Venezuelan first lady's nephews convicted in U.S. drug trial | Reuters

Venezuelan first lady's nephews convicted in U.S. drug trial | Reuters

Venezuelan first lady's nephews convicted in U.S. drug trial | Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two nephews of Venezuela's first lady were found guilty on Friday on U.S. charges that they tried to carry out a multimillion-dollar drug deal to obtain a large amount of cash to help their family stay in power.

Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas and Efrain Antonio Campo Flores, nephews of Cilia Flores, the wife of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, were convicted by a federal jury in Manhattan of conspiring to import cocaine into the United States.

The case has been an embarrassment for Maduro amid economic and political crises in the South American nation. The case was one of several in which U.S. prosecutors have linked individuals tied to the Venezuelan government to drug trafficking.

They face up to life in prison when they are sentenced. Their lawyers indicated in court they planned to file post-trial motions challenging the convictions, though did not specify on what grounds. "Our client's obviously disappointed, but we want to see what the next steps are," said Randall Jackson, a lawyer for Campo Flores.

Flores de Freitas, 31, and Campo Flores, 30, were arrested in Haiti in November 2015 and flown to the United States following the sting operation orchestrated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Prosecutors said the two men plotted to use Venezuelan airport's presidential hangar to send 800 kilos of cocaine to Honduras for shipment into the United States.

Robert Lewis, an architect who sat on the jury, said" nobody was in love with the witnesses. "Jurors instead focused on the transcripts of recorded conversations as well as text messages presented as evidence.

The jury of five men and seven women delivered their verdict after six hours of deliberations. Toward the end of their deliberations, jurors had "fought a little bit" over the outcome, Lewis said.

"By the time we were finished, our heads were spinning," he said.

Reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Grant McCool

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