By JOSHUA GOODMAN and ARITZ PARRA, Related Press Writers
MADRID (AP) — Police in Madrid on Thursday arrested a former Venezuelan spymaster wished on U.S. narcoterrorism expenses, capturing him in a hideout condo practically two years after he defied a Spanish extradition order and disappeared.
Gen. Hugo Carvajal, who for over a decade was late Venezuelan chief Hugo Chavez’s eyes and ears within the Venezuelan army, was arrested within the small condo by which he had been holed up.
“He lived completely enclosed, by no means going outdoors or getting near the window, all the time protected by individuals he trusted,” Spain’s police stated in an announcement on social media by which they posted a brief video the second heavily-armed officers put handcuffs on Carvajal.
Spain’s leftist authorities final yr permitted Carvajal’s extradition to the U.S., the place he faces federal expenses for allegedly working with guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to “flood” the U.S. with cocaine.
Political Cartoons on World Leaders
The extradition order adopted a back-and-forth authorized battle by which Spain’s Nationwide Court docket reversed an earlier ruling by a excessive court docket Justice of the Peace throwing out the U.S. warrant for being politically motivated. Within the interim, Carvajal was launched and by no means heard from once more besides when he stated final yr that he was going underground to protest what he seen as political interference in his case.
He resurfaced on social media earlier this month, posting with little discover what may very well be a preview of his eventual protection: an announcement accusing former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, who was for years the U.S.’ principal caretaker within the warfare on medicine, of “fabricating” proof towards him and the Chávez authorities even because it was cooperating with U.S. prosecutors to arrest Colombian narcos hiding inside Venezuela
“It is a lie that may finally collapse,” Carvajal wrote. “I’ve all the time trusted that the reality will prevail.”
It isn’t clear when Carvajal may very well be despatched to the U.S. However his extradition could also be slowed down by an asylum request he beforehand submitted to Spanish authorities.
“I’m ready for both scenario, the great or the unhealthy,” Carvajal’s spouse, Angélica Flores, informed The Related Press when contacted by telephone with the information. “It’s as much as him and others to offer statements. This case will proceed and we’ll see the way it ends.”
Nicknamed “El Pollo” (“The Rooster”), Carvajal has bete noire of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for over a decade.
First indicted in 2011, he narrowly escaped extradition when he was arrested in Aruba in 2014 whereas serving as Venezuela’s consul basic to the Dutch Caribbean island. President Nicolás Maduro’s authorities efficiently utilized stress on Aruba, which sits simply miles off Venezuela’s coast, to launch Carvajal and when it did he obtained a hero’s welcome upon his return to Caracas.
However he was by no means a confidant of Maduro and within the sophisticated inside politics of Venezuela’s ruling socialist celebration was relegated to a minor function as a backbench parliamentarian.
In 2019, after opposition chief Juan Guaidó led a road rebellion and shortly received the U.S.’ recognition as Venezuela’s authentic chief, Carvajal then overtly rejected the federal government, urging members of the army to interrupt with Maduro.
Whereas on the run, each from the DEA and Maduro, Carvajal traveled to the Spanish capital from the Dominican Republic below a disguised id. He was greeted at Madrid’s airport by two Spanish intelligence officers, the AP has beforehand reported.
From Europe, Carvajal had hoped to leverage contacts and information of the Venezuelan deep state to mount a military-backed rebel towards Maduro.
However to the frustration of many in Venezuela’s opposition who’ve secretly tried to flip senior members of the army, he was arrested on the U.S. warrant days earlier than a failed barracks rebel on April 30, 2019.
There was no fast remark from Maduro’s authorities.
The case towards Carvajal in New York facilities on a DC-9 jet from Caracas that landed in southern Mexico in 2006 with 5.6 tons of cocaine packed into 128 suitcases. Carvajal stated that judicial probes in Venezuela and Mexico by no means linked him to the incident and that the alleged airplane proprietor backs his alibi.
However he faces incriminating proof from telephone data, drug ledgers and the testimony of at the very least 10 witnesses, in accordance with an affidavit from a DEA particular agent. These witnesses embody members and associates of the “Cartel of the Suns,” former high-ranking Venezuelan officers, in accordance with the affidavit.
The U.S. indictment additionally repeats an accusation that Carvajal offered Colombian rebels with weapons and safety inside Venezuela.
The previous basic has scoffed on the allegations. He says his contacts with the FARC — designated by the U.S. as a terrorist group — had been approved by Chávez and restricted to securing the discharge of a kidnapped Venezuelan businessman and paving the best way for peace talks with the Colombian authorities.
Goodman reported from Miami.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This materials will not be revealed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.