Two Former Green Berets Arrested in Venezuela: Here’s What You Need to Know

May 6, 2020Joshua Skovlund
Coffee or Die Photo

On Sunday, two former U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers, known as “Green Berets,” were among eight mercenaries arrested by the Venezuelan navy during an attempt to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. 

The attempt, reportedly named “Operation Gideon,” was launched just before dawn on Sunday, May 3 by Luke Denman and Airan Berry, both veterans of 10th Special Forces Group’s Crisis Response Force (CRF). The alleged plan was to land on the beach with their team, move inland, and arrest Maduro. Jordan Goudreau, also a former Special Forces soldier, has claimed responsibility for planning the attack and said that he was working with Juan Guaidó, Maduro’s U.S.-backed rival. 

The details are vague and scattered, but this is what we know so far from initial reports:

  • Maduro broke ties with the U.S. on Jan. 22, 2019, after U.S. President Donald Trump announced support for opposition leader Guaidó. 

  • The U.S. officially charged Maduro as a drug trafficker and is offering $15 million as a reward for his arrest.

  • Maduro has accused U.S. and Colombian governments of being responsible for this attempted attack. 

  • Both U.S. and Colombian governments have strongly denied any involvement with Operation Gideon. 

  • Goudreau claims that he planned this operation with Guaidó, but Guaidó has since denied any involvement. 

  • Goudreau claims that he signed a contract with Guaidó worth $213 million, which would be used to fund Operation Gideon.

  • The two ex-Green Berets have been identified as Luke Denman and Airan Berry. They were arrested on the coast outside of Caracas.

  • Jack Murphy at reported that Goudreau, Denman, and Berry all served together in 10th Special Forces Group’s CRF.

  • The New York Times reported that “A person familiar with the matter said the two U.S. citizens were captured on Monday in a second-day roundup of accomplices and were believed to be in the custody of Venezuelan military intelligence. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the details came from contacts with Venezuelan security forces.”

  • Venezuelan authorities have stated that eight of the mercenaries were killed and two arrested on Sunday.

  • Time magazine reported: “Maduro ally and Attorney General Tarek William Saab said that in total they’ve arrested 114 people suspected in the attempted attack and they are on the hunt of 92 others.”

  • An army of 25,000 soldiers has been sent out by Maduro to search for the remaining cells of rebels.

Joshua Skovlund
Joshua Skovlund

Joshua Skovlund is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die. He covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. After five years as in paramedicine, he transitioned to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children.

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