Latin America & the Caribbean

The Latest: No bail for Venezuela first lady’s nephews in US

A court officer stands outside U.S. Federal Court, where two nephews of Venezuela's powerful first lady are facing arraignment after being arrested in Haiti, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, in New York. An indictment unsealed on Thursday accuses Efrain Campos and Francisco Flores of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

A court officer stands outside U.S. Federal Court, where two nephews of Venezuela’s powerful first lady are facing arraignment after being arrested in Haiti, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, in New York. An indictment unsealed on Thursday accuses Efrain Campos and Francisco Flores of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest news in the arrest of two nephews of the powerful first lady of Venezuela Cilia Flores on U.S. drug charges. All times local in Caracas.

7:30 p.m.

Two nephews of Venezuelan first lady Cilia Flores have appeared in federal court in New York and been ordered held without bail on U.S. narcotics charges.

Efrain Campos and Francisco Flores did not enter pleas to the charges of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States. Their next court date is scheduled for next week, and their lawyers said after the hearing that they will plead not guilty.

An indictment unsealed Thursday alleges Campos and Flores participated in meetings in Venezuela about a shipment of cocaine that was to be sent to the U.S. via Honduras. It provides no other details.

The arrest of the two men is likely to exacerbate already tense relations between the U.S. government and the socialist Venezuelan administration led by President Nicolas Maduro.

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3 p.m.

Venezuela’s opposition is pouncing on the news that relatives of President Nicolas Maduro have been charged with drug trafficking.

Hard-line opposition leader Maria Corina Machado is calling for Maduro’s resignation, saying important parts of his government “have become criminal organizations.”

Venezuela’s more moderate opposition coalition called on Venezuela’s National Assembly to immediately investigate the situation.

Opposition spokesman Jesus Torrealba said Thursday the case has shocked the entire nation.

An indictment unsealed in New York on Thursday accuses two nephews of first lady Cilia Flores of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States.

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11:45 a.m.

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has finished a speech in Geneva without directly addressing the arrest of his wife’s nephews on cocaine smuggling charges.

Maduro spoke in broad terms about imperialism and lashed out at a U.S. general in a speech at the United Nations’ top human rights body. He also defended his country’s independence and said it would not accept interference from outside.

 Thursday’s speech at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva came as U.S. officials handed down indictments against two nephews of Venezuela’s first lady on narcotics charges.

It also comes three weeks before Venezuela holds parliamentary elections.

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11 a.m.

Two nephews of Venezuela’s powerful first lady have been indicted on U.S. narcotics charges.

An indictment unsealed on Thursday accuses Efrain Campos and Francisco Flores of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States. The defendants were expected to appear in federal court in Manhattan later in the day.

The indictment says the pair participated in meetings in Venezuela about a shipment of cocaine that was to be sent to the U.S. via Honduras. It provides no other details.

The arrest of Efrain Campos and Francisco Flores is likely to exacerbate already tense relations between the U.S. and Venezuela and cast a hard look at U.S. accusations of drug trafficking at the highest levels of President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist administration.

 

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