US Sentences Venezuela’s First Lady’s Nephews for Drug Trafficking

A Manhattan federal judge sentenced on Thursday two nephews of the Venezuelan presidential couple to 18 years in prison for conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States.

Cilia Flores 2013Cilia Flores (Photo: Cancillería del Ecuador, CC BY-SA 1.0)The two cousins - Efrain Campo Flores, 31, and Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas, 32 – are nephews of Cilia Flores, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s wife.

They were arrested in 2015 in a sting operation in Haiti where they were making arrangements to smuggle 800 kilograms of cocaine from South America to the United States via Honduras, according to the BBC.

Each of them was fined US$50,000.

US prosecutors have said during the trial that the two believed to be so powerful, that they could dispatch drug-filled planes from the “presidential hangar” at Caracas airport.

The defense had asked for milder sentences – ten years for each - arguing that both men had young children. The prosecution had asked for at least 30 years.

Before the sentence was pronounced, both defendants apologized and called their crime a mistake. They particularly apologized to their families.

"I am ashamed and sorry for all the damage and suffering this has caused," said Campo Flores.

Flores de Freitas said that it was the most shameful experience of his life, adding that throughout his entire life he had done what was right and what was best for his family.

Flores de Freitas described to the judge the difficulties he experienced as a child and as a young man. He also said he was learning English, going to church and reading the Bible. He cried when he talked about his son.

“I’m asking you to let me return home and be near my son as soon as possible,” said the older of the Flores. “Give me the opportunity to fix the mistakes.”