Colombia extradits drug lord “Otoniel” to the United States – The Citizen

One of the Colombians most The infamous drug lords, Dairo Antonio Usuga, aka “Otoniel”, was extradited to the United States on Wednesday to face drug trafficking charges, President Ivan Duque announced.

“I want to reveal that Dairo Antonio Usuga, aka ‘Otoniel’ has been extradited,” Duque said on Twitter, calling him “the most dangerous drug dealer in the world”.

Usuga, 50, was the most wanted person in Colombia until he was arrested last October in the country’s northwest after a massive military operation.

Duque described Usuga as a “killer of social leaders and police, an abuser of boys, girls and adolescents”.

“Today, legality, the rule of law, the security forces and justice have triumphed,” he added.

On Wednesday afternoon, a convoy of five bulletproof police vehicles transported Usuga from a prison in the capital Bogota to a military airport, where he was handed over to US Drug Enforcement Administration officials.

Images shared by local media showed a handcuffed Usuga sitting on a plane next to Colombian police and an Interpol official.

Usuga was the leader of Colombia’s largest drug gang known as the Gulf Clan.

He was captured near the border with Panama following a military operation involving 500 soldiers supported by 22 helicopters, in which a police officer was killed.

His arrest was one of the biggest blows to Colombia’s drug trafficking since the assassination of Pablo Escobar in 1993.

Usuga was indicated in 2009 in the United States that they had offered a $ 5 million bounty for information leading to his arrest.

The United States accuses Usuga and the Gulf Clan of illegally smuggling at least 73 tons of cocaine into the country between 2003 and 2012.

After the arrest of Usuga and that of 90 other suspected gang members, Duque declared the “end” of the Gulf Clan.

However, four Colombian soldiers were killed in attacks attributed to the gang just days after Usuga’s arrest.

The Gulf Clan was believed to be responsible for 30% of cocaine exports from Colombia, the world’s largest drug producer and supplier.

– ‘Who’s Afraid of Otoniel?’ –

Since his capture, Usuga has been detained in a maximum security prison in Bogota and has been at the center of multiple controversies.

The recordings of testimony provided by “Otoniel” to the Truth Commission – an extrajudicial body that investigates the decades-long conflict between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) – have been stolen, the authors unknown.

Colombian police also interrupted one of the Usuga Truth Commission hearings, saying the Gulf Clan had organized an escape attempt.

“Who’s afraid of Otoniel?” read a headline in Cambio, an independent online news organization, which claimed that some people in the Colombian government were trying to silence the drug lord.

The site reported that Usuga allegedly said during his hearings that the military continued to work in complicity with right-wing paramilitaries in parts of the country.

Citing a leaked document from the Truth Commission, the outlet said “Otoniel” had implicated 63 people linked to the Gulf Clan, including a former minister, a former national intelligence director, six former governors and four former members. of parliament.

Relatives of Usuga’s victims had asked the courts to suspend his extradition, arguing that he should be tried in Colombia for “crimes against humanity”.

“They did not respect the feelings of the victims,” ​​said Marina Sanmiguel, whose husband was killed in a 1997 paramilitary raid.

Usuga “could be a key person in clarifying what really happened,” he told AFP.

But the Colombian judicial system eventually gave the green light to his extradition, Usuga’s defense team told AFP.

Duque promised Usuga would still face justice in Colombia.

“This criminal was extradited to serve drug-trafficking sentences in the United States,” the president said.

“But I want to be clear that once these are served, he will return to Colombia to pay for the crimes committed against our country.”