The Venezuelan government said Monday it had arrested nine Colombian paramilitaries who were planning to assassinate Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.
Venezuelan Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez said the nine individuals had been ”instructed” to go to the Venezuelan capital of Caracas to carry out the assassinations.
Authorities reported the arrest of six suspected Colombian nationals in the western state of Tachira. Rodriguez said the three men had ties to the Colombian drug-trafficking organization Los Rastrojos, which has been known for operating on Venezuelan territory.
Another three Colombians were arrested in the Portugesa state, also located in western Venezuela. According to the minister of interior, the men followed orders by Colombian paramilitary leader Jose Maria Barrera, also known as “Chepe Barrera.”
“There are links between the first and the second group, as both had been told to travel to Caracas to accomplish their mission,” Rodriguez said, while stating Venezuelan army uniforms, weapons and ammunition was seized from the alleged criminals.
The Venezuelan government said on Sunday a third group of “paramilitaries” could already have reached Caracas.
“They are being tracked down by our intelligence services,” Rodriguez assured.
In May, Maduro claimed to have uncovered an assassination plot against him planned by Colombian ex-president Alvaro Uribe, a frequent critic of former president Hugo Chavez and the current Venezuelan government.
“Uribe is a killer,” Maduro said at the time according to the BBC, adding that the “Venezuelan right” was involved in the alleged assassination plot.
Uribe has denied these accusations and said he would take Maduro to the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights over the statements.