• Maibort Petit

DEA and “El Pollo”

A case that would clarify the participation of the Venezuelan regime in narco-terrorism activities. Since his capture on September 9, the countdown of a process that should culminate in his extradition to the United States began to face justice.

By Maibort Petit

Consecutive removals, approximately every three months, the use of wigs, a false mustache, no social incursions, almost absolute isolation and even plastic surgery, would have been the methods used by Hugo "El Pollo" Carvajal Barrios to evade, for two years , to the Spanish justice that had been looking for him since his escape when they learned that the judicial authorities would reconsider the order that had released him on the grounds that a judge considered that his persecution was due to political motives. But data provided by the DEA would have allowed the Spanish police to find his whereabouts. The experienced Venezuelan intelligence agent on whom an extradition request is made by the United States, would have made a mistake that led to his capture: staying longer than he should in his last lair.

El Pollo in custody
El Pollo captured in Spain

Upon learning of his capture, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Audrey Strauss, together with Special Agent in Charge of the Division of Special Operations of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Wendy Woolcock, They stressed that the apprehension of Carvajal Barrios was at the request of the United States based on an accusation filed in the aforementioned jurisdiction on charges of drug trafficking and terrorism.

Strauss recalled that the Venezuelan spy participated in a narco-terrorism conspiracy and a conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States, including a shipment of 5.6 tons of cocaine transported from Venezuela to Mexico in April 2006, along with crimes related to weapons of fire.

Specifically, the New York prosecutor specified that Hugo Carvajal is accused of “(1) participating in a narco-terrorism conspiracy, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life; (2) conspiring to import cocaine into the United States, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life; (3) using and carrying machine guns and destructive devices during and in connection with, and possessing machine guns and destructive devices in support of narco-terrorism and cocaine import conspiracies, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years and a maximum life sentence; and (4) conspiring to use and carry machine guns and destructive devices during and in connection. On these charges he had been arrested in 2019, the year in which he fled when he learned that the Spanish National Court would approve his extradition, since the decision that had released him would be revoked. If said extradition is carried out, Hugo Carvajal will have to face in court the accusations brought against him by assistant federal prosecutors Jason A. Richman, Benjamin Woodside Schrier and Kyle A. Wirshba of the International Narcotics and Terrorism Unit of the Prosecutor's Office, Strauss reported [ 1].

The judicial documentation of the case against Carvajal Barrios in New York deals with a DC-9 plane that, from Caracas, landed in southern Mexico in 2006 loaded with 5.6 tons of cocaine packed in 128 suitcases. The investigations consist of telephone records, drug ledgers, and the testimony of at least ten witnesses, some of them members of the “Cartel of the Suns,” an organization that would include corrupt Venezuelan military officers who are involved in drug trafficking. .

The accusation maintains that Hugo Carvajal provided automatic weapons and protection to the Colombian guerrillas inside Venezuela. Carvajal would be the key link that can explain the commercial deals between the Colombian guerrillas, the Mexican drug cartels and other criminal organizations in the US and Europe, according to intelligence sources referred to in reports of Venezuela Politics.

But Carvajal Barrios denies these accusations and says his contacts with the FARC were authorized by Hugo Chávez and were intended to secure the release of a kidnapped Venezuelan businessman and to pave the way for peace talks with the Colombian government. El Pollo Carvajal warns that the investigations in Venezuela and Mexico never linked him to the plane loaded with cocaine and that the owner of the plane supports his alibi [2].

The error of "El Pollo"

Who had been a seasoned bloodhound and the head of Chavismo's intelligence, had made a mistake that allowed the Spanish authorities to track him down through data supplied by the DEA. Pollo Carvajal himself admitted this mistake to his captors: "I stayed in the apartment for eight months. That was my mistake" [3].

And it is that, since his flight, Carvajal Barrios had assumed as a strategy not to stay more than three months in the same place. In fact, there were various versions about his whereabouts, some said that he was in Portugal, another that, in Morocco, that the Pedro Sánchez government protected him when, in reality, he had never left Madrid, a city where he was mobilizing for refuge in shelter every three months until, he made the mistake he now admits, staying in one place for longer than he should.

The capture

Carvajal's slip-up led the National Police of Spain on September 9 at 9:15 p.m. to the doors of an apartment in a quiet Madrid neighborhood that had served as his home for the past eight months. The gendarmes arrived there after obtaining authorization for entry and registration from the Guard Court.

An operation in which it was necessary to break down an armored door in the vicinity of a fortified apartment to find the fugitive who had barricaded himself in the last of the rooms with a knife in his hand. That had been his last effort to avoid apprehension. The authorities had to reduce him and put him in shackles [4].

His arrest occurred only 2.5 kilometers from the headquarters of the National Police. Data confidentially provided by Dustin Harmon, a DEA attaché in Madrid to the police, guided the steps towards his capture.

Harmon in a two-page letter detailed the location of Hugo Carvajal, as well as providing the name and how to contact the Venezuelan woman, owner of the apartment where he was found. He also explained how he managed to evade the authorities by wearing wigs, various costumes, in addition to undergoing plastic surgery. That and the ostracism to which he was subjected kept him off the radar of the police. Only one dog kept him company.

Some press versions are more accurate when they assure that Hugo Carvajal “was hiding on the third floor of an apartment block on Torrelaguna street in Madrid. At that address he lived with a woman identified as AC Viloria, also of Venezuelan nationality, born in 1990 ”[5].

The expectation

From the moment of his apprehension, the atmosphere is one of expectation, an uncertainty that would include the regime of Nicolás Maduro, with whom Carvajal Barrios broke relations in 2019 when he left for Spain and expressed his support for the interim Juan Guaidó.

The secrets that Pollo Carvajal keeps about Chavismo would be the reason for the concern. It is said that the United States wants to know which Spanish politicians with close ties to Chavismo contributed to the protection of the former general. The data that Pollo Carvajal has on the “Cartel of the Suns”, Hezbollah and the links of the regimes of Hugo Chávez and Maduro with the FARC and the ELN are no less appealing to the US justice system. Likewise, the thesis is handled that his support for Guaidó has been nothing more than a mockery to distract from his relations with the Venezuelan regime. Carvajal would continue to be Maduro's trusted man and there is much he can say. Not for nothing did the US government offer USD 10 million for information leading to his capture [6]. Carvajal's extradition to the United States is imminent for some, among them Juan Carlos Gutiérrez, a criminal lawyer who explains that “the last phase contemplated by Spanish law to carry out an extradition procedure is its approval before the government, a step that was fulfilled 'while General Carvajal was on the run.' Hence, he considers that the only coordination between the Kingdom of Spain and the United States government remains for its delivery and shipment. Also Rocío San Miguel, defender of Human rights and president of Social Watch for Security, Defense and the National Armed Forces, believes that the extradition should be immediate since, since 2008, it has been required by the United States. that once in North American territory, the process could be delayed because in the United States these procedures are long [7]. The countdown is on.

REFERENCES [1] Department of Justice. "Former Venezuelan Official Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios Arrested Again In Spain In Connection With Narco-Terrorism, Firearms, And Drug-Trafficking Charges". September 10, 2021. https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/former-venezuelan-official-hugo-armando-carvajal-barrios-arrested-again-spain [2] Infobae. "Plastic surgery, a companion dog and moving every 3 months: life as a fugitive in Madrid from" El Pollo "Carvajal". September 10, 2021. https://www.infobae.com/america/venezuela/2021/09/10/cirugia-plastica-un-perro-de-companero-y-mudanza-cada-3-meses-la- life-as-profugo-in-madrid-de-el-pollo-carvajal / [3] Caraota Digital. "The 'error' of El Pollo Carvajal that led to his capture + VIDEO". September 10, 2021. https://www.caraotadigital.net/internacionales/el-error-de-el-pollo-carvajal-que-propicio-su-captura-video [4] CNN in Spanish. “This was the operation to arrest Hugo Carvajal in Spain, who 'pleads not guilty'". September 10, 2021. https://cnnespanol.cnn.com/2021/09/10/espana-hugo-carvajal-arrestadodea -complains-innocent-oryx / [5] VOA. "Step by step: secret plan of the DEA and the Spanish police to capture 'El Pollo' Carvajal". September 10, 2021. https://www.vozdeamerica.com/a/plan-secreto-dea-policia-pollo-carvajal/6221455.html [6] Weather. "The captured 'Pollo' Carvajal and Saab heading to Miami make Maduro nervous." September 12, 2021. https://www.eltiempo.com/unidad-investigativa/captura-de-hugo-carvajal-y-caso-saab-golpean-a-nicolas-maduro-617427 [7] VOA. "Analysts describe as 'imminent' the extradition of Hugo 'el Pollo' Carvajal." September 10, 2021. https://www.vozdeamerica.com/a/reacciones-hugo-el-pollo-carvajal-analisis/6221477.html

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