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DEA funds given to unauthorized man in drug sting

In this courtroom sketch, a U.S. marshall stands guard as Francisco Flores, center in blue shirt, and Efrain Campos, second from right, make an initial appearance in Manhattan federal court on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, in New York. Campos and Flores, nephews of Venezuela's first lady, are accused of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)
In this courtroom sketch, a U.S. marshall stands guard as Francisco Flores, center in blue shirt, and Efrain Campos, second from right, make an initial appearance in Manhattan federal court on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, in New York. Campos and Flores, nephews of Venezuela's first lady, are accused of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams) AP

Federal prosecutors provided new details -and raised more questions - about an unauthorized man who took part in sensitive meetings about a complex drug sting involving two nephews of the first family of Venezuela.

New court document reveal one of two Drug Enforcement Administration confidential sources paid for the man to fly to Caracas to meet with Efrain Campo, 29, and Francisco Flores, 30, using money the informant received from the DEA. The informant, known as CS-2, promised the man $50,000 to $100,000 if the alleged cocaine deal was successful.

“CS-2 paid for the flights using funds from a payment that he had recently received from the DEA related to another investigation,” prosecutors wrote.

In a case that has further frayed U.S.-Venezuela relations, Campo and Flores, nephews of Venezuelan first lady Cilia Flores, were charged last year with conspiring to smuggle 800 kilograms of cocaine into the U.S. It wasn’t until 10 months later, on the second day of a suppression hearing in the case, that prosecutors learned the two DEA informants had invited the unauthorized man to the Caracas meetings. It was there that the informants, at the direction of the DEA, recorded conversations about the drug deal and tested the quality of the cocaine.

According to the court documents, the informants invited the man to Caracas because they thought it’d make them look like more authentic bad guys. But prosecutors raised more questions about why the informants would promise the friend tens of thousands of dollars from a drug deal that was actually a DEA operation. Any money exchanged hands would presumably be confiscated.

“CS-2 extended the invitation without the authorization of the DEA, and, at least in part, with the expectation that the appearance of an additional person traveling with CS-1 and CS-2 would enhance the defendants’ perception of CS-1 and CS-2 as legitimate, capable drug traffickers,” prosecutors wrote in the filing.

The friend, who has been identified as Male-1 in court documents, is a key part of the defense’s argument that the two informants, a father and son duo or CS-1 and CS-2, lack credibility and should not be believed.

Lawyers for Campo and Flores spent hours grilling the two informants who have since been convicted of conducting unauthorized drug trafficking at the same time they were working for the DEA.

The father also confessed to withholding key information from federal agents and prosecutors, abusing cocaine on the Venezuela trip and twice hiring prostitutes.

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