Maduro Narco-Nephews Lose Appeal in the US: Life Sentence for Drug-Trafficking Stands

October 9, 2017

October, 4 2017 (Panampost)

Despite the best efforts of the Venezuelan presidential family’s “narco-nephews” defense, they were unable to reduce the severity of their clients’ sentence.

The prosecution requested life imprisonment for Efraín Antonio Flores Flores and Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas, and that request continues in force after the narco-nephews lawyers failed to convince the judge in an oral hearing.

Venezuelan journalist Maibort Petit, who has closely covered every detail of the case from New York, reported that defense lawyers were unable to counter the legal arguments used by the prosecutor to request the maximum possible sentence for the narco-nephews.

Lawyers presented the judge with eight motions for dismissal, but Judge Paul Crotty denied six, indicating that the pre-sentencing report will remain fairly similar to the one originally filed.

“The first motion denied by Crotty for the defense was related to the change in the amount of kilos of cocaine that the conspiracy charge entailed. The attorneys said that there was no specified amount in the case, and that the 800 kilogram drug figure had been set by DEA informants. The judge said that the evidence indicated that the plan was to make a first shipment equivalent to 800 kilos, which is why this figure will be maintained in the report.”

The second motion denied involved the possession of firearms. Lawyers said that the defendants were not armed, but had paintball guns, known as “airsoft” weapons, an allegation that Judge Crotty flatly denied.

In addition, lawyers insisted that the “narco-nephews” were not able to use private planes to transport the drugs, but the judge reminded them that the two accused used private aircraft to go to Honduras and Haiti, and had prepared everything necessary for the flight in which they would make the shipment with the 800 kilos of cocaine.

“The fourth application denied by the judge is related to the attempted bribery of the authorities. The defense said there was no evidence that its clients paid fines to law enforcement officials in the United States during the conspiracy. However, the judge said that the evidence indicated that the two defendants had foreseen the payment of USD $900,000 to their associates in Honduras to receive the drug, and pay the necessary bribes to the police at the airport on the island of Roatán. He also recalled that in the evidence there were elements that proved that Campo and Flores had paid bribes to officials in Venezuela.

“Narco-nephews defense team was unable to reduce the severity of their sentence.”

The two defendants will be sentenced on December 14, 2017. Flores de Freitas will receive his sentence in the morning and Campo Flores on the afternoon of that same day. The defense must deliver the conclusions of its pre-sentencing report on December 1 and the prosecution has until December 8.