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The attorney general of Cabo Verde, Jose Landim, confirmed in statements to the media today that Venezuelan businessman Alex Saab is in detention over his alleged ties to “organized crime, corruption, and drug trafficking”.

Landim said that there was “an extradition process” underway, but suggested that the official request had not yet come from the United States. According to local media, the extradition process could take as long as 40 days from the day that a U.S. court formally requests Saab’s transfer to the U.S.

Saab was arrested on the afternoon of June 12 shortly after a private jet in which he was flying landed in Cabo Verde. Saab has long been alleged to play a key role in a corruption scheme worth hundreds of millions of dollars that involves the top echelons of the Maduro government, and was sanctioned by the United States last year as a result.

Given his alleged role in financial crimes and his direct connection to Maduro and other high-ranking members of the government, Saab’s possible extradition to the United States is likely to cause much consternation in the Miraflores Palace.

Saab’s arrest is reminiscent of the detention of another high-profile regime official, Hugo Carvajal, who was briefly detained in Aruba in 2014. Carvajal headed Venezuelan military counterintelligence for much of the Chavez era, and was rumoured to have been personally involved in drug trafficking operations. Before Carvajal could be extradited to the United States, Aruba was forced to release him from custody after the Maduro government put military pressure on the island to do so.

 


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