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Venezuelan First Lady's 2 Nephews Get 18 Years in Prison


In this court room drawing, an interpreter, stands as he takes notes while defendant Efrain Campo, center left, makes a statement in Spanish to the judge during his sentencing hearing in New York, Dec. 14, 2017. The interpreter will translate the statement and read it back to the judge. Seated at center right is co-defendant Francisco Flores.

A New York judge on Thursday sentenced two nephews of Venezuela's first lady to 18 years in prison for their conviction on drug conspiracy charges.

Judge Paul Crotty announced the sentences in Manhattan federal court after the men apologized for their crimes.

A jury convicted Efrain Campo, 31, and his cousin, Francisco Flores, 33, in November 2016. The nephews of Venezuelan first lady Cilia Flores were convicted of conspiring to import more than 1,700 pounds of cocaine into the U.S.

A prosecutor said their crime was egregious because the men wanted to raise money in part to keep their family in power.

The judge rejected a request by prosecutors that the men be sentenced to 30 years in prison. The defense had requested no more than 10 years.

The judge said he was struck by the bumbling nature of the men, saying they "were not the most astute drug dealers who existed. They were in over their heads."

Defense lawyers told Crotty the men were novices to the drug trade and never actually transported any drugs.

Campo and Flores listened to the court proceeding through headphones.

Each of them was fined $50,000.

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