Colombia’s Most Wanted Drug Lord Captured in Jungle Raid

11 months ago 151

BOGOTA, Colombia—Colombian information forces person captured the country’s astir wanted cause trafficker, a agrarian warlord who stayed connected the tally for much than a decennary by corrupting authorities officials and aligning himself with combatants connected the near and right.

President Iván Duque likened the apprehension Saturday of Dairo Antonio Úsuga to the seizure 3 decades agone of Pablo Escobar.

Colombia’s subject presented Úsuga to the media successful handcuffs and wearing rubber boots preferred by agrarian farmers.

Úsuga, amended known by his alias Otoniel, is the alleged caput of the much-feared Gulf Clan, whose service of assassins has terrorized overmuch of bluish Colombia to summation power of large cocaine smuggling routes done heavy jungles northbound to Central America and connected to the United States.

He’s agelong been a fixture connected the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s most-wanted fugitives list, for whose seizure it had been offering a $5 cardinal reward. He was archetypal indicted successful 2009, successful Manhattan national court, connected narcotics charges and for allegedly providing assistance to a far-right paramilitary radical designated a violent enactment by the U.S. government. Later indictments successful Brooklyn and Miami national courts accused him of importing into the United States astatine slightest 73 metric tons of cocaine betwixt 2003 and 2014 done countries including Venezuela, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, and Honduras.

But similar galore of his gunmen, he’s besides cycled done the ranks of respective guerrilla groups, astir precocious claiming to pb the Gaitanist Self Defense Forces of Colombia, aft a mid-20th period Colombian leftist firebrand.

Authorities said quality provided by the United States and UK led much than 500 soldiers and members of Colombia’s peculiar forces to Úsuga’s jungle hideout, which was protected by an 8 rings of security.

Úsuga for years flew nether the radar of authorities by eschewing the precocious illustration of Colombia’s amended known narcos.

He and his brother, who was killed successful a raid successful 2012, got their commencement arsenic gunmen for the now-defunct leftist guerrilla radical known arsenic the Popular Liberation Army and past aboriginal switched sides and joined the rebels’ battlefield enemies, a right-wing paramilitary group.

He refused to disarm erstwhile that militia signed a bid pact with the authorities successful 2006, alternatively delving deeper into Colombia’s transgression underworld and mounting up operations successful the strategical Gulf of Uraba portion successful bluish Colombia, a large cause corridor surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean oversea connected either side.

Leaks and a web of agrarian harmless houses helium supposedly moved among each nighttime allowed him for years to defy a scorched-earth run by the subject against the Gulf Clan. As helium defied authorities, his fable arsenic a bandit grew alongside the fearfulness stories told by Colombian authorities of the galore underage women helium and his cohorts allegedly abused sexually.

But the warfare was taking its toll connected the 50-year-old fugitive, who adjacent portion connected the tally insisted connected sleeping connected orthopedic mattresses to easiness a backmost injury. In 2017, helium showed his look for the archetypal clip connected juncture of Pope Francis’s sojourn to the country, publishing a video successful which helium asked for his radical beryllium allowed to laic down its weapons and demobilize arsenic portion of the country’s bid process with the much-larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

His apprehension is thing of a boost for the blimpish Duque, whose instrumentality and bid rhetoric has been nary lucifer for soaring accumulation of cocaine.

Land dedicated to the accumulation of coca—the earthy constituent of cocaine—jumped 16 percent past twelvemonth to a grounds 245,000 hectares, a level unseen successful 2 decades of U.S. eradication efforts, according to a White House report.

By Astrid Suarez And Joshua Goodman

The Associated Press