Venezuela president doesn’t mention drug charges

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest news in the arrest of two nephews of the powerful first lady of Venezuela Cilia Flores on U.S. drug charges. All times local in Caracas.

11:45 a.m.

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has finished a speech in Geneva without directly addressing the arrest of his wife’s nephews on cocaine smuggling charges.

Maduro spoke in broad terms about imperialism and lashed out at a U.S. general in a speech at the United Nations’ top human rights body. He also defended his country’s independence and said it would not accept interference from outside.

 Thursday’s speech at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva came as U.S. officials handed down indictments against two nephews of Venezuela’s first lady on narcotics charges.

It also comes three weeks before Venezuela holds parliamentary elections.

11 a.m.

Two nephews of Venezuela’s powerful first lady have been indicted on U.S. narcotics charges.

An indictment unsealed on Thursday accuses Efrain Campos and Francisco Flores of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States. The defendants were expected to appear in federal court in Manhattan later in the day.

The indictment says the pair participated in meetings in Venezuela about a shipment of cocaine that was to be sent to the U.S. via Honduras. It provides no other details.

The arrest of Efrain Campos and Francisco Flores is likely to exacerbate already tense relations between the U.S. and Venezuela and cast a hard look at U.S. accusations of drug trafficking at the highest levels of President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist administration.

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