Spain seems to always be a ‘go-to’ destination for criminals. Anyone remember the Clinton’s ol buddy Marc Rich, he fled to Marbella, Spain. International gangsters love Spain too, including Russian mafia. As a sidebar, ever really wonder about that unique friendship of the Obama’s with King Juan Carlos Varela or the many Obama vacations there including just last year? Anyway….conflating perhaps…
The US Justice Department, which originally unsealed the charges in 2014, has requested Hugo Carvajal’s extradition.
Mr Carvajal was a close ally of the country’s late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, but in February denounced his successor President Nicolás Maduro.
Known as El Pollo (The Chicken), Mr Carvajal was a leading figure in Venezuelan politics for decades.
He has been under US sanctions since 2008, over allegations he helped Colombia’s Farc rebel group and protected US-bound drug shipments.
Federal charges, which accuse him of co-ordinating a 5,600kg (12,345lb) shipment of cocaine from Venezuela to Mexico in 2006, became public in 2014.
That year he was arrested on the charges on the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba, where he was serving as a consul, but he was freed after the extradition request was denied.
Mr Carvajal returned to Venezuela to a hero’s welcome, but publicly broke with the country’s leadership earlier this year.
In a video posted on social media in February, he publicly threw his support behind Mr Guaido and urged other military figures to do the same.
An unnamed US administration official has told Reuters news agency that it is hoped Mr Carvajal could co-operate and offer valuable information on the Venezuelan leader.
It is reported that the former spy chief will appear before Spain’s High Court on Saturday, where the extradition request will be reviewed. More here.
Washington accused Carvajal of assisting the paramilitary group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) transport drugs from Latin America to Mexico and from there to the US. Washington also charged Carvajal with supplying FARC drug traffickers with Venezuelan passports bearing fake names, which they used to travel internationally to avoid detection. In 2014, Carvajal was arrested by authorities in Aruba, a Dutch overseas territory in Latin America, where he was serving as Venezuela’s consul general. But, to Washington’s dismay, he was released after the Dutch government ruled that his diplomatic immunity gave him immunity from prosecution.
But the Reuters news agency cited an unnamed US government official who said that Carvajal was in possession of a “treasure trove” of intelligence about Maduro’s administration. The US official hinted that Carvajal may have willingly given himself up to Spanish police to express his desire to cooperate with the US. He is scheduled to appear before Spain’s High Court on Saturday. The court has 24 hours following Carvajal’s arrest to rule whether he will be extradited or freed from detention.