Colombian police and intelligence units have picked up one of the most sought after drug trafficking leaders in the country. Authorities have been hunting for Dairo Antonio Usuga aka Otoniel for seven years.
President Duque of Colombia calls the arrest the biggest blow handed out to drug trafficking in this century. “This is only comparable to Pablo Escobar‘s fall in the 90s,” the president said in a video message.
50-year-old Usuga headed the Clan del Golfo, the ‘Golf Gang‘, a drug network 1200 armed gang members, more than twice as much as the 500 men Escobar had at the time.
There was a price of 3 billion pesos (around 685,000 euros) for information on the whereabouts of the gang leader. In the US, another $5 million (more than 4 million euros) had been loaned out for the golden tip.
The Clan del Golfo deals with international cocaine trade and illegal mining, and according to Colombian justice, is also guilty of murder, extortion and money laundering.
Thousands of gang members have been arrested over the years, sometimes far outside Colombia. Several Usuga family members have also been arrested or killed, but the gang leader himself was always able to stay out of the hands of the police.
Officers sometimes found empty cabins with big TVs, satellite dishes and expensive bottles of drink, but there was no trace of the drug lord himself. He is said to have used multiple tricks to stay out of police hands, such as trained dogs warning him of intruders.
500 men deployed, a cop died
After 2016, the hunt for Usuga intensified. Dozens of gang members from his immediate vicinity were killed or arrested, justice went after his money and the ongoing police actions forced him to seek new shelters. In 2017, a video appeared in which the gang leader offered to surrender himself, but that didn’t lead to his arrest at the time.
So the police have managed to track him down now. The police action under the name Operation Osiris 500 security officers were deployed on Friday. Usuga was arrested in the Uraba region, a rural area in the province of Antioquia. The action killed an agent.