Ex-Venezuelan spy chief Carvajal in process of surrendering to US authorities - sources

By Angus Berwick
Former Venezuelan intelligence chief Hugo Carvajal leaves prison after being freed in Estremera

By Angus Berwick

CARACAS (Reuters) - The former head of Venezuela's military intelligence unit, Hugo Carvajal, is in the process of surrendering to U.S. authorities, two people familiar with the matter said, after prosecutors charged him on Thursday with drug trafficking alongside Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Carvajal, a former general and ally of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, has been in hiding since a Spanish court in November approved his extradition to the United States. It was unclear when he will formally surrender to U.S. authorities and the two people declined to say.

On Friday, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agents flew to Colombia to remand in custody retired Venezuelan general Cliver Alcala, three people familiar with the matter said, after he agreed to work with prosecutors who charged him in the same case.

The U.S. government indicted Carvajal, Alcala, Maduro, and a dozen other current and former Venezuelan officials on charges of "narco-terrorism", the latest escalation of a pressure campaign by U.S. President Donald Trump administration to oust the socialist leader.

Attorney General William Barr accused Maduro and his associates of colluding with a dissident faction of the demobilized Colombian guerrilla group, the FARC, "to flood the United States with cocaine."

Carvajal has repeatedly denied accusations he helped smuggle cocaine to the United States.

Since leaving Venezuela, Carvajal has denounced Maduro and given his support to opposition leader Juan Guaido.

He was arrested by Spanish police in April 2019 at the request of U.S. authorities but Spain's High Court initially ruled that he should be released and his extradition request denied. The court reversed that decision in November.

(Reporting by Angus Berwick; Editing by Sarah Kinosian and Daniel Wallis)