The leader of the failed Venezuela coup that has seen two former US special forces soldiers taken into custody has provided security for Donald Trump.
Ex-Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, 43, can be seen in footage at one of the president’s rallies in Charlotte North Carolina in October 2018 and four days earlier at another rally in Houston.
The website for his private security firm Silvercorp claims he has planned and led international security teams for the President as well as the Secretary of Defense.
It has also emerged that he struck on the idea of a coup after speaking with a billionaire backer and meeting with Trump’s longtime bodyguard.
Goudreau attended a conference in Miami of Venezuelan opposition leaders and it is here that he met Roen Kraft, an eccentric descendant of the cheese-making family, who began raising money for a ‘private coup’.
Kraft lured prospective donors with the promise of preferential access to negotiate deals in the energy and mining sectors if the coup was a success. He represented himself as the ‘prime contractor’ of Venezuela.
Kraft denies giving Goudreau any money.
Jordan Goudreau pictured allegedly working security at a Donald Trump rally in North Carolina in October 2018. He started his plan for a coup in Venezuela after meeting Trump’s bodyguard
Former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau (pictured center) has claimed responsibility for a failed operation to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro in a plan named ‘Operation Gedeón’.
Through a friend who works in private security, Goudreau was reportedly introduced to Keith Schiller (left), President Trump’s longtime bodyguard, who also met with Guaidó’s envoys
Goudreau also held meetings with Donald Trump’s longtime bodyguard Keith Schiller who accompanied him to the Miami event. At the meeting, Goudreau and Schiller discussed the security of opposition leader Juan Guaidó with his representatives.
The White House says Schiller cut off all contact after the meeting and Guaidó also denies involvement in the plot.
Goudreau identified himself Sunday as the leader of a plot to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro named ‘Operation Gedeón’.
On Monday, Maduro announced that two U.S. citizens were among eight arrested after authories were alerted by fishermen in Chuao, a village on the northern coast of the state of Aragua.
It came after eight potential raiders were killed and two more arrested on Sunday in the Caribbean port city of La Guaira as part of Goudreau’s amateur plot.
Maduro ally and Attorney General Tarek William Saab said that in total they’ve arrested 114 people suspected in the attempted attack and they are on the hunt of 92 others.
President Maduro called the arrested men ‘terrorist mercenaries’ and blamed the attacks on the Trump administration, Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó and neighboring Colombia, all of which have denied involvement.
‘The United States government is fully and completely involved in this defeated raid,’ Maduro said, praising members of a fishing village for cornering one group in the sweep netting the ‘professional American mercenaries.’
On Monday, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro used a press conference to display the equipment that had allegedly been seized by Venezuelan armed forces after capturing the ‘mercenaries’
The United States has led a campaign to oust Maduro, increasing pressure in recent weeks by indicting the socialist leader as a narco-trafficker and offering a $15 million reward for his arrest.
The U.S. has also backed Guaidó as the country’s leader.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump denied any involvement by the U.S. government.
‘We’ll find out. We just heard about it,’ Trump said when asked about the incident and the Americans’ arrests.
‘But it has nothing to do with our government.’
Goudreau’s idea for the overthrow attempt was sparked in February 2019 when he worked security at ‘Live Aid for Venezuala’, a concert in support of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó organized by the British billionaire Richard Branson on the Venezuelan-Colombian border.
Goudreau’s focus on Venezuela began in February 2019, when he worked security at a concert in support of Guaidó. Goudreau is seen working the concert in a picture posted on Instagram
‘Controlling chaos on the Venezuela border where a dictator looks on with apprehension,’ wrote Goudreau in an Instagram post of the concert (pictured), dubbed ‘Venezuelan Aid Live’
The three-time Bronze Star recipient came back from the concert looking to capitalize on the Trump administration’s growing interest in toppling Maduro, and he held conversations with Guaido’s envoys; Roen Kraft and Trump’s bodyguard Keith Schiller.
Planning for the incursion began after an April 30, 2019, barracks revolt by a cadre of soldiers who swore loyalty to Madura’s would-be replacement, Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader recognized by the U.S. and some 60 other nations as Venezuela´s rightful leader.
Contrary to U.S. expectations at the time, key Maduro aides never joined with the opposition and the government quickly quashed the uprising.
A few weeks later, some soldiers and politicians involved in the failed rebellion retreated to the JW Marriott in Bogota, Colombia.
The hotel was a center of intrigue among Venezuelan exiles. For this occasion, conference rooms were reserved for what one participant described as the ‘Star Wars summit of anti-Maduro goofballs’ – military deserters accused of drug trafficking, shady financiers and former Maduro officials seeking redemption.
Soldiers and politicians involved in a failed rebellion retreated to the JW Marriott in Bogota, Colombia (pictured). The hotel was a center of intrigue among Venezuelan exiles
Goudreau, a three-time Bronze Star recipient for bravery in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he served as a medic in US Army special forces, was among those who showed up at the hotel
Among those angling in the open lobby was Goudreau, according to five people who met with the former soldier.
By this time, Goudreau had met with Schiller and accompanied him to a meeting in Miami with activist Lester Toledo, then Guaidó’s coordinator for the delivery of humanitarian aid.
It is not certain how the pair met but Goudreau claims to have worked security at President Donald Trump’s rallies with his private company Silvercorp.
According to the website, Silvercorp has planned and led International security teams for the President of the United States, as well as the Secretary of Defense, and Goudreau is seen in a video allegedly working at a rally.
A still from a video on Goudreau’s company website Silvercorp claims to show the ex-Green Beret working security at a Donald Trump rally in North Carolina in 2018. The website lists the President of the United States among its clients
At the Miami meeting, there was a lively discussion with Schiller about the need to beef up security for Guaidó and his growing team of advisers inside Venezuela and across the world, according to a person familiar with the meeting.
Schiller thought Goudreau was naive and in over his head, however, and he cut off all contact following the meeting, said a person close to the former White House official.
In Bogota, however, Toledo introduced Goudreau to a rebellious former Venezuelan military officer the American would come to trust above all others – Cliver Alcalá, ringleader of the Venezuelan military deserters.
Alcalá, a retired major general in Venezuela´s army, seemed an unlikely hero to restore democracy to his homeland. In 2011, he was sanctioned by the U.S. for allegedly supplying FARC guerrillas in Colombia with surface-to-air missiles in exchange for cocaine.
And last month, Alcalá was indicted by U.S. prosecutors alongside Maduro as one of the architects of a narcoterrorist conspiracy that allegedly sent 250 metric tons of cocaine every year to the U.S.
Alcalá is now in federal custody in New York awaiting trial. But before his surrender in Colombia, where he had been living since 2018, he had emerged as a forceful opponent of Maduro, not shy about urging military force.
Over two days of meetings with Goudreau and Toledo at the JW Marriott, Alcalá explained how he had selected 300 combatants from among the throngs of low-ranking soldiers who abandoned Maduro and fled to Colombia in the early days of Guaidó’s uprising, said three people who participated in the meeting and insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive conversations.
Alcalá said several dozen men were already living in three camps he maintained in and around the desert-like La Guajira peninsula that Colombia shares with Venezuela, the three said. Among the combatants in the camps was an exiled national guardsman accused of participating in a 2018 drone attack on Maduro.
Goudreau told Alcalá his company could prepare the men for battle, according to the three sources. The two sides discussed weapons and equipment for the volunteer army, with Goudreau estimating a budget of around $1.5 million for a rapid strike operation.
Goudreau told participants at the meeting that he had high-level contacts in the Trump administration who could assist the effort, although he offered few details, the three people said. Over time, many of the people involved in the plan to overthrow Maduro would come to doubt his word.
From the outset, the audacious plan split an opposition coalition already sharply divided by egos and strategy. There were concerns that Alcalá, with a murky past and ties to the regime through a brother who was Maduro´s ambassador to Iran, couldn’t be trusted.
Others worried about going behind the backs of their Colombian allies and the U.S. government.
They did have apparent backing, however, from Roen Kraft, an eccentric descendant of the cheese-making family who — along with former Trump bodyguard Schiller — was among those meeting with opposition envoys in Miami and Washington.
At some point, Kraft reportedly started raising money among his own circle of fellow trust-fund friends for what he described as a ‘private coup’ to be carried out by Silvercorp, according to two businessmen who he asked for money.
Kraft allegedly lured prospective donors with the promise of preferential access to negotiate deals in the energy and mining sectors with an eventual Guaidó government, said one of the businessmen. He provided AP a two-page, unsigned draft memorandum for a six-figure commitment he said was sent by Kraft in October in which he represents himself as the ‘prime contractor’ of Venezuela.
But it was never clear if Kraft really had the inside track with the Venezuelans.
In a phone interview with AP, Kraft acknowledged meeting with Goudreau three times last year. But he said the two never did any business together and only discussed the delivery of humanitarian aid for Venezuela. He said Goudreau broke off all communications with him on Oct. 14, when it seemed he was intent on a military action.
‘I never gave him any money,’ said Kraft.
Goudreau’s plot quickly began to crumble in early March when one of the volunteer combatants was arrested after sneaking across the border into Venezuela from Colombia.
Shortly after, Colombian police stopped a truck transporting a cache of brand new weapons and tactical equipment worth around $150,000, including spotting scopes, night vision goggles, two-way radios and 26 American-made assault rifles with the serial numbers rubbed off.
Fifteen brown-colored helmets were manufactured by High-End Defense Solutions, a Miami-based military equipment vendor owned by a Venezuelan immigrant family.
High-End Defense Solutions is the same company that Goudreau visited in November and December, allegedly to source weapons, according to two former Venezuelan soldiers who claim to have helped the American select the gear but later had a bitter falling out with Goudreau amid accusations that they were moles for Maduro.
Nonetheless, Goudreau continued with the plot which launched Sunday but was quickly foiled by Maduro.
Neither the US nor the Colombian governments were involved in the plot to overthrow Maduro, AP reports. Guaidó also denies involvement.
He stood by comments made to Colombian media that he never signed any contract of the kind described by Alcalá, who he said he doesn’t know.