the essential The Colombian government announced on Saturday the arrest of Dairo Antonio Usuga, alias “Otoniel”, the most wanted drug trafficker in the country.
“It is the hardest blow that has been dealt to drug trafficking during this century in our country (…) only comparable to the fall of Pablo Escobar”, welcomed President Ivan Duque, in a message posted on social networks.
Pablo Escobar, leader of the Medellin (north-west) cartel who controlled up to 80% of the global cocaine trade, had been shot dead by Colombian police in 1993.
Police officer killed
Images released by the Colombian government show Otoniel, strangely smiling, dressed in black, handcuffed and surrounded by armed Colombian soldiers. The drug trafficker was captured in Necocli in the northwest of the country, near the border with Panama.
It was “the most important jungle expedition ever in the military history of our country”, according to Mr. Duque.
The Colombian police carried out “an important satellite operation with agencies of the United States and the United Kingdom”, explained in a press conference the director of the police force, the general Jorge Vargas.
The operation, during which a policeman was killed, mobilized some 500 members of the security forces, supported by helicopters, he said.
The Clan del Golfo is Colombia’s most powerful drug trafficking gang and the arrest of its leader represents the Colombian government’s biggest blow to organized crime in the country.
“Special gratitude to the security forces (…) for the capture in Necocli of Dairo Antonio Usuga, alias + Otoniel +, senior leader of the Clan del Golfo,” Emilio Archila, adviser to President Ivan Duque, said on Twitter.
The United States had offered a reward of $ 5 million for his capture.
Otoniel, who was indicted by the American justice system in 2009, is notably the subject of an extradition procedure in the court of the Southern District of New York.
Despite four decades of fighting drug trafficking, Colombia remains the world’s largest producer of cocaine, of which the United States is the largest consumer.