Venezuela’s chief prosecutor has announced terrorism and arms trafficking charges against an alleged American spy who was detained last week in the South American country.
The man, named Matthew John Heath, was plotting attacks on the country’s oil industry and power system, chief prosecutor Tarek William Saab told state television on Monday.
Saab showed photos of the equipment allegedly seized from the group, including a grenade launcher, plastic explosives, a satellite phone and a bag of US dollars.
Saab added that three Venezuelan citizens, including a member of the military, were arrested and charged with treason in connection with the alleged plot.
They tried to fill the land with blood, Saab said. The Venezuelan state has succeeded in neutralizing plans to attack the oil industry and the national electricity system.
Authorities said cell phones taken from the men during their arrest last week included footage of a large bridge in Zulia state and dilapidated oil refineries in Falcn state.
Everything here could qualify as a lethal weapon designed to harm and promote assassinations, crimes against the Venezuelan people, said Saab, who also accused the American man of planning to open a drug trafficking route through the Venezuela.
President Nicols Maduro announced on Friday that a suspected US spy had been captured.
US authorities have not commented on the case.
The arrest has surfaced as once oil-rich Venezuela has been gripped by a severe gasoline shortage that has triggered long lines of miles to refuel, even in the capital of Caracas. The country is also struggling to provide electricity to residents, especially in Zulia state, once a major hub for the country’s vast oil production.
Saab said Heath was not carrying a passport and entered illegally across the Colombian border, but authorities found a photocopy of the passport hidden in one of his shoes.
Saab said Heath worked as a mercenary in Iraq from 2006 to 2016 for MVM Inc, a Virginia-based private security outsourcing company. The cabinet did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The arrest follows a failed beach foray in early May that brought two former Green Beret soldiers down to a Venezuelan prison for allegedly participating in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the socialist government.
The two former US special forces soldiers were arrested along with more than 80 Venezuelan rebel fighters who staged a failed beach attack called Operation Gideon aimed at stopping Maduro.
The operation, which killed several rebels, was orchestrated by Jordan Goudreau, an American citizen who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Two former Green Berets of the Goudreaus force, Luke Denman and Airan Berry, were sentenced to 20 years in prison.
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