Finally, after months of requirements and complicated diplomatic negotiations, the US Attorney’s Office is preparing to deal a severe blow to the Chavista regime. Two are imminent extraditions initiated during the Trump Administration, from Cape Verde and Spain, which will bring two of the people who have the most information about Nicolas Maduro, his closest circle and his illicit businesses, inside and outside of Venezuela. Both cases are being prosecuted, but, according to diplomatic sources, the Prosecutor’s Office can offer maximum sentence reductions if both, the former head of Chavez spies, Hugo Carvajal, and Maduro’s front man, Álex Saab, collaborate with the US justice system and offer “information Useful”.
and an example to follow for the future. On Tuesday, the Constitutional Court of Cape Verde confirmed the constitutionality of the arrest and extradition of this businessman, who has already said that he will not betray Maduro. Saab was arrested in Cape Verde on June 12, 2020, required for money laundering and allegedly being a central node in a complex network of drug trafficking and fraud with public contracts government aid. A 2019 prosecution lawsuit, before a New York court, directly accuses Saab of conspiring to materially support Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia with ties to Iran accused by the US of terrorism.
It is also in search and capture by eight counts of bribery and money laundering in Florida by channeling more than 350 million dollars (295 million euros) to accounts abroad, including the US.
Now, US federal agencies are also amassing evidence about their ties to Iran. These other, more recent US investigations accuse the businessman, born in Colombia but settled in Venezuela before his arrest, of serving as Maduro’s intermediary to circumvent oil sanctions.
The businessman had his first contract with the Chavista regime in 2011, when he took over the construction of low-cost housing for 685 million dollars. That contract allowed Saab, according to the US Attorney’s Office, to establish an entire money laundering operation after achieving a very advantageous exchange rate from the Government of Venezuela.
The Saab name also appeared in the so-called Panama Papers, since according to those documents he used the services of the firm Mossack Fonseca to establish among others the opaque companies Seafire Foundation, Lintel Overseas and PI Proment International Sociedad Anónima Kingstone Team Inc.
On Thursday, the Spanish National Police, with the collaboration of the DEA, arrested Carvajal, nicknamed El Pollo, in Madrid, whose whereabouts were unknown since November 2019, when the Criminal Chamber of the National Court agreed to extradite him to the United States. Carvajal was head of Venezuela’s military intelligence, the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (Dgcim), for more than seven years. In February 2019, Carvajal recognized Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela and fled Venezuela. He was arrested in Spain, and then he fled.
The Trump Administration repeatedly asked the Spanish government to capture and extradite him. In March 2020, the State Department offered a $ 10 million reward for clues leading to his whereabouts.
The US Attorney’s Office had denounced Carvajal in 2014 before a New York court for the shipment in 2006 of 5,600 kilos of cocaine to Mexico, bound for New York. It is for this reason that he will be extradited from Spain. According to the New York prosecutor’s office on Friday, Carvajal faces life in the US just for that case.
In addition, Carvajal has another case pending in Florida for collaborating with the cColombian cartel of the North of the Valley for the export of cocaine that also arrived for consumption in the US between 2004 and 2008.
Apart from his open cases, Carvajal is on the US Treasury sanctions list for his relationship with drug trafficking when he was head of the Venezuelan military intelligence. He is accused of collaborating with the Colombian FARC guerrilla to protect cocaine shipments between the two countries and of giving arms to the insurgents to maintain control of the border department of Arauca, where coca is grown and which is crucial for them. illicit activities on which Chavismo depends.
The intelligence group ‘Insight Crime’ has provided evidence to the US Department of Justice of Carvajal’s collaboration with the Venezuelan drug trafficker Walid Makled, -captured, tried and sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2015- who told the prosecution that he paid Carvajal up to $ 50,000 a week for permission to continue their illicit business.