Until June 30, Joshua Holt and his wife, Thamara Caleño, were living a fairy tale. The Mormons—Holt from Utah, Caleño from Venezuela—had fallen in love online before meeting in the Dominican Republic earlier this year. Holt then traveled to Venezuela on June 11 to marry Caleño, 25, and take her and her two young daughters back to the US. But days after returning from a week-long honeymoon, everything changed. While the couple were awaiting an appointment at the US Embassy to get visas, a witness says police showed up to search Caleño's apartment in Ciudad Caribia—"a crime-ridden subsidized housing complex," per the Miami Herald—and "took [Holt] away with other people" when he started recording officers with his phone. Hours later, 30 masked officers were seen carrying a black bag into the apartment, the witness says.
She says an officer disappeared, then announced he'd discovered an AK-47, an "imitation" M-15 assault rifle, and a hand grenade in a black bag on the floor. "They were planted," the witness says. "The only reason they have [Holt] is because he's a gringo," she adds. "He's innocent and his human rights are being violated." Holt and Caleño, held in a military detention center in Caracas, are under investigation, though police are reportedly considering terrorism and espionage charges. "They are still being held there for at least 45 more days. That's all we really know," Holt's mom tells the Idaho State Journal. He "doesn't have a mean bone in his body. He's a saint, is what he is," Holt's dad says. "They were targeting him because he's an American," he adds, per ABC 4. A GoFundMe page has thus far raised nearly $8,000 for legal costs. (Read more Venezuela stories.)