The Invasion of Venezuela, Brought To You By Silvercorp USA – bellingcat
bellingcat.com · by · May 5, 2020
The video begins with Jordan Goudreau posing confidently, flanked by a man wearing an armour plate and a Venezuela flag wrapped around his shoulder. The man introduces Goudreau in a stern tone. Goudreau begins to speak with the terseness of a battle-hardened warrior as he confirms that an amphibious operation into Venezuela is underway. Goudreau begins by saying:
At 1700 hours, a daring amphibious raid was launched from the border of Colombia deep into the heart of Caracas. Our men are continuing to fight right now. Our units have been activated in the south, east and west of Venezuela. Commander Nieto is with me—is co-located—and commander Sequea is on the ground now, fighting.
It is the afternoon of Sunday, May 3, 2020, and Goudreau is confirming that a botched attempt to infiltrate Venezuela with a team of expatriate soldiers (and later, two U.S. citizens) on a hopeless mission to topple the government of President Nicolas Maduro is his doing. By the time the video was first shared on Twitter, eight of Goudreau’s men were dead and two others captured as the boat they were on was intercepted at sea by the Venezuelan authorities. A second boat, soon on its way to Venezuela, would also be intercepted at sea the following day, resulting in the capture of eight of Goudreau’s men, including two American citizens.
Over a period of 48 hours starting on the morning of May 3, Goudreau’s Silvercorp USA would-be mercenary force would make headlines across the world as the spectacular failure of the operation came to light.
Mr. Goudreau Goes To Colombia
Goudreau’s name appeared in relation to Venezuela on May 1, in an article published by the Associated Press. The article outlines Goudreau’s involvement in a far-fetched scheme to help raise a mercenary army with Cliver Alcalá, a former major general in the Venezuelan army and lifelong supporter of former president Hugo Chavez who had been living in exile in Colombia since 2018.
The article explains that the goal of this force would be to infiltrate Venezuela and spark a rebellion that would topple Maduro from power. Under the best light, the article paints Goudreau, a former U.S. Army special forces operative and three-time Bronze Star recipient, as a misguided entrepreneur who saw an opportunity to make a lot of money for Silvercorp USA, his private security company, by signing a contract with the Venezuelan opposition to train Alcalá’s men. As the article makes clear, the plot was so far-fetched that opposition leader Juan Guaido’s intermediates eventually cut contact with him, and some who knew Goudreau in Colombia said that he was “in way over his head” (the article is jaw-dropping and you should read it).
Aside from introducing Goudreau and his misadventures in Colombia to the world, the article brought to light the plot that he and Alcalá had plotted to infiltrate Venezuela with former Venezuelan soldiers. There is evidence that the Venezuelan government was aware of the plot as early as March 24, but if they had been blind to the scheme, they would have found out about it in the article on May 1. And, with Alcalá in detention in the United States on drug trafficking charges since late March, any move now, when he had maximum visibility, would have been ill-advised for Goudreau.
Yet that’s when these just slightly amphibious raids began.
Silvercorp USA And Jordan Goudreau
Goudreau’s Florida-based private security firm, Silvercorp USA, was established in March 2018, just weeks after the Parkland school shooting that left 17 dead and another 17 wounded. The first Instagram posts from Silvercorp USA show a bizarre montage of school shootings, followed by a narration from Goudreau.
Goudreau, speaking over B-roll footage and clips of the aftermath of school shootings, describes how Silvercorp provides training to law enforcement and teachers to respond to active school shooters. Silvercorp later expanded its ambitions to “embed counter-terror agents in schools disguised as teachers” (their “School Protection Solution”), Goudreau provided “private security” in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, and apparently worked as security at Trump rallies. In a video on the Silvercorp website, Goudreau can be seen wearing an earpiece and apparently providing security at a Trump rally in Charlotte, NC at Bojangles Coliseum from October 26, 2018:
An Instagram post from Silvercorp also shows Goudreau at this rally, with the geotag of Charlotte, NC:
Goudreau is visible in videos showing the rally, walking the aisles behind Trump during his speech:
All of this does not mean that Goudreau is part of the Secret Service. Trump famously employs private security for himself and during his rallies, and Silvercorp were likely contracted for this rally in Charlotte.
Goudreau and Silvercorp likely provided security at other Trump rallies, including one in Pennsylvania on 10 March 2018. If you can spot Goudreau or other Silvercorp staff providing security at a Trump rally, please send your findings in the comments, or tweet at us.
Operation Gedeon, Or Goudreau’s Boat People
In the early morning hours of Sunday, May 3, reports began to surface on Twitter of military activity out at sea off the coast of Macuto, a small city on Venezuela’s coast just north of Caracas. In one video shot before the sun had come up, a man films what looks like police vessels out at sea. There is a helicopter flying the area, and gunshots can be heard.
Shortly after 7:30 AM, Minister of the Interior Nestor Reverol gave a televised address during which he said that “terrorist mercenaries” had attempted a “maritime invasion” of the country, and that they had come from Colombia. Shortly thereafter, news would break that eight of the men on the boat had been killed and two had been captured alongside weapons and equipment:
The news from Minister Reverol was received with a healthy dose of skepticism by many Venezuelans, given the Maduro government’s long track record of blaming everything from power outages to its financial woes on the Colombian government.
All doubts about the veracity of the Maduro government’s claims regarding the failed incursion were laid to rest in the afternoon when a Venezuelan digital news outlet (@FactoresdePoder) published a video in which Goudreau claimed responsibility for the “amphibious raid”, and hinted that other operations were ongoing. Goudreau was joined by a man calling himself Javier Quintero Nieto, who said that the goal of the operation was to detain the leadership of the Maduro government and liberate the country’s political prisoners.
The same news outlet shared images of a contract that appears to have been signed by both Goudreau (on behalf of Silvercorp) and opposition leader Juan Guaido on October 16, 2019 — worth a staggering $212.9 million dollars. Pages 1 out of 8 and 8 out of 8 are missing from the set that the outlet shared, and so we do not know for certain every piece of information that was included in this document, including exactly what services Silvercorp would provide.
Shortly thereafter, Goudreau was interviewed by Venezuelan journalist Patricia Poleo for Factores de Poder. In the bizarre interview, Goudreau said that despite having signed a contract with Guaido, “the opposition hurt us more than they helped us” in part because they never paid him. Goudreau said that the opposition failed to even pay him the $1.5 million retainer that he had asked for, but that he nevertheless decided to continue to render the services of his company because he is a “freedom fighter” and “this is what [freedom fighters] do.”
When he was pressed by Poleo to explain why launching an amphibious operation across open waters instead of attempting to infiltrate via the border with Colombia, Goudreau replied:
Are you familiar with Alexander the Great? The Battle of Gaugamela. Completely outnumbered. He struck to the heart of the enemy, and he won.
Goudreau ended the interview by saying that there were more “cells” active in the country, that the operation was ongoing, and that he was in communication with people inside the country who were telling him that they wanted to join the rebellion that he was attempting to start.
Airan And Luke
On the evening on Sunday, May 3, the Silvercorp Twitter account tweeted that a “strikeforce incursion” into Venezuela was still underway despite the losses earlier that day. The tweet also revealed that two members of this strike force were U.S. citizens, while also trying to get the attention of U.S. President Donald Trump:
Confirmation of the participation of two U.S. citizens in the operation came from the @Carive15 Twitter account, which Javier Quintero confirmed is the official portal of the operation. The account tweeted out an image of three haggard-looking men aboard a boat, two of whom are looking at the camera:
The men also appeared in images shared by the Venezuelan authorities after their capture, including in this video which shows some of the captured would-be infiltrators.Speaking during a televised address on Monday, May 4, Maduro showed the passports and other pieces identification of the pair. Screenshots of that section of his speech were shared by @TeleSurEnglish. These pieces of identification show that the men’s names are Luke Alexander Denman and Airan Berry.
Diosdado Cabello, the vice president of the ruling Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela(PSUV), shared a video on his Twitter account on the afternoon of May 4, showing Adolfo Baduel, one of the men captured alongside Denman and Berry. In the video, Baduel says that he was accompanied by two U.S. citizens who said that they “work with the chief of security of Donald Trump”, seemingly confirming Silvercorp USA’s previous work as security at Trump rallies.
The afternoon of May 4 ended with the Venezuelan government claiming to have arrested two more individuals in connection to “Operacion Gedeon”, this time on land in the city of Puerto Cruz. The two men were allegedly arrested alongside a cache of equipment related to the operation, including armor plates and communications equipment. @RCamachoVzla tweeted some images of the haul:
One image in particular raised many more questions than it answered, as it shows an Airsoft rifle:
The logo on the weapon appears to be associated with the G&G Airsoft company as seen in this promotional video (kudos to Twitter user @AbraxasSpa for making this connection):
In an interview published on May 4, Javier Quintero claimed that “Operacion Gedeon” was still ongoing despite its early losses, and that there were more teams inside and outside Venezuela “awaiting instructions”. He acknowledged Goudreau’s participation in the operation. As of publication, there have been no new reports of arrests or any other action related to this operation.
President Maduro claimed in a televised speech on the night of May 4 that the involvement of U.S. citizens in the plot to overthrow him was evidence that the Trump administration was directly involved in the plan. There have been no public comments on these unfolding events from the U.S. government so far.
bellingcat.com · by · May 5, 2020