Early this morning, a Venezuelan journalist named Nelson Bocaranda tweeted a message saying that Hugo Carvajal had been arrested in Spain at the request of the United States on an outstanding indictment.
Bocaranda–who is a trusted name in Venezuelan journalism and heads RunRun.es–broke the news with the following tweet:
RUNRUN [in reference to his news website]: It’s been confirmed to me that M/G/ [Major General] Hugo Carvajal has been detained by Spanish Police at the request of the US over an old “indictment”
Bocaranda followed up his tweet a few hours later with the one below:
This morning at 8:30 AM I told you about the detention of [Major General] Hugo Carvajal in Spain, in Madrid, by the Civil Guard and the Gendarmerie at the request of the US over an old indictment against him. The Spanish government confirmed this an hour ago. It’s expected that he will be taken today or tomorrow to the U.S.
News of Carvajal’s arrest dominated the news for much of the day, given his prominent past inside the chavista movement.
Carvajal was a loyal ally to Hugo Chavez, and served for most his presidency as the head of the country’s military intelligence service. Carvajal headed the feared Direccion General de Contrainteligencia Militar [National Directorate for Military Counterintelligence, DGCIM] from 2004 to 2011, and then from 2013 to 2014.
Back in July 24, 2014, Carvajal was briefly detained by authorities in Aruba after he arrived on the island to assume a diplomatic role there representing the Maduro government. Carvajal was arrested at the request of U.S. authorities on drug trafficking charges, but was deported to Venezuela before he could be extradited as a result of pressure from Caracas.
Carvajal maintained a relatively low profile after his return, and began to openly distance himself from the Maduro regime in 2017. In particular, Carvajal took issue with Maduro’s drive to install a Constituent Assembly, and warned that Venezuela was headed towards a civil war.
Most recently, on February 21 of this year, Carvajal released a series of videos on his Twitter account in which he accused Maduro of being a tyrant and of betraying Chavez’s legacy, and recognized Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate president.
Later in the day, the Southern District of New York Attorney General’s office released a statement confirming Carvajal’s arrest and providing details of the event. Part of the statement includes comment from Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman, who said:
Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios, a former high-ranking official of Venezuelan military intelligence, allegedly conspired with others to traffic more than five tons of cocaine into the United States since at least 2006. Barrios’s arrest exemplifies this Office’s resolve to bring those who contribute to the illicit global drug trade to justice. No matter the rank or level of influence of an individual, we will continue to pursue and prosecute those who bring deadly drugs into this country in a U.S. court of law
The statement also reads:
Carvajal Barrios, 56, a Venezuelan national residing in Venezuela, among other places, is charged with conspiring to import cocaine into the United States. If convicted, Carvajal Barrios faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Carvajal’s indictment can be found here.
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