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Colombia Captures Drug-Trafficking Kingpin ‘Otoniel’ Wanted by U.S.

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BOGOTA, Colombia—Colombia reported it has arrested its most-preferred drug-trafficking kingpin, the leader of a rural militia of more than one,000 fighters who American prosecutors say oversaw a worthwhile cocaine-smuggling community to the U.S.

Just after decades of employing army may possibly towards the Gulf Clan in functions that have involved aerial bombardments, Colombia announced Saturday the arrest of the group’s commander, Dairo Antonio Úsuga, alias Otoniel. President Iván Duque likened the fall of Mr. Úsuga to the 1993 operation in which Colombian law enforcement killed Pablo Escobar, the Medellín cartel boss.

“This is the major blow towards narco-trafficking in the state in this century and only comparable to the fall of Pablo Escobar,” Mr. Duque reported in a speech next the arrest. The operation involved five hundred troops.

U.S. counterdrug brokers and prosecutors have been soon after Mr. Úsuga for decades, with indictments leveled towards him by federal courts in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Miami for trafficking multi-ton masses into the U.S. The U.S. experienced presented a $five million reward for his seize and involved him in its listing of most-preferred fugitives.

Colombian authorities say the Gulf Clan is also dependable for trafficking within the state, as properly as untold deaths in its combat with other drug-trafficking teams for the booming cocaine trade in the locations the FARC rebel group managed right up until its disarmament in 2016. 

Mr. Duque reported the operation to seize Mr. Úsuga employed intelligence offered by the U.S. and Britain, both of those close allies in the combat towards the cocaine trade and the rural warlords who smuggle the drug to the U.S. and Europe.

Just after decades of chasing soon after Mr. Úsuga—and getting killed or captured various major Gulf Clan commanders—military planners focused on his weaknesses in an effort and hard work to figure out particularly in which he was, officials reported. Law enforcement reported he wanted treatment for his kidney so intelligence organizations experimented with to figure out how prescription medicines were receiving to him and in which. They also realized he moved constantly, sleeping in various jungle camps as he experimented with to keep a move forward of security forces.

Authorities say they have experienced to contend with a power of fighters that was seriously armed and employed land mines to continue to keep the military and law enforcement at bay. Officers say the Gulf Clan also employed eight rings of security various miles huge to guard towards a army operation. Dozens of law enforcement and soldiers experienced died in the latest decades preventing the clan, named soon after the Gulf of Urabá the group employs as a highway to move medicines and guns.

Getting this year reworked the technique to locate the warlord, Gen. Luis Fernando Navarro, commander of Colombia’s armed power, reported intelligence operatives finally found him in a northern mountainous zone, Nudo de Paramillo.

“We started to have an understanding of much better the adjustments in the rhythm” of Mr. Úsuga’s security, Gen. Navarro reported in a speech from an military foundation on Saturday night. A army operation that involved 22 helicopters, military troops and law enforcement commandos led the warlord to commit faults, Mr. Navarro reported.

“We took the initiative, and employed our commandos strategically,” he reported via his Twitter account.

A law enforcement officer died in the operation. Surrounded by authorities forces, the warlord surrendered and was flown out of the Nudo de Paramillo in a helicopter.

In Colombia, when major leaders of drug gangs are killed or captured, other folks rise to fill the vacuum. Analyzing what will happen with the Gulf Clan is more hard simply because the group has affiliate marketers that operate not only in the location in which Mr. Úsuga was arrested but in other elements of the state. The Gulf Clan has about one,two hundred customers, army officials say.

“The base line is it is unachievable to predict what will happen with the clan,” reported a U.S. formal acquainted with the functions towards Mr. Úsuga. He reported that a very likely scenario is that some of individuals affiliate marketers splinter off into independent drug-trafficking teams.

Write to Juan Forero at [email protected]

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Appeared in the October twenty five, 2021, print edition as ‘Colombia Captures Key Drug Kingpin.’

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