Most wanted Colombian drug lord captured after more than a decade on the run – National

Colombian safety forces have captured the nation’s most needed drug trafficker, a rural warlord who stayed on the run for greater than a decade by corrupting state officers and aligning himself with combatants on the left and proper.

President Ivan Duque likened the arrest Saturday of Dairo Antonio Úsuga to the seize three a long time in the past of Pablo Escobar.

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Colombia’s navy offered Úsuga to the media in handcuffs and sporting rubber boots most popular by rural farmers.

Úsuga, higher recognized by his alias Otoniel, is the alleged head of the much-feared Gulf Clan, whose military of assassins has terrorized a lot of northern Colombia to achieve management of main cocaine smuggling routes by means of thick jungles north to Central America and onto the U.S.

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He’s lengthy been a fixture on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s most-wanted fugitives checklist, for whose seize it had been providing a $5 million reward. He was first indicted in 2009, in Manhattan federal court docket, on narcotics fees and for allegedly offering help to a far-right paramilitary group designated a terrorist group by the U.S. authorities. Later indictments in Brooklyn and Miami federal courts accused him of importing into the U.S. not less than 73 metric tons of cocaine between 2003 and 2014 by means of international locations together with Venezuela, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, and Honduras.

However like a lot of his gunmen, he’s additionally cycled by means of the ranks of a number of guerrilla teams, most not too long ago claiming to guide the Gaitanist Self Protection Forces of Colombia, after a mid-Twentieth century Colombian leftist firebrand.

Authorities mentioned intelligence supplied by the U.S. and U.Ok. led greater than 500 troopers and members of Colombia’s particular forces to Úsuga’s jungle hideout, which was protected by an eight rings of safety.

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Úsuga for years flew below the radar of authorities by eschewing the excessive profile of Colombia’s higher recognized narcos.

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He and his brother, who was killed in a raid in 2012, bought their begin as gunmen for the now-defunct leftist guerrilla group often called the Standard Liberation Military after which later switched sides and joined the rebels’ battlefield enemies, a right-wing paramilitary group.

He refused to disarm when that militia signed a peace treaty with the federal government in 2006, as a substitute delving deeper into Colombia’s felony underworld and organising operations within the strategic Gulf of Uraba area in northern Colombia, a serious drug hall surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean sea on both facet.

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Leaks and a community of rural protected homes he supposedly moved amongst each evening allowed him for years to withstand a scorched-earth marketing campaign by the navy towards the Gulf Clan. As he defied authorities, his legend as a bandit grew alongside the horror tales instructed by Colombian authorities of the various underage girls he and his cohorts allegedly abused sexually.

However the struggle was taking its toll on the 50-year-old fugitive, who even whereas on the run insisted on sleeping on orthopedic mattresses to ease a again harm. In 2017, he confirmed his face for the primary time every so often of Pope Francis’ go to to the nation, publishing a video during which he requested for his group be allowed to put down its weapons and demobilize as a part of the nation’s peace course of with the much-larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

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His arrest is one thing of a lift for the conservative Duque, who legislation and order rhetoric has been no match for hovering manufacturing of cocaine.

Land devoted to the manufacturing of coca _ the uncooked ingredient of cocaine _ jumped 16% final yr to a file 245,000 hectares, a stage unseen in 20 years of U.S. eradication efforts, in keeping with a White Home report.

Goodman reported from Miami

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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