The US Department of Homeland Security has repeatedly warned Colombian law enforcement that a Florida resident entangled in last year’s failed coup in Venezuela could be part of an international smuggling ring weapons.
In a letter dated June 1, DHS’s Homeland Security Investigations Division warned Colombian Customs Police that it was tracking cell phone calls from area code 305 registered at Yacsy Álvarez Mirabal.
She is the Venezuelan national who owns a home in Tampa, frequents Miami and was arrested last September over an arms seizure linked to what has become a botched Venezuelan coup launched from Colombia.
The letter from Julio Magallan, the Deputy Attaché for Homeland Security Investigations at the United States Embassy in Bogota, alerted to a weapons ring under investigation for arms trafficking from the United States and the United States. ‘Europe to Colombia.
According to information in hand, the letter warns that “possible members of the said criminal organization are coordinating for criminal purposes” via this mobile phone number “used by the pseudonym Alex, alias Yacsy Álvarez”.
Magallan had also sent letters to the same agency on May 25 and June 10, alerting to two Colombian cell phones allegedly used by Álvarez.
The letters appear in Colombian court documents. A federal prosecutor presented formal evidence against Álvarez on Thursday, who was arrested last September and detained for arms smuggling.
In more than 1,000 pages of court documents and transcripts, prosecutors allege that Alvarez arranged for the delivery of 26 imported assault rifles, as well as combat gear, helmets and night vision goggles. It is not known how the guns got to the country.
They built their case against Álvarez, who went by the nom de guerre Alex, with the testimony of a hired driver, Jorge Molinares, who claims he was unwittingly carrying weapons to an area where deserters from the Venezuelan army were training for their coup.
Molinares said he was paid 400,000 pesos, or about $ 110, by Álvarez to drive suitcases from the Colombian city of Barranquilla to the Riohacha region. When arrested by the police, Molinares called Álvarez via WhatsApp on Miami’s cell phone number to alert him that he had been arrested and that police had found weapons, court records show. He testified that Álvarez told him to offer the police three million pesos, or about $ 825, to dismiss the case, then blocked his calls. An officer who arrested Molinares said Álvarez offered him and the driver three million pesos each.
The allegations add to the intrigue surrounding Álvarez, 40, who, according to court records, had 11 bank cards, identity documents from Colombia, Venezuela and Spain and nearly $ 10,000 in cash.
Alvarez’s attorney, Alejandro Carranza, told the Miami Herald he would comment later on the allegations and evidence provided by the Colombian prosecutor’s office, but had previously asked about the authorities’ handling of a suspected member of the plot, Jimmy Montesinos, who had been detained and released twice.
Carranza said Montesinos was caught carrying more than 30 cell phones and other equipment that he said was intended for use by Venezuelan military insurgents training near the Venezuelan border before the coup. State. Carranza said the arrest of Montesinos was part of a buildup of evidence that the Colombian government had prior knowledge of the plot.
In one exclusive prison interview Late last year with the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald, Álvarez proclaimed her innocence and said she had become a scapegoat by Colombian authorities embarrassed by the failed coup launched from their country. She said she attended planning meetings that Colombia was aware of. Her lawyer said she cooperated with the FBI and Colombian authorities before her arrest.
Denying taking part in the coup, Álvarez insists she was just a translator for a former Venezuelan major general named Cliver Alcalá Cordones and former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, whose Florida company Silvercorp USA trained and organized the coup plotters.
Early last year, the US State Department offered a $ 10 million reward for Alcalá’s capture, alleging he was part of a Venezuelan government drug smuggling ring. He went to Barranquilla in March 2020 and was quickly extradited. Earlier this year, during U.S. court proceedings, U.S. prosecutors revealed he is facing another probe in the USA.
Alcalá’s surrender follows a radio interview in which he said the weapons seized from what is now Álvarez’s prosecutor’s office were his doing, on behalf of the Venezuelan people seeking to free themselves from the Maduro regime .
For reasons still unclear, despite Alcalá’s extradition, the coup effort continued and culminated in May with the incursion that led to the massacre of the first wave of self-proclaimed liberators. Goudreau was featured in joint investigation by the Miami Herald, el Nuevo Herald and McClatchy who detailed how the coup came about to the knowledge of some in or related to the Trump administration.
Survivors of the botched effort blame the infiltration by the Maduro regime for the murder of participants and the capture and imprisonment of two Americans who worked with Goudreau – Luke Denman and Airan Berry.
Shortly after the botched May 2020 coup, the FBI raided a Florida apartment where Goudreau was hiding, seizing money. It was then returned and Goudreau, a decorated soldier who has made several tours of Afghanistan, has not been charged in the United States in connection with the arms sales in Colombia or the attempted coup.
Goudreau filed a lawsuit in South Florida late last year against Juan José Rendón, a political consultant closely linked to Venezuelan lawmaker Juan Guaidó, whom the Trump administration began calling in January 2019 the rightful president. from Venezuela, rich in oil.
The security consultant claimed he was not paid for his efforts to train potential liberators. A contract filed as evidence in the lawsuit showed that Guaidó had a clause allowing him to disallow the effort if it failed.
The captured Americans brought by Goudreau were sentenced last summer to 20 years in Venezuelan prison. Former New Mexico Democratic Governor Bill Richardson continues to negotiate on behalf of their families for their release.
The new Biden administration has so far said very little about Guaidó, Venezuela, or captured Americans.