Colombia drug kingpin, Otoniel, extradited to US
Colombia has extradited the drug baron leader of the country’s biggest crime gang to the US, Colombia’s president has announced.
President Iván Duque said Dairo Antonio Úsuga, better known as Otoniel, was the world’s most dangerous trafficker, reports the BBC.
Otoniel led the Gulf Clan cartel and is wanted in the US on drug trafficking charges.
His capture in October ended a seven-year manhunt and last month Colombia’s Supreme Court approved the extradition.
The Gulf Clan trafficked between 180 and 200 tonnes of cocaine a year, according to Colombian authorities.
Announcing the extradition, Duque compared Otoniel to the notorious Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.
“This extradition shows nobody is above the Colombian state,” he said in a video message, accusing Otoniel of murdering civil society leaders and police officers.
Prior to his capture, Otoniel was Colombia’s most wanted man and the government had offered a $800,000 (£582,000) reward for information about his whereabouts, while the US had placed a $5m bounty on his head.
The Gulf Clan operates in many provinces and has extensive international connections, is engaged in drug and people smuggling, illegal gold mining and extortion.
It is believed to have about 1,800 armed members, who are mainly recruited from far-right paramilitary groups. Members have been arrested in Argentina, Brazil, Honduras, Peru and Spain.
The gang controls many of the routes used to smuggle drugs from Colombia to the US, and as far away as Russia. Authorities in the US have described it as “heavily armed [and] extremely violent”.
Otoniel was eventually captured in his rural hideout in Antioquia province in north-western Colombia in October, close to the border with Panama in an operation involving 500 soldiers supported by 22 helicopters.
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