Politics

Spain to extradite former Venezuelan intelligence chief to US

Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios wanted in US on charges related to drug trafficking, weapons, narco-terrorism

Alyssa McMurtry   | 20.10.2021
Spain to extradite former Venezuelan intelligence chief to US Hugo Carvajal, former Venezuelan military and deputy. (Source: Official blog page Hugo Carvajal)

OVIEDO, Spain

Spain’s National Court ruled on Wednesday to extradite Venezuela’s former head of military intelligence to the US, where he is wanted on charges related to drug trafficking, weapons and narco-terrorism.

Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios, nicknamed El Pollo (The Chicken), served as intelligence chief under Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro for several years. He was also a politician, diplomat and a major general in the Venezuelan army.

Carvajal was arrested in Madrid last month. The US accuses him of participating in large-scale drug trafficking activities as a Venezuelan government official, including 5.6 tons of cocaine shipment.

In the US, he faces charges, including participating in a narco-terrorism conspiracy, which could give him life in prison.

The decision to extradite Carvajal comes after Spain’s Interior Ministry denied his request for political asylum. He still may be able to appeal that decision.

In 2019, he dramatically broke with Maduro’s government, accusing it of corruption, authoritarianism and drug trafficking. He also came out in support of opposition leader Juan Guido.

Maduro then expelled Carvajal from the armed forces and accused him of treason.

Carvajal was already arrested in 2019 in Spain, but the court eventually rejected the US’s extradition request. The ruling was successfully appealed, but Carvajal went missing until police found him in September.

Ever since his arrest, he had reportedly been trying to stop his extradition by trading “sensitive information” with Spanish officials and offering to become a witness.

In the last-ditch effort, he declared in front of a Spanish judge that the Venezuelan regime has financed left-wing political movements around the world over the last 15 years. These include Lula de Silva in Brazil, Nestor Kirchner in Argentina, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Podemos in Spain, and Italy’s Five Star Movement.

Although it was not enough to get him protected witness status, a Spanish court reopened a case about Podemos’s irregular financing this week.

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