Colombia’s most wished drug trafficker captured in jungle raid after decade on run

Colombian safety forces have captured the nation’s most wished drug trafficker, a rural warlord who evaded a decade lengthy manhunt by corrupting state officers and aligning himself with combatants on the left and proper.

resident Iván Duque likened the arrest on Saturday of Dairo Antonio Úsuga to the seize three many years in the past of Pablo Escobar

Photos circulating on social media present Úsuga handcuffed together with his face planted to the bottom.

Úsuga, higher identified 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 way of thick jungles north to Central America and onto the U.S.

He’s lengthy been a fixture on the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s most-wanted fugitives record, for whose seize it had been providing a $5m reward. He was first indicted in 2009, in Manhattan federal court docket, on narcotics expenses and for allegedly offering help to a far-right paramilitary group designated a terrorist group by the U.S. authorities.

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

He additionally faces legal expenses in Miami Tampa and Brooklyn federal courts.

Authorities mentioned intelligence supplied by the U.S. and U.Okay. 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.

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

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 Widespread 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 an alternative delving deeper into Colombia’s legal underworld and establishing operations within the strategic Gulf of Uraba area in northern Colombia, a significant drug hall surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean sea on both facet.

Leaks and a community of secure homes at rural homesteads allowed him for years to withstand a scorched-earth marketing campaign by the army towards the Gulf Clan.

However the conflict 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 once in a while of Pope Francis’ go to to the nation, publishing a video through 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.

His arrest is one thing of a lift for the conservative Duque, who regulation 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 report 245,000 hectares, a degree unseen in 20 years of U.S. eradication efforts, in response to a White Home report.

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