Europe

Former Venezuelan spy boss arrested by Spanish police

Published : September 10, 2021 20:09 IST

Hugo Carvajal, arrested by Spanish police, now faces extradition to the U.S. to answer to drug trafficking charges. Photo: picture-alliance /AP/F. Llano

Former Venezuelan military intelligence chief Hugo Carvajal has been arrested in Madrid.

Hugo Armando Carvajal, former head of military intelligence in Venezuela has been arrested, Spanish authorities said on September 9. Madrid police swooped on the former spy-boss in an apartment in the Spanish capital on the night of September 9. He is wanted in the U.S. on charges of drug trafficking, and has been on the run since November 2019, after a Spanish court approved an extradition request from the U.S.

"Arrested tonight in Madrid 'Pollo Carvajal,'" Spanish police tweeted. The social media post included a video of police officers taking Carvajal into custody, and added: "He lived totally cloistered, without going outside or looking out the window, and always protected by trusted people."

Who is Hugo Carvajal?

Nicknamed "El Pollo" (the chicken), Carvajal had served as the chief of military intelligence during the presidency of the late Hugo Chavez. In early 2019, he fled Venezuela after coming out in support of President Nicholas Maduro’s opponent Juan Guaido. Stripped of his rank as general, he made his way to the Dominican Republic before heading to Spain.

U.S. officials suspect him of being involved in large-scale drug trafficking operations with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas. According to an indictment filed in 2011, he is accused of coordinating a shipment of more than 5.6 tons of cocaine from Venezuela, destined for the U.S. He is also accused of providing "heavily-armed security to protect these drug shipments" on the way to the U.S. If convicted, he could face between 10 years to life imprisonment. He denies the allegations.

Carvajal told the New York Times in 2019 that he had been in contact with FARC in order to help facilitate the the release of a businessman the guerrilla group was holding hostage. He said that he had reported numerous shipments of cocaine to authorities, but was ignored.

kb/rs (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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