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New York Jury Convicts Nephews of Venezuela's First Lady On Drug Trafficking Charges

Efrain Antonio Campo Flores, seated second from left, and his cousin Franqui Francisco Flores De Freitas, far right, were convicted by a federal jury in Manhattan of conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.

Two nephews of Venezuelan first lady Cilia Flores were convicted on charges of conspiring to ship more than 1,700 pounds of cocaine to the United States.

A New York federal jury found Efrain Antonio Campo Flores, 30, and his cousin, Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas, 31, guilty on one charge each of conspiracy to smuggle drugs. The jury of seven women and five men heard less than two weeks of testimony and returned their verdict after about six hours of deliberation. The men face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The two Venezuelan citizens were arrested in Haiti in November 2015 a few days before a planned air shipment of cocaine from Venezuela to Honduras, where prosecutors said they contacted a Drug Enforcement Administration informant for help in transporting the drugs to the United States.

As reported by the Two-Way, the men were traveling with diplomatic passports, but didn't have diplomatic immunity.

Their defense lawyers argued that they were victims of a U.S. government sting operation and that the case against them was based on the testimony of the longtime DEA informant who was also dealing drugs.

In his closing statement, U.S. Attorney Brendan Quigley said, "The defendants thought they were above the law. They thought they could operate with impunity in Venezuela because of who they were and who they were related to."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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