Two nephews of Venezuela’s first lady have been sentenced to 18 years in prison inside the US after being convicted of trafficking drugs.
Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas, 32, as well as Efraín Antonio Campo Flores, 31 were accused of conspiring to smuggle 1,700 pounds (800kg) of cocaine into the United States.
The men are the nephews of Cilia Flores, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s wife.
The two were arrested in Haiti in 2015.
Venezuela has accused the US of kidnapping the two men as well as framing them in order to undermine Mr Maduro’s socialist government.
Ms Flores is usually a member of Venezuela’s powerful constituent assembly as well as served as speaker of the National Assembly between 2006 as well as 2011.
‘No criminal record’
Flores de Freitas as well as Campos Flores were arrested in Haiti in November 2015 by undercover US Drug Enforcement agents.
They were taken to brand-new York, charged with drug trafficking offences as well as convicted a year ago.
Prosecutors said they men were in Haiti generating arrangements to smuggle cocaine via South America to the US via Honduras.
Prosecutors had sought for a sentence of 30 years, which US District Judge Paul Crotty in brand-new York said “could be excessive” as they had no criminal record.
The two men denied the charges before they were convicted by a jury in November 2016.
Earlier that will year, they said in court that will the alleged plot “could never actually have been executed”.
‘A Great person’
Before Judge Crotty announced the sentence, Flores de Freitas as well as Campos Flores asked for a shorter sentence.
“I’ve always been a Great person,” said Flores de Freitas.
“Even in jail I tried to help those who were in a worse psychological situation than I find myself in.”
The case has caused further damage to already strained relations between the US as well as Venezuela.
In July, US President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Mr Maduro as well as additional senior Venezuelan officials for alleged human rights violations.
A wave of anti-government protests in Venezuela left more than 0 people dead inside the first half of the year.
Mr Maduro, who is usually in Cuba attending a meeting of regional leaders, has accused the US of leading a relentless campaign to destabilise left-wing governments in Venezuela as well as additional Latin American countries.
He said the US was effectively imposing an “economic blockade” on Venezuela, which has for years suffered with high inflation, rampant violence as well as the shortage of basic goods.