Venezuela

Venezuela says it has detained Florida man on weapons charges

 

jwyss@MiamiHerald.com

Venezuelan authorities Tuesday said they detained a 32-year-old Florida man in the troubled border state of Táchira for allegedly possessing weapons without a permit.

In a press release, Táchira Gov. Vielma Mora said authorities recovered three rifles — including one with a silencer and telescopic site — two handguns, ammunition and eight “camouflage” uniforms. One of the weapons is connected to the shooting of a local man, Mora said.

The suspect had been living in San Cristóbal, the capital of Táchira, for about two months, according to the release.

Mora said a Venezuelan woman, identified as Vivían Arreaza Sandoval, had also been arrested in the case. On Wednesday, the government identified the suspect as Todd Michael Leininger.

The U.S. Department of State on Tuesday said it could not immediately confirm the report.

San Cristóbal has been at the epicenter of anti-government protests that have left at least 41 dead since February. The Venezuelan government has often accused the United States and other foreign governments of fueling the unrest in hopes of toppling the socialist administration of President Nicolás Maduro.

Mora said he “presumed” that the detained American was involved in the protests.

Clarification: A previous version of this article cited local news outlets that identified the U.S. suspect as “Jhon Michael Leiner“

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