Latin America & Caribbean

Aruba detains Venezuelan general on US drug trafficking list

Colombian peasant holds bag of cocaine
Image caption The Colombian army says the Farc raises money for its armed struggle through drug trafficking

A top Venezuelan official, Gen Hugo Carvajal, has been detained in the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba at the request of the American government.

He had been accused by the US Treasury of assisting Colombian Farc rebels in their drug trafficking activities.

The Venezuelan government said Gen Carvajal had a diplomatic passport and that his arrest was illegal.

He had been appointed by Venezuela as its consul in Aruba.

But the Dutch government had rejected the appointment for over a year.

Aruba, which is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is located 27km (17 miles) north of Venezuela.

Mr Carvajal is expected to appear in court on Friday, the authorities in Aruba said.

The United States has 60 days to formally request his extradition.

In a statement, the Venezuelan foreign ministry called for the immediate release of Gen Carvajal.

"The Venezuelan government strenuously rejects the illegal detention of its diplomatic official, carried out by Dutch officials in Aruba in violation of international laws," the ministry said.

Gen Carvajal was head of Venezuela's military intelligence between 2004 and 2009.

He was a close ally of the late president, Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer last year.

In 2008, the US Treasury accused him and another senior Venezuelan official of "materially assisting the narcotics trafficking activities of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc)".

Mr Chavez rejected the allegations at the time.

The US Treasury announcement came a day after Venezuela expelled the American ambassador to Caracas for allegedly backing an aborted right-wing plot against Mr Chavez.

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