Venezuela's leftist government announced Monday the arrest of two foreign nationals who planned to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro in a plot involving former Colombian head of state Alvaro Uribe.
Colombian citizens Victor Gueche, 18, and Erik Huertas, 18, were nabbed last Thursday near Caracas carrying rifles "with laser sights," Venezuela's interior minister, Gen. Miguel Angel Rodriguez, told a press conference.
Also found were munitions and a photo of Maduro posing with the speaker of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello.
"Alvaro Uribe Velez undoubtedly knows all about what is happening. Everyone knows he is a man with control over drug-trafficking groups, and we're not surprised at all that he is, directly or through operators," one of those involved, the minister said.
Those in custody are part of a gang of 10 "hired killers with great experience," Rodriguez said, adding that Colombian intelligence officials gave him the names of the gunmen during his recent visit to Bogota.
Cabello spoke out last month about an alleged assassination plot directed by Uribe, former Honduran strongman Roberto Micheletti and Cuban exile militant Luis Posada Carriles, and disposing of more than $2.5 million in cash.
"The brains behind this organization is Posada Carriles," Rodriguez said Monday, referring to the U.S. Army veteran and erstwhile CIA operative who now lives in Miami.
Posada Carriles, once the head of Venezuela's secret police, is wanted by Caracas for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that left 73 people dead.
Relations between neighbors Venezuela and Colombia reached a nadir in the final months of Uribe's 2002-2010 tenure, but improved under his successor, Juan Manuel Santos.
Caracas, however, took umbrage a few months ago when Santos received Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who refuses to accept his loss to Maduro in a special election to replace the late Hugo Chavez as president.
But the tension dissipated after Santos and Maduro held a summit on the shared border.
So far this year, the Venezuelan government has reported several plots and attempts to kill Maduro involving Salvadoran and Colombian mercenaries. EFE