Ex-Venezuelan general detained in Spain on USA warrant

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Spanish police on Friday arrested Hugo Carvajal, a former general and close ally of the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, on drug trafficking charges on an arrest warrant issued by the United States, a police spokeswoman said.

In May 2013, a Florida court accused him of having worked for Colombian drug traffickers from 2004 to 2010.

A judge at a Spainish federal court chose to place Carvajal in provisional detention, while the United States files a "formal extradition request" to judicial authorities, the sources said.

He denies links to drug trafficking and plans to fight the US extradition request on the grounds of having ties in Spain, where his family now resides. Spanish police arrested Carvajal on April 12 on a USA drug-trafficking warrant.

Following Carvajal's arrest, the United States hailed on Friday his possible collaboration as a potential boon in the fight against Maduro, who still retains control of the bulk of Venezuela's armed forces and state institutions.

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The former intelligence chief was previously sanctioned by the U.S. government in 2008 for "materially assisting the narcotics trafficking activities" of Colombia's FARC rebel group.

In February this year, from Spain, Mr Carvajal dramatically announced that he was abandoning Nicolas Maduro, the president, and supporting his rival Juan Guaido.

Maduro then demoted and expelled Carvajal from the military.

Carvajal also provided FARC with official Venezuelan government identification documents that allowed its members to travel to and from Venezuela, OFAC said.

Guaido was later recognised by the U.S. and dozens of governments, but Maduro remains in office with the support of the military and has denounced Guaido as a puppet of Washington.

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