NewsLocal News


Citgo 6 members freed from Venezuela; Biden releases 2 prisoners in exchange

Posted at 6:58 AM, Oct 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-03 17:13:59-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — President Biden announced the return of five Americans detained in Venezuela for years, including one man from Corpus Christi.

According to NBC reporter Josh Lederman, The American oil executives known as the Citgo 6 were arrested in Venezuela more than four years ago.

Those freed include five employees of Houston-based Citgo — Tomeu Vadell, Jose Luis Zambrano, Alirio Zambrano, Jorge Toledo, and Jose Pereira.

They were lured to Venezuela before Thanksgiving in 2017 to attend a meeting at the headquarters of the company's parent, state-run oil giant PDVSA.

Two others, Matthew Heath, a Marine veteran, was detained in September 2020, and Osman Khan had been held since January, have also been set free.

"Wherever there is an American arbitrarily detained, including in Venezuela, we're looking at everything possible we can do to bring them home. Each situation is different," said Antony Blinken, Secretary of State.

In exchange, Senior Administration Officials say the President made the "painful' decision to grant clemency to Franqui Flores and Efrain Campo, known as the "Narco-Nephews."

Flores' and Campo's aunt is Venezuela's, first lady. They were arrested in Haiti in 2015 on drug trafficking charges and sentenced to 18 years.

U.S. officials say during months of tough negotiations, it became clear: releasing Flores and Campo was "essential" to getting the Americans home from Venezuela.