Flores de Freitas, 30, and Efrain Antonio Campo Flores, 29, are
scheduled to go on trial next month in federal court in New York
City on charges they conspired to import cocaine into the United
Their statements to agents, as well as other material they
sought to suppress, are expected to be introduced by prosecutors
as key pieces of evidence.
Lawyers for the two men, who are nephews of Venezuelan President
Nicolas Maduro's wife, Cilia Flores, had argued they were in
custody for hours before agents identified themselves and that
they did not fully understand their U.S. right to remain silent.
In a written opinion, U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty said the
men were informed of their rights and had signed waivers of
those rights before confessing to agents from the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA). Campo Flores even told agents
he was an attorney, the judge said.
"There is no credible evidence that the DEA agents used mental
or physical coercion in eliciting defendants' waiver or
statements," Crotty wrote.
The judge also declined to suppress secretly made audio
recordings of the two men, who are cousins. Their lawyers argued
the recordings were selectively made to exclude parts of
conversations favorable to them, but the judge disagreed.
A lawyer for Campo Flores declined to comment on the ruling. A
lawyer for Flores de Freitas could not immediately be reached
A spokesman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose
office is handling the case, declined to comment.
The nephews' case has been an embarrassment for Maduro, who is
facing a political and economic crisis in Venezuela. Flores in
January called their arrest a "kidnapping."
The nephews were arrested at a hotel in Haiti in November 2015
and flown to the United States. They are fighting U.S. charges
that they worked with others to try to send 800 kilograms of
cocaine from Venezuela to Honduras for importation into the
The case, which arose from a DEA sting operation, is one of
several U.S. investigations that have linked individuals
connected to the Venezuelan government to drug trafficking.
(Reporting by David Ingram; Additional reporting by Nate
Raymond; Editing by Alan Crosby)
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