Listen to this story
Colombia celebrates the capture of Otoniel, the most wanted drug trafficker after Pablo Escobar
The president of Colombia, Iván Duque has celebrated the capture of the drug trafficker Otoniel, an operation that has had the collaboration of the British and American intelligence agencies.
This is how this Saturday, October 23, the Colombian authorities have managed to find the whereabouts of Dairo Antonio Úsuga, alias Otoniel, and who is the leader of the "Clan del Golfo" and the most wanted drug trafficker in all of Colombia.
For the capture, the Colombian authorities carried out an operation in conjunction with the army and national police, as well as the Air Force in the Urabá region, in Antioquia.
Reward for "Otoniel"
The authorities of the United States were offering a large monetary reward for the drug lord, where his head was priced at five million dollars. Otoniel, 50, who has an extradition order to the United States, a blue circular and two red ones from Interpol, and more than 120 arrest warrants in Colombia.
Who was Otoniel?
Otoniel was part of the defunct guerrilla group of the "Popular Liberation Army (EPL)", but he stayed away from arms after the group's demobilizations in 1991, just before joining the far-right paramilitaries of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. (AUC).
This criminal worked alongside his brother Juan de Dios Úsuga, who was known by the alias "Giovanny", and was discharged through a police operation in 2012.
He was also the leader of the Centauros Bloc, which operated in the Eastern Plains of Colombia, located in the east of the country, this before abandoning his arms during the massive demobilization of paramilitaries promoted by former President Álvaro Uribe.
After a new plan, Otoniel would become part of the nascent AUC, a group that was promoted by the drug trafficker Daniel Rendón Herreras, known as "Don Mario", who was part of this AUC group and would be arrested in 2009 in the Necoclí municipality.
When the capture of Don Mario became known, the Úsuga brothers would be what would be in charge of the control of one of the largest drug trafficking gangs in all of Colombia, with influence in the departments of Chocó and Antioquia, and which obtained resources through illegal mining and human trafficking networks.
The death of alias Giovanny, made Otoniel remain as the top head of the criminal organization. According to the police investigation, it is an organization that has more than 3,500 men throughout the national territory.
As for the 128 arrest warrants that this drug trafficker had, the crimes of: Drug trafficking, homicide are included. Arms trafficking, formation of armed groups, forced displacement, extortion, crimes against humanity and conspiracy to commit a crime.
A police officer killed during the operation
During the operation, a member of the Colombian Police has died, an operation that despite having left a negative balance for the Colombian authorities, they have managed to find Otoniel's arrest.
The deceased agent has been identified as Edwin Guillermo Blanco Báez, 34, who died in the San Pablo village, two hours from the urban area of the municipality of Turbo (Antioquia).
This was news made known by the director of the Colombian National Police, General Jorge Luis Vargas, through his Twitter account. From there he offered all his condolences to family, friends and the institution.
"To the parents and loved ones of our colleague born 34 years ago in Guicán de la Sierra, Boyacá, my condolences. The entire family of the National Police is with you at this time of great pain, and in his memory we will not allow let the criminal action go unpunished, "said General Luis Vargas.
The president of Colombia, Iván Duque, has also expressed his condolences through the social network: "We pay a heartfelt tribute to the mayor, who lost his life during the operation to capture the criminal alias Otoniel. We will always remember him as a hero who led, with his work, to give this hard blow in favor of the Colombian people ".
The second Pablo Escobar of Colombia
President Iván Duque has traveled to the place of arrest, there he held a press conference to celebrate this capture with all of Colombia, which they consider to be comparable to the arrest of Pablo Escobar in the nineties.
For President Duque, this arrest of Úsuga is the hardest blow that has been dealt to Colombian drug trafficking in this century. Otoniel is accused of sending tons of cocaine to the United States and Central America through Urabá.
Likewise, Duque has referred to Úsuga as a murderer of policemen, soldiers, social leaders and a recruiter of minors for organ trafficking.
During the same press conference, Diego Molano, Minister of Defense of Colombia, explained that the Gulf Clan had become in recent years the greatest threat of drug trafficking in the country, who sent cocaine to markets in Europe and the United States and the highest number of tons in Colombia.
For this capture, the Colombian army and police had the support of US and British intelligence agencies, as confirmed by President Duque. He has also confirmed that the extradition will be worked with the authorities so that this task can be achieved, although that will not prevent the full truth from being known about the rest of the crimes.
On the other hand, Claudia López, mayor of Bogotá, has celebrated this triumph of Colombia through Twitter: "Ensuring that rural Colombia has peace is decisive for urban Colombia to have security and thus prevent drug trafficking from defying state laws and sacrificing life of generations ".
Former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has also spoken out about this fact and thanked the Police and the Military Forces for the arrest of this drug lord.
Otoniel has been sent to Bogotá after his arrest in a Police plane, which has been escorted by two agents to a van at the airport, and from there, he will be taken to the headquarters of the Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Interpol of the Police, where I spend the night.
Similarly, the appointment of a special team in this area has been announced to be in charge of monitoring the entire judicial process against the drug trafficker, as reported by Margarita Cabello, attorney general. According to this official, the appointment of said group will seek to do justice and make reparations to the victims as they deserve.