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Who is Otoniel, the Colombian cocaine baron who climbed all the rungs of crime

Dairo Antonio UsugaOthniel”, whose sentence to 45 years in prison for drug trafficking was announced this Tuesday in a court of USArose through the ranks of various armed groups in Colombia until he became the biggest cocaine baron of this century. He will probably spend the rest of his life behind bars since he is 51 years old.

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In late 2021, when he was captured in the northwestern jungles of Colombia in an operation in which 500 soldiers and policemen participated, backed by security agencies. United States and the United Kingdomthe then president of Colombia, ivan dukecompared it with Pablo Escobar.

in a court of NYwhere he was extradited in May 2022, acknowledged having sent USA 96,800 kilos of cocaine.

In January, he accepted charges of continuing criminal enterprise, conspiring to manufacture and distribute cocaine, and maritime conspiracy to traffic drugs. His conviction occurs at a time when the cocaine business is going through an unprecedented crisis in Colombia due to overproduction and the change in consumption habits in USA.

The former leader of the paramilitary group Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC), also known as gulf clan, he hoped his guilty plea would spare him a lengthy and costly trial. And perhaps a more lenient ruling from the judge Dora Irizarry.

Of peasant origin and noted for sexually abuse girlshe went from being a left-wing guerrilla to a far-right paramilitary, before consolidating himself as a cocaine kingpin.

During his imprisonment, the robust drug trafficker complained about the harsh conditions of isolation that they prevented him from talking to his family or receive mail.

On the eve of his extradition, he assured a court that senior military commanders were involved in the drug traffic and it splashed politicians who benefited from the territorial control it had. In retaliation for handing him over, his men unleashed a wave of attacks in which some thirty police officers died.

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Family business

Born on September 15, 1971 in the municipality of Necocli (northwest), went on to lead the gulf clan after the death of his brother John of Godkilled in clashes with the police in 2012.

Together with him, he had set up a criminal apparatus with a presence in almost 300 of the 1,102 municipalities in the country, mainly in his native region, near the border with Panama, but also in the Peaceful and to Caribbeana strategic place for the departure of drug shipments, according to the study center indepaz.

In it “military work, homicides were committed”acknowledged before a court of Brooklyn. His group, aka The Urabeños and the Úsuga Clan, “He gave security to laboratories and drug traffickers and collected taxes” for cocaine.

“The AGC charged a fixed rate for each kilo that was manufactured or transported through the areas controlled by the group,” detailed. her sister, Nini Johana Usugaaliasthe black”, was extradited in July 2022 to Florida (USA) to also answer for drug trafficking.

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“It was not revolutionary”

Othniel, seventh of the nine sons of Ana Celsa David and Juan de Dios Usugaa couple who say they make a living selling pigs, chickens, and cattle in the department of Antioquia (northwest), joined the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), a leftist guerrilla demobilized in 1991.

“He was not a revolutionary, he was what there was and he went with them,” his mother assured in an interview with the newspaper El Tiempo in 2015.

After the dissolution of the PLA, he joined the Peasant Self-Defense Forces of Córdoba and Urabá (ACCU), an extreme right-wing paramilitary organization created to combat the guerrillas and with ties to drug trafficking that was brought to justice in 2006. Once again, Otoniel remained illegal.

In Colombia his victims requested the “suspension” of extradition, claiming their right to know the truth. Before leaving the country, he told the court that he investigates the worst crimes of the conflict that former army commanders Mario Montoya (2006-2008) and Leonardo Barrera (2013-2014) were his accomplices.

He also appeared before a non-judicial entity called truth commissionwho denounced the theft of these recordings in February of last year.

Without having yet designated a successor, his AGC heirs seek to avail themselves of the policy of “Total Peace”, with which the president Gustavo Petro proposes a submission in exchange for penal benefits for the drug gangs.

But the talks stalled and in March the group was excluded from a bilateral truce raised by the government to the main armed organizations.

Source: Elcomercio

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