The Attorney General appointed by the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), Tarek William Saab, said on Monday that a US citizen has been arrested on espionage charges and was part of a plan to sabotage the National Electric System (SEN in Spanish) and the oil installations.
Saab identified the detainee as Matthew Jhon Heath, formerly with the US military, and who was operating with the support of local, Venezuelan, military officers and civilians, some of whom have also got arrested. The prosecutor appointed by the Constituent termed the Venezuelan collaborators of Heath as traitors to the country.
Arrested in connection with the alleged plot were: Ivonne Coromoto Barrios Finol, owner of a vehicle involved, Leobaldo Antonio Gutierrez, Andry Ramon Finol, and Asterio Jose Gonzalez Garcia, while arrest warrants were issued for: Marcos Antonio Garces Carapaica, Darwin Andreizo Urdaneta Pardo and Reinaldo Enrique Finol.
Urdante Pardo is a sergeant in the Venezuelan Army and used this to help Heath move around the country and past checkpoints, Saab said.
“Last Friday, September 11, the Public Ministry was informed about the planning of espionage and sabotage activities by US intelligence agents and Venezuelan collaborators. These activities include the military and state industries, including the National Electric Service, as well as the oil industry,” Saab said during a press conference held at noon this Monday, September 14.
“It was established that Matthew Jhon Heath belonged to the mercenary contractor MVM, serving three months per year in Iraq from 2006 to 2016, where he served as a communications operator at the CIA’s Secret Base,” Saab said. The US and Venezuela have not exchanged ambassadors since 2008.
Heath, and at least one accomplice, were captured aboard a Chery Arauca subcompact. The authorities confiscated an AT4 grenade launcher caliber 84 mm; a sub-machine gun model UZI caliber 9 mm; four rectangular pieces of alleged explosive material (C4), and money in foreign currency.
Authorities also found four phones on Heath, one satellite, and three smartphones. Saab assured that the American citizen refuses to unlock the satellite phone. On the American, there were also photographs of electrical and oil installations located in the states of Zulia and Falcon.
The prosecutor appointed by the ANC reiterated that all these actions are part of a document signed by the head of the US Southern Command, Admiral Kurt Tidd, and which was named Plan to Overthrow the Venezuelan Dictatorship – Master Coup, dated February 2018.
It is not the first time that Venezuelan authorities have denounced alleged plans of sabotage or coup d’état promoted by the US government. Already, two Americans, ex-military also, are in custody for allegedly trying to overthrow Maduro earlier this year.