In November 2015, Efraín Campos Flores and Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas, nephews of President Nicolás Maduro's wife, Cilia Flores, were arrested in Haiti while negotiating to send a shipment of 800 kilos of cocaine to the United States of America. At September 8 and 9 hearings, the party nights that they had with two informants of the DEA were evident. We went to the brothel they visited and we told the story from our point of view.
Tonight the offer exceeds the demand. It is almost 12 in the morning and in Trio Gentlemen Club the show has not started. The brothel, hidden during the day among commercial stores, embassies and offices in one of the best areas of eastern Caracas, was chosen months ago by Efraín Antonio Campos Flores and Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas, nephews of the first lady of Venezuela, Cilia Flores, to entertain two Mexican drug traffickers during their stay in Venezuela and negotiate a shipment of 800 kilos of cocaine that they would then send to the United States of America.
Tonight, the dollars and drugs do not flow through the corners of the brothel, as Cousins ??Flores showed in the pre-trial hearings for drug trafficking in the court of the Southern District of New York. The only thing in excess today are girls. "Women can only get in on Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays ... So today is your lucky day. Welcome," the Trio host tells me as he descends the stairs that lead to the ground floor of Centro Letonia in Caracas. The rules are clear. No photos or videos are allowed in the establishment and no woman can get in alone. "A man should accompany you even if you go to the bathroom, lest some customer confuse you with one of the girls in dresses today and not in underwear," he warns as I face the routine of the review. The warning is not unreasonable in a place where, with the exception of the first two rules, any fantasy can be fulfilled if the price marked on the label is paid.
are special. Upon paying the entrance fee of 2,000 bolivars - around 3 dollars
at the official exchange rate or 2 dollars on the black market - customers
participate in the drawing of an all-inclusive session with room, champagne and
a girl; a great offer considering that the amount to enjoy the company of one of
the prostitutes, for half an hour, is 44 thousand bolivars, equal to 68% of the
Venezuelan minimum wage or 44 dollars on the black market. "Double if they get
in as a couple," explains one of the waiters. They are responsible for giving
prices and are the
In October 2015, two confidential Mexican informants from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), father (55 years old) and son (34 years old) arrived in Caracas posing as drug traffickers of the Sinaloa cartel. They acted as part of the operation that would result months later in the arrest of the relatives of the Venezuelan presidential couple. During that visit, they held four meetings in the capital of the country with Campos Flores and Flores de Freitas and visited the Trio club. The party night and the girls were courtesy of the hosts.
The DEA informant said at the evidentiary hearing of the case that the Flores nephews invited them to the Trio nightclub and, at the end of the night, they were sent to a Marriot hotel, located a few minutes away, with 3 courtesy prostitutes. They were also provided with cars and bodyguards during their stay in Caracas. The Mexicans reported that Campos Flores claimed that the club had been his but that, even after selling it, he continued receiving exclusive service.
In 2009, when Trio was inaugurated, the owners were Alfredo Lovera, a well-known businessman in the Caracas nightlife scene; Eduardo Capriles, a businessman and stepbrother of the businessman Armando Capriles; and a third party that is only known as "El Burro", according to former brothel workers. On paper, the story is different.
The place is dark; just a few purple, yellow and blue lights illuminate the atmosphere. A row of women in short dresses are sitting by the bar, too lightly dressed for the intensity of the air conditioner. In front of the girls there is a stage with border lights; on the back, a spiral staircase with aluminum steps leading to the second floor. The tiles shine, the leather seats are organized in a crescent shape and you feel the smell of Victoria's Secret splash. At midnight, the first show is about to start. Only three tables have customers, despite being a Saturday after pay week. Maybe it is due to the prices. Each drink costs 9 thousand bolivars and the cheapest rum service goes up to 78 thousand, almost twice as much as in any other Caracas nightclub. Enjoying a catwalk of perfectly depilated women with bodies, according to preferences, perfectly sculpted with silicone, is not for free.
"If you are photogenic, come, I invite you to my catwalk oh ah, vain cat...," is the background music while two girls make their appearance on the semicircular platform in the middle of the club. Next to the stage, a flat screen continues transmitting videos of semi-naked women and images that celebrate the sixth anniversary of Trio. Both girls wear nothing but a bra and a skirt that little covers the buttocks that sometime received the filling shot. One of them is blonde, the other brunette. They do not physically interact with each other but they share one or another look that guides them in their choreography. During the reggaeton song, the buttocks of the brunette almost embrace the eight meter pole dance tube connected to the next floor. The blonde in the other tube raises so much that forces the attendees to tilt the head. Once up, she let herself fall by the gravity that does not affect her operated breasts.
Trio Gentlemen's Club is just a business name. It is a legal abstraction, transient, like the moments that gentlemen, and some ladies, seek to enjoy in this place created to fulfill fantasies. Behind the liquor, music and sequins is Corporación Kanata, C.A. It is the only name visible on the brothel’s payment vouchers.
The company was registered on November 6, 2008, by Bernardo Soto Negron and Anthony Zambrano Ramírez with the business purpose of "operation of nightclubs, social clubs, discotheques, breweries, restaurants, bars, taverns, halls for day and night events and shows, buying and selling of alcoholic beverages, selling of food and snacks." Soto and Zambrano did not last as long as the owners of the company. In late 2008, they stopped being shareholders and the company was in charge of Belkis Hurtado Reyes and Mauricio Maduro Morales until today.
As to the current owners of Trio, there is a smoke screen like the one used by the place to give an air of mystery to the erotic dances of their girls. The nicknames, crime-specific language, also lead relationships in this Caracas nightclub. Local workers say they only know the owners by nicknames or simply the first name. Surnames are not used. The most visible face of Trio is known as "El Burro" [Ass], a nickname not necessarily related to lack of intellectual qualities. "I have no idea what his name is. But he is called "El Burro" because of the size of his member and because he has a reputation for sleeping with all the women getting in there. Some party nights, they rented entire floors of the Marriot [hotel] for his enjoyment and that of his friends and several girls," says Adrian*, a former worker of the club.
In a work-related complaint filed by Lennart Jonson González against company Trio Gentlemen's Club, the representation of Corporación Kanata clarified that, although they were in charge of the operation and administration of the premises, they were not the representatives of Trio. "Corporación Kanata, C.A. and Trio Gentlemen's Club have no connection because Trío does not exist as a legal entity... Corporación Kanata, C.A. hires a service operator to attend the premises where Trio Gentlemen's Club operates, a location that belongs to Corporación Kanata, C.A." The name of that company never came out.
The offices of Corporación Kanata, C.A. are in the same business center where Trio operates, but on a higher floor. On any given business day, it is common to see women going in and out collecting the 50% commission they get per customer. None of the workers deny that the company is behind the brothel, and it is more evident when looking at the Playboy posters that cover one of the walls of the office and the products they store there: alcohol bottles and disinfecting wipes. What they do deny is that the nephews Flores were at some point the owners. "We know them but it is a lie that that they own the club," says one of the managers of the establishment.
"I know you want to, it's all over your face. When you talk to me, when you look at me, you cannot fool me ... ah huh ah huh ah huh." Once again the rhythm of reggaeton begins the show. Each show follows the same pattern, an urban song that allows the girl to shake her buttocks before the audience, followed by a slow melody with lyrics in English - Alanis Morissette seems to be their favorite singer - to accompany the removal of their underwear provocatively as they slowly spread their legs wide open. In the midst of the magic, a nearby man unceremoniously says, "I would lick without hesitation anything that that woman puts on her skin."
In one of the tables diagonally across the stage, in a dark corner, is Ami. She is accompanied by a tall, corpulent man, dressed in jeans and a gray shirt. They are having drinks of rum Santa Teresa 1796 and they ask for some tequeños [Venezuelan cheese-filled sticks] to have a snack. They laugh. She turns with her back and dances rubbing her body against him. They do not kiss, but he takes advantage of her movements to place a hand between her legs and raise her dress. They know they are looking at them. They enjoy being watched.
Ami also shares with others. While the third show, featuring a girl dressed as a schoolgirl and with a tattoo of a sun around her navel, develops on stage, Ami talks with some of her peers and hums the songs, “Si tu marido no te quiere, quiere. Baby, mejor tú dale banda, por qué. Porque esta noche sí se bebe, bebe.” Along with the sound of music, Ami approaches me. She smells like tutti frutti antibacterial gel, like all of them. "You should be my girlfriend. Remember that I am all yours, yours alone. Do not go yet," she whispers in my ear. The caress of her hands feels soft, familiar, and the hardness and weight of her buttocks against my lap.
They are clever. They know that if a heterosexual couple gets in the club, the decision to enjoy an additional service will depend on the woman and not on the man accompanying her. At the end, it is business and there is no two-for-one promotion here.
It is not known whether Ami was one of the chosen ones to spend that night of October 25, 2015, with the informants of the DEA, but the cousins ??Flores were faithful visitors of the establishment. María*, a girl who worked until last year in Trio, says it was common to find Franqui Francisco and Efraín enjoying the shows and the women's company. "People from the show business, foreigners and government people go to Trio, money-loaded people. I attended politicians and I certainly met Maduro's nephews. They even said that the owner, whom they call "El Burro", has several businesses with the government," says María, who adds that the nephews of the presidential couple and the owners of the place usually took the "spoiled" girls to boat rides and yachts on weekends.
In August 2016, the informants changed roles. They were accused of three crimes and are being processed at the same time. Both pleaded guilty to conspiring to import and distribute drugs in the US, in addition to lying to DEA agents. The Flores nephews’ attorneys are clinging to that slip to their advantage, and insist that informants who worked for the US agency manipulated photos, audios and videos by deleting extracts from conversations vital to understand the context. They also argue that the informants used money from the DEA budget, and not the nephews' to pay for sexual services. The trial will begin on November 7.
It is 3 in the morning. The fourth show of the night has just finished. It is time to make the drawing for any of the customers to win the all-inclusive session with one of the girls. They lower the volume of the music and the presenter prepares to take out the winning paper from glass tombola. "373," he exclaims. Coincidentally, the table that consumed the most during the night (whiskey service, bottle of wine, ceviche) turned out to be the winner. They shout cheerfully and move to one of the seats near the stage to continue celebrating.
the 15 girls who were in sight tonight, at most six got into the rooms. The
number of waiters exceeded the customers in the club. Ami left more than half an
hour ago with the corpulent man. The same blonde girl with short hair that
appeared at the beginning makes her appearance on stage for the last
presentation. She dances a hip hop song while a young man throws 10-, 15-,
50-bolivar notes. "Are you leaving? When are you coming back?" says Ami, returning with a voice that conveys fatigue. "Soon," I say as I hug her. Definitely, it was not the most productive night for the workers of Trio Gentlemen Club.
*Some names were changed at the request of the interviewees
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