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Ex-Green Beret behind botched Venezuelan coup plot says Trump would have taken credit if succeeded

The former Green Beret behind a failed military incursion in Venezuela in a plot to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro has revealed how a number of missteps led to  the mission being uncovered ahead of time with several participants either killed or captured.

Jordan Goudreau, 43, a former U.S. Army paratrooper and head of a private-security company, Silvercorp USA, has identified himself as the ringleader of the failed mission, known as Operation Gideon. 

Goudreau hatched the plot with a rebellious former Venezuelan Army General, Cliver Alcalá, to secretly train dozens of Venezuelan military deserters in secret camps in Colombia to carry out a swift operation against Maduro. 

Former U.S. Army paratrooper Jordan Goudreau, 43, identified himself as the ringleader of the failed mission, known as Operation Gideon 

An image from Silvercorp USA, the Florida-based company owned by former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, which is at the center of the failed coup launched last May in Venezuela

An image from Silvercorp USA, the Florida-based company owned by former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, which is at the center of the failed coup launched last May in Venezuela 

Luke Denman (left) and Airan Berry (right): Two of the mercenaries arrested and paraded after their failed attempt to kill Venezuela's Maduro last May

Luke Denman (left) and Airan Berry (right): Two of the mercenaries arrested and paraded after their failed attempt to kill Venezuela’s Maduro last May

Venezuelan security forces escort one of captured individuals who were participants of a plot to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro

Venezuelan security forces escort one of captured individuals who were participants of a plot to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro

He claims he was hired last year by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, something the U.S.-backed Venezuelan lawmaker has denied.  

The failed military incursion, which aimed to capture socialist leader Maduro, resulted in the detention in Venezuela of two of his former special forces colleagues: Airan Berry, 41, and Luke Denman, 34. 

Eleven Venezuelans were also arrested as President Maduro revealed that they had knowledge of the raid plans after infiltrating the group in Colombia and were waiting to capture them. 

The attack was foiled as the group attempted to enter Venezuela on fishing boats. Locals alerted authorities and they were subsequently arrested. 

The goal of Gideon was to replace Maduro by installing Guaidó, whose name appears on a contract purportedly signed with the coup plotters.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido

The goal of Operation Gideon was to replace Maduro (left) by installing Juan Guaidó (right), whose name appears on a contract purportedly signed with the coup plotters.

Former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, a three-time Bronze Star recipient for bravery in Iraq and Afghanistan, believes the plot had a good chance of being successful but blames everyone from double agents to the DEA and the FBI, for scuppering his plans

Former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, a three-time Bronze Star recipient for bravery in Iraq and Afghanistan, believes the plot had a good chance of being successful but blames everyone from double agents to the DEA and the FBI, for scuppering his plans

In a lengthy interview with Rolling StoneGoudreau says he believes the plot had a good chance of being successful but blames everyone from double agents to the DEA and the FBI, for scuppering his plans. 

‘Had we succeeded, you really think that the Guaidó administration would have said, ‘That’s not us, we want nothing to do with this’? Do you think that Donald Trump would have said, ‘That wasn’t us’? Every motherf***** that I talked to would have said, ‘That was us! U.S.A., baby!’ They would have taken credit for all of it. And if you say it’s not true, you’re pretty naive.’

Although the Trump administration has used sanctions and support for political opponents in an attempt to pressure Maduro to step down, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said there was no ‘direct’ U.S. involvement in the attempted coup. 

Goudreau security firm Silvercorp hired former Green Berets (left to right) Airan Berry and Luke Denham to carry out Operation Gideon. The pair have been jailed for 20 years

Goudreau security firm Silvercorp hired former Green Berets (left to right) Airan Berry and Luke Denham to carry out Operation Gideon. The pair have been jailed for 20 years

Luke Denman, 34, was paraded on Venezuelan state TV on May 15

Fellow mercenary Airan Berry, 41, also appeared in a shorter clip

Denman, 34, (left) and Berry, 41, (right) have been sentenced to 20 years in prison in August

Guaidó has also denied any personal connection to the botched invasion.

Through Goudreau’s recollection, it appears as though the plot was doomed to failure from the start, quite apart from the fact that on the day itself, the weather wasn’t cooperating and launch had to be delayed. 

One boat carrying 11 men had already started its journey but Goudreau who was coordinating the operation was stuck in Florida after a boat he had intended to use to get him to Venezuela broke down and coronavirus travel restrictions left him trapped in Florida.  

It left him giving the rest of his team orders over a satellite phone. 

The plan was a risky one and would see the boats sailing for around 16 hours before landing north of the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.

The plan was to infiltrate the country through the coastal town of Macuto with around 100 Venezuelan exiles and incite a popular rebellion against the government, similar tactics to those employed in the doomed Bay of Pigs plot in Cuba in 1961. 

The idea was for one group to take over a TV station while another would commandeer an airport. A third group would capture President Maduro and get him on a plane to the United States where a $15 million reward would await. 

In the U.S. he would face justice in the United States over allegations of systematic human rights violations, including killings and torture amounting to crimes against humanity.  

Suspects were arrested in a coastal village on the northern Venezuelan coast. At the time. the government announced they individuals were part of a foiled plan to remove President Maduro

Suspects were arrested in a coastal village on the northern Venezuelan coast. At the time. the government announced they individuals were part of a foiled plan to remove President Maduro

The failed operation led to the capture of Berry and Denham (circled left to right)

The failed operation led to the capture of Berry and Denham (circled left to right)

Eight members of a group that was reportedly planning to overthrow Venezuela's president

Eight members of a group that was reportedly planning to overthrow Venezuela’s president

But everything seemed to fall apart, and fast. The mercenaries became sea sick during the voyage and spent most of the 16 hours throwing up over the side of the boat.

Phone calls between Goudreau and the boats failed to go through. One one of the boat’s engines broke down and fuel ran low.

Crucially, their cover was blown. At least once of the boats was spotted by Venezuelan fishermen who quickly informed the authorities. 

The pilot boat was soon boarded by the Venezuelan military who immediately killed the six men on board.

The larger boat was escorted by Maduro into the port town of Macuto.

Propaganda videos were released by Venezuela in which the revolutionaries and the two Americans, former Staff Sgt. Luke Denman and Sgt. Airan Berry, can be seen in the boat with their hands in the air.  

Goudreau claims to have spoken with Mike Pence about the Operation Gideon, and claimed he was ‘very interested in the project and that as soon as it was successful, “all doors would be open”.’ A spokesperson for Pence has called the claims a ‘complete and total fabrication’

Goudreau claims to have spoken with Mike Pence about the Operation Gideon, and claimed he was ‘very interested in the project and that as soon as it was successful, “all doors would be open”.’ A spokesperson for Pence has called the claims a ‘complete and total fabrication’

The plot was even being discussed on Venezuelan television and was featured in an article by the Associated Press in which Goudreau was quoted. 

Goudreau, who spent 15 years in the Army, earning three bronze stars and rising to sergeant first class, has insisted that Operation Gideon’s objective was to liberate the Venezuelan people with the personal knowledge of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

The Trump administration disputes such assertions and claims they had no knowledge whatsoever of the mission. 

Back in the U.S. federal law-enforcement agencies have arrested others allegedly involved in the plot, but Goudreau has so far not been indicted. 

‘Look, I’m responsible for everything I do or fail to do,’ Goudreau says. ‘I’m not, ‘Oh, it wasn’t me.’ That ain’t me, man. I f***** up. I own it. It’s on me. But at the same time, there’s reasons why.’ 

Luke Denman, pictured, said that 'jackpot' was the code name for President Nicólas Maduro

Airan Berry, pictured, was questioned about the alleged involvement of drug traffickers

Denman (left) said ‘jackpot’ was the code name for President Nicolás Maduro among plotters

Goudreau who has since found himself under federal investigation for weapons smuggling, remains unconvinced that Maduro’s regime was secretly guiding the operation.  

A failed coup by Americans would have been a win for Maduro, image-wise, but there were many warning signs that all was not well and that the plans had been leaked, possibly by a Venezuelan on the team who was spying. 

As early as March, a Venezuela-bound critical arms shipment carrying automatic rifles and tactical gear was apprehended in Colombia. 

Officials said they believe the shipment was for an operation to overthrow Maduro. 

Venezuelan politicians noted the location of rebel training camps in Colombia and then the AP published a story about Operation Gideon before the launch.

The plan was to capture Maduro (pictured), secure an airport and then fly the Venezuelan leader to the United States

The plan was to capture Maduro (pictured), secure an airport and then fly the Venezuelan leader to the United States 

Through Rolling Stone, Goudreau acknowledges the operation had been infiltrated, but believes the final push was done so without the regime’s knowledge. 

‘It would have been a lot different if it was truly compromised,’ he says, despite six men being killed and almost all 47 others captured.

An article by The Miami Herald last month revealed how one of the the participants of Operation Gideon gave the coordinates of the landing to the Maduro regine.  

There is other evidence to suggest the regime knew what was about to unfold and that Maduro’s forces were lying in wait.

Of the six men who were killed, none of their weapons were found close by which suggests they were executed at close range rather than involved in a firefight as had been purported.   

‘The execution stuff? That’s very possible,’ Goudreau says. ‘But would it alarm you to know that we basically executed a whole bunch of people in Iraq? If I was in that situation I probably would have shot everybody, too. That’s war. Look, the Geneva Convention doesn’t cover f****** enemy insurgents.’


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