Ex-Venezuelan spy chief Carvajal is extradited from Spain to US on drug trafficking charges
MADRID (AP) — Venezuela's former spy chief, retired Maj. Gen. Hugo Carvajal, is being extradited from Spain to New York on Wednesday to face drug trafficking charges, an official with knowledge of the case and his lawyer said.
A person at Spain's National Court with knowledge of the extradition confirmed to The Associated Press that Carvajal had left the country. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case.
According to his U.S. lawyer, Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, Carvajal is expected to land in New York later on Wednesday.
For more than a decade, Carvajal advised the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez before breaking with his successor Nicolás Maduro. He had been fighting extradition to the U.S. since he was arrested in Spain in April 2019.
Prosecutors in New York allege that Carvajal used his high office to coordinate the smuggling of approximately 5,600 kilograms (12,300 pounds) of cocaine from Venezuela to Mexico in 2006.
Carvajal also allegedly provided weapons to armed FARC guerrillas in Colombia, according to the U.S. Treasury Department, and helped fund the group's activities by facilitating shipments of large amounts of U.S.-bound cocaine through Venezuela.
A close collaborator of Chávez, Carvajal left Venezuela after he broke with Maduro, throwing his support behind the opposition to Maduro's Socialist regime.
The man, also known in Venezuela for his nickname "Pollo" (chicken), has all along denied the charges.
A back-and-forth legal battle that followed Carvajal's first arrest in Spain in 2019 delayed the extradition. The process was also halted for nearly two years, after Carvajal vanished while on bail after being tipped off that the Spanish National Court was about to rule on his extradition.
Recaptured in Sept., 2021, the former general continued delaying extradition on numerous appeals that he ultimately lost. He had also applied for political asylum, which Spain rejected.
Associated Press writers Joseph Wilson in Barcelona and Joshua Goodman in Miami contributed to this report.