The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Department of Homeland Security received a tip off earlier this year regarding alleged weapons smuggling by the man who would become the ringleader of a failed Venezuela coup, new report says.
An informant approached the DEA in Columbia with a tip that former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, 43, was allegedly involved in weapons smuggling, the Associated Press reports.
The anti-narcotics agency did not know who Goudreau was at the time and a formal probe wasn’t opened.
The AP reports that the DEA suspected that any weapons would’ve been destined for leftist rebels or criminal gangs in Colombia – not a ragtag army of Venezuelan volunteers, former officials said on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
One of the officials said the information was later passed on to the Department of Homeland Security.
Former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau (pictured center) has claimed responsibility for a failed operation to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro. It has emerged that the DEA and Department of Homeland Security received a tip about Goudreau earlier this year
The DEA said it does not comment on ongoing potential investigations but had previously stated it had no involvement in the failed attack after Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro claimed one of the men arrested Sunday was a DEA agent.
The tip to the DEA was made before a March 23 weapons seizure in Columbia that is potentially linked to Goudreau and his Florida-based company Silvercorp.
Columbian police seized a stockpile of weapons being transported in a truck, which rebellious former Venezuelan Army General, Cliver Alcalá, claimed ownership off just before he surrendered to face U.S. narcotics charges.
Alcalá and Goudreau are said to have been at the center of the plot to over President Maduro that involved secretly training dozens of Venezuelan military deserters in secret camps in Colombia.
The stockpile, worth around $150,000, included spotting scopes, night vision goggles, two-way radios and 26 American-made assault rifles with the serial numbers rubbed off.
Fifteen brown-colored helmets seized by police were manufactured by High-End Defense Solutions, a Miami-based military equipment vendor owned by a Venezuelan immigrant family, according to Colombian police.
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.
The AP reported that they could not independent verify their account.
The equipment captured from the group during the failed attack on Monday. Detained American Luke Denman said in a video broadcast on Venezuelan state TV on Wednesday that the equipment and uniform that they used was provided by Goudreau’s company Silvercorp
The equipment used by the group of ‘mercenaries’ aiming to capture the Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. The DEA received a tip about Goudreau’s alleged actions in the lead up to the failed coup earlier this year, new reports say, but no formal investigation was carried out
Goudreau is currently under federal investigation in the United States for arms trafficking.
Members of Congress have asked the State Department about its knowledge of Goudreau’s plans and raised concerns that he possibly violated arms trafficking rules.
The former Green Beret placed himself at the center of the failed plot Sunday releasing a video in which he spoke about training men for the mission.
According to the AP, law enforcement official said Goudreau’s comments suggests his work on behalf of the volunteer army may have violated laws that require any U.S. company supplying weapons or military equipment, as well as military training and advice, to foreign persons to seek State Department approval.
Authorities in Colombia are also looking into Goudreau as part of their investigation into the seized weapons shipment, a Colombian official told the AP on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing case.
Former U.S. soldiers Luke Denman, 34, and Airan Berry, 41, were arrested Monday after Venezuelan officials foiled the attempted attack. Denman was shown in a video on Venezuelan state TV Wednesday in which he claimed that he was hired by Goudreau who was commanded by Trump.
In the heavily edited ten-minute clip, Denman said that he was first approached by Goudreau about the job in early December and he flew into Columbia on January 16 with Berry.
The two Americans, also former Green Berets, were hired by Goudreau to train around 60 Venezuelans, he claimed, and to accompany them to Venezuela to ensure an airport was captured.
He said that all their equipment and uniform was provided by Silvercorp.
Luke Denman (left) and Airan Berry (right): Two arrested US ‘mercenaries playing Rambo’ are paraded after failed attempt to overthrow Venezuela’s Maduro in a failed raid on Monday
The U.S. government has denied all involvement in Goudreau’s operation despite claims from Venezuelan officials.
President Maduro claimed Goudreau had worked in security for President Donald Trump, a claim which the former soldier also makes on his company website.
Goudreau had also been in contact with Trump’s former bodyguard Keith Schiller, who attended a meeting with Goudreau and associates of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó in Miami about protection.
Guaidó has also claimed to have no involvement in the plot but Goudreau and Maduro have both showcased a contract for the mission allegedly signed by the opposition leader.
Maduro has also claimed a DEA link to the plot to overthrow him.
Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez that one of the men arrested as part of the failed coup on Sunday, José Alberto Socorro Hernándeas, was linked to the DEA
Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez presented a video Tuesday from José Alberto Socorro Hernándeas who allegedly states his part in the coup.
‘There is a very important testimony, that he is a DEA agent, he is a drug trafficker recruited by the DEA, something very common in the actions carried out by the Anti-drug Office of the United States of America,’ he says of Hernandez’ video.
Rodriguez claims that Hernandez would going to oversee the logistical parts of the attack once the group reached Venezuela.
‘In other words, it is an operation that uses two main elements, on the one hand, the drug trafficking embodied in Jose Alberto Socorro Hernandez, which in turn is the link with the government of the United States of America through the DEA,’ Rodriquez said.