Security forces in Colombia have captured Dairo Antonio Usuga, the nation’s most needed drug trafficker.
Better generally known as Otoniel, the 50-year-old was arrested on Saturday throughout an operation in a rural space of Colombia’s Uraba area, positioned in Antioquia province.
Images circulating on social media present Otoniel handcuffed together with his face planted to the bottom.
President Ivan Duque likened his arrest to the seize three many years in the past of Pablo Escobar, the famed Colombian narco-trafficking kingpin.
Duque stated Otoniel is accused of sending dozens of shipments of cocaine to the United States, in addition to of killing law enforcement officials, recruiting minors, and sexually abusing kids amongst different crimes.
Colombia had supplied a reward of as much as three billion pesos (about $800,000) for data regarding Otoniel’s whereabouts, whereas the US authorities had put up a reward of $5m for assist finding him.
“This is the biggest blow against drug trafficking in our country this century,” Duque stated throughout a broadcast video message. “This blow is only comparable to the fall of Pablo Escobar in the 1990s.”
One police officer died through the operation, the president stated.
Otoniel rose to change into the chief of the drug trafficking group the Clan del Golfo, or Gulf Clan, following stints as a left-wing guerrilla and later as a paramilitary.
Clan del Golfo has round 1,200 armed males – the bulk former members of far-right paramilitary teams – and is current in 10 of Colombia’s 32 provinces.
As properly as drug trafficking, Clan del Golfo is concerned with unlawful mining, authorities say. The authorities additionally accuses the group of threatening and killing group leaders throughout the nation.
‘Bound to be replaced’
Though Duque stated Otoniel’s seize represented the top of the Clan del Golfo, Colombia Risk Analysis director Sergio Guzman stated a brand new chief would certainly be ready to take over.
“It’s a big deal because he’s the biggest drug kingpin in Colombia,” Guzman informed the Reuters information company, including that the seize wouldn’t change the basics of drug trafficking.
“Otoniel is bound to be replaced.”
Colombian authorities had stepped up their efforts to seize Otoniel in 2016, killing and capturing dozens of his lieutenants, going after his funds and forcing him to be continually on the move, in accordance with the police.
Leaks and a community of secure homes at rural homesteads allowed him for years to withstand the navy’s scorched-earth marketing campaign.
But the battle was taking its toll on the fugitive, who even whereas on the run insisted on sleeping on orthopedic mattresses to ease a again damage.
In 2017, he confirmed his face for the primary time from time to time of Pope Francis’ go to to the nation, publishing a video by which he requested for his group be allowed to put down its weapons and demobilise as a part of the nation’s peace course of with the much-larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The plan by no means got here to fruition, nonetheless.
Authorities stated intelligence supplied by the US and UK led greater than 500 troopers and members of Colombia’s particular forces to Otoniel’s jungle hideout, which was protected by an eight rings of safety.
It was “the biggest penetration of the jungle ever seen in the military history of our country”, Duque stated.
His arrest is one thing of a lift for the conservative president, whose legislation and order rhetoric has been no match for hovering manufacturing of cocaine.
Land devoted to the manufacturing of coca – the uncooked ingredient of cocaine – jumped 16 % final 12 months to a report 245,000 hectares, a stage unseen in twenty years of US eradication efforts, in accordance with a White House report.