A former Venezuelan spymaster close to the country’s late leader Hugo Chávez has been extradited to New York from Spain on Wednesday to face decade-old drug trafficking charges.
Retired Maj. Gen. Hugo Carvajal will enter a not guilty plea at his initial appearance Thursday in Manhattan federal court, his lawyer, Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, told The Associated Press.
Nicknamed “El Pollo” (The Chicken), Carvajal advised Chávez for more than a decade. He later broke with Chávez’s handpicked successor, Nicolás Maduro, and threw his support behind his U.S. backed opponents.
Prosecutors in New York in 2011 alleged that Carvajal used his high office to coordinate the smuggling of approximately 12,300 pounds of cocaine from Venezuela to Mexico in 2006.
Carvajal also allegedly provided weapons to armed FARC guerrillas in Colombia, according to the U.S. Treasury Department, and helped fund the insurgents by facilitating shipments of large amounts of U.S.-bound cocaine through Venezuela.
Recaptured in Sept., 2021, the former general continued delaying extradition on numerous appeals that he ultimately lost. He had also applied for political asylum, which Spain rejected.