CITGO 6 found guilty and sentenced in Venezuela

The source said that CITGO employees Tomu Waddell, Gustavo Cardenas, Jorge Toledo, Alerio Jose Zambrano, Jose Luis Zambrano and Jose Angel Pereira have been sentenced to 8 to 13 years.

According to the source, efforts to release the men will continue.

The guilty verdict, which began in November 2017, put a year-old saga to a halt when the men received a call from the head of the Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA and called them for a last-minute budget meeting in Caracas.

When they arrived, armed and masked security agents arrested them on embezzlement charges, offering a bailout of some $ 4 billion in CITGO bonds while offering 50% of the company’s stake as collateral. .

Families of “CITGO 6” – five of them US citizens and all with deep roots in Texas and Louisiana – say the men are being held in inhumane conditions, distributing crowded cellar cells in a military counter-terrorism prison And the country is in severe weight loss due to lack of food.

But the matter has largely gone away from view as Venezuela has moved further into the turmoil and relations between it and the strong support of opposition leader Juan Giado by the Trump administration in its fight to oust Nicolas Maduro from the US. Relations have broken with

Two of Carnadas and Toledo were released on house arrest in July following a human visit to Caracas by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and a team of non-government negotiators.

The weekly hearing began in August after the men had been in custody for over two years.

Gabriela Zambrano Hill, who is the daughter of Elirio Jose and niece of Jose Luis, called the hearing “visionary” and expressed concern about the possible exposure of the men to Kovid-19.

Toledo’s step-son Carlos Aanj had told CNN that he hoped the hearing would reach a “favorable and correct solution” by its end.

In a statement earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for his “unconditional release” and his return to the United States.

“These six Americans and their families have been suffering for a long time, it’s time for Maduro to separate politics and allow these families to rejoin,” he said.

“No one should doubt that the President’s commitment to bring home to all American citizens who are held hostage or unfairly caught in the house.”

Pompeo said, “Special President for Mortgage Affairs Roger Carstens, Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams, and I will continue to pursue our mission to secure the release of CITGO-6, and we will achieve that goal.” We will do our best for you. “

This story has been updated with additional information on Thursday.

CNN’s Jennifer Hansler and Paul LeBlanc contributed to this report.


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