He was not in Italy. Nor in the Caribbean. He was not walking in a hidden center under the protection of the intelligence of some country. Hugo Armando Carvajal, known as ‘El Pollo’ was arrested this Thursday after a year and ten months hidden in a house on Torrelaguna street, in Madrid, where he remained “totally cloistered, without going outside or looking out the window, and always protected by trusted people ».
This is how the National Police defined it when, after an operation by Group II of Fugitives of the Central UDYCO, in collaboration with the DEA, he had already been transferred to the police station. The short statement accompanied a video, the image of a 61-year-old man in clothes to walk around the house, the face in front of the shelf and the hands behind the back that it is difficult to adjust to the enormous power and above all, the amount of information that is presumed to this former military man of the maximum confidence of Hugo Chávez. USA offered ten million dollars for his whereabouts.
Carvajal landed in Spain from Venezuela and, as sources around him have always defended, a Spanish intelligence agent was already waiting for him at the foot of the plane. Whether he acted out of personal friendship or with official endorsement, it was never clear. What they have made an effort to defend their own is that they intended to collaborate in exchange for shelter. In fact, in 2019 he requested asylum – it was denied – because he had declared his support for Juan Guaidó and was aware that he would not be welcome if he decided to return to Venezuela. It was, however, part of a preconceived plan, both his ex-wife and his current family had already settled in Madrid when he took the step of crossing the pond. But the reception was not as he expected.
The United States issued an extradition order to Spain for crimes of narco-terrorism and Carvajal was arrested by order of the National Court to a process during which he had to remain in provisional prison for risk of escape. He was, after all, the greatest exponent of Venezuelan intelligence, he had come to Spain under a different identity and had a support network in different countries of the world. Even the commissioner José Manuel Villarejo approached him in prison and in fact, for a short time they even shared a lawyer. That did not come to fruition.
Filtration and leakage
In a first resolution, the Third Section of the Criminal Chamber rejected his delivery and qualified his situation in terms of political persecution, setting him free. But the Anti-Drug Prosecutor’s Office appealed and the Plenary ended up revoking the resolution in November 2019. There would be delivery.
The point is that Carvajal found out from the press on a Saturday and before that ruling was notified to him. He even posted a message on social media in which he said that his lawyers had no news of the matter. By the time the notification came that Monday, it was gone. The legend took shape while his lawyers, with whom he only spoke in writing, appealed to the Supreme Court. It has not yet been resolved.
Different sources consulted by ABC throughout this year and ten hidden months placed him in different places. Some pointed out that he was under the protection of a Chavista hierarch based in Italy. Others located him in some of the properties that relatives and people they trust had been acquiring in the north of Madrid. Some across the pond said he was negotiating his delivery. That rumor sounded loud in recent weeks. It doesn’t matter anymore.
Meanwhile, his family has been monitored this time and until a few months ago, they were all silent. The dynamics changed on May 24, when
Carvajal published a statement in which he denounced that both the National Court and the State had committed “serious irregularities” against him. The same ones that from their family environment they said they were willing to uncover because they all consider themselves victims of the US desire to obtain information. His diplomacy, in response, rekindled the reward that day.
Last week he appeared on Twitter again, this time, to criticize Álvaro Uribe with another note that did not have the repercussions of the first. Now, with his arrest, a good part of the legend surrounding his escape and disappearance is dispelled. I was there, without leaving Madrid, just a short walk from Avenida de América. Cloistered, escorted by his people and without looking out the window.