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Colombia extradits drug lord ‘Otoniel’ to the United States

The Colombian drug lord and leader of the Golf Clan, Dairo Antonio Usuga-alias ‘Otoniel’, boarded a plane to be extradited to the United States in Bogota on May 4, 2022.

Colombian Presidency / AFP

  • One of Colombia’s most notorious drug lords was extradited to the United States on Wednesday on charges of drug trafficking.
  • Dairo Antonio Usuga was transported Usuga from a prison in the capital Bogota to a military airport, where he was handed over to officials from the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
  • President Ivan Duque described Usuga as a “killer of social leaders and police, an abuser of boys, girls and teenagers”.

One of Colombia’s most notorious drug lords was extradited to the United States on Wednesday on charges of drug trafficking, President Ivan Duque announced.

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

Usuga, 50, was the most wanted person in Colombia until he was arrested in October last year in the northwestern part of the country after a massive military operation.

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

“Today, the rule of law, the rule of law, the security forces and justice prevailed,” 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.

Photos shared by local media showed a handcuffed Usuga sitting in a plane with Colombian police and an Interpol official.

Usuga was the leader of Colombia’s largest drug trafficking gang, known as the Golf Clan.

He was captured near the border with Panama after 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 trade since the assassination of Pablo Escobar in 1993.

Usuga was indicted in 2009 in the United States, which had offered a bounty of $ 5 million for information leading to his arrest.

The United States accuses Usuga and the Gulf clan of illegally bringing at least 73 tonnes of cocaine into the country between 2003 and 2012.

Following Usuga’s arrest and the arrest of another 90 suspected gang members, Duque declared “the end” of the Gulf clan.

However, four Colombian soldiers were killed in the attack, which was caused by the gang a few days after Usuga’s arrest.

The golf clan is believed to be responsible for 30 percent of cocaine exports from Colombia, the world’s largest producer and supplier of the drug.

“Who’s afraid of Otoniel?”

Since his capture, Usuga has been detained in a high-security prison in Bogota and has been at the core of several controversies.

Recordings of testimony “Otoniel” given to the Truth Commission – an out-of-court body investigating the decades-long conflict between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) – were stolen, the perpetrators unknown.

Colombian police also stopped one of Usuga’s truth commission hearings and said the Gulf clan had organized an escape attempt.

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

The site reported that Usuga would have said during its hearings that the army continued to work with right-wing paramilitary forces in some parts of the country.

Referring to a leaked document from the Truth Commission, the broadcast said “Otoniel” had implicated 63 people associated with the Gulf clan, including a former minister, a former national intelligence director, six former governors and four former members of parliament.

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

But the Colombian justice system ultimately gave the green light for his extradition, Usuga’s defense team told AFP.

Duque promised that Usuga would still face justice in Colombia.

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

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


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Colombia extradits drug lord ‘Otoniel’ to the United States

Source link Colombia extradits drug lord ‘Otoniel’ to the United States

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