Colombia’s Most-Wanted Drug Lord, Otoniel, Arrested

The world’s most dangerous drug trafficker, Dairo Antonio Usuga, has been captured during an operation, the Colombian government said on Sunday while vowing to deport him swiftly to the United States.

Reuters report that the fugitive, also  known as Otoniel, told security forces: “You beat me” when he was finally caught.

According to the report, he was caught by Colombia’s armed forces during an operation in a rural area of Colombia’s Uraba region, Antioquia province, which involved more than 500 members of Colombia’s Special Forces and 22 helicopters on Saturday.

Otoniel is being accused of exporting hundreds of tonnes of cocaine each year, while President Ivan Duque said on Saturday he is also responsible for killing police officers, recruiting minors and sexually abusing children.

Justice Minister, Wilson Ruiz, said Colombia’s government will file a petition on Monday, with the Andean country’s Supreme Court, to extradite Otoniel to the United States, , adding the process could take four weeks to complete.

“Extradition awaits all those who commit international crimes,” Defense Minister, Diego Molano told journalists in Necocli, close to where Otoniel, was captured.


Colombia had offered a reward of up to 3 billion pesos (about $800,000) for information concerning Otoniel’s whereabouts, while the U.S. government had put up a reward of $5 million for help locating him. Both rewards will be paid, Molano said, while describing Otoniel as “the worst kind” of criminal.

Otoniel rose to become the leader of the drug-trafficking group Clan del Golfo, or Gulf Clan, following stints as a left-wing guerrilla and later as a paramilitary. The Clan del Golfo has a presence in 12 of Colombia’s 32 provinces, and counts some 3,800 members, according to information provided by Colombia’s national police.

Clan del Golfo is involved as well with illegal mining, authorities say. The government also accuses the group of threatening and killing community leaders across the country. Colombia’s police chief, General Jorge Vargas, said much of the information leading to Otoniel’s capture came from Clan del Golfo members.

Otoniel is said to have trafficked between 180 tonnes and 200 tonnes of cocaine a year with the Clan del Golfo, and is responsible for the deaths of more than 200 members of Colombia’s security forces, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Colombian authorities launched Operation Agamemnon in 2016 as they worked to close in on Otoniel, killing and capturing dozens of his lieutenants, going after his finances and forcing him to be constantly on the move, according to police.

In 2017, a video in which Otoniel announced his intent to submit to justice was published, but the plan never came to reality.

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