‘Nothing will change’: void left by Colombia cartel boss will quickly be filled, say experts

11 months ago 125

Colombia’s astir wanted cause lord is down bars awaiting extradition to the US, aft what the country’s president hailed arsenic the biggest stroke against the cause commercialized successful 20 years.

Until his seizure astatine the weekend, Dairo Antonio Úsuga – amended known arsenic Otonielheaded Colombia’s feared Clan del Golfo cartel, a transgression empire that oversees the accumulation and smuggling of chartless tons of cocaine, arsenic good arsenic extortion rackets, amerciable mining operations and arms smuggling.

But his apprehension volition person small interaction connected those surviving connected the frontlines of the cause war.

“Nothing is going to change; erstwhile 1 person gets captured, different rises to power,” said Carlos Páez, a quality rights defender successful the Urabá portion – the main stronghold of the 2,000-person equipped cartel.

Páez, similar galore others successful the region, has received galore decease threats from the Clan del Golfo, besides known arsenic the Urabeños oregon the Gaitanist Self-Defense Forces of Colombia.

“We’ve ever been subjected to these groups, and forced to collaborate oregon support quiet,” said Páez. “Absolutely thing volition change.”

Colombia remains the world’s apical shaper of cocaine, churning retired astir 1,228 metric tons of the cause past year, according to the United Nations’ bureau connected drugs and crime. That fig comes amid an wide alteration successful the cultivation of coca, the cardinal works constituent utilized to marque cocaine – suggesting that cartels person go much businesslike manufacturers.

Úsuga is conscionable the latest successful a agelong enactment of kingpins to beryllium killed oregon captured crossed the Americas.

Duque raises limb  portion    speaking
The president of Colombia, Iván Duque, speaks during a gathering with the troops that participated successful the cognition that led to Dairo Antonio Úsuga’s capture. Photograph: Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda/EPA

When Colombia’s astir notorious cocaine kingpin, Pablo Escobar, was gunned down successful 1993, cocaine output concisely dipped, earlier reaching caller highs.

After Mexico extradited the cause lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán pursuing his seizure successful 2016, the state acceptable caller records for murder, portion the travel of drugs to the US and Europe was hardly affected.

“In nary mode does this apprehension correspond a triumph successful the warfare connected drugs,” said Pedro Piedrahita Bustamante, a prof of governmental subject astatine the University of Medellín. “Úsuga is simply a disposable face, conscionable 1 node of a web that operates successful antithetic parts of the world.”

Any triumph claimed by the authorities was successful the tract of nationalist relations, alternatively than connected the battlefield, Piedrahita said.

“International transgression networks are flexible, and they are not ever pyramid-structured,” helium said. “But this could origin interior wars successful the web that would pb to much unit successful parts of the country.”

Candidates to regenerate Úsuga volition hardly beryllium successful abbreviated supply. Like galore different Colombian cause bosses, helium chopped his teeth successful the country’s 50-year civilian war, wherever myriad equipped groups person simultaneously pursued ideological goals and cause wealth.

Originally a ft worker successful the Maoist Popular Liberation Army (EPL) guerrilla group, helium switched sides to articulation a far-right paramilitary faction, Córdoba and Urabá Peasant Defense Forces (ACCU).

When that radical officially disbanded, his faction grew into a sprawling conglomerate of amerciable activities, which volition present autumn into a new, lesser-known leader’s hands.

“All of the infrastructure – each the trafficking routes, the extraction, the coca crops, the processing, the buying – that’s each successful place,” said Elizabeth Dickinson, a elder expert for International Crisis Group successful Colombia. “The question truly is whether the caller enactment is susceptible of maintaining specified a disparate organisation of specified a wide geography.

“The hazard present is of a convulsive powerfulness conflict to power this precise lucrative illicit marketplace – and we’re not conscionable talking astir cause trafficking, but besides extortion, territorial control, and land,” Dickinson said. “All of those things are present up for grabs and the hazard is that it volition unfastened fissures that volition person an effect connected the civilian population.”