Colombia’s most wanted drug lord Otoniel arrested – sport news football96

Colombia’s most wanted drug trafficker and leader of the country’s largest criminal gang has been arrested.

Dairo Antonio Úsuga, better known as Otoniel, was arrested on Saturday after a joint operation by the army, air force and police.

The government had offered a $ 800,000 (£ 582,000) reward for information about his whereabouts, while the US had put a $ 5 million bounty on his head.

President Iván Duque welcomed Otoniel’s arrest in a televised video message.

“This is the biggest blow to drug trafficking in our country this century,” he said. “That blow can only be compared to the fall of Pablo Escobar in the 1990s.”

How was he caught?
Otoniel was captured in his rural hiding place in the Antioquia province of northwest Colombia near the border with Panama.

500 soldiers were involved in the operation, supported by 22 helicopters. One policeman was killed.

Otoniel had used a network of rural safe houses to get around and evade authorities and instead of using the phone, relying on couriers for communication.

But his location at the time of his arrest was determined two weeks ago, El Tiempo newspaper said.

BACKGROUND: Colombia’s hunt for an elusive drug lord
Police chief Jorge Vargas said his movements had been tracked by more than 50 signal reconnaissance experts using satellite imagery. US and British authorities were involved in the search.

Mr Duque, quoted by the AFP news agency, described the operation as “the greatest penetration of the jungle ever seen in our country’s military history”.

The Colombian Armed Forces later released a photo showing their soldiers guarding Otoniel, carried in handcuffs and rubber boots.

In the past few years there have been several large operations involving thousands of officers to capture the 50-year-old, but none have been successful as of now.

How powerful is the golf clan?
Otoniel becomes the head of the Gulf clan, formerly known as the Usuga clan, after its former leader – his brother – was killed by police in a raid on a New Year’s party almost 10 years ago.

Colombia’s security forces have described the gang as the most powerful criminal organization in the country, while the US authorities describe them as “heavily armed [and] extremely violent”.

The gang, which operates in many provinces and has extensive international connections, deals with drug and people smuggling, illegal gold mining and extortion.

It is believed that there are around 1,800 armed members, mainly recruited from right-wing paramilitary groups. Members were arrested in Argentina, Brazil, Honduras, Peru and Spain.

The gang controls many of the drug smuggling routes from Colombia to the United States and even as far as Russia.

However, the Colombian government believes it has decimated its numbers in recent years, forcing many senior members to hide in the jungle in remote areas.

Otoniel now faces a range of charges, including sending cocaine shipments to the US, killing police officers and recruiting children.

He was indicted in the US in 2009 and is facing extradition proceedings that eventually saw him appear in court in New York.

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