Friday, August 12

Colombia’s most wanted drug trafficker arrested after Pablo Escobar



Colombian authorities have captured this Saturday Dairo Antonio Úsuga, alias ‘Otoniel’, leader of Gulf Clan and the most wanted drug trafficker in the country, in a joint operation between the Army, the National Police and the Air Force in the Urabá region, in Antioquia.

The United States Government offered a reward for the kingpin of up to five million dollars (about four million euros), by alias ‘Otoniel’, 50 years old, on whom an extradition order from the United States weighs, two red circulars and one blue from Interpol, and more than 120 arrest warrants in Colombia.

The criminal went through the disappeared guerrilla People’s Liberation Army (PLA) but he laid down his arms after the group’s demobilization in 1991 before joining the far-right paramilitaries of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).

Close-up of Otoniel, after his arrest
Close-up of Otoniel, after his arrest – ABC

There, along with his brother Juan de Dios Úsuga (alias ‘Giovanny’, killed in 2012 in a police operation), he was the leader of the Bloque Centauros, which operated in the Eastern Plains of Colombia, in the east of the country, before returning to lay down their arms during the massive demobilizations of paramilitaries promoted by then-President Álvaro Uribe.

After this new installment, Otoniel joined the nascent AUC, driven by drug trafficker Daniel Rendón Herrera (alias ‘Don Mario’, who was also part of the AUC, and was arrested in 2009 in the municipality of Necoclí), of whom he and his brother were a lieutenant.

After the capture of ‘Don Mario’, the Úsuga brothers took control of one of the largest drug trafficking gangs in the country, with influence in the departments of Antioquia and Chocó (northwest), and which also obtains resources from mining illegal and human trafficking networks. The death of alias ‘Giovanny’ caused ‘Otoniel’ to become the head of a criminal organization that, according to the Colombian Police, It has about 3,500 men throughout the country.

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According to the statement, the 128 arrest warrants that weigh on ‘Otoniel’ in Colombia include the crimes of “drug trafficking, extortion, homicide, forced displacement, arms trafficking, formation of armed groups, conspiracy to commit a crime and crimes against humanity.”

A policeman dies

A Colombian Police Intendant has died in the run-up to the operation which ended with the arrest of ‘Otoniel’. Carabinero Edwin Guillermo Blanco Báez, 34, died in the village of San Pablo, two hours from the urban area of ​​the municipality of Turbo (Antioquia).

«To the parents and loved ones of our uniformed man born 34 years ago in Güicán de la Sierra, Boyacá, my feeling of solidarity. The family of the National Police is with you in this moment of pain, and in their memory we will not allow the criminal action to go unpunished, “said the director of the National Police, General Jorge Luis Vargas, on his Twitter account.

Also the president of Colombia, Iván Duque, has declared his condolences on the social network: “We pay a heartfelt tribute to the mayor, who died in the operation to capture the criminal alias ‘Otoniel’. We will always remember him as a hero who led, with his work, this great coup in favor of the Colombian people.

Another Pablo Escobar

Duque has traveled to the place of arrest, where he held the arrest at a press conference, which he considers “only comparable to the fall of Pablo Escobar in the 1990s.”

For Duque, the arrest of Úsuga is “the hardest blow that has been dealt to drug trafficking in this century” in Colombia, accused as he is of sending tons of cocaine to Central America and the United States through Urabá, reports the RNC chain.

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The president has referred to the arrested man as a “murderer of policemen, soldiers, social leaders, as well as a recruiter of minors.”

Iván Duque, together with the Colombian Minister of Defense, Diego Molano (2d), and the attorney general, Francsico Barbosa (r), among others, during a statement to report the capture of Otoniel
Iván Duque, together with the Colombian Minister of Defense, Diego Molano (2d), and the attorney general, Francsico Barbosa (r), among others, during a statement to report the capture of Otoniel – EFE

For his part, Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano, explained during the same press conference that the Gulf Clan had become, in recent years, the “greatest threat” due to the high level of cocaine it sent to markets in the United States and Europe, the “largest number of tons »from Colombia.

Duque, who has confirmed that US and British intelligence agencies have collaborated in the capture, has assured about the extradition that they will work with the authorities “to achieve this task,” although that will not prevent “the truth about the rest of the crimes from being known” in Colombia.

The Mayor of Bogotá, Claudia López, has celebrated the arrest of the kingpin in a message on Twitter. “Ensuring that rural Colombia has peace is decisive for urban Colombia to have security and that we prevent drug trafficking from challenging the rule of law and sacrificing the lives of more generations,” he wrote.

In the same social network, former Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos has also thanked “the Police and the Military Forces” for the capture of the drug trafficker.

The narco has already arrived in Bogotá on a Police plane, escorted by two agents to a van at the airport and, from there, to the headquarters of the Police Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Interpol (Dijín), where he will spend the night.

At the same time, it has been announced the appointment of a special team in criminal matters to monitor the entire judicial process against the drug trafficker, as reported by the attorney general, Margarita Cabello. According to the official, the appointment of said team also seeks to ensure that justice is done and that the victims be repaired accordingly.

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