Dramatic tow-truck arrest of Guaido's right-hand man

Caracas (AFP) –


Sirens in the night, armed and balaclava-clad policemen surrounding an imposing four-wheel drive vehicle as its occupier refused to get out. The dramatic scene ended with the car being towed away to a notorious prison at the headquarters of the Venezuelan secret services.

And all this happened as the opposition lawmaker inside the vehicle live-tweeted a commentary on his arrest Wednesday evening.

"We're surrounded right now by SEBIN" security services agents, Edgar Zambrano wrote.

"As we refused to get out of our vehicle, they used a tow truck to forcibly take us directly to the Helicoide," the name of a feared political prison and secret service headquarters.

"Democrats, keep up the fight!"

Zambrano is the right-hand man of opposition leader Juan Guaido, who led a failed uprising against President Nicolas Maduro last week involving around 30 members of the armed forces.

Recounting the sequence of events to NTN24 television station, fellow lawmaker Carlos Prosperi said Zambrano was surrounded by secret service agents after leaving a meeting at the headquarters of their Democratic Action party.

"They didn't let us pass, he was detained just 50 meters away. He was telling me that they (the agents) were banging on his four-wheel drive and as they couldn't force him to get out, they brought a tow truck to take him away."

Zambrano is one of 10 opposition lawmakers accused by Venezuela's Supreme Court of treason, conspiracy and rebellion for having supported Guaido's April 30 uprising.

Pictures and videos shared on social media showed black-clad SEBIN agents in balaclavas surrounding Zambrano's car.

Maduro's own right-hand man, the influential Diosdado Cabello mentioned the arrest during his weekly television show on Wednesday evening.

"They brought a tow-truck, now he's going to have to pay the towing fee," said a smiling Cabello as his audience laughed.

Cabello is president of the controversial Constituent Assembly, which Maduro created to sideline the opposition-controlled National Assembly, headed by Guaido.

In January Guaido declared himself acting president after the National Assembly branded Maduro as illegitimate over his re-election last year in polls widely criticized as fraudulent.

Guaido has been recognized by more than 50 countries as interim president but has so far been unable to break the military high command's support for Maduro.