A federal jury in New York on Friday convicted two nephews of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro plan to illegally ship hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from the presidential hangar at Caracas airport to Honduras to smuggle the drug to the United States .
The verdict is likely to strengthen the US government’s claims that Venezuela has turned a blind eye to drug trafficking and worsen the already contentious relations between the two countries.
The two defendants, Efraín Campo, 30, and Francisco Flores, 31, face a maximum of 10 years in prison on conspiracy charges. The ruling is likely to be issued in March.
The jury of five men and seven women came to this decision after seven hours of deliberations, a court clerk told reporters that “jurors planned to return on Monday”, but then reached a quick decision at the end of the same day.
When the jurors returned to the courtroom they walked with their eyes down. One seemed to stare at the accused before sitting down, after what seemed like intense deliberation.
The jury president was shaking when he read the guilty verdict, then he took a deep breath and seemed to collapse in his chair after confirming the decision to the judge.
Field attorney John Zach left a mark on the back of his client’s blue sweater, where he touched it after reading the verdict. Field and Flowers looked streight forward and expressed no emotion.
They both hugged their lawyers before the guards took them.
The jury accepted allegations by the prosecution that the two men, who are cousins, were long-time drug traffickers who knew what they were doing and rejected the assertions of the defense that they were innocent victims of a covert US operation led by a confidential informant who earned $ 1.2 million for the coordination of the operation.