Colombian Baron “Otoniel” Arrested in “Biggest Hit to Drug Trafficking Since Fall of Pablo Escobar”

Colombian Baron “Otoniel” Arrested in “Biggest Hit to Drug Trafficking Since Fall of Pablo Escobar”

A famous Colombian drug lord has been arrested in what has been described as the biggest blow to the country’s trafficking network since the death of Pablo Escobar.

Dairo Antonio Usuga, known as Otoniel, was captured by the armed forces during an operation in a rural area in the Uraba region, a South American nation.

The Colombian and US governments were willing to pay a bounty for information on the gang leader’s network and his whereabouts – three billion pesos (£ 577,000) and $ 5million (£ 3.6million) ) respectively.

The drug lord has been the subject of years of effort to capture him

Otoniel is accused of sending dozens of shipments of cocaine to the United States, killing police officers, illegally mining, recruiting minors and sexually abusing children, among other crimes.

Colombian President Ivan Duque hailed the arrest of the 50-year-old man in a video message, saying: “This is the biggest blow against drug trafficking in our country this century.

“This blow can only be compared to the fall of Pablo Escobar in the 1990s.”

Saturday’s operation Osiris involved more than 500 Colombian special forces and 22 helicopters, Defense Minister Diego Molano said.

That was the meaning of the arrest, the soldiers posed for photos and took selfies with Otoniel.

The operation, which resulted in the death of a police officer, put an end to the years-long efforts to find Otoniel.

Otoniel posed for photos with some of the troops

Dozens of his lieutenants were captured and killed during an operation in 2016, and his sister, Nini Johana Usuga, was arrested in March this year.

She was extradited to the United States to face charges related to drug trafficking and money laundering.

Otoniel’s rise to power saw him become the leader of the drug trafficking group Clan del Golfo, or Gulf Clan, after stints as a left-wing guerrilla and later as a paramilitary.

The del Golfo clan has around 1,200 armed men, the majority of whom are former members of far-right paramilitary groups, stationed in 10 of Colombia’s 32 provinces.

Colombian President Ivan Duque praised the arrest in a video statement

While the Colombian president has been optimistic over Otoniel’s arrest, he has been warned that another character will almost certainly take his place.

Sergio Guzman, director of the Colombia Risk Analysis organization, said the arrest was a “big deal” but that Otoniel was “doomed to be replaced”.


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