Spanish court agrees to extradite former Venezuelan spy chief to US

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Mr Carvajal was first detained on the US extradition request in April 2019 after fleeing to Spain. But he was later released from a Spanish prison after a court ruled the extradition request too “abstract” to establish his involvement in drug trafficking.

Prosecutors successfully appealed the decision, but Mr Carvajal has disappeared, creating a diplomatic puzzle for Spain and adding another twist to a long cat-and-mouse game.

In a February 2019 interview with the New York Times, Mr. Carvajal denied being involved in drug trafficking. After his detention in Spain and during his extradition hearing, he and his lawyers claimed that the drug charges were fabricated and that the case brought by the United States was politically motivated.

The United States Department of Justice said that in April 2006, Carvajal coordinated the transport of around six tonnes of US cocaine to Mexico from Venezuela, charges have been brought in a federal court in New York. . If found guilty, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Known by the nickname “El Pollo” or “The Chicken”, Mr. Carvajal was for several years the chief of military intelligence under Hugo Chávez, the former chief of Venezuela, and under Mr. Maduro. He was later a member of the ruling Socialist Party before his brutal fall-out with Mr. Maduro, Mr. Chávez’s successor.

Mr. Carvajal urged the military to side with Mr. Maduro’s main opponent, Juan Guaidó. Mr. Guaidó has been recognized as the rightful president of Venezuela by the United States and several other Western governments, but that has not stopped Mr. Maduro from retaining power, even as his country’s economic problems have escalated in these days. last years.

Although Mr Carvajal cannot appeal the extradition decision directly, he could try to stay in Spain by appealing the decision to deny him asylum, said Martín Palladino, a Spanish lawyer specializing in the issues. extradition.

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