Socialist party chief Diosdado Cabello told local reporters that his forces killed eight men who tried to enter the port city of La Guaira, and arrested two more. One of the men in custody supposedly claimed to be a DEA agent, but Fox News could not verify those claims.
“One of the detainees claimed to be a [Drug Enforcement Administration] official. He participated in DEA operations in America. He is Venezuelan, said by himself,” Cabello said. “It is sad that those who call themselves Venezuelans are financed by drug trafficking and drug money.”
He continued, “Those who assume they can attack the institutional framework in Venezuela will have to assume the consequences of their action.”
Investigators claimed the men arrived by boat from Colombia and had supplies waiting for them, including vehicles, heavy arms, Peruvian documents, satellite phones, uniforms and helmets adorned with the U.S. flag.
Both Colombia and the United States previously have denied allegations by the Maduro government of backing military plots against the government.
Interior Minister Nestor Reverol described the would-be attackers as “mercenary terrorists” bent on destabilizing Venezuela’s institutions and creating “chaos.”
Cabello went on to claim that the attack was backed by the United States in an attempt to overthrow disputed President Nicolás Maduro.
Journalist Érika Ortega Sanoja reported that fishermen in La Guaira will help the security forces patrol the city’s coast in the face of the attempted incursion.
Venezuela has suffered from a severe economic crisis, which has driven up crime rates and deepened political divides within the country. Crumbling public services such as running water, electricity and medical care have driven nearly 5 million people to leave.
A similar attack was planned earlier this year, but it fell apart after the Venezuelan government seized a bulk of the group’s weapons and arrested one of the central conspirators. An ex-Green Beret supposedly was involved with the attempt, though, the U.S. denied any support of the plot, which did not materialize.
Instead of backing direct conflicts, the United States has led a campaign to oust Maduro by indicting the socialist leader as a narcotrafficker and offering a $15 million reward for his arrest. The U.S. also has increased stiff sanctions, cutting off Venezuela’s oil sector to choke Maduro from a key source of hard cash.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.