DEA agent accuses Chavez of easing drug trafficking to US: Spain court

Madrid (AFP) –


A US Drug Enforcement Administration agent accused late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez of cooperating with Colombian rebel group FARC to ease the shipment of cocaine into the United States, a Spanish court ruling published Tuesday showed.

The accusation was cited in a ruling by Spain's National Court, the country's top criminal court, rejecting a US request to extradite Venezuela's former military intelligence chief, General Hugo Armando Carvajal, on drug trafficking charges.

The ruling includes a sworn statement from an agent from a DEA agent that was included as evidence to back the extradition request.

In it, he refers to Carvajal as a member of the so-called "Cartel de los Soles", or "The Cartel of the Suns", an umbrella term for the networks that allegedly exists within the Venezuelan military and other state apparatus that aid and abet drug trafficking.

The agent also said Chavez and two of his vice presidents, Tareck El Aissami and Diosdado Cabello, were also part of the "Cartel de los Soles".

The alleged cartel "worked with the heads of the FARC to coordinate drug trafficking activities in Venezuela and Colombia, as a 'weapon against the United States'", the DEA agent was quoted as saying according to the court ruling.

The document also includes an accusation made by a New York grand jury which alleged that "one of the stated aims of the Cartel de los Soles was to 'flood' the United States with cocaine".

This activity was carried out "at least since around 1999 until 2019 approximately", according to the grand jury.

Carvajal, who is known as "El Pollo" (the Chicken), provided "heavily armed security to protect these drug shipments" from Venezuela to the United States, according to the grand jury.

Carvajal was stripped of his rank after coming out in support of Juan Guaido as Venezuela's acting president in February.

He then fled by boat to the Dominican Republic before relocating to Spain, where he was arrested in April.

Carvajal was freed from a Madrid prison on Monday after the National Court rejected the US extradition request.

The court justified its decision on the grounds that US authorities did not specify exactly what criminal acts he is alleged to have committed.

It also argued that Carvajal had been acting under his military obligations at the time and said the extradition request appeared to be "politically motivated" because of Carvajal's former role as military intelligence chief.

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 United States.