Sunday 29 March 2020 - 01:53

Venezuela’s Ex-Spy Chief ‘to Turn Himself in’ to US Authorities

Story Code : 853320
Hugo Carvajal (L) and Nicolas Maduro (R) pictured at the Socialist party congress in Caracas, 2014
Hugo Carvajal (L) and Nicolas Maduro (R) pictured at the Socialist party congress in Caracas, 2014
Carvajal, who has been in hiding since Spanish authorities green-lit his extradition to the US on drug-trafficking charges earlier this month, now wants to surrender, Reuters reported on Saturday, citing anonymous sources. According to the news agency, the Americans have been in touch with the former spy chief through a “non-governmental intermediary.”

Though US authorities have long sought Carvajal’s extradition, Washington renewed its efforts to apprehend the former Maduro loyalist – nicknamed “El Pollo,” or ‘The Chicken’ – on Thursday. A Justice Department indictment accused Carvajal, as well as Maduro and more than a dozen political and military officials, of “narco-terrorism.” These Venezuelans, the indictment said, conspired to “flood the United States with cocaine.”

In addition, the State Department posted a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to Carvajal’s arrest. Now though, it seems they might get to hang on to that money.

Washington has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s “interim president” since his failed coup last year. As Guaido attempted to lead a rebellion against Maduro in February 2019, Carvajal pledged his loyalty to the young upstart, and was stripped of his rank by Maduro as a result. He fled to Spain – promising authorities there information on Maduro’s government – but was arrested upon arrival. 

However, his position as a former Maduro insider-turned-opponent did not sway US authorities from pressing for his extradition, nor did it keep him off the Justice Department’s latest indictment.

Given the litany of drug-trafficking charges leveled against him by the US in 2009, 2011, and last week, it seems unlikely that American authorities will arrange a clean slate amnesty for the former spymaster. Instead, he will likely be pressed for information on Maduro’s government, all while prosecutors dangle over him the possibility of a lifetime in prison.