Trump says US not involved in botched mercenary raid on Venezuela; group's leader explains motive

Hired guns had no backers, but wanted to prompt a coup, mercenary leader said.

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Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro
Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro
(Federico Parra / Getty Images)
Last Updated:
May 5, 2020 - 5:16pm

The United States was not involved in an armed foray on Venezuela that resulted in two Americans being arrested as “mercenaries,” President Trump said Tuesday.

“We just heard about it,” the president said in response to a reporter's question about claims by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro that Washington had sent a team to enact a coup. “Whatever it is, we’ll let you know. But it has nothing to do with our government.”

Trump's words were echoed later by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who said at the Pentagon, “The United States government had nothing to do with what's happened in Venezuela in the last few days."

In a televised address to his nation on Monday, Maduro said authorities captured 13 “terrorists” and killed eight who planned to topple the government by force.  

Maduro in his address showed passports and identity documents belonging to two Americans, Airan Berry and Luke Denman. 

The captured men work for a Florida-based security company, Silvercorp USA, the company’s owner told Just the News.  

“They’re all my guys, including the ones who were killed,” said Jordan Goudreau, who described himself as a former Army Green Beret who served multiple combat tours.

Goudreau affirmed that the U.S. did not orchestrate the mission. He said he launched it despite being stiffed for $1.5 million by his client, who he said originally was Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido — a charge Guaido vehemently denied

“We have no relationship or responsibility for the actions of the SilverCorp company or its representative,” Guaido said in a statement.

Goudreau said that he and his men continued the mission because they believe in the cause.

“We pressed on because there are people all throughout Venezuela, waiting to rise up,” Goudreau told Just the News. “We wanted to spark a coup. We wanted to get this done.”

When the mission went sour over the weekend, Goudreau said, he piloted a rescue boat from Miami south toward Venezuela, but the boat broke down en route.

Goudreau did not take part in the raid, he said, but has been on previous combat missions while on active duty in the Army. He left the service, he said, in 2016, on medical retirement with 100% combat disability.

Neither Venezuela nor the White House have publicly disclosed the disposition of those captured.

The Army did not provide a service record for Goudreau by publication time. On private message boards, in discussions among themselves, former Special Forces soldiers wrote that they had known Goudreau while he was in uniform. 

The State Department did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Just the News.

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