Spanish court orders extradition of Venezuelan ex-spy chief to US


Spain’s High Court has ordered that global police agency Interpol immediately extradite a former director of Venezuelan military intelligence to the United States, where he is wanted on drug trafficking charges, from Spain.

The decision came on Tuesday after the European Court of Human Rights last week denied an effort by Hugo Carvajal to avoid extradition that had earlier been authorised by Spain.

In a statement, the court said the US embassy and the prison where Carvajal is being kept, in Estremera, outside of the capital Madrid, would be informed of its decision.

“Since the precautionary measure granted by the European Court of Human Rights has been lifted, the Third Section [of the High Court] urges Interpol to hand over the defendant” to US authorities, in line with the original ruling from 2019, it said.

Interpol had no immediate comment, the Reuters news agency said.

Carvajal was stripped of his rank by the administration of President Nicolas Maduro after coming out in support of Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s acting president in February, and calling on the military forces to break ranks and to allow a shipment of humanitarian aid to Venezuela.

He then fled by boat, in a 16-hour journey, to the Dominican Republic in March, before relocating to Spain in April 2019.

Carvajal has long been sought by US Treasury officials who suspect him of providing support to drug trafficking activities of the FARC group in Colombia.

In an indictment filed in New York in 2011, Carvajal was accused of coordinating the transport of more than 5.6 tonnes of cocaine from Venezuela to Mexico in 2006 that was ultimately destined for the US.

The US also said Carvajal formed part of a drug cartel known as Los Soles, which not only wanted to enrich its members “but used cocaine as a weapon against the United States due to the adverse effects of the drug on individual users”.

If convicted, Carvajal could face between 10 years and life in prison, the US Department of Justice said in April 2019 following his arrest.

Carvajal has been in Spanish custody since he was arrested in September 2021 in Madrid. He has denied supporting cocaine trafficking to the US.

Carvajal’s US-based lawyer had no immediate comment, Reuters said. A spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, which is bringing the case against Carvajal, declined to comment.__Al Jazeera