrested in connection with the failed May 3-4 mercenary invasion of Venezuela, with three men captured by troops in Carayaca, about 55 km outside Caracas, on Monday, Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Guard has confirmed.

The guard released a tweet featuring photos of the three suspects, saying the men are suspected of having entered the country “with the intention of provoking acts of violence.”

The men’s capture follows the announcement by Strategic Command Operations commander Remingio Ceballos Sunday that eight other suspected “mercenary terrorists” had been captured by Venezuelan forces.

Other attackers including two suspected US mercenaries Luke Denman and Airan Berry were captured earlier by Venezuelan fishermen.

Venezuelan authorities reported that between six and eight mercenaries were killed and two others captured on May 3 during the first wave of the botched invasion, with more surrendering in the days that followed.

Media suspect that as many as 60 mercenaries were deployed into Venezuela during the botched raid, which involved the use of speedboats hailing from Colombia. Luke Denman told interrogators that the plot envisioned breaking into President Maduro’s presidential palace, kidnapping him, taking control of an airfield and taking him back to the US to face Justice Department charges of operating a drug smuggling ring.

Jordan Goudreau, a former Green Beret and founder of private security firm Silvercorp USA, claimed responsibility for the operation on May 4, accusing opposition leader and self-proclaimed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido of signing a $213 million contract with his company, but failing to pay up. On Monday, Guaido reportedly sacked two senior aides in the aftermath of the botched invasion. Berry, the second of the suspected US mercenaries involved in the plot, earlier confirmed Guaido's connection to the plot.

Venezuelan authorities have accused Washington and its Colombian allies of standing behind the mercenary invasion. The White House and Bogota have denied any involvement or foreknowledge, although Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the US now has a “responsibility” to bring Denman and Berry home.

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