USA: Former Venezuelan general says he cannot pay a lawyer

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A former Venezuelan general who was organizing an army of volunteers to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro said he cannot afford a legal defense for the narcotics-related trial that is taking place in the United States and in which he is accused along with the socialist president. from his native country.

General Clíver Alcalá surrendered to the authorities in March to face accusations in the United States that he led, along with Maduro and two other people, a narcoterrorist network for two decades that sent 250 tons of cocaine a year to the United States and converted the Venezuelan State on a platform for violent cartels and Colombian rebels. United States authorities had offered a $ 10 million reward for his arrest.

Before his surrender, Alcalá was working with a former American green beret, Jordan Goudreau, to train in secret camps in Colombia an army of volunteers made up of deserters from the Venezuelan army with plans for a raid to overthrow Maduro. The operation continued even after Alcalá turned himself in to authorities, prompting the arrest of two former members of the US special forces who participated in the raid and emboldened Maduro to crack down on his U.S.-backed opponents.

Despite being accused of exercising enormous power as the leader of an international drug trafficking network, Alcalá does not possess any significant assets to pay for his defense, according to his lawyer Adam S. Kaufmann. The “scarce resources” that Alcalá had in Venezuela were confiscated by the Maduro government when he left the country in 2018, Kaufmann said in a letter sent Monday to the New York federal judge in charge of the case.

“General Alcalá himself has practically no money, his wife and daughter live in Colombia and depend on the help of their relatives to satisfy their basic daily needs,” according to the letter.

Kaufmann asked the court to appoint him as a private attorney at a rate that is generally paid to federal public defenders.

Judge Alvin Hellerstein said Tuesday that Alcalá must first file an affidavit stating its inability to afford legal representation. Only then will Kaufmann and two associates be able to join the defense under the supervision of another lawyer who is already accredited by the court, the judge said.

Kaufmann said he is qualified to defend Alcalá because he has represented him free of charge since 2014 in previous interactions with US authorities, including his alleged relationship with the Colombian rebels and his designation as a drug trafficker by the Treasury Department.

Alcalá claims that he is innocent and has been an outspoken critic of Maduro since before leaving Venezuela in 2018.

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