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Ex Venezuelan spy chief Hugo Carvajal takes flight to avoid US extradition

Hugo Carvajal Carrera (Hugo Carvajal/WikiCommons)

Venezuela’s former head of military intelligence, Hugo Carvajal, known as El Pollo (The Chicken), has evaded arrest and his whereabouts are unknown in Spain, where he is sought to be extradited to the United States to face drug-trafficking charges, Spanish media reported Tuesday.

The Venezuelan retired major general, who is considered a walking encyclopedia of the criminal enterprises allegedly run by top members of Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro regime, was not at his residence in Madrid when police agents went to arrest him last week, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported.

A Spanish high court had approved Carvajal’s extradition on Friday, overturning a ruling made previously by a lower court denying the U.S. request. Local media had reported then that the Venezuelan major general had been arrested at the time.

But it was Carvajal himself who put the reports of his arrests in doubt, posting a message on social media that suggested he was free.

“In light of the rumors in the press, my lawyers went to the National High Court on Friday and on Saturday and they are also checking the official notification system constantly. As of now, neither my lawyers nor myself have been officially notified of any official resolution on my case,” Carvajal wrote on Monday on his Twitter account.

The Venezuelan General, who for almost a decade headed the General Military Counterintelligence Directorate, mostly under late president Hugo Chávez, faces federal drug-trafficking charges in South Florida and Manhattan.

The charges in New York claim that the former spy chief coordinated the shipment of 5.6 tons of cocaine found in Mexico inside a DC-9 plane that arrived from Venezuela, in a 2006 case that is also linked to known trafficker Walid Makled.

Miami’s U.S. Attorney’s office accuses Carvajal of assisting the drug trafficking operations in Venezuela of Colombia’s North of the Valley Cartel, specifically of helping late drug baron Wilber Arilio Varela Fajardo, before he was found dead in the Venezuelan city of Merida in 2008.

The U.S. extradition request sent to Spanish officials highlights the role that Carvajal, along with Chavez himself, played in the Venezuelan socialist regime’s drug trafficking operations.

U.S. authorities allege that Chavez masterminded the government’s involvement in drug trafficking, arguing it would be a severe double blow against the United States and Colombia, which he considered enemy nations.

The 140-page request also provides a detailed portrayal of the so-called Cartel de Los Soles, confirming that high-ranking members of the Chavista regime, including former Vice Presidents Diosdado Cabello and Tareck El Aissami, were top members of the organization from the beginning.


© 2019 Miami Herald