Colombian drug cartel leader arrested
Colombian military forces captured the leader of a major drug cartel, considered by the government to be the most wanted man in the country, President Iván Duque announced on Saturday.
The arrest of the man, Dairo Antonio Úsuga, widely known as Otoniel, was a victory for Mr. Duque, who has been struggling to contain persistent violence by militants.
Mr. Úsuga, 50, had been sought by military and police officials as the leader of the Clan del Golfo, a violent Colombian drug cartel that has also been targeted by the United States for trafficking cocaine.
Mr. Duque described Mr. Úsuga as the most feared drug trafficker in the world, responsible for carrying out assassinations of police officers, soldiers and civic leaders.
“This is the heaviest blow that has been dealt to drug trafficking in this century in our country,” Mr. Duque said in a national address. “This blow is comparable only to the fall of Pablo Escobar in the 1990s.”
According to the National Police, a 34-year-old officer died in the operation that led to Mr. Úsuga’s capture in Colombia’s remote mountains.
The U.S. State Department has offered up to $5 million for information leading to the capture or conviction of Mr. Úsuga, who has been indicted on charges of international cocaine distribution and other crimes.
The department has described him as the leader of a “heavily armed and extremely violent” cartel consisting of members of terrorist groups that did not demobilize as part of Colombia’s peace and justice process. (NYT)