Colombia Announces Capture of Leader of Major Drug Cartel

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U.S.|Colombia Announces Capture of Leader of Major Drug Cartel

The apprehension of Dairo Antonio Úsuga, wide known arsenic Otoniel, was a triumph for Colombia’s president, who has been struggling to incorporate persistent violence.

Dairo Antonio Úsuga was captured successful  a subject   cognition  successful  the distant    mountains of Colombia, the country’s president   said connected  Saturday.
Credit...Ministry of National Defence, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Oct. 23, 2021, 9:50 p.m. ET

Colombian subject forces captured the person of a large cause cartel, considered by the authorities to beryllium the astir wanted antheral successful the country, President Iván Duque announced connected Saturday.

The apprehension of the man, Dairo Antonio Úsuga, wide known arsenic Otoniel, was a triumph for Mr. Duque, who has been struggling to incorporate persistent violence by militants.

Mr. Úsuga, 50, had been sought by subject and constabulary officials arsenic the person of the Clan del Golfo, a convulsive Colombian cause cartel that has besides been targeted by the United States for trafficking cocaine.

Mr. Duque described Mr. Úsuga arsenic the astir feared cause trafficker successful the world, liable for carrying retired assassinations of constabulary officers, soldiers and civic leaders.

“This is the heaviest stroke that has been dealt to cause trafficking successful this period successful our country,” Mr. Duque said successful a nationalist address. “This stroke is comparable lone to the autumn of Pablo Escobar successful the 1990s.”

According to the National Police, a 34-year-old serviceman died successful the cognition that led to Mr. Úsuga’s seizure successful Colombia’s distant mountains.

The U.S. State Department has offered up to $5 million for accusation starring to the seizure oregon condemnation of Mr. Úsuga, who has been indicted connected charges of planetary cocaine organisation and different crimes.

The section has described him arsenic the person of a “heavily equipped and highly violent” cartel consisting of members of violent groups that did not demobilize arsenic portion of Colombia’s bid and justness process.

The Clan del Golfo uses unit and intimidation to power cause trafficking routes, cocaine-processing laboratories and clandestine airstrips, according to the State Department.

The radical has besides been known to treat migrants successful Colombia’s countryside arsenic goods that its members tin taxation and control.

Colombia’s defence minister, Diego Molano, said the radical had go a menace successful caller years due to the fact that of the tons of cocaine it distributes wrong the state and ships to the United States and Europe.

If Mr. Úsuga opens up to investigators, helium could beryllium a captious instrumentality successful helping the Colombian authorities unravel the interior workings of his analyzable transgression organization.

Paul J. Angelo, a chap for Latin America studies astatine the Council connected Foreign Relations, said Mr. Úsuga had been the astir wanted antheral successful Colombia for a decennary “and his seizure is invited quality to the Colombians who person suffered unit astatine his hands.”

“His apprehension besides represents a large triumph for Colombia’s information forces, which are confronting increasing nationalist mistrust implicit allegations of quality rights abuses, soaring coca cultivation, and rising transgression and violence,” Dr. Angelo said successful an email.

He cautioned, however, that simply removing the kingpin of an organized transgression radical could spawn much fragmented gangs seeking to power lucrative cause routes.

“Keeping the unit connected the remaining factions of the Clan del Golfo successful the months to come, portion expanding the state’s footprint into the territories wherever amerciable equipped groups operate, volition beryllium indispensable to preventing an uptick successful predatory crime,” helium said.

Vanda Felbab-Brown, a elder chap astatine the Brookings Institution and a specializer successful cause trafficking groups, called the apprehension significant, but said it was not wide what effect it would person connected unit and cause trafficking successful Colombia.

“Is it going to extremity the cause commercialized from Colombia? Definitely not,” Dr. Felbab-Brown said successful an interview. She besides warned that the seizure could acceptable disconnected infighting betwixt rival factions wrong the Clan del Golfo, starring to much violence.

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