Two nephews of the wife of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro were arrested in Haiti, turned over to DEA agents and flown to the United States to face drug trafficking charges, the New York Times reported Nov. 11. The two men, Efraín Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas, are nephews of Cilia Flores—called by the populist Maduro the "First Combatant" rather than first lady. Flores is a powerful political figure in her own right, and is currently running for Venezuela's congress with the ruling party. The nephews were expected to appear in Federal District Court in Manhattan. They were charged in a sealed indictment accusing them of conspiring to ship 800 kilograms of cocaine to the United States, to be sold in New York City, according to a "person with knowledge of the matter."
Maduro struck a predictably defiant tone, tweeting: "La Patria seguirá su Camino, ni ataques, ni emboscadas imperiales, podrán con el Pueblo de los Libertadores,tenemos un solo destino..Vencer…" Or: "The Fatherland will continue on its Path, neither attacks, nor imperial ambushes, will affect the People of the Liberators, we have only one destiny…Victory…" (The Times incorrectly renders podrán as "effect" rather than "affect.")
This is set to escalate. The US has had top Maduro regime figures in its sights for a while. Last year, Venezuela Gen. Hugo Carvajal was arrested by Dutch authorities in Aruba at US behest—but in a win for Maduro, a judge ordered him sent home on diplomatic immunity grounds. Now the Times cites unnamed officials as saying that the powerful head of Venezuela's National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, is being investigated on charges of trafficking.