Spanish court approves U.S. extradition request of former Venezuelan intelligence chief Hugo Carvajal

Former Venezuelan intelligence chief Hugo Carvajal stands during his extradition hearing to U.S. at the High Court in Madrid, Spain.

Spain’s High Court on Wednesday agreed to extradite former Venezuelan spymaster Hugo Carvajal to the United States, where he faces drug trafficking charges, after he was denied asylum in Spain, the court said in a statement.

His lawyer Nielson Vilela said he did not expect an immediate extradition as Carvajal was a witness in other investigations in Spain.

“We still have to decide what we will do now, which proceedings we will pursue,” Vilela added.

U.S. officials believe Carvajal, Venezuela’s former military intelligence chief, could provide a treasure trove of information on the alleged drug activities of President Nicolas Maduro and his associates.

The court said in a statement it “agreed to make effective the handover of the Venezuelan officer Hugo Armando ‘el Pollo’ Carvajal to the United States after confirming that he had been denied asylum”.

A former general and close ally of the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, Carvajal was arrested by Spanish police last month after hiding for nearly two years following the court’s first granting of permission for his extradition in late 2019.

Carvajal had fled to Spain that year after falling out with Maduro amid anti-government protests in Venezuela.

The narco-terrorism conspiracy charge and the cocaine importing conspiracy charge for which he is sought in the United States carry a potential mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and a 10-year minimum sentence respectively, according to U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss.

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