Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced Monday the arrest of a "mercenary" he said was planning car-bomb attacks aimed at intensifying anti-government protests that have left 13 dead in the Andean nation.

"We just captured a mercenary brought from the Middle East," the leftist head of state told supporters at a rally.

The suspect was surprised in Maracay, a city in the western state of Aragua, while "preparing the placement of car bombs to fill our country with violence," Maduro said in a speech broadcast live on all Venezuelan radio and television outlets.

Jayssam Mokded Mokded and two associates were arrested around 4:00 a.m. Monday at a Maracay hotel, Aragua Gov. Tareck el Aissami said on Twitter.

Police seized an armored vehicle containing an explosive device and gunpowder, the governor said, adding that one of the other suspects detained along with Mokded had military training.

"Among the material confiscated from Jayssam Mokded appear documents that link him to a company based in Miami," El Aissami said.

Miami's Channel 10 television identified Mokded as the president of CJ International Services, Inc., a firm with offices in the Miami suburb of Doral, home to a large Venezuelan expatriate community.

The company's Web site, which is in Spanish, indicates CJ International is in the business of shipping cargo to Venezuela from South Florida. EFE