The former head of Venezuelan Military Intelligence, Hugo “Pollo” Carvajal, who was very close to President Hugo Chávez, left Spain this Wednesday (19) extradited to the United States, where he is accused of drug trafficking, according to his lawyer and judicial sources.
“Yes,” replied his lawyer, María Dolores de Argüelles, when asked if Carvajal left the country for the United States. Spanish justice sources also confirmed the news.
Neither source can confirm with certainty which city he was transferred to, but Carvajal has an open case in New York.
The extradition took place a day after the Spanish National Audiencia ordered “the immediate surrender of Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios to the US authorities”, he announced in a statement.
The National Hearing gave the final green light after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rejected the last appeal of Carvajal, known in his country as “El Pollo”, who asked to avoid his extradition, claiming he could be sentenced to life imprisonment in the United States without the possibility of appeal.
The ECtHR stated its conviction that Carvajal will be “tried in a judicial system that respects the rule of law and the principles of a fair trial” and that he will have “the full opportunity to organize his defense with the help of a lawyer”.
The transfer ends the long legal battle that Carvajal has fought to avoid being handed over since he was arrested in the Spanish capital in April 2019.
– Fall from grace and flight –
Since his arrest in Madrid in April 2019, Carvajal has tried numerous remedies and has even been on the run for more than twenty months since the National Audience initially approved his extradition in November of that year.
In his escape, the 63-year-old retired general underwent cosmetic surgery, wore mustaches and fake wigs and changed his address every three months, according to police, who arrested him again in the Spanish capital in September 2021.
For many years a major figure in the Chavista regime until he turned around and joined the opposition to President Nicolás Maduro in 2019, Carvajal is accused by the United States of having belonged to a cartel along with other Venezuelan authorities that trafficked drugs with the former Colombian guerrilla group FARC.
A New York court accused him in 2011 of having coordinated the shipment of 5.6 tons of cocaine from Venezuela to Mexico in 2006, which later reached the United States, acts that could lead to life imprisonment.
Carvajal, who fled Venezuela by sea after going over to the opposition of Nicolás Maduro, Chávez’s political heir, in February 2019, remained active on social media until months ago, where he always denied these accusations.
In his opinion, his persecution has a political motivation, since other people before him were taken to the United States “to point to members of the Venezuelan government in exchange for procedural benefits”, he said in a public letter in September 2021.