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US Disappointed in Netherlands' Release of Drug Trafficking Suspect

  • VOA News

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (R) embraces retired General Hugo Carvajal as they attend the Socialist party congress in Caracas, Venezuela, July 27, 2014.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (R) embraces retired General Hugo Carvajal as they attend the Socialist party congress in Caracas, Venezuela, July 27, 2014.

The United States says it is deeply disappointed by the Netherlands' decision to release Venezuelan drug trafficking suspect Hugo Carvajal from custody in Aruba.

A State Department spokesman said the United States made a legitimate request for Carvajal’s arrest under an extradition treaty between the United States, the Netherlands and Aruba.

Carvajal was arrested last week in Aruba when he arrived to serve as Venezuela's consul to the Caribbean island that sits off the coast of Venezuela. The Netherlands manages the foreign affairs of its former colony.

Carvajal is under U.S. indictment for allegedly using his former position as head of Venezuelan military intelligence to assist narcotics traffickers.

Aruba released and expelled Carvajal late Sunday, saying he had diplomatic immunity, but declared him "persona non grata."

Aruban authorities said previously Carvajal did not have immunity from arrest because he had yet to be accredited by the Netherlands, but the Dutch foreign minister overturned that decision Sunday.

The State Department spokesman said the U.S. government is "disturbed by credible reports ... indicating the Venezuelan government threatened the governments of Aruba, the Netherlands, and others to obtain this result. He said, "This is not the way law enforcement matters should be handled."

Carvajal served for five years until 2009 as head of military intelligence for the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. In 2008, he was one of three senior Venezuelan military officers blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury for allegedly providing weapons and safe haven to Marxist rebels in neighboring Colombia.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia are classified a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. U.S. prosecutors have indicted all of the movement's top leadership, including senior commanders with whom Carvajal purportedly conspired, on charges of smuggling large amounts of cocaine.

Carvajal has denied wrongdoing on those counts, as well as charges he was an associate of Wilber Varela, a major Colombian drug trafficker who was murdered in Venezuela in 2008.

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