Spain will extradite Venezuela's ex-intelligence chief to US

Adds court statement, background

MADRID, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Spain's High Court said on Monday it will extradite Venezuela's former military intelligence chief to the United States, reversing an earlier decision to refuse the request.

Hugo Carvajal, an ally of Venezuela's late Socialist leader Hugo Chavez, is wanted by U.S. authorities on allegations of drug trafficking.

He has previously denied accusations that he collaborated with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to help smuggle cocaine into the United States.

The court said in a written ruling there was "sufficient evidence to justify the extradition".

It said there was "continued and organised conduct in relation to drug trafficking carried out during 20 years that... constitutes the crime of belonging to a criminal organisation and collaboration with a terrorist organisation."

Carvajal was arrested by Spanish police at the request of U.S. authorities in April. In September, the High Court ruled that he should be released and his extradition request denied.

Spanish media reported last week that he had gone missing, and police confirmed that they were searching for him, without commenting on why or for how long. His lawyer could not be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Jessica Jones, Ashifa Kassam Editing by Catherine Evans and Peter Graff)


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